Quite simply, Hunstanton has got everything you could possibly want in a family seaside resort. The splendid seafront has a promenade, funfair, bowls, pitch-and-putt, Sea Life Sanctuary and the award-winning Esplanade Gardens.
On the prom are stalls selling candyfloss, doughnuts, seaside rock, ice creams, buckets & spades, and all the things needed for relaxing on the beach. Music drifts from the bandstand on the green on Sunday afternoons in summer, serenading sunbathers and passers-by. You can also go for a donkey ride, take a trip around Hunstanton on the land train, or take a sea tour on an ex-military amphibious craft. There is a lighthouse perched on candy-striped cliffs, and on the beach below are rock pools and a shipwreck for the kids to explore.
But there is also a more genteel side to Hunstanton, with a conservation area that stretches across the town centre and much of the quiet residential area, packed with stately Victorian buildings. Lift your gaze above the cheery shop fronts and you will see that the buildings are full of character, built of the local brown carstone (‘gingerbread stone’). There are three listed buildings in the town centre: the Golden Lion Hotel, the Town Hall and the Church of St Edmund. The Cross on the Green is also a listed structure.
History of Hunstanton
Hunstanton is probably unique in that it is a purpose-built resort that was started from scratch by a Victorian landowner. Less than two hundred years ago the area occupied today by the Esplanade Gardens consisted of no more than cliff-top fields, with a few grazing sheep in place of the throngs of holidaymakers seen there today. During this era the Victorians invented the idea of the bathing resort, convinced that bracing sea breezes and chilly waters were a healthy tonic. So, the Lord of the Manor, Henry Styleman Le Strange, decided to create such a resort on his land, and started by building a hotel (now the Golden Lion) in 1846. For several years the Golden Lion stood alone and earned the nickname ‘Le Strange's Folly’. However, after the railway reached the town in 1862, the town expanded rapidly and Hunstanton's position as a leading east coast resort was assured.
Apart from seaside entertainments, the town today boasts a range of other attractions, including the arts festival in June, family entertainment at the Princess Theatre, a kite festival, and the UK's largest lawn tennis tournament. Water sports are popular here, especially sailing, kite-surfing and jet-skiing, and the Norfolk Coast Path starts on Hunstanton cliff-top.
And there's a unique experience in store for the visitor to Hunstanton. For, because of its position facing inwards into the Wash, it is the only coastal town in East Anglia where you can see a sunset over the sea.