Is it worth a visit with Southend just down the road ?
This is a Thurrock based website. So why would we profile so many places that are over an hour's drive away? Mostly because they are only an hour's drive away, they are wonderful to visit and if ever there was a populous that could benefit from getting off the couch more often it could be argued that Grays was it (not everyone - but certainly some).
So why drive for an hour and 20 mins for an experience that could be argued to be provided at Southend? Well first thing you notice arriving at the seafront town centre is the sand. It's like Bermuda and should not be underestimated for its value in the difference this makes. It truly announces that you are on a beach of a different magnitude all together for the UK. It has some of finest pubs, restaurants and cafes of its type on any seafront I've visited in the UK, not necessarily Michelin starred but considerably up-market compared to Southend's slightly greasy-spoon feel, but without the difference in price. But maybe the biggest difference is Southend exists essentially on the Thames estuary and you certainly feel it whenever the tide goes out, Margate has more of a Bay-feel and actually looks out on to the sea, a sea that is distinctly clean and crystal to look at as nearby signs brag of a European certificate of approved standard of cleanness, no such signs are found in Southend.
Wonder through the town and it's has a slightly more mixed feel to it, generally very lovely and spruced but maybe it is here that the two towns start to have more in common as the grim 1950s building still loom large. But no matter, you're there for the aquatic difference and in this regard it's the best anywhere within the hour distance from Grays.