I visit Weston fairly frequently as I'm sure regular readers will know, it's a perfect backdrop for blog pictures and despite being very different from the coasts of North Devon that I grew up on, it has a particular charm and beauty nostalgic of the heyday of seaside towns. Despite the recession, cheap holidays abroad and poor weather, it has managed to keep its economy going and now is firmly on the map, thanks to Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Here are a few of my favourite things to do in the town.
Walk to Birnbeck Pier
Once a bustling hub of amusements and frivolity, Birnbeck pier opened in the late 1800's and remains the only pier in the country linking the mainland to an island. In the late 1980's and early 1990s, the pier fell foul of structural damage and quickly spiraled into dereliction. The Weston Lifeboat Station began to use the island as a base but it was closed to public access and sadly this heritage pier is now crumbling into the sea, the costs of repairs outweighing the funding required to provide them. Whilst the pier is not accessible (the Lifeboat Station has now also been relocated as the pier is too unstable to allow even supported access) you can still marvel at the beauty of the craftsmanship and look upon a real piece of British seaside history.
Take a stroll around the town
Beyond the typical seaside town fayre, Weston offers a plethora of excellent charity shops as well as an antique market that's well worth a rummage. The bright lights of nearby Bristol and Cardiff across the water have enabled the decline of many big name retailers who chose to concentrate their presence in the cities, but there are still several independent stores well worth a visit; I recommend Stinx for a great selection of candles, oil burners and bath and body products.
Have a break
Overlooking the Bristol Channel and with views of the Grand Pier, Dr. Fox's Tearoom is a great place to refresh and refuel. Enjoy a slice of cake whilst taking in the sights and sounds of its placement on Knightstone Island, a step away from the hustle bustle of the main promenade.
Enjoy classic British Seaside fun
Weston's Grand Pier pavilion was completely destroyed by fire in 2008. It was rebuilt entirely and reopened to the public in 2010, and it is here that you will find the sounds and smells of a typical postcard seaside experience. Walk along the promenade nearby to see the donkeys giving rides and pick up some chips or candyfloss to snack on, and take a look at the gorgeous Winter Gardens pavilion architecture on the road opposite.
Go out for dinner
Walking down the promenade towards Knightstone there are many hotels, b&b's and eateries which spill out onto the pavement inviting patrons. You can find all sorts of different lunch or dinnertime options but I highly recommend the Italian Il Michelangelo's; the food there is delicious and the service is also very good.
And of course....
Even if you can't get hold of a ticket, Banksy's Dismaland, situated on the site of the Tropicana lido, is a must see. Walking up to the Marine Aquarium affords views into the park but you really ought to try and get a ticket if you can and look at all the fantastic artwork inside. If you are in Weston anyway, try your luck on the door; a limited number of tickets are available, but it's worth trying to book if you are traveling down especially for the exhibit.