Margate is a city on the south-east coast of England. It’s renowned for its beach of sand. The modern Contemporary Art Gallery of Turner has rotating exhibitions next to the Harbor Arm pier. Dreamland Margate is a vintage ride amusement park. Millions of seashells adorn the underground passages of the Shell Grotto. The Margate Museum has local history displays at a former police station in the old city.
The town is also fashionable, young and charmingly curious, and has the signatures for an English seaside resort as a theme park, a sandy beach, entertainment arcades, theaters, bings and the halls.
Tracey Emin was raised here, and J. M. W. Turner, the most important painter in England, spent much of his childhood in Margate and came to the 19th century many times. He is named after the Turner Contemporary, an art museum located on the waterfront.
The Old Town is intensively independent and offers galleries in historical buildings, vintage stores, and pubs.
Here explore the best things to do in Margate:
18. Monkton Nature Reserve
Monkton Nature Reserve is a Nature oasis on 16-acres of parkland, offering a learning center & observatory with star events.
Staff were extremely helpful and enthusiastic. The museum was full of beautiful treasures and enjoy the little paths children could do, which really kept them excited and committed.
On the Reserve
- There are uneven, easy and moderate slopes across the Reserve.
- There are marked and unmarked paths.
- The Nature Reserve has chalk, grass and loose wood chipping surfaces throughout.
- There are two locations in the lower part of the Reserve where there are a set of steps. Both sets have a handrail. Inability to use the steps will not restrict access to a particular part of the lower Reserve as alternative routes are available in both cases.
17. Botany Bay, Kent
In the south-west coast of England, Botany Bay is a bay in Broadstairs in Kent. Botany Bay is Broadstairs’s northernmost of seven bays. It is a popular tourist location with calcareous cliffs. Bathing, surfing and kayaking and lifeguards are reportedly safe for swimming.
It is an amazingly small and calm bay. The crayon stacks are lovely and make the botany bay a good place for memorable family photographs. Right on top of the slope, it has free parking and it is small, so it is not packed and there is always a parking spot.
The location is excellent right next to the bay that attracts many tourists with family who come to lunch and also cater for the local residents in the vicinity. But, while it wasn’t exactly busy, it was absolutely chaotic and slow to provide the services, and the kitchen might not be in a hands-on position.
16. Powell-Cotton Museum
Quex Park itself is 250 acres of parkland and gardens, plus another 1,500 acres of cultivation, with Quex House in the south – east of Birchington on the sea in Kent, England. The Museum and the Waterloo Tower are a centuries – old bell tower.
15th-century estate with museum of Victorian natural history exhibits and Regency house and gardens.
user review: Museum, gardens, maize labyrinth! Loads of rain or brilliance come. The corn and giant air pillows loved it. Lives in the whole museum finding butterflies. Loved to explore the gardens and to see the fish. Thank you again for a great day out.
If you are an animal lover you would not advise the museum. I know that it was trendy to reveal your trophies in cases ‘ back in the day. ‘ But to me it appears barbarous today.
Margate’s own theme park had a difficult beginning of the 21st century, which was fully closed in the early 2000’s.
However, tens of millions of pounds were pumped in Dreamland after a stuttering relaunch in 2015, which could help make Margate a priceable attraction.
In the 1880s, the first amusement rides came here and the name of the Dreamland was coined in 1920. The Scenic Railway, the longest running rollercoaster in the UK, and an independent Grade II monument, coincided.
This is accompanied by a wide and growing array of fairground rides, such as dummies, teacups, a Ferris wheel and smaller fun activities for smallest family members.
The Sea Victorian Hall of Dreamland serves as a spot for music and the park takes place in the summer at outdoor events, such as Gorillaz’s Demon Days Festival in 2017.
2. Margate Main Sands
Margate Main Sands is the Blue Flag beach on the central drag of the resort to get in touch with the traditional delights of the English sea.
This is a generous arc of golden sand that fills a tidal pool, washed by the low seas, if you’re going to dip in the nippy North Sea.
The marshline in Margate is quite dramatic, but there’s plenty of room for your deckchair or lounger, even when the water is up.
Situated in the west side, Dreamland has several arcades of entertainment. The beach supports the Old City with no end of pubs, shops, seafood stalls and restaurant.
Margate Harbor is on the east, with its port arm shielded from it.
3. Margate Old Town
Against the Main Sands, the Old Town is Margate at its most stylish and bohemian.
There’s hardly a chain store to be found on this burrow of streets and alleys flanked by Georgian and Victorian flat-fronted facades up to four stories high.
The ground floors have kitsch cafes, specialty food shops, independent art galleries, old seafarers’ inns and loads of vintage clothes and antique shops.
It comes as no shock that the Old Town has been voted one of the UK’s trendiest quarters, and the old-time maritime character and enticing shopfronts may keep you spellbound for a few hours.
4. Turner Contemporary
On the site of a boarding house in which J. M. W. Turner stayed is an art museum designed by David Chipperfield and opened in 2011. The Turner Contemporary had been a long time in the pipeline and the project was supported by Tracey Emin, who grew up in Margate.
The warehouse-like structure with its stark white walls is Kent’s largest visual arts venue.
When you visit there will be four or five simultaneous exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary.
In summer 2018 the standout was “Now”, by the Chinese female contemporary artists Yin Xiuzhen and Duan Jianyu, showcasing large-scale sculptural works made from recycled materials by the former, and paintings exploring the tension between rural and urban China by Duan Jianyu.
5. Shell Grotto
As much a mystery now as when it was discovered in 1835, the Shell Grotto comprises a 30-meter subterranean tunnel, rotunda and rectangular “altar chamber”, hewn from a chalk hill and decorated with a mosaic made up of roughly 4.6 million shells.
Theories abound, but nobody is too sure when the Shell Grotto was created, or why.
It may have been folly, excavated in the 18th or 19th century by a wealthy local resident, or a lodge for the Knights Templar or Stonemasons, or even a chamber for pagan rituals up to 3,000 years ago.
One of the many haunting things about the grotto’s magnificent mosaic is that while it has local mussel, cockle, whelk, limpet, oyster and scallop shells, the background is all flat winkle shells, which could only have come from beaches west of Southampton, more than 150 miles away.
6. Margate Museum
Maintained by enthusiastic volunteers, the Margate Museum is in the Georgian Old Town Hall found on Market Place.
Previously this building contained the magistrate’s court and police station, joined together by a covered bridge over an alley.
At the museum, you can catch up on Margate’s evolution as a tourist resort, and immerse yourself in stories about historic shipwrecks and paddle steamers.
There’s an exhibition on bathing machines, which were wooden huts on wheels, pulled into the water at the beach to allow Victorian tourists to bathe in modesty.
You can look around the former police station cells and learn how Margate was affected by the two World Wars.
7. Westbrook Bay
Next door to the Main Sands, Westbrook Bay is a sandy beach hemmed by wooden beach huts and a promenade with ice cream stands in summer.
Some way west of the resort Westbrook Bay is more residential and is favored by waterskiers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers.
As with any beach on this portion of the Kent coast, there’s a big difference between high and low tide, but you’ll find more than enough sand to relax on when the tide is up.
There are lifeguards at Westbrook Bay in summer, and you can hire a deck chair to complete the English seaside experience.
8. Hornby Visitor Centre
The hobby company Hornby is headquartered in Margate and fondly remembered by anyone who grew up in Britain in the 20th century.
The brand manufactures train sets, Scalextric slot cars, Airfix model planes, the Meccano toy-building system and Corgi die-cast toy cars.
The visitor center walks you through the history Hornby and presents many of the inventions of its founder Frank Hornby.
There are large model railway displays, with buttons that children can play with, and you can introduce kids to the fun of Scalextric racing on a track that times their laps.
During school holidays the visitor center has workshops like model paint, and there’s a cafe on site.
9. Margate Harbour Arm
Beginning next to the Turner Contemporary, the harbor wall on the east side of the Main Sand looks back at the resort and its beach.
Some of the low brick buildings that once held fishing equipment are now bars, cafes and a pub, with benches in front so you can soak up those views.
Others have been turned into artists’ studios, and there’s a lively calendar of exhibitions at the Harbour Arm Gallery.
At the end of the arm is a bronze statue of a “Shell Lady”, a scaled-up version of figurines depicting women and made from shells, sold in Margate’s souvenir shops.
They are named after famous women in Margate’s past, and this one is called “Mrs. Booth” after the landlady whose guesthouse had a view on Margate Harbour.
She had a relationship with J. M. W. Turner and supported the artist until he passed away in 1851.
10. Theatre Royal
The Grade II-listed Theatre Royal dates from 1787 and claims to the second oldest working theatre in the country.
The first theatre was badly damaged in a fire in 1829 and was reconstructed at the end of the 1870s.
Between 1885 and 1899 the actor-manager Sarah Thorne operated an acting school at the Theatre Royal, and some of the most illustrious actors of the period learned their craft on this stage.
One, Evelyn Millard, would play Cecily Cardew at the premiere of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895. The auditorium is a fine old space, with gilded stuccowork on its balcony and gallery, hosting well-known comedians, touring bands, ballet, musicals and shows for kids.
11. Tudor House
A cherished mainstay of the Old Town is this corbelled half-timbered house dating to 1525. The Tudor House has “close studding”, narrow gaps between its vertical timbers, and sits on a plinth made of flint.
The building was restored in 1951, but more than three-quarters of its material dates from the 16th century.
The house is open Wednesday afternoons and weekends and has three reception rooms on its lower floor, one with a sublime Jacobean plaster ceiling featuring fleurs de lys, dolphins and Tudor roses.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, while there’s a garden outside with formal hedges and benches so you can revel in the ambiance for a while.
12. Walpole Bay Hotel Museum
In Cliftonville to the east of Margate proper, there’s an enthralling piece of English seaside history.
The Walpole Bay Hotel harks back to Margate’s glory days at the start of the 20th century, with its wooden verandas and charming metal and glass canopy on the ground floor.
The Walpole Bay Hotel opened in 1914 and has been kept largely as it was in the 1910s and 1920s.
Slowly, the hotel has put together a weird and wonderful display of early 20th-century artifacts like domestic appliances, dolls, costumes and authentic fittings from the hotel, such as gas lights, call systems, and even urinals.
You can also view an assortment of fossils found on Thanet’s beaches, and stop for afternoon tea under the canopy.
The museum is free of charge but accepts donations.
13. Old Kent Market
Fronting the Main Sands, the Old Kent Market is a recently opened indoor market inside a grand old cinema building from 1911. The Parade Cinema’s former auditorium has raised galleries and a soaring vaulted ceiling, and after becoming a bingo hall, and then a snooker club, has found a new lease of life as a twee shopping emporium.
Inside, an old London bus has been turned into a cafe, and you’ll happen upon what claims to be the smallest pub in the country, with standing room for six customers.
Come to shop for fresh produce sourced from Kent farms, freshly baked pastries and antiques, and grab some sushi.
14. Strokes Adventure Golf
An adventure golf course would have to be pretty special to warrant inclusion on a list like this.
But Strokes Adventure Golf qualifies for a few reasons.
For one thing, Strokes has hosted the British Mini Golf Association Open tournament five times in the last decade.
The course has 18 imaginatively devised holes, with natural hazards to test the short game of serious golfers and pose a fun challenge for kids.
The location is great too, on raised ground overlooking Westbrook Bay.
15. Draper’s Mill
Surrounded by modern housing on a hill in Margate’s southern suburbs is a working “smock mill”. This style of the windmill is mostly peculiar to Kent, and has a weatherboard tower, with six or eight sides, capped with a rotating roof that can turn to catch the wind.
Draper’s Mill has eight sides and was erected in 1845, grinding corn by wind until 1916 and then with a gas engine up to the end of the 1930s.
The mill is owned by a not-for-profit trust, which has restored the Victorian brake wheel and six grindstones and kept them in working order since 1965. You can look inside on Sunday afternoons in June, July and August when a volunteer will be on hand to talk you through the mill’s history and mechanism.