Top 7 Things to Do in Ramsgate with Kids

Last weekend, we visited Ramsgate in Kent and were delighted by this gem of coastal Regency splendour.  I have such a soft spot for these late Georgian seaside towns, perhaps because we live in one!, and it is lovely to see one gradually being restored to its former glory.  The small businesses and local organisations of Ramsgate have really got their act together and are doing their best to turn the town around.


The Harbour

I have visited neighbouring Broadstairs a couple of times, but never ventured down the road to its sister port.  The only Royal Harbour in Britain, and only 35 miles from France, Ramsgate found itself a target in both the first and second World Wars, and also played a key role in the evacuation of British troops at Dunkirk in 1940.  A more peaceful area now, the arches formerly used to store cargo are being filled with independent retailers and cafés, such as the delightful Archive, Homestore & Kitchen.


Visit the Clock House on the quay which contains prehistoric and maritime exhibits.  The P22, one of the original 'Little Ships' that set sail for Dunkirk, is proudly moored next door.  Opposite is the pretty Victorian Visitor Information Centre.  From the harbour you can take a Rib Request or Sea Searcher boat trip to see languishing seals and more.


The Town

With the usual plethora of high street shops, but plenty of independents too, Ramsgate is a great place to shop.  While in town, make time to take in the Gothic gem created by Augustus Pugin, he of Palace of Westminster fame.  Ramsgate's Shrine of St Augustine is his personal project, described by him as his "ideal church" and his "own child".


With a new visitor centre it is a beautiful place, and also marks the start of the 19 mile Way of St Augustine which connects the Shrine of St Augustine, who brought Christianity to England, with Canterbury Cathedral.  Pick up a Pugin Trail from The Pugin Society to find out more about the town's famous son.

The Beach

With two miles of glorious sand and a relatively quiet, undeveloped sea front, Ramsgate is the perfect beach for small people, so pack your buckets and spades!  Even in late autumn, our hardy crew made a beeline straight for the beach and had a wonderful time digging, drawing and building.  You can hire a Coastal Explorer Pack from the Visitor Information Centre in the harbour to make the most of your beach explorations, or try Geocaching.



Explore the sea front by foot, bike or hire a canoe from Canoe Wild or Thanet Watersports and head round to Broadstairs or south to Pegwell Bay nature reserve, a great place for birdwatching.


The Viking Trail

The Viking Trail, so-named to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the invasion of Britain in 1949, is a 32 mile route around the coast of Thanet, from Reculver to Sandwich Bay.  Popular with walkers and cyclists alike, hire bikes from Ride Thanet and follow the trail from Ramsgate to Broadstairs, where a stop at Morelli's Gelato on Victoria Parade is certainly justified!



King George VI Memorial Park

Back in Ramsgate, the girls loved the playground in the King George VI Park, which has a great little café for mum and dad, and plenty of chatty dogs and dog walkers to keep the whole family entertained.  The Italianate Glasshouse & Tea Garden comes highly recommended for lunch or dinner.



Ramsgate Tunnels

Our favourite activity in Ramsgate is the World War II tunnels, which were carved out of the chalk bedrock under the town to keep its people safe during bombing raids from 1939 onwards.  Using  a former mainline railway tunnel as its start, the network extended under the whole town, so that no inhabitant was more than 10 minutes' walk from safety.


On 24th August 1940 more than 500 bombs were dropped on Ramsgate by bombers on their way to RAF Manston a few miles away.  Countless lives were saved by the tunnels that day and throughout the war.  The tunnels extend for over 3 miles under the town and the tour explores more than a mile of them.


Replica beds show what those long Air Raid days would have been like, and the guides have lots of stories of life underground.  The little boy in the photo below is now a man of 80+ years living in Australia who hopes to return to the tunnels soon for a visit.


This photo shows the children's 'tunnel shoes' which were simply abandoned underground when peace was declared.  It is so damp that the stitching and lining has rotted away but the leather remains.


So many houses suffered bombed damage and so many were completely destroyed, that many people ended up living in the old railway tunnel by the sea front, where they established small 'homes' and grabbed what privacy they could.  Find out more at www.ramsgatetunnels.org


Quex Park and the Powell-Cotton Museum

Slightly further afield, you will find Quex Park which has gardens and a house to explore, Jungle Jims soft play, Activity Centre, Adventure Golf, a Maize Maze in summer, and an amazing natural history museum.  We only had time for the museum, alas, but will certainly be back to explore further.


Percy Powell-Cotton was an explorer and early conservationist, who saw it as imperative to preserve species for future generations, but being a product of his time did this by killing and stuffing a wide variety of species.  The vast array of stuffed animals are a slight challenge for modern tastes, but still fascinating and educational.  The dioramas of these dazzling collections of animals are said to be the best in Europe, and they have certainly been created with supreme attention to detail.


The museum also houses a fine collection of Chinese, Japanese and German porcelain and other artefacts.  Its greatest strength is the fantastic hands-on room at the end of the exhibits which encourages visitors young and old to touch, play with and sketch the exhibits.  The girls loved it!





Find our more on the Quex Park and Powell-Cotton Museum website.

Ramsgate is a year round destination with plenty to do for all ages.  We loved how outdoorsy it is with so many activities for all the family to try.  The Spitfire and Hurricane Museum at Manston and Wildwood were also recommended to us, but we ran out of days.  Next time!

Visit in December to see the harbour full of illuminations on the boats and local businesses, in September for the Addington Street Community Fair, in spring and autumn for the Looping the Loop arts festival, or all summer long from May to August for a host of activities.

We highly recommend Glendevon Guest House, perfectly located to explore all that Ramsgate has to offer, with clean, comfortable rooms, all with kitchenette if you don't fancy dining out.

If you do want to find a great restaurant, don't miss our guide to the best places to eat in Ramsgate.

We were guests of Active Ramsgate and received complimentary accommodation, meals and activities.


And don't forget to enter our competitions

 

Comments

  1. I've never been to Ramsgate and I certainly didn't know there was so much to do there! My sister and her children are planning on moving to Kent in the new year so it sounds like we've got plenty to do if we go on a day trip to Ramsgate.

    Call me uneducated but I also never knew all the details of how badly Ramsgate was affected by the war - and those tunnels are incredible! It looks like such an educational and fun trip!

    Issy | MissIsGoode
    xx

    ReplyDelete

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