Things to do in Southsea - places to eat, where to stay and more
PUBLISHED: 11:40 03 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:40 03 March 2015
Less than two miles from central Portsmouth, the streets and esplanades of Southsea have a cool retro vibe. Packed with independent shops and eateries, a growing number of boutique B&Bs means it’s a seaside resort not just for day-trippers
It’s pie and mash but with fillings like Moroccan lamb - the menu at Castle Road’s Pie & Vinyl café delivers hits galore. For full-blown gastronomy, those in the know go French at the Michelin-recommended Restaurant 27 (www.restaurant27.com), and keeping it authentic, Soprano’s freshly cooked Italian cuisine (www.sopranos-southsea.com) is consistently voted great eating. For a taste of something local, there’s no shortage of real ale hostelries, or if it’s a cuppa you crave the brews at Osborne Road’s Like a Teatray in the Sky take some beating. A coastal stroll towards Eastney finds The Tenth Hole tearooms and their delicious breakfasts and cakes (www.thetenthhole.co.uk). And should the hand-made temptations at Marmion Road’s Coco Chocolatiers have also proved irresistible, simply work off the calories at the world’s oldest pitch and putt course.
While the Clarence and the Queen is satisfying those seeking a grandiose Edwardian seaside retreat, Southsea’s B&Bs have upped their game in the glamour stakes. Minutes from the beach, Festing Road’s kitschy G! has 14 one-off rooms; think Austin Powers meets French romantic, it will wow you baby (g-boutiquehotel.co.uk). There’s also a designer night’s sleep to be had at five more bang-on trend locations (www.themercercollection.co.uk), with a restaurant that’s open to non-residents too.
The Millennium Promenade links attractions between Clarence Pier and Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, or literary landmarks await discovery along the Dickens Trail. A leisurely walk around Southsea Common takes-in the charming Ladies Mile, and there’s always the seafront to blow those cobwebs away. From Castle Field, two-wheels hired from www.dirt2road.com enables Portsea Island’s eastern tip to be explored using the four-mile cycleway. Or for an insider’s view book a private guide (www.visitportsmouth.co.uk).
Dig out your wellies, Southsea’s family-friendly Victorious Festival is a summer highlight and will be returning on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August with another great mix of entertainment. Featuring live music - last year’s headliners included Tom Odell, Dizzee Rascal and (most appropriately) Seasick Steve; plus there’s a vintage market, kids arena, food stalls, Pimms garden and even a beer festival.
It’s a great weekend spent beside the sea. With adult Early Bird tickets costing just £18 per day; these are well worth snapping-up before it’s too late. Find out more and get the latest festival news at www.victoriousfestival.co.uk
Albert Road’s Southsea Gallery (www.southseagallery.co.uk) has prints and posters from photographers and graphic artists. Southsea’s Dave Thompson is amongst those featured, his illustrations of local views and events offering a nostalgic nod to the classic era of poster design. Richard Heath’s photography provides breathtaking memories of the local seascapes, and there’s the recognisable work of south coast artist Sam Toft. Close by, the Hiscock Gallery in Stanley Street claims ones of Hampshire’s biggest collections of local art with a choice of both statement pieces and gifts.
Being part of an island city you’re never far from the sea. It’s only 10 minutes by passenger hovercraft from Southsea’s Clarence Pier terminal to Ryde on the Isle of Wight (www.hovertravel.co.uk); adult day return tickets cost £17.50, children 5-15yrs travel for £9. And it’s well worth catching either the family run ‘Pride of Hayling’ or ‘Tina Marie’ from Eastney pontoon (www.haylingferry.co.uk). The short Langstone Harbour hop takes you straight to Hayling Island’s nature reserves which are a haven for twitchers and walkers alike, as well as the southern sections of the Shipwright’s Way; return tickets cost £4.50 (adults), £5.20 (cyclists) and £3.60 (under 14s).
“There’s a real community feel down here,” says local Lorraine Randell, who juggles her time between working at Portsmouth University’s Learning Resources Centre and running her own business.
Approaching the pretty pastel shopfront of Revive Interiors on Castle Road (reviveinteriors-southsea.co.uk), the gaily strung bunting and assortment of object d’art tumbling on to the pavement looks completely at home in its bohemian neighbourhood. Lorraine specialises in shabby chic hand-painted furniture and accessories, which are going so well that after just two years, new premises beckon to offer an improved shopping experience for customers keen to own one of the lovingly restored pieces or, to commission something of their own.
“I live in Northend and I knew this style would work well in Southsea,” says Lorraine. “In this street the businesses are similar, yet different. It’s a good mix and we all work well together.” That’s been proven by the success of the street markets organised up to three times a year by the Castle Road Trader’s Association.
Lorraine and husband Kevin, who also helps out by scouring bric-a-brac sales for the shop’s collectables, enjoy what’s on offer close to their doorstep. “If we go out to eat, it’s usually to Rosie’s Vineyard in Elm Grove which has really nicely presented food, or up the road to Truffles of Southsea,” she reveals.
• Things to see and do in Southsea - The tide’s turned for Southsea in recent years where a lively festival atmosphere rubs shoulders with its traditional seaside charms and historic sights.
• The transformation of Fleet Pond from murky waters to majestic scenes - Just a few years ago much of the wildlife at Fleet Pond was under serious threat of disappearing forever. Now, thanks to a £250,000 restoration grant and a wave of community support, Hampshire’s largest freshwater lake has a clear future. Viv Micklefield looks at what’s been happening there since our last visit.
• The story of Uplands Estate - Southampton’s surburban secret - What’s so special about the Uplands Estate - a quiet cul-de-sac near Southampton Common? Resident Gordon Cooper shares the story.