Kent Coast England
By Jill Emeny
Less than two hours from London by train, the Kent Coastline offers long stretches of clean, sandy beaches (many of them with the desirable blue flag status), secluded coves, and bustling seaside towns. There's plenty to keep visitors going over a long weekend, from quirky independent shops to worthy eateries to stylish boutique hotels. A focus for visitors is the area from Whitstable to Ramsgate, taking in the colourful beach huts of Herne Bay and the traditional seaside resort of Broadstairs, with many beaches to be discovered along the way. Walkers can take off on a bracing cliff top ramble whilst exploring the 27-mile-long Viking Coastal Path, taking in smugglers haunts, and some of the oldest churches in England.
For a literary experience, true Dickens fans head for Broadstairs to visit his seaside residence Bleak House or the Dickens House Museum, once home to Mary Pearson Strong, and the inspiration behind David Copperfield character Betsy Trotwood. Every June, an annual Dickens's Festival (www.broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk) attracts enthusiastic visitors dressed in Victoriana. Whilst in town, a gelato from iconic 1930s ice cream parlour Morelli's is essential (www.morellisgelato.com).
Further West along the coast, experience Whitstable's historic harbour and sample top-notch seafood (try Wheeler's Oyster Bar for a taste of the best), or amble along the charming boutiques and one-off stores of Harbour Street.
Jill Emeny is Associate Commissioning Editor for Frommer's, based in London.