Littlehampton boasts two award-winning beaches. The West Beach Nature Reserve is an area of scientific interest due to its sand dunes, while the pebble-and-sand East Beach (over a mile long) is bordered by a promenade and sprawling green seafront lawns that make this area great for picnics, sports or just people-watching from the comfort of your deck chair. Soak up the atmosphere while sitting on Britain’s longest bench, an architect-designed sculpture that stretches 324 metres along the East Beach – the atmosphere here feels relaxed and laid back, and it seems a lot further than just 20 miles away from it’s more raucous Sussex coastline neighbour Brighton.
Eat and drink
The East Beach Café, an imposing rusted steel shell structure that faces out to sea, divided opinion in the town on its construction in 2007, and it’s easy to see why. On the one hand, it’s modern architecture at its best, mirroring its environment with its rough, weather-beaten appearance. Built by the same architect who built the Cauldron at the 2012 London Olympic, Thomas Heatherwick, it has won more than 20 awards for design, architecture and engineering, and the original design was based on a piece of driftwood that had washed up on the beach. On the other – well, traditional seaside kitsch it ain’t, but the modern, minimalist space within and floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the amazing view of the beach and sea beyond make this the perfect spot to enjoy a hearty breakfast, or salt and pepper squid for lunch, whatever the weather.
Locally-sourced produce makes for simple but delicious fish suppers, too, and eating dinner here really feels as though you’re at one with the elements. Oh, and did we mention the wine list? East Beach Café is well worth a visit, even if just to determine whether you’re in the love it or hate it camp.
The West Beach Café is a much more traditional affair, with wooden tables and chairs opening out directly onto the sandy expanses of beach. Watch the world go by as the kids build forts and sandcastles.
Things to do
Talking of kids, the Lion’s Den play area is a safe, well-constructed park situated on the seafront that will help your cubs burn off a bit of energy. Beautifully in-keeping with its nautical surroundings is the Look and Sea Visitor Centre, which was built in 2003 and redeveloped in 2010 to showcase the maritime history and geography of the area. The two-story viewing tower affords a 360-degree view of Arundel, Chichester and the South Downs, while the Harbour Lights restaurant offers coffee and a snack (or dinner for those who’ve worked up an appetite after a busy day).
Take a trip on the mini railway between Mewsbrook Park and Norfolk Gardens, which are themselves worth a visit – the former features a picnic area, boating lake and children’s play area, as well as an excellent café. Norfolk Gardens sits on the seafront and is open all-year-round for tennis and sports a nine-hole adventure golf course. And if it’s a little retail therapy you’re after, head to the town centre for its mix of high street favourites and independent retailers.