Things to do in Lyme Regis
Known as the ‘pearl of Dorset,’ Lyme Regis is a picturesque town on the Jurassic Coast. It combines traditional seaside charm with prehistoric significance, with many remarkable fossils having been unearthed here.
Adjacent to the River Lyme, the town became a major seaport in the 13th-century and was given the suffix ‘Regis’ by Royal charter. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Lyme Regis.
1. Get hands on with a Starfish
The Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is a small, family friendly venue which celebrates the diversity of local sealife, in all its slippery and slimy magnificence.
Brave kids can touch a giant brown crab or feed the voracious mullet. Adults can tour exhibits about local history, underground reefs, and the massive storms of 2014.
2. Get out on the waves
The best way to enjoy the English Channel, of course, is to get out on it. There are numerous places to hire a kayak or paddleboard in Lyme Regis, and instruction is available from outlets such as Boylo’s Watersports or Lyme Kayak Hire, both right on the shorefront promenade.
You might want to take a wetsuit too, as these waters are far from tropical, but there’s no better way to check out the coastline than bobbing on the waters on a calm, tranquil summer’s day.
3. Take a boat trip
If you prefer to have someone else in charge of your seagoing vessel, boat trips around the Jurassic Coast are a perennial draw. Stuart Line Cruises operate two National Trust tours. One heads out west past Ware and Seaton to Beer Head; the other journeys east as far as West Bay, via Seatown.
Expect to see wheeling seabirds, dramatic cliffs, and cute villages as you’re guided by an expert geologist and marine life expert. The trips each take just over two hours.
If something a little more adrenaline-inducing is more your style, try a RIB ride. Rigid Inflatable Boats are a type of speedboat which skim over the frothing breakers at speeds up to 70 knots. Local company Lyme Rib Rides will take you out on a short burst for 20 mins or on a longer cruise of up to two hours.
4. Tour neighbouring beaches
Both West Bay and Charmouth beaches are well worth a visit and are very popular with tourists and locals alike. They’re both sandy strips with impressive cliffs and gently sloping waters. Charmouth is about a 10-minute drive east from Lyme Regis, with West Bay about 20 minutes away.
If your fossil hunting has drawn a blank, you’ll find an impressive collection at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, where there’s a full Ichthyosaur skeleton on display.
5. Fun with fossils
For an even bigger collection of fossils, visit the privately owned Dinosaurland Fossil Museum, which includes over 16,000 specimens. These include impressive displays of dinos, a vivid illustration of deep time, and a natural history gallery. There are insights into the life and work of local pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning. You’ll find an impressive statue of her overlooking Church Cliff. The museum is housed in an attractive 18th-century former church.
The museum gives hints and tips for would be fossil hunters (try beneath Black Ven, along the coastline around a mile to the east).
6. Boutique shopping and galleries
Lyme Regis is trendier than you might imagine, almost like a miniature St Ives. You’ll find a range of local craftspeople and artists selling their wares in the backstreets including jewellery, fine art, and clothing.
For art lovers, there’s even a hidden Banksy in Lyme Regis, an origami crane by the side of the River Lyme, also known as the Lim. See if you can spot it!
7. Watch flour milled at the Town Mill
Active here since the 1300s, the Town Mill is well-worth a visit, since it forms a hub for local artisans including glassblowers, ceramicists and even a local brewery. You can watch grindstones in action, powered by a restored watermill, and learn about the ancient art of milling.
Visit the café to taste the bread made from flour milled on the premise and turned into loaves in the attached bakehouse. Then, take some more away as a momento!