Dog and Child Friendly Days Out In Sussex

AD Are you thinking of going to the South Coast for a holiday with your children and pet pooch? Sussex is a lovely place to visit with beaches, parks and plenty of attractions to explore. Choose from a wide range of holiday cottages in Sussex and then check out my suggestions of places to visit with all the family (including your dogs) in East and West Sussex.

A view of Hasting old town and beach from the country park one of the many places to visit on holiday in Sussex with children and dogs
There are plenty of great places to visit in Sussex with your children and dogs all year round


Where To Go On Your Family Holiday In Sussex (with Dogs and Children)


When to Visit Sussex on Holiday

Luckily choosing where to stay is easy with dog friendly holiday cottages in Sussex, but when is the best time to go?  The Summer gives you the best chance of dry, sunny days for those long walks, but many of the most popular beaches have dog exclusion areas from the beginning of May until the end of September. Easter or the October half term holiday give you more freedom around where to go with dogs. Luckily the southern location means whether is often warmer than the rest of Britain so the weather can be pleasant out of peak season. 


8 Days Out In Sussex To Enjoy With Your Children and Dogs

The Sussex coastline has so many beautiful beaches, from wide sandy spaces to pebbles and high cliffs. There is enough space for everyone to spread out so your family can have it’s own space. In land there are many places to walk including the South Downs and plenty of interesting towns to explore. While some of the better known attractions for children like the amazing Druisillas Park (a zoo with a great play area) don’t allow dogs, there are still plenty of places to explore with your whole family.

a large stretch of white beach at Camber Sands in East Sussex
Camber Sands Beach

Camber Sands

If you want a day at the beach then Camber Sands has a huge stretch of soft sand, even when the tide is in. Dogs are welcome to enjoy the whole beach off season (October to April), but if you are visiting between May and September then you will need to avoid the middle section of the beach, see the exclusion zone here.  Park in Western Car Park and head west or access the beach to the east of the busy Camber Car Park and join the beach around the Parkdean Resort. 

There are a few places to eat, but with children and dogs it is probably easiest to either get a picnic or grab a takeaway if you are near a beach cafe.

Children will enjoy a journey on the East Hill Cliff Railway in Hastings and dogs can ride too
The East Hill Cliff Railway in Hastings is a fun way to travel between the Country Park and Old Town

Hastings

There is so much to do on a day out in Hastings with plenty for all the family to enjoy. While unfortunately the ruins of Britain’s first Norman castle is not dog friendly, you can explore the Old Town with narrow passageways and independent shops and much of the long stretch of shingle beach. You can also explore Hastings Country Park which is located on the cliffs above the beach. Travel between the Old Town and the Country Park on the East Hill Cliff Railway, the steepest funicular railway in the UK. Dogs on leads welcome and children will find it great fun.

From 1st May to 30th September there are two dog exclusion areas on Hastings beach: between the Harbour Arm and the Pier and between Warrior Square and the Royal Victoria Hotel. There are also a few areas where dogs must be kept on a lead. Dogs are welcome on the pier though and in the nearby True Crime Museum, but that might be a bit mature for children. Children and dogs alike will enjoy Hastings Miniature Railway running from Marine Parade to the old fishing sheds.

The Old Town has plenty of dog friendly places to stop for food and drink including: The Pelican Diner, The Crown and Badger Inc Beach Bar.

Close to Hastings your can also visit Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings which is maintained by English Heritage. Dogs on leads are welcome throughout the site. On the other side of town to the Abbey there is Battle Recreation Ground (off the A271) which has a great castle themed playground.

Pevensey Bay beach has lots of stones and a steep slope in places, but sand at low tiide
The beach at Pevensey Bay is mostly pebbles, but there is sand at low tide

Pevensey

A visit to Pevensey Bay beach is a good option as there are currently no dog restrictions on this stretch of shingle and pebble beach. If you are visiting at low tide there are patches of sand too for building sand castles.
A short drive inland you can also visit the small town of Pevensey itself which is overlooked by Pevensey Castle. Explore inside the outer walls for free or pay to go into the ruined castle managed by English Heritage. Dogs on leads welcome.

A view along the Seven Sisters on the south coast from Birling Gap towards Seaford
From Birling Gap you can walk across the Seven Sisters, investigate rock pools or walk inland across the Downs


Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters

There is a large National Trust run car park at Birling Gap as well as a cafe and toilets. From here you can take the steep metal stairs down to the pebbly beach, stay up on the cliff top and walk along the Seven Sisters or stroll inland across the South Downs. 

The beach is a great place for exploring rock pools and appreciating the white chalky cliffs. If you fancy more walking then head along the Seven Sisters for a challenge where children will love scrambling up and down the hills or go inland for a walk in the Downs for an easier walk. Dogs are welcome (including off the lead in places) but be careful near the edges of the cliff and keep an eye for occasional restrictions around grazing animals, especially in breeding season.

Dogs are welcome in the cafe at Birling Gap, but it can get very busy at peak times so you might want to take a picnic or buy an ice cream from the van (which normally sells vegan ice cream too). 

Rye

Rye is a lovely town to visit. You can take photos of the famous cobbled Mermaid Street, wander along the River, browse the independent shops or visit Ypres Tower where children can explore the outside for free and pretend to fire cannons (I'm not sure if dogs can go inside the tower). If you can park at Lucknow Place Car Park you are next to a lovely playground, but at busy times you are better off avoiding the traffic and heading to the larger Gibbet Marsh Car Park on the other side of Rye and taking a short walk into town past the windmill.
There are a number of dog and family friendly cafes and pubs in Rye like The Old Grain Store and William The Conqueror, but it is a really popular tourist town so you might prefer to explore the Jempson’s Supermarket (next to the station) which has lots of delicious deli foods and have a picnic.


Knights on horseback jumping over a wall of flames as part of the Sussex Medieval festival
The Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux takes place August Bank Holiday Weekend

Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle

If you are visiting Sussex in the Summer then a visit to the Medieval Festival which takes place August Bank holiday weekend is something totally different. Dogs on leads are welcome and there is lots to explore, but there is simulated gun and cannon fire at times throughout the day so it may not be suitable for all dogs/ children.  During your visit you can watch battle reenactments, jousting, a wide range of entertainment, wander around stalls and the castle gardens as well as watching countless displays in the living history tents like carving and weaving. Medieval dress not required, although your children may encourage you to buy them a dress, tabard or sword before you leave (we ended up with all three).
The event is almost entirely outdoors and on grass so it will get muddy on rainy days.
Herstmonceux Castle, Wartling Road, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 1RN

Weald and Downland Living Museum, Chichester

The Weald and Downland Living Museum shows what it was like to live and work in years gone by. Get immersed in history from a replica Anglo-Saxon hall house to an Edwardian Tin church. Dogs are welcome across most of the museum and site with the exception of a few buildings like the dairy, bakehouse and watermill where food is prepared. There are animals on site though so dogs must be kept on a short lead (extending leads not allowed). Tickets must currently be prebooked.
Town Lane, Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0EU

Amberley Museum, Near Arundel

This former quarry and limeworks has been converted into a museum with over 40 exhibits including transport and rural crafts to explore the South’s working past. There are special activities and trails for children during school holidays and a narrow gauge railway, buses and a playground that children will enjoy. Most of the site is pushchair accessible except the nature walks and some raised platforms. Dogs are welcome in all exhibition buildings, on the bus and in Limeburners Cafe as long as they are kept on a short lead.
New Barn Road, Amberley, Near Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9LT

the seafront at Bexhill On Sea
Bexhill-On-Sea


Other Places To Visit In Sussex

Bexhill-On-Sea 

There are seasonal no dog zones around the Pavillion and on the shingle beach, but it’s still worth a visit to Bexhill due to the dog friendly cafes and pubs.  Make sure to visit Egerton Park slightly away from the sea and to the west of De La Warr Pavillion. Dogs are welcome and there is a great playground for children. 

Worthing

The beach along most of Worthing (Heene Road to Beach House Park) is restricted between May and September so head to the west or east of the main town if you want to get on the beach itself or take a stroll along the long promenade. There are plenty of family and dog places to eat in Worthing.

Brighton

Brighton is a popular destination due to it’s mix of well known stores, independent shops around The Lanes and a buzzing beach area. One survey found Brighton and Hove is the UKs second most pet-friendly city with 69 dog friendly restaurants. There are dog restriction zones on the beach in peak season, but this map shows the all year round dog friendly beaches.  

Lewes

Lewes is another attractive historical Sussex town. Unfortunately the castle isn’t dog friendly, but it’s a pretty town to walk around and has lots of cafes and restaurants which welcome dogs like The Snowdrop Inn.

Parham House & Gardens, Pulborough

You can explore the beautiful grounds of Parham house with dogs on short leads, but they aren’t allowed inside the catering facilities. Tickets required for entry and as a private residence it isn’t open every day so check the website for entry and booking information.  
Parham House & Gardens, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 4HR

Borde Hill Garden, Haywards Heath

Dogs on leads are welcome to explore the garden and parkland at Borde Hill Garden. In school holidays children can enjoy discovery trails, and they will love the playground (although unfortunately dogs can’t come into this area). Tickets required for entry with a small discount if booked in advance.
Borde Hill Garden, Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 1XP

Bramber Castle, Steyning

The ruins of the Norman castle are maintained by English Heritage and are free to explore with parking costing £2 for non members. Dogs on leads are welcome. There isn’t a lot to do, but it’s good for a run around and for children to pretend to be knights.
Castle Lane, Bramber, Steyning, West Sussex, BN44 3EW

Harbour Park, Littlehampton

Children will absolutely love the adventure park at Harbour Park with lots of rides to go on, an arcade and a soft play too. Dogs are allowed in the outdoor areas only, but obviously can’t go on rides so while it is an option for a few hours as a family, it will mostly involve one adult waiting around with the dog. The nearby beach is closed to dogs during peak season, but if you drive round to West Beach dogs are welcome all year round.




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