A coastal town in the low-lying moors of Lincolnshire, Mablethorpe is put into use as a family resort in the summer.
The headline is a vast stretch of golden sand that stretches for miles and is tracked by sand dunes and a nature reserve to the north.
There’s plenty for kids to do, whether it’s the simple fun of crazy golf and paddling pools, or the days of nostalgic beach train trips at the wildlife sanctuary and Mablethorpe.
In stark contrast to the resort’s playgrounds, entertainment venues and arcades, the town of Alford, near Walds in Lincolnshire, boasts a 17th-century thatched manor and a restored five-sail windmill.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Mablethorpe:
1. Mablethorpe Beach
A perennial Blue Flag winner, Mablethorpe Beach is a wide, golden sandy beach that stretches for miles north and south of the resort.
You can stay in the center to enjoy waterfront amenities like fish and chip shops, donkey rides and crazy golf, or head north and leave the crowds behind.
In Sedlethorpe, the beach proportions are so huge that you may not see a single soul.
Back at the resort, along the raised promenade, there is a line of colourful beach safaris.
In mid-September, these places will host the “Beauty in the Bath” arts and crafts festival.
This promenade runs along the coast past Sutton-on-Sea and is suitable for long walks and bike rides.
2. Saltfleetby – Theddlethorpe Dunes
The coastline north of the seal sanctuary becomes a nature preserve, protecting 1,377 acres of sand dunes, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, mudflats and sandy beaches.
You will see two dunes on either side of the freshwater reserve, extending from north to south.
The landward ridge dates back to the 1200s and was formed at Storm Beach, while the dunes to the east are from the 1800s and were created by the re-routing of the Great Ou River.
The reserve has 3 marked trails to walk, with different sights to see depending on the season.
A range of wildfowl species, such as turquoises and mallards, spend the entire winter in the reserve, while in spring there are beautiful dune flora and dozens of migratory birds can be seen in summer.
3. Lincolnshire Water Park
There is a set of freshwater pools in the swamp behind the resort and inflatable adventure courses are installed in the summer.
Lincolnshire Water Park is open from late May to early October and is suitable for anyone over the age of 5.
You’ll don a life jacket and helmet and fight on a tiring but fun course with two large slides, a giant hamster wheel, eight trampolines, an inflatable climbing wall, and a four-meter-trailer Explosion bag and a five-meter high – High Jungle Joe climbing frame.
4. Mable Thorpe Sand Train
The Mablethorpe Sand Train has been the key to the resort since 1952, running along the golden sands of Mablethorpe North Beach.
You can even use the train as a means of transport if you are staying near Sands Holiday Park or want to get to the seal sanctuary from the centre of the resort.
Dogs are welcome on board and the entire return journey from Central Beach takes around 20 minutes and costs £2 per passenger, with children under two free.
5. Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary
During some family time away from the coast, there is a farm of rescued donkeys in the nearby village of Hertoft.
The Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary is not-for-profit and is open Tuesday through Thursday and on summer weekends.
The farm has buckets of carrots that you can buy for 50p to feed the donkeys through the paddock pens, an activity children can do as the animals are gentle.
The sanctuary also has a small cafe serving drinks and hot and cold snacks.
6. Queens Park
Tucked away on the promenade, Queens Park is a family-oriented park with lots of amenities for the kids.
The main feature is a boating lake, which was found in coastal towns across England in the early 20th century.
Now there is a large flock of geese living here.
There’s also a paddling pool, miniature railway, an 18-hole putting green and a crazy golf course.
Whenever you visit, you’ll see older residents using the bowling greens and tennis courts, while the Pavilion Café next to the paddling pool stocks a variety of snacks, hot drinks and ice creams.
7. Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre
This small zoo is run by a charity that saves seals and seabirds.
Resident seals that cannot be released into the wild are kept in enclosures with information panels describing their behavior and personal stories.
You can find out more at your scheduled feeding time.
The Wildlife Center also has many primates (see rowdy gibbons), reptiles, cats, meerkats, goats, emus, guinea pigs, giant rabbits, pigs, ponies and birds of prey.
8. Alford Manor
The town of Alford, near Mablethorpe, has a few places to drive, but most importantly this 17th-century mansion.
Alford Manor is believed to be the largest thatched-roofed estate in the UK.
The building, based on the H factory, was completed in 1611 with a wooden frame and was later surrounded by brick walls.
The house is rented out for private events, but is also open for exhibitions dealing with local history.
The barn on the grounds is a museum of country life, uncovering a past life on the edge of the forest in Lincolnshire.
There’s a shoemaker and blacksmith shop, a Hornsby threshing drum, a 1957 Massey Harris 780 Special combine and a collection of mid-20th century Lister and Petter stationary engines.
9. Mablethorpe to Sutton-on-Sea Promenade Cycle Path
Mablethorpe is at the tip of a series of coastal towns connected by a long seaside cycle path at the top of the embankment.
Those who crave sport, sea air and tranquillity can escape the arcades of Mablethorpe for more peaceful villages and towns.
Trusthorpe has a medieval parish church on the way to Sutton-on-Sea.
The difference between Sutton-on-Sea and Mablethorpe is day and night, but the beach is pretty much the same, with a paddling pool next to the promenade for the little ones.
Play a round of golf on the links course at Sandilands Golf Club before enjoying a pub lunch in the low-key town behind the embankment.
10. Loewen Cinema
This is England, and there’s always a chance that your family day at the beach will be interrupted by the weather.
Loewen Cinema is a rainy day solution that showcases all the latest Hollywood blockbusters and home movies.
Although there is nothing special about the modern architecture, this friendly individual theatre is a far cry from a large multiplex; if you come in the afternoon you’ll get a cup of tea or coffee, and the seats in both the auditorium and the chapel are large, Very comfortable.
If you’re used to seeing movies at corporate cinemas, you’ll be surprised how cheap tickets, popcorn and soft drinks are.
11. Mablethorpe Playground
The Mablethorpe Fairground is a mainstay of the Central Promenade Resort for cheesy family fun.
The site is free to enter, and you’ll pay for each ride and entertainment with vouchers.
There are dodges, slides, horror houses, hook ducks and more gentle rides for younger children such as the carousel and the “car”-themed Race-o-Rama.
The open-air market is open on weekends from 11:00 to 17:00 and serves classic seaside favourites such as toffee apples and fish and chips.
12. Alford Five-Sail Windmill
This impressive factory is in perfect working order and is open to the public on select days throughout the year.
These tend to be irregular, so you’ll want to check the factory’s website before coming.
Just a 10-minute drive from Mablethorpe, this mill was built in 1837. Interestingly, the company founded by the miller who built this mill is still in business today.
The Wufan design was mold-breaking at the time and was based on the efficiency experiments of engineer John Smeaton.
You can see the wheat by the wind, while the lovely tea room ‘Millstones’ bakes delicious coffee cakes and Victoria sponges from stone-ground flour.
13. On your brand
Alford also has a private model car and racing museum filled with love.
Anyone interested in collectibles or quirky museums will be interested in On Your Marques.
During the summer museum season, around 6,500 models are displayed here.
When it reopens, there’s always a ton of new acquisitions to browse.
Along with the models are posters and other car-themed memorabilia from movies, Formula 1, rally, supercar and Le Mans.
Tea and cakes are served at the Pit-Stop Cafe, which is flanked by a highly detailed working Scalextric (slot machine) track just under 50 meters in length.
14. Woodthorpe Garden Centre
More than just a place to shop for plants and garden furniture and accessories, Woodthorpe Garden Centre is a stand-alone attraction that will especially appeal to young children.
There’s a spacious outdoor play area, a large hedge maze to tackle and the “Dinothorpe” with surprisingly convincing dinosaur models.
Woodthorpe Garden Centre also has a sit-down restaurant serving coffee by Stokes of Lincoln (founded in 1902), and during Advent there is a Santa’s Grotto.
Parents vacationing with teens can give their kids some free time this summer at an indoor amusement park that’s always full of life.
Mirage is packed with constantly updated arcade machines, as well as old-school games like coin-operated machines and ticket machines.
Under this roof there is also a multi-lane bowling alley, a play area for younger children and a café/bar where adults can take a break.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Mablethorpe, England
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