Little Lewes’s Top Five Day Trips from Lewes with Kids by Kate Johnson,

I wish this could be a top 10, as it’s so hard to narrow down all there is to do here. But if I must be pinned to five, I’d say these are my favourite day trips from Lewes for families (and you’ll notice that I can’t help but sneak in extra tidbits to each…).

THE BEACH – Birling Gap, East Dean

The Sussex coastline is pebbly and cliff-faced, its town beaches Seaford EastbourneRottingdean,  Brighton, Hove, etc) tend to be long and deep, while the more isolated ones have chalky backdrops that offer impressive photo opportunities.

My family’s favourite is Birling Gap,  where there’s an easy cliff walk to a lighthouse (and a little ice cream shop) and a National Trust-run café and education centre just above the beach (for loo stops, cups of tea and fossil geekery).

Check the tide tables and take waterproof shoes in summer for kids if you have them – the rockpooling is sublime in either direction from the steps. Oh and you can stop for lunch in East Dean on the way – where there’s The Tiger Inn or The Beehive delicatessen right on the village green. There’s also a great playground and Seven Sisters Sheep Centre  here…

THE MUSEUM – The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling

In late 2013 this very beautiful bijoux museum revealed its sensitively executed £2.5-million facelift and now stands as quite the architectural gem. It’s a showcase for the incredible output of the famed artist community of Ditchling village. Equally lauded for its excellent rebrand,  it thereafter became part of the Sussex Coastal Culture Trail

Quiet but accommodating to children, it has a Family Trail, a weekly pre-school drop-in art session,  and holiday events – all to supplement its display of interesting artefacts, paintings and letterpress.

Nearby there’s the very family-friendly café Mister Magnolia’s, which is unmissable, especially if your children are very small. On the way back to Lewes is the equally unmissable Half Moon pub in Plumpton, which serves excellent food and has a HUGE garden (read: playing field) that older kids will love for kicking a ball about in while you sip on a pint. A steep walk to the top of the Downs starts directly opposite.

THE BEACH AND THE MUSEUM – The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea


Part of the Sussex Coastal Culture Trail  along with the Towner in Eastbourne and the Jerwood [] in Hastings (and now the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (see above), the white modernist beauty that is the De La Warr Pavilion is truly deserving of a visit from Lewes.

First opened in 1935 by Earl De La Warr, it’s the place for (free!) art, design and culture exhibitions, as well as events including gigs and open-air cinema screenings in the summer. The café is good and the beach is vast, though there’s plenty in terms of rockpooling and boats to look at right on the stretch in front of the Pavilion.

THE WALK – Landport Bottom, Lewes

In Lewes, the South Downs are all around, throwing up plenty of great walking opportunities and options. But an easy one that begins just at the top of town goes through Landport Bottom, where the views of the town and surrounding countryside are quite something. There’s a small wood here that comes out at the top of chalky cliffs (this area is classed as a Nature Reserve – and be careful, the drop is hidden by grass), and then a simple Downs walk onwards or back towards town.

If you have small children (six and younger) this simple loop is enough and whiles away a couple of hours, after which you’re perfectly placed for lunch nearby at the Pelham Arms or a wander all the way through town to snoop around the antique shops (good luck with that, your kids will hate it!), browse our wonderful children’s independent bookshop Bags of Books, and have lunch or a teatime treat at The Buttercup Café next door.


A super simple ‘activity’ that requires little exertion if you’re taking the car route is to head to one of the villages near Lewes that have nice playgrounds and nice pubs – some even have nice pubs with nice playgrounds.

Some villages, such as Glynde and Rodmell, can be walked to over the Downs straight from town (I’d particularly recommend scaling Mount Caburn and heading to Glynde and its Trevor Arms – much less terrifying than it sounds).

Whether by car or on foot, these jaunts make for easy trips from Lewes with kids, and you get to see the pretty countryside as you go – with the promise sustenance at the end.


For more ‘things to do in and near Lewes with kids’, see [].

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