Royal Pavilion

Visiting the Brighton seaside with Gary Gatwick

Stuck at The Airport is in England this week, touring with Gary Gatwick, the charming mascot of Gatwick Airport.

Gary has been taking us places that are surprisingly easy to get to from Gatwick Airport via the Gatwick Express and the Thameslink trains.

After a couple of days in London, we’ve got a day in Brighton, an iconic seaside town with a pebble beach, an amusement-filled pier, plenty of eclectic shops and restaurants, and some unusual museums.

And it turns out that this town that most Americans only know from movies such as Quadrophenia and The End of the Affair is just a half hour from Gatwick Airport by train.

We raced around town trying to see and experience everything on our list but, clearly, we’ll need to schedule a full week to come back to do it all.

Here’s a sampling of our adventures.

Brighton Palace Pier

Stretching out 1,722 feet, the Victorian-era Brighton Palace Pier has it all: ice cream and fish & chips; bars, arcade games galore, a fortune-teller, carousels, and other classic amusement park rides, including spinning teacups & the Helter Skelter slide ride.

Brighton Fishing Museum

Brighton was a “bustling little fishing village on [England’s] south coast which was transformed into a¬†fashionable seaside resort,” Brighton’s Seafront Heritage Trust will tell you when you visit the Brighton Fishing Museum. Inside this free attraction are photographs, fishing community artifacts, marine memorabilia, art, and more.

The Royal Pavilion

A core, over-the-top attraction in Brighton, the Royal Pavilion was once a royal residence. Construction began in 1787 on this seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811, and King George IV in 1820. Over the years it has served other purposes, including a stint as a hospital during World War I, but now it has been restored to its original opulent glory.

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Booth Museum of Natural History

It was a real treat to be able to visit the Booth Museum of Natural History, an eclectic Victorian-era museum filled with birds, butterflies, fossils, bones, and taxidermy animals.

The museum was founded in 1874 by naturalist and collector Edward Thomas Booth, who was keen on collecting British birds and displaying them in natural habitat settings. He ended up collecting everything from birds to bears and at his death had created more than 300 ‘dioramas’ for displays that reached from floor to ceiling.

The museum is still set up in that style and now is a repository for a collection of more than 525,000 insects, 50,000 minerals and rocks, 30,000 plants, and thousands of microscopic slides.

We read that the museum also has a ‘merman’ in its collection, but on arrival, we were told that the odd artifact is on a year-long loan to another museum. So we’ll have to come back!