We will be taking day trips from Brussels. Don't see any info in Rick's guidebooks about Ostend or Zeebrugge, other than its a cruise ship port. Read about tram between those towns. We live near Atlantic Ocean.. Thought we'd rather eat mussels nearer North Sea verses in Brussels restaurant. Any recommendations whether spending time on coast is good idea?
I visit the Belgian coast many times a year, with a few times Oostende. In general have no high expectations about the beauty of the Belgian coast. You will see in most places a whole lot of apartment blocks, however there are some buildings that has survived the building madness, like you will find a handful in Blankenberge and Oostende. Luckely De Haan as a whole is actually due to strict building regulations preserved pretty well.
So most attractive place of the entire Belgian coast with it’s Belle Epoque houses is De Haan and lies halfway the tram line between Blankenberge and Oostende. Einstein stayed there for a half year before moving finally after a stop in the UK to Princeton, there is a walk with displays and the house is still there too, but privately owned and not open to public.
Further “Het Zoute” is a nice (especially around the golf course) residential area between Knokke and “Het Zwin” close to the Dutch border. Worth considering if you have to be there, but questioning if it is worth enough for a journey.
Oostende has a few points of interests like the Ensor Museum, tallship Mercator and the Atlantikwall museum of Raversyde. Unique is riding with the coast tram along the beach there.
Sint-Idesbald is wellknown for the Paul Delvaux museum and the abbey museum Ten Duinen.
Zeebrugge is an industrial seaport and not directly a tourist destination. The old Russian submarine and an old lightship can be of interest and a few seafood restaurants seems to be very popular with locals. Taking the train from Brugge to Zeebrugge-Strand is Lissewege worth a visit.
Mussels in Belgian restaurants come mostly from the Delta Region in the Netherlands, so closer to the coast is no garantuee they will be fresher as in Brussels. But the smell of the sea in open air restaurants along the beach can make a meal tasting better.