Head out of town to Weymouth, the updated and adventure-happy southern coastal city where Olympic sailing events will be held. From Waterloo Station, it’s a three-hour trip on the South West line (from $20; departs hourly), after which it’s a short walk down King Street to the grand Georgian esplanade overlooking a three-mile white sand beach and vast Weymouth Bay. Traditional seaside pastimes like donkey rides and a merry-go-round are still there, but you should take in the new experience of getting a bird’s-eye view of the coastline with a 30-minute visit atop the 53-meter-high Sea Life Tower ($20) on the Festival Pier. Afterward, have lunch at the rustic Crab House Cafe, which only serves the catch of the day from local fishermen. While you’re eating, have Weymouth Bike Hire (07973 751 393; from $20 for the day) deliver a rental so you can ride five flat (but potentially windy) miles south on National Cycle Route 26 to Portland Harbour and the National Sailing Academy. Experience Britain’s best natural sailing waters at the Official Test Centre, a windsurfing stop with boards and kit for hire and tutorials ($31 for a beginner-level board and sail for one hour). Next, trade the bike for a hired car from AAA to reach the heart of the Devon coast. After a 45-minute drive, you’ll be dropped off at Lulworth Cove, a storied part of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, England’s only natural World Heritage Site. Walk one and a half miles along the high chalky cliffs to Durdle Door to view tidal-sculpted sea caves, crescent-shaped beaches, and rock arches. Look for co-steering enthusiasts—a new craze pioneered by aquatic adventurers who swim around the natural rock formations and scale them. Get a ride back to Weymouth and either embark on the three-hour trip back to the city or just overnight at the hilltop Venue Hotel (from $188), a luxury retreat with a spa and nouvelle restaurant overlooking the ocean.
5. Oddball Day
Published on May 25, 2012 as a web exclusive.