The seaside resort buzz has gone, and in its place comes a sense of a real, functioning city, where locals outnumber the tourists and there’s room to move on the streets.

But, calmer and less showy though it may be, Brighton is never boring.

Here are a few reasons to visit the city in the cooler months.

Cheap thrills

On quiet days in winter and early spring, a magic sign appears at the Fun Fair on Brighton Pier announcing that all the rides are £2.

Take your pick from the stomach-churning Booster, hilariously naff Horror Hotel or classics like the waltzer for a fraction of the normal price. Plus the queues are tiny, if there are any at all.

Table for you

The Lanes and North Laine areas are filled with top-notch eateries, and without the crowds you have a much better chance of getting in. Try Terre à Terre, winner of the Observer’s best vegetarian restaurant of 2008, with deliciously complicated dishes that give veggies a complete makeover. For brunch there’s Bill’s Produce Store, a huge barn of a place that sells food and fresh ingredients, or Idyea, where you pay a set price and pile your plate high. And if the weather comes in, hunker down over a latte in the Brighton Coffee Co.

Time for museums

The turrets and minarets of the Royal Pavilion sing out to be explored, but in summer, with the lure of the beach, it can fall down your to-do list.

After admiring the lavish decor, wander across the gardens to the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery – a bright, modern space filled with art, design and local history (if you want to learn about the city’s reputation as a dirty weekend destination, this is your place).

Then there’s The Sea Life Centre, the oldest operating aquarium in the world. Since the chimpanzee tea party is no longer considered appropriate, the star of the show is a giant turtle named Lulu.

Night fever

Whatever you’re looking for in the way of evening entertainment, chances are you’ll find it in Brighton at any time of year.

Our options for a January Saturday included Jimmy Carr at Brighton Dome, Holiday On Ice at the Brighton Centre, jazz at the Hanbury Club or a play at the Theatre Royal.

We opted for a cabaret night at entertainment centre Komedia, before heading to the beachfront to trawl the many clubs along the terraces.

Hangover cure Forget the steak bake, the best remedy for the morning after is the combination of sea air, gusty wind and chilly temperatures – yours for free on Brighton beach until at least May.

Walk west from Brighton Pier and you’ll find a promenade of artist studios and cafés on one side, and the haunting skeleton of the derelict West Pier on the other. Look out for a lone man in the distance searching for lost trinkets with a metal detector.

» Amy Adams travelled with Visit Brighton

Digs with a difference 

Not much is dull in Brighton, and this includes accommodation.

A recent addition to the quirky hotel scene is Snooze, a colourful, friendly guesthouse in Kemp Town.

Each of the 10 rooms has its own look, from upmarket fleamarket to Eastern promise and swinging ’60s.

For those on a tight budget there are cheaper Snooze Lite rooms on the top floor.

It’s a 20-minute walk into town, but on the plus side you get to explore Kemp Town’s cosy pubs and elegant brasseries, and wake up with a bracing stroll along the beachfront.

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