Leigh-on-Sea and the surrounding areas have some fantastic sights and attractions, perfect for a day out with the family. So, turn the telly off and grab your walking shoes, it’s time to discover all that our quaint little town has to offer with our list of top things to do in Leigh-on-Sea.
Who said the high street was dead? A true gem of the east coast, the Leigh Broadway is a thriving hub of activity, the heart of Leigh-on-Sea, and the place we’ve been lucky enough to call home since 1991. Just a short (albeit very steep!) walk up from the seafront, and you’ll find yourself immersed in this busy community of independent traders. The Broadway boasts restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, galleries, boutique fashion outlets, and much more. Perfect for a meander on a weekend, or for gift shopping when you want something that’s a little bit special and unique.
Keep an eye out for the fabulous community events that the Broadway hosts every year such as Leigh Lights, the Christmas Parade, and the Leigh Art Trail; an event which draws people from all over the country.
For more information about events on Leigh Broadway:
The Leigh Heritage Trail
Immerse yourself in the 1000 year history of Leigh, a small fishing community which grew to become a place of national importance for trading and seafaring between the 14th and 18th centuries. Beginning at the Leigh Library (a former rectory, now a grade II listed building) you meander your way around the picturesque streets, following in the footsteps of Elizabethan mariners, artists and open-air preachers. It’s a fantastic way to stretch those legs and really explore our lovely village.
Address: Begin at Leigh Library, Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 2DA
NetPark is the first digital art park in the world. Created as an added visitor attraction to Chalkwell Park, it’s a collection of 15 art exhibitions and stories to enjoy as you wander around. There is free wifi at the park to download the required apps (downloads can be found on their website), just make sure to bring along some headphones. They also organise family-friendly NetPark tours with the option to hire iPads if you don’t have one at home. Created by artists, illustrators, musicians, writers and Southend school pupils, it’s a unique and fun way of experiencing art in a digital form.
Address: Chalkwell Park, Southend on Sea SS0 8NB
Opening Hours: 6am – 8pm, all year round
Two Tree Island
With an abundance of wildlife and vegetation, this nature reserve is the perfect place to discover all of the different species which inhabit the area. Hours of peaceful walks await you and the family in this 640-acre reserve. The island is situated just south of Leigh-on-Sea train station, and there is a car park nearby.
Address: Two Tree Island, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea SS9 2GB, England
Opening hours: open at all times
Known as the ‘old town’ area of Leigh-on-Sea, Old Leigh is a quaint part of town which consists of fishing boats, craft shops, cockle sheds and pubs, with a small beach which is popular with families and young children.
Take an hour or two to wander the cobbled street, enjoying the quiet charm and perusing the locally run art galleries and studios, then head to Bell Wharf beach, passing the cockle sheds, to grab a quick snack of deliciously salty cockles and soak up the sunshine. Overcast? Not a problem, head to one of the four excellent pubs in the area and grab a table overlooking the estuary instead!
Address: High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea SS9 2EP, England
You can read more about the area here.
Leigh Heritage Centre
Standing in the centre of Old Leigh, the Heritage centre is located in the old Smithy. Filled with local historical artefacts and memorabilia, it’s a great way to learn about the history and natural heritage of Leigh, it is also part of the Leigh Heritage Trail; a walk through the town which takes in all the sites. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to answer any of your questions, there is also a traditional fisherman’s cottage which has been restored to allow visitors a glimpse of life back in the 1850’s. Entry is free , but they do accept donations in order to keep the centre running.
Address: 13A High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea SS9 2EN, England
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10;00 – 14:00
Read more about the heritage centre here.
From Leigh-on-Sea train station you can begin the scenic walk away from the Old Town to the romantic ruins of Hadleigh Castle. Built in the 1200’s by the Earl of Kent, there are lovely views along the way, and once you reach the castle you’ll be rewarded with the most stunning view of all as you look back along the Thames Estuary.
Popular with dog walkers and joggers, access is via a kissing gate. Bring a picnic and find a secluded spot, you will feel like the castle belongs only to you.
Address: Hadleigh, Essex
Opening hours: Open at any reasonable time during daylight hours
Find out more about the castle here.
Housed in a beautiful old rectory building, an afternoon spent in the library is the perfect rainy day activity. Spend a few hours reading in the children’s area or drawing at the craft table. Behind the Library are the Leigh Library gardens, a tranquil green space which is host to many events throughout the year. There is also a small playground for children, see if you can find the secret slide!
Address: Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea SS9 2DA, England
Opening hours: Monday, Friday and Saturday: 9.00am to 5.00pm
Tuesday and Thursday: 9.00am to 7.00pm
Wednesday: 9.00am to 1.00pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays: Closed
You can find out more about Leigh Library here.
Café Valise Pop Up: seven weeks of summer
Metal’s (the genius’ behind NetPark) travelling Café Valise comes to Chalkwell Hall in the summer for seven weeks of free live music, comedy, open mic nights, workshops and more. They have three geocaching sites in Chalkwell Park for little explorers, plus a bookshop and fully licensed bar and café. With something for everyone, this is an event not to be missed.
Address: Metal at Chalkwell Hall
Southend on Sea. SS0 8NB
Open: from Thursday 19 July – Sunday 2 Sept 2018
Hours: every Thurs to Sun, 11am – 6pm (plus evening events)
More on the pop up here.
Manoly’s Thai Restaurant
No visit to Leigh-on-Sea would be complete without a pit-stop at Manoly’s to refuel! We’ve been serving the true taste of Thailand to residents and visitors for almost 30 years. Our popular lunch menu is fresh, healthy and the tastiest Thai around! Perfect for a quick lunch whilst exploring all that Leigh-on-Sea has to offer. Don’t worry, we’ve got the little ones covered too. Our kids menu has been put together by our owner, Mee and features fresh and healthy child-friendly flavours; perfect for your mini Mee’s!