Things to do in Cleethorpes
On the Humber Estuary, adjacent to Grimsby, lies Cleethorpes, a fishing town which became one of England’s most popular seaside resorts in the late Victorian period. Trainline voted it the number one seaside town reachable by train in 2021.
What makes this town so charming? It’s a mixture of natural beauty, history (the area has been inhabited since at least the 6th-century AD), plenty of great restaurants, and a surprising number of activities. Below, we’ve collated some of the very best things to do in Cleethorpes, ranging from miniature train rides to bird-watching.
1. A walk on the beach
Unlike its famous neighbour, Cleethorpes has a beautiful beach, complete with a traditional Victorian pier, lots of sandy stretches to frolic upon and a shallow rake to the sand for paddlers. It’s a real escape from the hustle and bustle with a breath of fresh air every time!
2. Venture out into the country
Unlike many other seaside towns, Cleethorpes boasts inland charms too. Off Kings Road and adjacent to the town’s golf course is Cleethorpes Country Park, a 153-acre green space with artificial lakes whose picturesque appeal belies their origin. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot great crested grebes on the water, cormorants drying their wings or kingfishers diving for fish.
It’s a great place to walk dogs, but you may want to keep them on the lead as this is a nature reserve with protected grassland and woodland habitats.
3. Cleethorpes boating lake
Walk to the most south-easterly extent of the beach and along the footpath and you’ll find this idyllic wedge-shaped park which contains an ornate boating lake and several other attractions. Hire a rowing boat or pedalo to get out on the water with the swans, let your kids play in the paddling pool, or walk the perimeter path for a spot of post-lunch exercise.
One of the best places to eat and drink is contained in the park grounds by the water’s edge – it’s simultaneously a tearoom, a taproom, and a pizzeria! The tearoom is open 10am until 5pm seven days a week and pizza and craft beers can be enjoyed from 12pm until 9pm.
4. Meridian showground
Close to the southern station of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway you’ll find the Meridian Showground, a large site often used for events, festivals, markets, and rallies. Depending upon when you visit, you may be fortunate enough to catch a movie, concert or market here. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for notification of future events.
Events held here include summer film screenings, the annual Pride celebration and The Gathering, a music festival.
5. Jungle zoo
This recently opened pocket zoo can be found towards the southern extent of the boating lake park. Meet ring-tailed lemurs, meerkats, tortoise, scorpions, armadillos, macaw and more. Some of the animals can even be petted (not the scorpions).
You won’t find jungle cats or elephants here, but for a compact facility, it’s well laid-out, provides suitable habitats and is a great and interactive way to teach kids about animals and the ecosystem. As a small, family run facility, it’s very welcoming, so feel free to ask questions during your visit.
6. Take the tiny train
Light railways are becoming a rarer proposition in England these days. Fortunately, Cleethorpes has one of the most popular and scenic 15-inch gauge routes still available. Two steam-powered engines pull passenger cars for a mile and a half between the promenade station and the Cleethorpes boating lake. You’ll either ride behind a number 24, US-style engine or Bonnie Dundee, a Scottish engine originally built for freight haulage.
After your miniature trip you can enjoy a pint in (or more likely outside) the “Smallest Pub on the Planet”, The Signal Box Inn, an 8ft square refurbished facility offering a surprisingly generous selection of local and craft beers. There’s also a café on platform one and a gift shop for souvenirs.
7. Birdwatching bonanza
There are two great places to go birding near Cleethorpes, so get your Book of British Birds and binoculars out and get “twitching”.
First stop is the Humberston Nature Reserve, adjacent to the Haven Thorpe Park Holiday Park. This sandy strip of low-lying dunes is home to oystercatchers, redshank, egret, skylarks, dunlin, and teal, and is also a great place to exercise your dog (though on the lead). It’s also known locally as the “fitties”.
The other reserve, protected by the RSPB, lies just to the south of the caravan park, at Clayton’s Lagoon, a 2150-acre site called Tetney Marshes. These mudflats, salt marsh and saline lagoons form a habitat for over 175,000 birds, making this section of the Humber floodplain one of Britain’s top five estuaries. Golden plovers, curlews, brent geese and buntings are among the native species and wintering birds you may spot.
8. The Magical Castle
If the little ones are getting restless, there are few places more engaging and exciting in Cleethorpes than this enchanting world on the seafront. The large castle-shaped play area is home to a friendly dragon, a hamster wheel, slides, balance beam and something known as the “black hole” tunnel slide, recommended for only the bravest miniature explorers.
There’s an under-4s play area too, some arcade games and lots of colourful picnic tables at which to enjoy hearty meals from the on-site café, including a full English breakfast, soft drinks, teas and coffees.
9. Sea View Street and Cleethorpes Pier Gardens
The area around Sea View Street has the highest concentration of local boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s a great place to wander and you’re close enough to Cleethorpes Pier Gardens to explore that too. Look out for the unique pelican waterfall and try your hand at crazy golf if the weather’s good.
Nearby Grimsby is also well worth a visit -- there are plenty of things to see and do in Cleethorpes’ northern neighbour.