Its long curve of golden sand made Margate a top seaside destination for the Victorians, but it fell out of favor in the late 20th century. Recent investment has brought many day-trippers back to enjoy its retro charm. Leading the way with this regeneration is art gallery Turner Contemporary, one of the top attractions in the area, which showcases world-class art exhibits with superb views of the harbor and beyond. The skies here were celebrated by painter JMW Turner, and you should linger at the gallery to enjoy the light out on the sea.
If you like your day to be sprinkled with a bit of mystery, then you’ll want to book a ticket to tour the Shell Grotto. This quirky little underground spot, discovered in 1835, is packed with millions of shells creating mosaics and patterns over the walls – and no one quite knows why. Dreamland is the town’s famous amusement park and a great day out with the family with many different classic rides. Once you’ve got your fill of the windswept beach, artworks and rides, warm up with a hot chocolate at one of the independent cafes in the rejuvenated old town before browsing or buying in the many vintage stores.
Trains run to Margate station, right on the beach, from London St Pancras (1 hour 30 minutes) and Victoria (1 hour 45 minutes). It takes around two hours to drive from London to Margate, and you should expect to pay upwards of £10 to park all day in town.