What to do in Margate, Kent

posted in: Blog, UK | 38

Jess, aged 13, says: Over the holidays, our family visited two places on the Kent coast – Margate and Broadstairs. We had a lovely time visiting the beaches, exploring shops, and visiting local attractions, and we would have loved to stay for longer and visit Ramsgate and Whitstable nearby. Please watch the video below of our favourite things to do in Margate…


Robert, aged 10, writes: The Walpole Bay Hotel was a quirky old fashioned establishment where we stayed our last two nights of our holiday to Kent. This brilliant hotel, built in 1914, was bought by the Bishop Family who have kept nearly everything the same from when they purchased it, even the exceptionally old 1927 lift (which we all loved to go in). On top of being a hotel, the second floor was a museum displaying an assortment of old objects from typewriters to vacuum cleaners plus the walls of the first and third floors were covered in paintings like a gallery.

Our favourite parts of the hotel: the quirk museum, artwork by Tracey Emin, and the amazing 1927 lift
Our favourite parts of the hotel: the quirky museum, artwork by Tracey Emin, and the amazing 1927 lift

The rooms were extremely comfortable and spacious and the food that we tried was really nice. The WIFI didn’t really work in our room but apart from that it was a fantastic place to stay.

Jess writes: The reason we visited Margate in the first place was to go to Dreamland, an old-fashioned amusement park full of rides and retro arcade games. We spent over half a day there, and loved all of the activities. As it was Christmas time, the park was called the “Frosted Fairground”, and was full of lovely little additions. We loved it when some fake carollers came up to Robert and started singing songs, and the member of staff leading them told him to shut the door in their faces!

It was funny when fake carol singers came up to Robert, and he was told to shut the door in their faces!
It was funny when fake carol singers came up to Robert, and he was told to shut the door in their faces!

I enjoyed the fact that not all of the rides were for thrill seekers, which meant that the whole family could go on them together (although mum decided to sit out for the wooden roller coaster!). I loved the ferris wheel, the large slides, and the bumper cars, which mum says were the best she’s been on. However, my favourite rides were (obviously) the really fast ones, such as the UK’s oldest roller coaster and “Kiss Me Quick” (although I felt uncomfortable to be sitting next to my brother on that one)…

Some of our favourite parts of Dreamland - we loved the retro rides, arcade games, and food
Some of our favourite parts of Dreamland – we loved the retro rides, arcade games, and food

There is also a roller skating rink and lots of arcade games, which ended in Robert winning quite a good prize with his 300 tickets – a minions pencil case! There was a lot of choice for food, which was all pretty good value, and I especially enjoyed my Nutella crepe for lunch. As there is too much to talk about here, Robert has written a separate post all about it.

We watched a video about balloons and washing hands at the Turner Contemporary!
We watched a video about balloons and washing hands at the Turner Contemporary!

We all absolutely loved the Turner Contemporary, which is full of contemporary and historic art. Our family doesn’t often visit art museums as we sometimes find it boring to look at pictures and paintings, but this was different. Lots of the art on display was either interactive or political, which really interested me and mum. The theme of the main exhibition was called “Risk”, and we saw everything from videos of people jumping into tornadoes, to performance art starring Yoko Ono. We tried to find our way out of a maze, watched a video about a prison social experiment, saw a see-through trampoline, and watched a soporific video about balloons and washing hands while sitting in an inflatable dinghy! The exhibition is on until January 17.

We loved going round and round on the spinny chairs!
We loved going round and round on the spinny chairs!

It really was an insightful, fascinating and exciting afternoon, and I definitely recommend a visit. It is also great for children, as there is an interactive area where you are inspired to make crazy pieces of art (Robert and mum had a go), and really cool chairs which spun round (I probably stayed on these for far too long)…These were created by Thomas Heatherwick who was the man behind the Olympic cauldron.

It is also free!

Sarah says: The old town in Margate was full of quirky shops (many of them vintage or retro), tearooms and narrow streets which were full of history.

We stumbled upon a house from Tudor times while having a walk!
We stumbled upon a house from Tudor times while having a walk!

We really enjoyed walking around, though we were sorry that the gorgeous looking Tudor House was closed (it was funny to see this historic building randomly situated on a street!). We may have to come back another time for more sweets, scones or just a mooch about.

Jess writes: We loved all the beautiful beaches near Margate. The Kent Coast is full of gorgeous bays and shores, and we adored Botany Bay in Broadstairs and the Margate Main Sands (we also had a lovely walk near our hotel, which was right on the beach in Cliftonville).

The sea was absolutely stunning, and Robert and I collected lots of fascinating shells. The chalk cliffs are exquisite and imposing, and we discovered that Turner remarked that“…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe”. The unique quality of light in this part of Kent drew Turner back time and again.

Margate Main Sands was also beautiful, and the light was stunning
Margate Main Sands was beautiful, and the light was stunning

In the summer, the beaches are full of swings and deck chairs, but it was lovely to run around the beaches without any disturbance as it was so picturesque and tranquil.

Robert says: The pantomime adaptation of Aladdin we saw at the Theatre Royal was great (oh yes it was!). It had everything from funny jokes, crazy versions of well known songs and a man dressed as a woman. I loved watching the show as it had a great story to it and all the actors were great. Some of the puns they used were hilarious and the cast interacted with the audience a lot which I liked. It was great fun – and the theatre puts on shows throughout the year, so do check what’s coming up. 

Jess writes: Overall, we had a wonderful time visiting Margate – the beaches were lovely, the atmosphere was charming, and it felt as if we had been whisked back in time. We loved visiting the sweet shops and seeing crazy tea rooms, and thought that Dreamland and the Turner Contemporary were brilliant. It is perfect for families, and we had a really enjoyable and relaxing time.

Disclaimer: Visit Kent helped to organise our trip and made suggestions for where to go. We stayed two nights at the Walpole Bay hotel in interconnecting rooms (a family suite) on a discounted media rate. The room rate for the suite is £115 a night including breakfast, and you can find out about the prices here.


More by us:

Travelling Times: Our Top Places to visit in 2015

A Day Out at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire


38 Responses

  1. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    I do love Broadstairs and Whitstable but haven’t made it to Margate yet – I keep seeing so much about the renegeration so its interesting to hear what it’s actually like for a family.

    • Sarah Ebner

      We really did enjoy it – although we were incredibly lucky with the weather. Lovely to walk around in, fab places to eat and very vintage!

  2. Mums do travel

    This is a very interesting post. I really want to explore this area – I’m going on a cycling holiday there this Spring, which I’m looking forward to a lot.

  3. Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper

    Ooh I absolutely love Margate! I first went on a day trip for a friend’s birthday in September and we really enjoyed the Grayson Perry exhibition at the Turner Contemporary, before cocktails at a bar next to the sea. I can’t wait to go next time with the kids, they’ll love Dreamland!

  4. mummy little blog

    I live just round the corner from Margate at a nearby town was very strange seeing it on a blog for some reason. Come back when its summer its much nicer place to be!! We call the turner centre the turnip centre!! We are too cool

  5. Jen

    This is an area of the country I haven’t visited at all. It sounds ace. I think you were all very brave going in that lift!

  6. Louise

    We have never visited the Kent coast but is on our plans for this year. I read a book set in Broadstairs which has really made me want to visit! Margate sounds lovely and looks like you had a brilliant day and fabulous weather. Thanks for the insight! x

  7. Ting at My Travel Monkey

    I haven’t been to Margate since I was a teenager and after reading your post, I can see how much it’s changed for the better! I think when the weather is better, I may have to have a trip there with my little boy too. Dreamland looks brilliant fun and The Turner Contemporary looks right up my street too! Thanks for giving such a good review.

  8. Jess @ Catch A Single Thought

    It looks like a fantastic place to visit, shame it’s on the opposite end of the country for us! Although the amusement park looks brilliant, I’d love to take my children to something like that one day.

  9. Mrs M

    Margate and Kent in general is an area of the country I have never visited but have heard good things about! Maybe 2016 will be the year I get there!

  10. Sonia

    I have never been to Kent but my partner has family down there so maybe we will visit this year. those spinning chairs look like a lot of fun, not sure I could cope with the dizziness though 😉

  11. Globalmouse

    I went to Dreamland when I was really young and would absolutely love to return with my children. Love the sound of that quirky hotel – what character!

  12. Diamondhammer

    Bought a holiday home in nearby Birchington last year. No history of living in Kent, but have grown to love it now we live there part time.
    The beaches from Birchington round to Ramsgate are wonderful, many of them blue flag no less, our favourite being Joss Bay.
    Broadstairs, what’s not to love. Margate goes from one extreme to the other. The good is really nice the bad is just awful, however it’s definitely up and coming, morning coffee around the harbour is sheer delight. Ramsgate is similar to Margate in some ways but the harbour area around to the Pavilion has some fantastic restaurants ( Peters Fish Factory ! ).
    Those posters contemplating visiting this year won’t be disappointed it’s lovely, but try to ignore some of the not so nice bits!

  13. Kara

    My Aunt lives not far away but we have never visited – will see if we can descend on her in the warmer weather so we can explore ourselves

  14. Carolynne @ Mummy Endeavours

    What a great informative post. I remember visiting Margate as a teenager where we would go for the day with friends! I also visited Broadstairs more recently but even that was many many years ago. This post has made me want to visit and take my children… so many fun places to see and things to do. Will def go roller skating and visit the fair! That tudor house is amazing! x

  15. Amber

    It looks like you guys had a really fun time on this trip! It’s too bad the Tudor house wasn’t open, it would be so neat to see it on the inside. It looks beautiful and historic from the outside 🙂
    It’s really wonderful that there were fun things for people of any age to enjoy, I feel like that’s so important so everyone has fun and no one feels left out!

  16. The Educational Tourist

    This is a part of the UK we have not explored yet and I love hearing about it from your kids especially. We always travel with the kids and you have inspired me to have them write about their travels on the blog as well. They are now 9 and 11. Thanks for sharing such a lovely and quaint place.

  17. Trish Burgess

    Well that’s another place I’m now excited to visit in the future because of you all! Love the video, just the right length to tempt me.

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