- Stunning seafront views and beaches
- Great facilities, whatever the weather
- Fabulous proximity to local cities and attractions of interest
Weston-super-Mare has one of the longest and naturally occurring beaches in the UK, enjoying golden sands and miles of open space. Throughout the summer there are endless beach related events and activities that can be enjoyed, ranging from sandcastle competitions to sand sculpting and kite surfing championships. Add to this a great range of outdoor experiences such as seafront steam trains and donkey rides and Weston-super-Mare has a fabulous selection of fare weather facilities.
Of course, it does occasionally rain, and so it’s a good job that Weston-super-Mare is blessed with a wide range of undercover attractions including the world's largest dedicated Helicopter Museum, the fascinating SeaQuarium, and the North Somerset Museum. Alongside cinemas, and regular events held at the Winter Gardens and the Playhouse Theatre, there’s plenty to keep visitor of entertained, whatever the weather.
And as if that weren’t enough Weston-super-Mare is also perfectly situated for a host of day trips to the architecturally impressive and historically fascinating Cities of Wells, Bristol, Bath, or to stunning countryside which includes local features such as Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Caves and the Mendip and Quantock Hills.
Food and Drink
Weston-super-Mare boasts a thriving gastronomic scene. The popular seaside resort offers a great selection of award-winning restaurants, serving creative and delicious food that caters for all tastes.
Given its coastal situation, it is no surprise that the town offers some of the best fresh seafood in the West Country, with restaurants such as the Old Thatched Cottage and The Cove serving up everything from smoked eel to swordfish. Weston-super-Mare also possesses an excellent selection of Japanese, Italian, Indian and Chinese restaurants, not to mention some of the finest Greek dining experiences around.
And of course, for those craving more traditional British seaside fare, there is always good old fish and chips – the award winning Winston’s Fish Bar and Restaurant is a great tip.
If you’re a fan of fresh and locally produced specialities try the monthly Farmers Market, which is held in the High Street on the second Saturday of every month from 9am until 12.30pm. Here you can buy a wide range of locally produced meats, dairy produce, vegetables, handmade chocolates, cider and craft gifts.
Weston-super-Mare’s SeAquarium offers visitors an insight into the world beneath the sea and many of the fabulous creatures that can be found there. Each day an extensive range of programmes are put on relating to a fabulous range exhibits. Every day at 2.30pm, the centre puts on a feature Feeding Presentation, which is well worth seeing as this can range from feeding beautiful Seahorses and graceful Rays to the sinister Sharks! There’s also a great Discovery Trail Quiz for the kids, which provides an educational and entertaining way for children to learn more about the world of our seas.
For the bigger kids, the world’s largest and country’s only helicopter collection is situated just off junction 21 of the M5. Over 70 full size aircraft are on display ranging from the Queen's own helicopters to a massive Super Frelon 36 seat helicopter, an impressive Russian gunship and even veterans of the Vietnam conflict.
The museum also hosts regular "Helicopter Experiance Flights", which means you can take a new look on life from the skies hovering over the dramatic coastline, overflying Weston-Super-Mare and taking in the surrounding countryside from a totally unique and new angle.
Or why not treat the little ones to a more traditional seaside experience and take them for a ride on one of Weston-super-Mare’s famous donkey rides – guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
The majority of the best shops can be found along Weston's busy High Street. Here shops stand either side of a paved pedestrianised area, with plenty of seating areas nearby. Alternatively the Sovereign Shopping Centre has over thirty eight High Street brands as well as parking for over eight hundred and fifty cars.
Weston-super-Mare enjoys a great selection of shops ranging from small specialist outlets in the labyrinth of back streets through to the more traditional High Street names. There are shopping opportunities all around the centre of Weston-super-Mare, and even the most keen shopaholics will find plenty of retail therapy to keep them busy.
History and Heritage
The 19th century saw Weston grow from a tiny village of about 100 inhabitants, to a thriving Victorian seaside resort of nearly 20,000 people. One hundred years later again, it has a population of almost 70,000.
The name Weston is made up of two Old English or Saxon words meaning the west tun or settlement. Because there are several places called Weston in Somerset descriptions were added to tell them apart. However, what is unusual about Weston-super-Mare is that the descriptive part of its name has remained in medieval Latin. Super (with small s) means on or above, and mare is Latin for sea.
Locally, the first evidence of people in this area comes from flints. Leaf-shaped arrowheads, flint knives and other tools have been found dating back to the Neolithic period. On the hill that overlooks the town there are the remains of Worlebury hillfort, a Bronze Age settlement. For a period the Romans based themselves in Weston, after which the village remained small. In the Tudor period the mineral calamine was discovered on Worle Hill, the first place in Britain it was found. This type of zinc ore was crucial in brass production and was a significant moment in the history of Weston.
By 1600 Weston had its own manor, which survived until 1696 when the estate was sold to John Pigott of Brockley. This family held the manor until the estate was sold off in 1914. The title "Lord of the Manor" was sold in the 1970s and there is nothing left of the estate.
By the middle of the 18th century, doctors began to extol the virtues of drinking, and bathing in sea-water. King George III tried it at Weymouth in 1789 and so set the fashion. For residents of Bristol and Bath, Weston was the nearest coastal village within easy reach of a road.
Brunel's Bristol & Exeter Railway reached Weston in 1841. With the opening of the railway in 1841, thousands of visitors came to the town from Bristol, the Midlands and further afield, on works outings and Bank Holidays.
In 1867 the Birnbeck Pier was completed, which meant that visitors now had further space to walk and take the air. In 1904, local traders who were unhappy with the fact that many thousands of trippers arrived by steamer from Wales, but never reached the town centre because there was so much to do on Birnbeck Pier, decided to build another pier closer to the town – the Grand Pier.
The 1920s and 1930s saw a period of significant development. The Marine Lake was built to provide a safe shallow beach where the tide was always in. The Winter Gardens and Pavilion opened in 1927, followed in the 1930s by the Open Air Pool, Odeon Cinema and an airport.
During World War II evacuees were accommodated in the town, however the area was also home to war industries, such as aircraft and pump manufacture, and an Royal Air Force station at Locking. The town was also on a return route from bombers targeting Bristol and was itself bombed by the Luftwaffe.
Weston-super-Mare is fortunate enough to enjoy one of the longest and naturally occurring beaches in the UK. It also has the second highest tidal range in the world; a massive 15 meters, which often exposes mudflats at low tide. With such a vast expanse it’s no wonder that events such as T4 on the beach, Enduro, sand sculptures, and dozens of other activities all use this fabulous natural resource to its fullest.
Alongside donkey rides and the world-famous Pier, while you’re on the beach you can also enjoy a ride on the Miniature Railway, which is operated by steam and diesel locomotives.
Events and Entertainment
The Weston Arts Festival takes place each year during September and October using local venues (Blakehay, Playhouse, All Saints, galleries, etc) and offering a wide range of cultural events.
The town is well known amongst motocross enthusiasts for staging the Weston-super-Mare Enduro beach race every autumn. Over 1000 riders take part in the annual event, and crowds often approach 100,000 spectators. Races are held for youth riders, sidecarcross riders and quad bike competitors.
Why not visit Jill’s Garden situated in Weston-super-Mare's beautiful Grove Park. This tribute to the late Jill Dando is one of the resort's most visited attractions, and its stunning year round displays of colour provide a haven of peace and tranquillity at the heart of the seaside town.
Following the disastrous fire in July 2008 that destroyed Weston-super-Mare’s top attraction, The Grand Pier, a new multi-million pound Pavilion, is due to open its doors in 2010. The all-weather entertainment Pavilion will have fantastic views of the shoreline, beach and sea, as well as a brand new 91 metre viewing platform providing unparalled views of the bay and beyond.
Inside the new Pavilion there will be a range of rides including traditional favourites such as dodgems, a ghost train and a crazy fun house alongside new attractions including ‘Robo-Coaster’, ‘Sidewinder’, ‘Psychedelic House’, a Surfboard Simulator, the longest electric Go-Kart track in the UK, and a 5D cinema. For young ones there will be an adventure playground ball pit and a helicopter ride.
North Somerset Museum provides a great opportunity to learn about the history of seaside holidays. Here you can go to Clara's Cottage, a typical Weston home in 1900. Alternatively you can go to the archaeology gallery which takes you back to the Ice Age unearthing bones and stone tools from Mendip's caves. There’s also a range of costumes and jewellery on display plus toys and dolls. There’s even a section devoted to the secret and often hair-brained weapons developed on Birnbeck Island in World War two.
The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral offer day sea trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary, tickets for which are on sale at the resort's Tourist Information Centre.
Alternatively, why not have a go at kite surfing lesson.
Weston-super-Mare is situated south of Bristol, just off the M5. Regular trains and busses run from the town into the national public transport network, and Bristol International Airport is less than 20 miles away.