A trip to the seaside is a British tradition and still a firm favourite, despite the often bracing sea air. And if you're considering a weekend break on the coast, Brighton offers all the traditional amusements and sticks of rock, alongside a quirky charm all of its own. Here are just a few of the sights and sounds you'll find at this fashionable seaside resort.
Full of wonderful Regency houses and narrow lanes, Brighton is a great place simply to wander. But if sightseeing is your thing, first on the list must be the Royal Pavilion - a bonkers mix of Indian, Chinese and Islamic-inspired colours and shapes, it was the Prince Regent's seaside palace, and is as splendid as it is bizarre. The gorgeous gardens are free to roam, or pay £10 a person to view the beautifully restored inside.
If you're travelling with the family though, don't miss the Sea Life Centre, which houses more than 1,500 ocean dwellers.
Browsing doesn't come much better than in Brighton's narrow streets. Head to North Laine for an intriguing array of independent stores, where you can find everything from bric-a-brac to hidden gems, retro goodies and vintage clothes to Oriental furniture and unique jewellery. Snooper's Paradise in Kensington Gardens is a must-see if you are a keen browser. Then wander on to the winding passageways of The Lanes, where you can find designer fashions to die for.
A hot bed of creativity, there's plenty to do in Brighton if you're after a cultural weekend away. The Brighton Centre regularly welcomes big-name bands, and the Theatre Royal has a long tradition of presenting top quality West End productions. For a more quirky night at the theatre though, try the Nightingale in Surrey Street, where you can see local and international fringe theatre above the Grand Central pub.
Elsewhere, the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, located within the grounds of the Royal Pavilion, offers an eclectic mix of fashion, art and interactive displays. The town is also home to many up and coming artists, so a visit to Upper North Street and Montpelier Place is well worth it if you're in the market for some unique arts and crafts of your own.
If you are considering a break in the summer, there are plenty of cultural goings on, with the Fringe Festival and the Brighton Festival two of the highlights of the year.
For the true seaside experience, it goes without saying that a stroll along the promenade is a must. Brighton's cosmopolitan atmosphere is in evidence all along the seafront, with cafes and restaurants running alongside the pebbles, while nestling beneath the Victorian arches is the town's heady mix of clubs and bars, where you'll plenty to enjoy after dark.
The highlight, of course, is the Victorian pier, which is awash with traditional seaside fare, penny arcades and fairground attractions. Thrill-seekers should head to the end of the pier, where there are a variety of rides to keep you amused. And if you need warming up after a brisk but chilly walk along the seafront, freshly-made hot doughnuts or fish and chips straight from the paper do a marvellous job of warming you up.
Where to stay
As you might expect, there are plenty of places to stay in Brighton - from the historic Grand Hotel on the seafront to funky boutique B&Bs and self catering apartments. If noise is a concern, consider staying in nearby leafy Hove, which is all together more peaceful, yet just a short stroll along the seafront away. To find a place to stay, try www.visitbrighton.com/accommodation.
What sights and activities would you recommend for a weekend away in Brighton? Leave your comments below...