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Top 10 family staycations by train

Two girls on a train

1. Embark on pirate adventures in Portsmouth 

Portsmouth HMS Victory ship

Explore Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, home to iconic ships like HMS Warrior and HMS Victory. Kids will love the Horrible Histories Pirates exhibition and Jolly Roger tour. Don't miss the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, accessible by water bus. Embark on the Spice Island Treasure Trail in the historic centre, solving clues along charming cobblestone streets. Finish off with panoramic views from the Emirates Spinnaker Tower and enjoy the thrilling glass-bottomed sky walk. 

Station: Catch a Southern train to Portsmouth Harbour station to immerse yourself in the heart of the action. 

2. Discover nature’s delights in Ashdown Forest

Pooh Bridge

Located just 30 miles south of London, Ashdown Forest is a picturesque area of natural beauty that served as the inspiration for AA Milne's beloved Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Families can embark on an adventure to discover the original settings from the stories, such as Hundred Acre Wood and Galleon's Leap, and even enjoy a game of Poohsticks on the footbridges. If you fancy a horseback exploration, nearby riding schools are available. For extended stays, a glamping site awaits.  

Station: To reach the forest, simply hop off at Crowborough station from London Victoria or East Croydon stations. 

3. Hike in Hastings

Hastings

Prepare your backpacks and embark on an adventure in this charming seaside town located in East Sussex. Hastings offers a sprawling country park nature reserve that boasts picturesque views, grazing ponies, and breath-taking coastal trails. Take in the awe-inspiring sandstone cliffs, explore an iron age hillfort, and visit a majestic lighthouse along your journey. This nature reserve also encompasses the expansive Pett Level beach, perfect for flying kites and enjoying delightful picnics. 

Venture further and discover the thrilling East Hill, where you can ride a funicular railway. Experience the excitement of the world's largest underground skatepark, Source Park, or explore the fascinating Shipwreck Museum and the Bluereef Aquarium. For history enthusiasts, the quaint old town presents the ruins of William the Conqueror's castle, while West Hill hosts Smugglers Adventure – an intriguing maze of secret caves and hidden passages. 

Station: Hastings train station is conveniently located within a 15-minute walk from the country park nature reserve. 

4. All Aboard in Littlehampton

Littlehampton miniature railway

It's a well-known fact that kids adore trains. Whether it's riding them, playing with them, or even pretending to be one themselves. That's why they're absolutely going to love the delightful Littlehampton Miniature Railway. Located along the picturesque West Sussex seafront, this charming train will transport you and your family from pedalos in Mewsbrook Park to a thrilling game of crazy golf at Norfolk Gardens. It's the perfect day out that guarantees plenty of fun and laughter. 

Looking to travel towards Christmas? Littlehampton Miniature Railway also offers a ‘mince pie special’ service on select dates in December, adding an extra touch of festive excitement to your mini adventure. 

Station: To embark on this exciting journey, simply take the Southern train to Littlehampton and hop aboard the Littlehampton Miniature Railway at either Mewsbrook Park or Norfolk Gardens. Get ready for a truly joyous experience! 

5. Seaside fun in Brighton

Brighton Pier

Looking for a delightful destination that caters to the entire family? Look no further than the vibrant city of Brighton. With its eclectic mix of attractions, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Explore the iconic Brighton Pier, discover marine life at SEA LIFE Brighton and visit the Booth Museum of Natural History. Plus with 2for1 deals on top attractions, there’s great savings to be had. 

Station: Catch a Southern train to Brighton station and experience fun times with the family.  

6. Create unforgettable memories in Forest Hill

London view

Forest Hill is the perfect destination for an enchanting family holiday. A peaceful and picturesque setting with plenty of activities to make your time truly unforgettable. Immerse yourselves in art, culture, and natural history at the renowned Horniman Museum. Discover fascinating exhibits and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens. For more outdoor explorations, head to Sydenham Hill Wood where you can enjoy tranquil woodland walks, wildlife spotting, and a family picnic. 

Station: Head to Forest Hill station to begin your outdoor adventure. 

7. Arundel: a family-friendly gem

Arundel castle

Arundel offers a perfect family getaway. Explore the magnificent Arundel Castle, a medieval fortress that will transport you back in time.  

If you’re heading to Arundel in the spring or summer months, make a splash at Arundel Lido – a heated outdoor pool suitable for the whole family. Enjoy a refreshing swim, sunbathe on the deck, or play in the dedicated children's pool.  

For a bite to eat, head to Belinda's Tea Rooms where you can indulge in traditional cream teas, homemade cakes, and a variety of light bites. With its cosy and quaint ambiance, it's the perfect spot to relax and enjoy quality family time together. 

Station: Hop on one of our trains and escape from bustling city across rolling countryside and into the pretty Victorian railway station in Arundel.  

8. Explore the charming delights of Rye

Rye

Nestled in East Sussex, this picturesque gem offers a host of family-friendly activities. From intriguing historic sites to nature walks and immersive experiences, Rye is the perfect destination for your next family staycation.  

Embark on a journey through time at Rye Castle and Ypres Tower, dating back to the 13th century. Take a guided tour and discover the fascinating history of the town, climb to the top of the tower for breath-taking panoramic views, and let your children's imaginations run wild within its ancient walls. 

Create unforgettable family memories at the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve where you can spot wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and even rare species. As well as nature spots and its historical charm, Rye also offers a variety of family-friendly eateries, perfect even for the pickiest of eaters! Check out the Globe Inn Marsh, located in a converted 18th-century warehouse, this family-friendly pub offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu features a range of dishes, including traditional pub classics and locally sourced seafood. Children can enjoy a dedicated kids' menu, making it an ideal spot for a relaxed family meal. 

Station: Grab a Southern train to Rye station to begin your trip. 

9. Visit the lovely town of Lewes

Lewes

No visit to Lewes is complete without a trip to the iconic Lewes Castle. Step back in time as children can immerse themselves in the medieval era, exploring the age-old ruins and ascending the tower to enjoy breath-taking panoramic views. For more historical delights, look no further than the Anne of Cleves House, a beautifully preserved Tudor building featuring interactive exhibits and delightful gardens.  

If you’re looking to burn some energy, head to the Southover Grange Gardens for walks, family picnics, and maybe even a game of frisbee or football.  

End your visit to Lewes with a relaxing riverside walk along the River Ouse, where swans gracefully glide by, creating memorable moments for the whole family.  

Station: Head to Lewes via a Southern train to begin your relaxed break. 

10. History, culture and outdoor adventures await in Chichester

Chichester

Begin your trip by exploring the magnificent Chichester Cathedral, where kids can marvel at its stunning architecture and discover fascinating stories from the past. Immerse yourself in history at the Weald & Downland Living Museum, a remarkable open-air museum showcasing traditional buildings and activities that transport you back in time.  

Soak up the sea air at West Wittering Beach, where golden sands and sparkling waters provide the perfect setting for sandcastle building and seaside fun.  

For some relaxation time, why not take a boat trip along the Chichester Canal? Offering scenic views and a tranquil atmosphere, it’s a great way to unwind after a busy day with the family. 

Station: Hop on a train to Chichester station, where you’re a short walk away from key attractions and things to do. 

Buying tickets

You can buy Southern tickets online and collect them from the ticket machine before you travel. You can also buy them from a ticket machine or ticket office at the station.