This charming seaside town is a popular base for exploring Dorset’s UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast.
Nestled between steep cliffs, Lyme Regis is speckled with bright cottages and Victorian villas. Relax on the town’s sandy beaches or join a fossil-hunting tour along its rugged coastline.
Walk the length of the Cobb, a curving stone breakwater which dates back to the 13th century. One of Lyme Regis’ most famous attractions, the Cobb was featured in the film version of Jane Austen's Persuasion as well as in John Fowles' novel The French Lieutenant's Woman.
Learn about the town’s fascinating history at the Lyme Regis Museum in the former home of resident Mary Anning. She and her brother discovered the first ichthyosaurus skeleton near Lyme Regis around 1811. The museum has a fine collection of fossils, as well as exhibits dedicated to local writers. Look for an office chair that belonged to novelist John Fowles who was curator of the museum for 10 years.
Take the kids to Dinosaurland, which houses more than 10,000 fossils discovered in the area. Its exhibits include a 161-pound (73-kilogram) dinosaur dung specimen as well as the remains of a plesiosaurus. Check out interesting minerals and fossils for sale in the museum store.
The Marine Aquarium, another popular family-friendly attraction, showcases the diverse species of Lyme Bay. Hand feed mullet fish, hold a starfish and see eerie spider crabs.
Head to the Town Mill Complex to sample microbrews and local cheeses. The site of a working 14th-century watermill, the complex also has a pleasant café as well as galleries for pottery and art.
Admire the plasterwork ceilings and beautiful tapestries inside Forde Abbey. Located 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the city center, the abbey was originally built in the 12th century as a Cistercian monastery. Be sure to explore the 30-acre (12-hectare) garden surrounding the abbey to see a number of rare flower species.
Reach Lyme Regis by driving along one of numerous highways. You can also take the train to Axminster, with bus connections available from the station. The nearest airports are in Bristol, Exeter and Bournemouth.