By Maureen S. Bennie
Who’s ready for a holiday by the sea? I’m guessing you may have heard of Weymouth, but have you been? If you haven’t, then here’s a whole host of reasons why you should.
Nestled in a sheltered cove, Weymouth successfully combines glamorous Georgian architecture with all the clichés you expect from a seaside town. Often described as England’s Bay of Naples, it offers golden sands, safe bathing, and a host of places to eat and stay. Notably, through King George III’s regular visits and residence, it developed into a tourist destination and has maintained its charismatic attraction ever since.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that all Weymouth has to offer is the beach. There are many attractions near and far and events throughout the year. Here are nine of my favourite things to do in Weymouth.
Spend a morning on Weymouth Beach
Not only does Weymouth lay claim to holding the Paralympics in 2012, but it also proudly boasts a prestigious Blue Flag status along with its numerous accolades for beach management, cleanliness, and provision of information.
A warm welcome and traditional beach experience await you in one of the top ten beach destinations in Europe. Ideal for all ages, a long, flat, palm tree-lined promenade has ramps leading to the beach and its blue waters, which are safe for paddling, swimming, and pedalos. You can hire striped deckchairs for lazing, and quintessential activities like donkey rides, Punch & Judy, helter-skelter, carousels, and ice-cream eating are plentiful.
As for sandcastles, the sand is perfect for building; testament to this are the magnificent sand sculptures created by resident and visiting sculptors. Guaranteed to raise ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, these can be found in a purpose-built pavilion near the helter-skelter.
Set in the heart of the Jurassic coastline, the beach is overlooked by a stately Georgian seafront featuring cafes, gift shops, guest houses, and award-winning fish and chip shops. There’s even a dog welcome area within an allocated area at the Pavilion end of the beach, so you can take your pooch along too.
Walk along St Alban Street
This busy thoroughfare was formerly known as Petticoat Lane, now renamed St Alban Street. It has some of the best and quirkiest shops in Weymouth, and some of the oldest buildings in Weymouth are to be found here, such as the Tudor Milton Arms steadfastly hosting patrons throughout the centuries. Prettily painted shops festooned with bunting, some with double bay windows, some with steps leading up, some with front and back entrances, they’re all individual and all worth a peek located in the heart of the town.
Be entertained at Weymouth Pavilion Entertainment Complex
For a terrific entertainment experience, the Weymouth Pavilion, conveniently situated at the end of the Esplanade and the curving arc of golden sand, features world-class comedians, live music, opera, ballet, musicals, drama, and tribute acts throughout the year. To accommodate all the glitz and glam and keep you fed and watered in this historic arts venue is a 1,000-seat theatre, Piano Bar restaurant, Ritz Café, and ballroom. Since it is open all year round, there will always be something to see when you visit.
Now, who doesn’t love a show?
Visit Nothe Fort
You don’t have to be a military fan to enjoy Nothe Fort. It’s an excellent trip for all the family with lots to see and do.
During the 19th century, Portland Harbour was increasingly becoming one of the most important Naval bases. Nothe Fort was built by the 26 Company of Royal Engineers to protect the base and harbour. Unfortunately abandoned in 1956, it went into ruination but was bought by the local council in 1961 and given a new life with Grade II listed status. It is now a preserved museum and popular tourist and event attraction hosting weddings, artillery weekends, carnival, and the odd ghost or two! A National Lottery survey noted it as one of the spookiest places in the UK.
There are lots of places to sit and observe the wildlife, picnic, or simply take in the magnificent views of the Jurassic coastline in the Nothe Gardens surrounding the fort. Don’t worry if you haven’t brought something to eat. There are plenty of places here to refuel and relax.
Spend an afternoon at Weymouth Harbour
Weymouth Harbour has something for everyone. Just a short walk from the beach, the ambiance is seafaring bustle, and there is always something to see. This picturesque haven of water accommodates so much life that it’s hard to know what to watch first. Weymouth has a commercial fishing fleet, pleasure boats and chartered fishing boats, yachts to canoes, jet skis, and of course, the Lifeboat; it’s boat action galore!
A must-see event is the rising of the Town Bridge to let the taller masted boats in and out of the Inner Harbour. From mid-April to mid-September, this occurs at two-hourly intervals from 8 am until 8 pm (another at 9 pm in June, July & August). It’s well worth watching and a perfect holiday photo opportunity.
After all that watery activity, how about a walk around the harbour buildings? Surrounding this aquatic picture postcard are pastel-painted cottages, cafes, restaurants, galleries, pubs, shops, and a fresh fish market for cockles and other seafood. Be certain to visit the Tudor museum, one of the UK’s best-preserved Tudor buildings. It was restored by the Weymouth Civic Society and is open on selected days.
Visiting Weymouth Harbour is one of the best things to do in Weymouth if you want an option with lots of different activities. You can easily spend an afternoon here.
Walk through Greenhill Gardens
Greenhill Gardens is an award-winning botanist jewel in the beach crown of Weymouth. This garden gem has earned itself Green Flag status, the national standard for parks and green spaces across England and Wales, based on how safe, clean, accessible, well managed, and welcoming they are. The gardens winding paths, recreational areas, and bountiful bright borders overlook one of the finest views of Weymouth Bay.
With a year-round events programme of music, community projects, tennis courts, bowling, and putting green, there are activities aplenty. Once you’ve strolled the floral clock, wishing well and the labyrinth of blooms, why not sit on the terrace, enjoy a cuppa and watch the world idle by.
Sample Weymouth’s food and drink
I can only say that you will be spoilt for choice for food and drink in Weymouth. Being a seaside town with a fishing port, Weymouth inevitably has many seafood restaurants and traditional fish and chip shops.
Fast food shops, bakeries, street food, and ice cream vendors are a given but give Billy Winters on Chesil Beach a go. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks with an emphasis on quality and local artisan ingredients – plus, the views are fabulous too.
While I’m on the subject of food and drink, the annual Dorset Food Festival is held in Weymouth at the end of the summer, and the Weymouth Food Festival is held around July. Be sure to go if you’re in the area, as they both make a great day out.
Explore Sandsfort Castle and Gardens and the Rodwell Trail
Just half an hour’s walk from the beach and harbour along the Rodwell Trail will bring you to Sandsfort Castle, popularly known as Weymouth Castle. Here you can immerse yourself in an oasis of peace, tranquility, and beauty. Built on the orders of Henry VIII, it had fallen into disrepair due to erosion over the years. But thanks to Weymouth Corporation and the Lottery Heritage Fund, this historical site now has walkways, creative lighting, and gardens enabling you to enjoy this iconic ruin overlooking Portland.
A haven for wildlife and safe for pedestrians and cyclists, the Rodwell Trail between Ferrybridge and Weymouth follows the old Weymouth to Portland railway. Open daily, the trail is a great way to spend the day if it’s not sunny enough for the beach or you just want a change. The trail is perfect for all ages and wheelchair friendly. It’s a popular spot for dog walkers as well.
Visit Sea Life Centre
From sun fun to fin fun, you’re guaranteed an exciting adventure above and below the ocean at Sea Life Centre. You’ll see turtles, penguins, tropical fish, and sharks. In fact, over 2,000 creatures are waiting to greet you. On a rainy day especially, visiting Sea Life is one of the best things to do in Weymouth.
Experience the Ocean Tunnel with twenty-four-hour, night, and day coral reef movement. Dance along the bioluminescent tropical shore and then journey underwater. Have a magical adventure at the Caribbean Cove, and during the summer, there’s the Splash Zone with pools, play jets, and fountains for little kids and big kids to enjoy.
Conservation, education, and fun rolled up in one big wet package – fantastic!
Getting around Weymouth is easy. Most attractions are wheelchair accessible, and nearly everything is walkable. There are lots of local buses, and the train station brings you into the heart of the town. The British tradition of a holiday next to the sea is back. Weymouth on the South Coast in Dorset is staycationing at its best.
Maureen S. Bennie is a freelance writer based in the UK with a BA Hons degree in English Language and Creative Writing. Currently living in the West Country, her content writing often reflects her passions which include cooking, travel, gardening, and writing.
Contact Maureen: firstname.lastname@example.org