What better way to cap off beach week than a day trip to the windswept, seaside town of Brighton? It's just an hour from central London by train, making it an easy weekend excursion. Brighton couldn't be more different from Miami, where I was last weekend. The city is full of wacky contradictions. It's campy and garish yet ironically charming and welcoming.
When the train first pulls up to the station, you won't immediately think you're near the sea. That is until you hear the undeniable squawk of seagulls over your head. Before heading straight to the beach, spend some time inland in North Laine. The neighborhood is packed with local boutiques, art galleries and great, independent coffee shops. My favorites were Marwood Coffee (a local institution) and the various outposts of Small Batch Coffee Company. Make sure to also check out the Royal Pavilion - an old royal residence famous for its ostentatious Indian-inspired architecture.
You will notice an obvious influx of visitors as you approach the beach. From families, college students and muscle heads to hippies, rockers and nudists, Brighton is a welcoming destination for just about anyone. Take a stroll down Brighton Pier. It has a Coney Island vibe with rows of carnival games and food stands. It's counterpart - West Pier - burned down in 2003. The ruins create a striking, almost haunting, visual against the ocean backdrop.
As for the beach itself, don't expect soft, white sand. All you will get in Brighton are pebbles, pebbles and more pebbles. They are tough to walk across and don't make for the most comfortable nap. However, there's something hypnotizing about the deep, echoing sound when the waves crash into the pebbles. It's a sound that instantly makes you want to return this wacky, wonderful beachside town.