Whether it’s spending your ‘millions’ on 2p machines or patiently attempting to grab that toy with the claw time after time, seaside amusements conjure up great memories for so many of us. They remind us of our childhoods spent at stunning - and sometimes not-so-stunning - British beaches when your only worry was running out of rusty coins.
With staycations set to be on the rise and the traditional seaside arcade still going strong, now’s the perfect time to rekindle our love for amusements. So, if you’re looking for somewhere fun to take the kids or just want to relive your old holidays, these are the best seaside arcades in the UK. Just don’t spend too many pennies.
Happyland Amusements – Bournemouth West Beach
Situated along the West Cliff side of Bournemouth beach is Happyland, the largest seaside amusement on this list. You won’t miss it; just look for the huge, bright white building standing alone in the middle of the beach with a flock of people outside. Happyland is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike, and for good reason. Because of its size, the arcade has every machine you can imagine for all age groups, from coin machines and whack ‘em alls to shooting games and pool tables.
How to get there: It’s a 30-minute walk from Bournemouth train station, or you can take the number 4 bus for a ten-minute journey.
Other attractions: The Oceanarium is just a two-minute walk away, offering feeding experiences that get you up close with the animals.
Gold Coast Amusement Arcades – Goodrington Beach
Just one beach along from Paignton Sands, Goodrington is home to one of the UK’s best seaside arcades: Gold Coast Amusement. The exterior looks exactly like most amusements you’ll remember, with bright red and yellow signage that screams fun. On a sunny day, the outside will be packed with kids’ rides, while inside they have all the usual machines you’d expect and more. Locals and tourists love Gold Coast because of its proximity to the high street, making it perfect for a bit of nostalgic fun before dinner and a drink.
How to get there: It’s a 30-minute walk from Paignton train station, or you can take the number 122 bus for a seven-minute journey.
Other attractions: Walk to the right of Goodrington Beach and you’ll discover coves along the bay, including Oyster Cove and Saltern Cove.
Coney Beach – Porthcawl
More of an amusement park than our previous choices, Coney Beach in Porthcawl is still home to one of the best amusement arcades in the UK. If you manage to find it in and amongst the chaos of slides, fun houses, and dodgems, you’ll be treated to a more modern arcade experience, with new machines including some of the best shoot ‘em ups and driving games. Coney Beach sits on Sandy Bay in the heart of the historic town, making it perfect if you’re looking for a full day of fun.
How to get there: If you’re travelling from the nearest major city, Cardiff, take a 20-minute train to Bridgend and then a short bus to Porthcawl.
Other attractions: Sometimes you need a break after all the fun, and the miles of sandy beach known as Rest Bay provide just that.
Coney Island – Scarborough Beach
Coney Island is a classic British amusement arcade in the centre of one of the country’s most popular seaside towns. Although it was recently given a makeover, it still looks exactly how you’d imagine it did in the 1950s when it opened. Some arcades can be dark, dingy, and run down, but not Coney Island: it’s bright and dazzling, and makes you want to spend all the 2ps you saved for the occasion. If you’re unsure whether or not to change that last £1 coin into pennies, just ask the famous tarot card reader what your chances of winning are like.
How to get there: It’s just a five-minute walk from Scarborough train station.
Other attractions: If you need more fun after Coney Island, look no further than Luna Park: a mini theme park with Ferris wheels and rides.
Merrivale Old Penny Arcade – Great Yarmouth
Merrivale Old Penny Arcade will be unlike any other you’ve visited. While the local Gold Rush Amusement Arcade reminds some people of their holidays growing up, Merrivale will take you back even further. Part of the Great Yarmouth model village, it features arcade machines from before most visitors were born, all contained in wooden cabinets with 1950s (and slightly creepy) drawn-on backgrounds. The coolest thing about the arcade is that all 50 machines only take old pennies, which were much larger than the current type. If it proves anything, it’s that you don’t need high-tech games and gadgets to have fun.
How to get there: It’s just a ten-minute walk from Great Yarmouth train station.
Other attractions: Pleasure Beach is just a two-minute walk away, right in the middle of Great Yarmouth beach. Swap between 1950s arcade machines and modern rollercoasters within minutes.
If you’re planning a trip to a classic seaside amusement arcade in the UK, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
Written by Julia