What finer way to enjoy the view of the Humber estuary than from a historic pier? Cleethorpes has loads of traditional seaside fun in store, but it’s not all sandcastles and sunbathing - you can also take a scenic trip on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and visit the world’s smallest pub, or see everything from toucans to turtles at the Jungle Zoo.
Activities in Cleethorpes
You’ve ticked off the fishing heritage centre - now the absolute must-see on a visit to Cleethorpes is the seaside. Lincolnshire might have some better-known resorts such as Skegness further down the coast, but a visit to Cleethorpes Beach is well worth the effort.
The beach offers over a mile of soft sand that’s perfect for young families keen on making sand castles. If the weather’s not so good or you’re out of season, there are still plenty of reasons to make a beeline for the beach. It’s ideal for a bracing walk, although dog owners should note that your pets are not allowed between Wonderland Groyne and Cleethorpes Leisure Centre from Good Friday to 30 September each year.
Cleethorpes first became a popular resort in the 19th century because of its golden sandy beaches, and today the whole coastline remains a haven for wildlife. The North East Lincolnshire Coast has international recognition as a special site for migrating birds and rare plants.
The one thing any beach needs to complete the traditional British seaside experience is a pier - and that’s one of the ways in which Cleethorpes comes up trumps. Mind you, only just! Cleethorpes Pier has its fair share of ups and downs over recent decades, in common with many of other piers around the UK. It’s been closed several times but was happily opened again in 2017 after being taken over by the Papa's Fish and Chips chain - one of the suggested restaurants in our list of places to eat in Cleethorpes.
At only 102m long, it might be one of the shorter piers in the UK, but it has a long history going back to 1873 when it was first opened. Among the famous names who have performed on the pier are Blur, Frankie Vaughan, Cannon and Ball and Rod Hull. It was named ‘Pier of the Year 2016’ by the National Piers Society after a £4.7 million restoration project over two years.
Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway
A wonderful way of sightseeing is to take the scenic Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway. You can ride on both steam and diesel locomotives along the 15-inch gauge track which follows a two-mile route along the seafront and stops at three stations - Lakeside, Humberston and Kingsway.
The award-winning attraction celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018, making it one of Britain’s oldest seaside miniature railways. It's a charming journey for young and old alike and adult passengers might enjoy stopping for a pint at The Signal Box Inn, which lays claim to the title of being the smallest pub in the world. Only 8ft by 8ft square and seating just four people at a time, it still manages to squeeze in five hand pumps serving real ale, and also has its own beer garden. The railway has a café on platform one for snacks and drinks, plus souvenir and gift shops, and throughout the year it hosts special events including Thomas the Tank Engine days, a Folk and Cider Festival and Santa Specials.
The good news for those staying at our Cleethorpes hotel is that the railway’s main Lakeside station is directly opposite.
It’s not the biggest animal attraction around, but Cleethorpes’ Jungle Zoo makes up for what it lacks in size with its friendly welcome.
Located almost right next to Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway’s Lakeside station, the zoo is again really convenient for our Cleethorpes hotel. The animals housed there fall into five categories - amphibians, birds, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. Be warned that there are no lions, tigers and elephants as you might expect at a larger zoo, but younger visitors will love the colourful toucan as well as turtles, an alligator and a giant tortoise who roams freely around the zoo and likes to have his head rubbed and will pose for selfies. The zoo also has a wide variety of exotic frogs as well as tarantulas, snakes and scorpions plus lemurs, meerkats, capuchin monkeys, goats and pigs.
Cleethorpes Boating Lake
One of the great things about Cleethorpes is that the town is so compact that you can quickly find your way around and easily get from one place to another. Cleethorpes Boating Lake is at the southern end of the town next to Cleethorpes Local Nature Reserve just round the back of the Jungle Zoo and is another favourite spot that’s a very short walk from our Cleethorpes hotel.
Hiring a rowing boat or pedalo is one of the simple pleasures of life - and this is an ideal spot for getting out on the water. There are in fact two main lakes connected together, and if you prefer to stay on dry land, they’re surrounded by large grassy areas which are perfect for picnics. It’s the south lake which is used for boating, while the north lake is used for fishing and by a model boat club, and also has an open air paddling pool at its most northerly point.
If you’re not actually boating, It’s a lovely spot for a stroll - you can follow the boating lake tree trail spotting poplars, pines, willows and many more varieties as well as admiring the illuminated fountain in the middle of the lake.
A word to the wise, Bodenham Arboretum is not free, and the price of tickets changes with the seasons of the year but at roughly a few pounds for adults it's worth it for a peaceful afternoon outdoors.