Whitley Bay to me is home. I grew up there my entire childhood, and aside from three years at uni, and a few years living up in Gosforth with friends it’s always been my home. It’s changed a lot from the days of buying pic n mix from Woolworths, the rollercoaster at Spanish City, and of course Thurs-bay, South Parade on a bank holiday, and Johnny Decker. It’s improved for the better though, with an influx of new restaurants, cafes, local independent businesses, and a general clean up of the sea front, so here’s my locals guide to Whitley Bay and nearby areas.
Whitley Bay Beach & Sea front
Whitley Bay Beach is the beach of my childhood, and is a lovely sandy stretch from St Mary’s Lighthouse right along towards the next bay of Cullercoats. It’s a dog friendly beach at the top end, from the skate park to beyond. The beach itself is clean, with a lifeguard presence, and is a good spot for swimming if you’re brave, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing.
By the cliffs and dunes at the top it’s actually quite sheltered, so you could also take a picnic with you and sit by the cliffs for an afternoon, or up against the promenade wall. If you don’t want to sit on the beach, then there’s plenty of coastal walks to enjoy.
Either walk North up the beach towards the lighthouse, this is the area that’s dog friendly so you can enjoy watching them play, or walk your own – Arthur loves the small section of rockpools right by the sea.
There’s a really rocky section where the promenade ends where during lockdown people began building cairns, and a little bridge and stream just past it which is quite picturesque and will take you for a walk along the top rather than down on the beach or promenade itself.
You can get onto the beach from this point, and the car park here is Briardene car park Sat Nav NE26 4NG.
The promenade has recently been spruced up, and is a big flat space to walk along with the occasional shelter. If you park at Dukes Walk car park sat nav NE26 1TP, you access the promenade directly from the car park, at Rendezvous Cafe. The cafe do everything you’d need from a beach side cafe, and if you dont want to sit in then grab an ice cream from the little takeaway window instead. It’s family run and has been for years.
You will also find The Links Art Gallery in the same building, which has exhibits and work to purchase from all sorts of artists and photographers, as well as a little cafe. See more on their website here.
As mentioned above turning left along the promenade once you come under the archways from the car park will take you up towards the dog friendly section of the beach, towards the lighthouse. Turning right will take you all the way along towards Whitley Bay and Spanish City.
You can pay for parking in each car park, but it’s a lot easier to download the Ringo App and pay using your phone.
Quite possibly the most iconic place in Whitley Bay, with the white dome making up the skyline since 1910. The history of the Spanish City and the dome is actually really quite fascinating, you can read all about it and why it has the name ‘Spanish City’ here on their official website.
What was once essentially a theatre and fairground, the Dome is now a hotspot for visitors to the coast and has everything from fish and chips at Trenchers, to a Champagne Bar, Pancake place and traditional tea rooms. As well as the restaurants and bars, they are also equipped to host weddings and other celebrations like baby showers, birthdays, engagement parties and Christmas events. I’ve been to a baby shower there and enjoyed afternoon tea with Prosecco.
Trenchers Fish & Chips
Originating in Whitby the Trenchers Fish & Chip restaurant branched up into Whitley Bay, and forms the restaurant right in the centre under the beautiful ornate dome. They are award winning, taking home the award for best fish and chip restaurant in the UK 2020. They are good, and you can book to eat in the restaurant accompanied by the piano via their website.
There is also a Trenchers takeaway option on site, if you prefer to get yours and eat them outside with a view of the sea. At the moment due to COVID, Trenchers are also offering a click and collect service, 7 days a week and you can order by calling 07415 429 998.
A nod back to the early days of Spanish City, Valerie’s is a traditional tea room, currently operating on a walk in basis. They offer a range of teas, coffee, cakes, pastries, and a breakfast or brunch daytime menu.
Afternoon Tea in the Gallery or 1910
You can book to enjoy afternoon tea, or gentleman’s afternoon tea under the dome too. 24 hours notice is required for sitting in, but you can choose from the balcony overlooking Trenchers below and under the dome, or the 1910 restaurant suite.
Spanish City are currently offering a takeaway option of their afternoon tea, which you can order between 8-4:30pm by calling 0191 691 7090.
A fine dining option, 1910 restaurant offers steak and seafood with incredible service. They are also available usually for private hire for events. I’ve not ate their myself yet, but my parents have and said it was lovely but expensive.
I have had the pleasure of a drink in the Champagne Bar, which has floor to ceiling glass windows and overlooks the sea and the lighthouse. It is very pleasant enjoying a glass of wine or a cocktail with that view.
In front of Spanish City the gardens have been landscaped and there are plenty of benches and seating areas, perfect if you’ve got takeaway fish and chips, or an ice cream. It gets pretty busy, with families, cyclists, dog walkers and people just enjoying the coast, but mid week it’s usually a bit quieter.
Walking down from Spanish City towards the beach and the promenade, there is also a little hut serving drinks and Di Meo’s ice cream.
You will also find a Premier Inn just next door, and a Beefeater restaurant.
Spanish City has its own car park, located at NE26 1BE and Parking can be paid with change or on the RIngo App.
Behind Spanish City
In the area behind Spanish City there are a few other things you may be interested in. There is the Whitley Bay play park, which is just across the road from the Spanish City car park, and along that street there are a number of B&B guest houses too.
Further along you get the bottom end of Marine Avenue, and this little section of the street is always busy especially in the summer. The amusements are on the corner, Whitley Whaler and Pantrinis fish and chip takeaways, but the real highlight has to be Di Meo’s.
Di Meo’s are an Italian family run parlour and their recipes date back to 1918, they sell Italian coffee and pizza, but the main speciality is there ice cream. The massive queue you will always see outside along Marine Avenue is always for the ice cream, even though there are other ice cream places nearby with no queue, everyone prefers to wait for the best.
They have been given the title of National Ice Cream Champions multiple times, including 2020, and honestly they are just unbeatable. It’s as close as you will get to Italy in the North East.
Further up Marine Avenue you will come to another highlight, the Whitley Bay Playhouse.
I’ve seen many a pantomime, ballet show, and dance shows at the Playhouse growing up, and it was fully renovated into a state of the art auditorium not that long ago. Have a look at the WHitley Bay Playhouse website for more information and hopefully it wont be too long before they are back up and running post Corona.
Lastly, in this area on the sea front are the public leisure centre, Waves. A huge swimming pool with slides and kids area, a gym and sauna facilities are all available inside. Waves is currently closed, but details will be updated on the local North Tyneside Council site when they become available.
Whitley Bay’s Fish & Chips
I’ve already mentioned some of the places for fish and chips in Whitley Bay, but being a seaside town and having tried most of them at some point in my life I wanted to go into a bit more detail. So Trenchers restaurant is award winning, and I do really enjoy sitting in the Spanish City for them especially the scampi. It’s not the cheapest for fish and chips, but you obviously expect to pay a bit more in a restaurant like that if that’s what you’re after.
I have to be honest though, I think a lot of tourists or people from elsewhere rave about Trenchers the most, and I get it, but often it’s the little unnoticed chippys in towns like this that really stand out. It depends what you’re looking for, and personally I love Pantrini’s on Marine Avenue. Their chips are just amazing, and so is the gravy.
I also have to mention Fisherman’s Bay, which is a little one further along the promenade walk near South Parade. They do a cracking chip butty and have a much smaller queue than other places, but taste just as good. If you get one then go down onto the promenade at the far end where it finishes, it’s a lot quieter and more peaceful.
Another one to mention is Sea Shells on Front Street. Technically this is Monkseaton but it’s so close, and they do excellent fish and chips. They have a car park so park up, get your fish and chips and then drive down to the sea front to eat them as it’s literally just a few minutes.
My final fish and chip to mention isn’t one I’ve tried myself, but my friend Matt says they’re excellent. Arcade can be found on Whitley Road, so if you try them or have had them yourself let me know how they compare.
St Mary’s Island & Lighthouse
Another very recognisable landmark on the Whitley Bay coastline is St Mary’s Lighthouse, located on St Mary’s Island. When the tide is out you can walk along the short path to the island and have a look round, just make sure you dont get stranded if the tide comes in as the path disappears.
Play or walk on the beach, look for crabs among the rockpools either side of the path, or go right onto the island where there are more natural habitats including the giant rocks where you will sometime see the grey seals if you’re lucky. Just dont try and go near them, there are often wildlife volunteers to make sure people don‘t disturb them.
The lighthouse has a visitor centre and shop, which you can access without paying the entrance fee for the lighthouse itself. If you do want to go in, its a few quid, and 137 stairs to climb to the top. It’s no longer in use as a lighthouse, but it does give good views.
The car park is pay and display or again use the Ringo app.
Whitley Bay Caravan Park is located just next to the turn off for the lighthouse, and it’s a Parkdean resort with playground, pet friendly caravans or lodges, and access to the local beach.
The Links is the stretch of road on the sea front between Dukes Walk Car Park and Rendezvous cafe to St Mary’s Lighthouse. The grassy area occasionally has a fun fair, and hosts a huge local firework display on bonfire night. It’s always hugely popular but if you want to see it get there early or use public transport as the roads are always heaving.
The Links also has a golf course, and a mini golf course with views along the coast. If you’re interested in booking to play have a look on the Sports North Tyneside site here. I’m not sure if they have reopened at the moment.
Restaurants & takeaways of Whitley Bay
The restaurants and takeaways in Whitley Bay have definitely improved over the years, and there’s now a reason to stay local, or if you’re not from here to travel here for some of these places instead of the go to ones in Newcastle or Jesmond.
As there are so many to mention I’m going to start with my personal favourites. All of these have excellent food:
Kith & Kin – my favourite cafe for brunch, lunch or coffee and cake. See my full review on this gorgeous little spot here. If you want another locals perspective then also take a look at Laura of Elle Blonde’s review here.
Ahar – an Indian restaurant located on Park View, it’s really small but it’s the best chicken tikka masala I’ve ever had, and on a Thursday and Sunday they do a great tapas menu. See my review of the Ahar here.
Hinnies – found right on the sea front Hinnies serve Geordie grub in their lovely restaurant with views out to sea. I was invited last summer so you can read what I thought here. THey are are the same people who own Blackfriars and Dobson & Parnell in Newcastle city centre.
For takeaways my go to are Jade Lagoon Chinese takeaway on Park View, Dimitris for kebab or pizza on Whitley Lodge, or the fish and chip places I mentioned previously.
Other very popular restaurants that my friends and family always talk highly of, but that I’ve not personally tried include: Elder & Wolf – wood fired food including pizzas, kebabs and tacos, Papa Ganouch – Mediterranean mezze food, Turknaz – authentic Turkish cuisine, Fox & Finch – serving tapas and drinks, Evan’s Bistro – British food and good for kids, and Omni – Asian cafe.
Pubs & Micropubs
My favourite pub in Whitley Bay is my local, the Red House in Red House Farm and Beaumont Park estate. Others include the Black Horse and Monkseaton Arms in Monkseaton, the Kittiwake on Whitley Lodge, and the Beacon on Earsdon Road near the big Sainsbury’s.
A number of micro pubs and breweries have popped up in Whitley Bay, they’re largely no frill but canny little spots. Gilbert & Smiths is on Park View and they have a couple of outdoor tables, a good one for a drink before the Ahar as it’s just across the road, The Dog & Rabbit at the other end of Park View, Left Luggage at Monkseaton Station, and Front Street Tap House.
Lastly just a couple of things I haven’t mentioned in any of the sections above include Churchill playing fields, a good park for kids and for picnics, you can also play tennis or bowls nearby, or go on the running track. There is also Whitley Bay ice rink.
Park View is good for a wander along with a number of independent shops and traders. A quick list of some:
Hana Beauty Clinic for a massage
Pure Knead Artisan Bakery
Pirate Escape Room
Jam Jar Cinema
Family run Nicholson’s Butchers who are just incredible – check out their BBQ packs for summer.
Other little places I want to mention include Honeycombe Deli on Monkseaton Front Street – their sandwiches are INSANE. Yumi Beauty is a beauty clinic on Whitley Lodge that I’ve been to previously for gel nails, but they offer all sorts, and if you’re on Whitley Lodge nip into the Post Office for an old school mix up.
The bars of Whitley Bay on South Parade were once a bank holiday hotspot and I have to say I’m pleased they aren’t any longer, but the new additions and the old places that have been spruced up really do make it a good place to visit in the North East, and one you shouldn’t skip past in favour of Tynemouth all the time. I hope this guide to Whitley Bay has given you some ideas of how to spend your time here, just don‘t leave without trying Di Meo’s ice cream.
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