Margate’s own theme park has had a difficult start to the 21st century, having closed completely in the early-2000s.
But following a stuttering relaunch in 2015, tens of millions of pounds have been pumped into Dreamland to build an attraction Margate can be proud of.
The first amusement rides arrived at this spot in the 1880s, and the Dreamland name was coined in 1920. This coincided with the construction of the Scenic Railway, the oldest working rollercoaster in the UK and a Grade II-listed monument in its own right.
This joined by a large and growing collection of fairground-style rides like dodgems, teacups, a ferris wheel and smaller amusements for the littlest family members.
Dreamland’s Victorian Hall by the Sea is a venue for live music, and the park outs on outdoor events in summer, like Gorillaz’ Demon Days Festival in 2017.
2. Margate Main Sands
The place to get in touch with the traditional delights of the English seaside, Margate Main Sands is the Blue Flag-winning beach on the resort’s central drag.
This a generous arc of golden sand, washed by shallow seas that fill a tidal pool if you’re up for a dip in the nippy North Sea.
The tidal range is quite dramatic in Margate, but even when the water is up there’s enough room for your deck chair or sun lounger.
The beach is backed by the Old Town, which has no end of pubs, shops, seafood stalls and restaurants, while further west is Dreamand and rows of amusement arcades.
On the east side is Margate Harbour, shielded by its “harbour arm”.
3. Margate Old Town
Against the Main Sands, the Old Town is Margate at its most stylish and bohemian.
There’s hardly a chain store to be found on this burrow of streets and alleys flanked by Georgian and Victorian flat-fronted facades up to four storeys high.
The ground floors have kitsch cafes, specialty food shops, independent art galleries, old seafarers’ inns and loads of vintage clothes and antiques shops.
It comes as no shock that the Old Town has been voted one of the UK’s trendiest quarters, and the old time maritime character and enticing shopfronts may keep you spellbound for a few hours.
4. Turner Contemporary
On the site of a boarding house in which J. M. W. Turner stayed is an art museum designed by David Chipperfield and opened in 2011. The Turner Contemporary had been a long time in the pipeline and the project was supported by Tracey Emin, who grew up in Margate.
The warehouse-like structure with its stark white walls is Kent’s largest visual arts venue.
When you visit there will be four or five simultaneous exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary.
In summer 2018 the standout was “Now”, by the Chinese female contemporary artists Yin Xiuzhen and Duan Jianyu, showcasing large-scale sculptural works made from recycled materials by the former, and paintings exploring the tension between rural and urban China by Duan Jianyu.