Our Top Things to Do in West Sussex
Join the Sussexes on England's south coast with our list of things to do in West Sussex
Parks, gardens, Roman ruins… birds and piers and things. That’s what you’re going to get in lovely West Sussex, a county between Southampton and Brighton on England's southern coast. And hey, maybe you’ll bump into Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of the county, often known as the Sussexes (which sounds like a subliminal way of making us think of them as ‘successes’). They may have departed from the Royal Family, but they’ve kept the brand name.
That said, Sussex itself no longer exists; it’s been split like Berlin, and we haven’t asked the Sussexes what they think of West Sussex, which is a very different county from East Sussex (being as it is, slightly further west). Flitter between West Wittering and South Downs for beaches and valleys, before exploring such towns as Chichester and Bognor Regis. Having given it much thought, here’s Plum Guide's say on the best things to do in West Sussex.
Attack the castles
Well, maybe just visit them for now, while staying at a Plum Guide home fit for royalty. One of the top highlights in the entire county is the Arundel Castle, which is the rather elaborate home of the Dukes of Norfolk. Yes, we also noticed, there’s a lot of duke and duchess talk here. Anyway, the castle looks pretty amazing and dates back to the 11th century, so is even older than dad/mum/someone a bit old in your family. Amble through the gardens and relax by the fountain, before entering the castle for its array of games, exhibits and period costumes and décor.
For a different kind of castle, check out the Fishbourne Roman Palace & Gardens. Thought to be the largest Roman home in England, and the earliest gardens in the country too (although, how you prove how ‘early’ a garden is up for debate), the residence makes for a fascinating glimpse of Roman life in the area, with a focus on the mosaics dotted around the internal exhibit.
Relax in the gardens
If you don’t have a garden at home (though you certainly will with a Plum Guide property like this beauty), now’s the time to get all green-fingered (don’t actually mess with the gardens; they have professionals doing all the growing and stuff - you are not a professional, and even if you are, you don't work there). But West Sussex is an absolute paradise for gardens. The Highdown Gardens were made out of an old chalk pit in the South Downs region. Enjoy lovely views of the sea, as you meander past the daffodils, crocus and snowdrops.
The Leonardslee Lake & Gardens is particularly gorgeous: the successes that are the Sussexes would look quite at home amid the scenic woodland, the Rock Garden and the lakes. Stop in at the Dolls’ House Museum to see model replicas of the Edwardian estate and villages in the area to extraordinary accuracy in scale.
Peruse the parks
OK, so this is essentially more gardens, but that’s what this county is like. Take life at a slower pace here, meditate on the world and forget the busy hubbub of the city. You’ve got the Huxley’s Birds of Prey Centre and Gardens, where you can watch flying displays (of the birds). Set up a picnic by the water in the Sumners Ponds and hike along the trails of the Hotham Park, which has a nice café and boating lake. The latter is a great family hub, with its playground, miniature train and crazy golf complex, in addition to its boating lake. You can also rent boats and explore the nature centre in the remarkable Tilgate Park.
Clamber to the coast
One of the best things to do in West Sussex is to explore England’s southern coast. West Wittering Beach is ideal for windsurfers and dog walkers, with its splashing waves (as waves tend to do) and undulating sand dunes. Hit up the beach in Worthing, which also has a great art gallery (it's really Worth(ing) it) and a pier with an amusement arcade the kids will love. Walk to the tip (and don’t fall in the sea) to enjoy wonderful vistas of the water and the town behind you. Bring the family down to Bognor Regis, a traditional British family holiday resort town.
Delve into the culture
What would the Sussexes do in their namesake county? Perhaps they’d catch a play at the elegant Chichester Festival Theatre or the renovated and modernised Capitol in Horsham. They’d inspect the works of art on display in the Ropetackle Arts Centre. It’s not all high brow, of course, with the Pavilion Theatre serving up some traditional panto (a very English tradition of ‘oh no, he didn’t, oh yes he did’). The Laughing George Comedy Club in Bognor Regis also makes for a fun night on the town.