Have you been to Norfolk, UK? Or neighbouring Suffolk? The English coastal counties aren’t far from London, so they’re an easy journey for us. We spent a glorious spring week with friends in Norfolk, not too far from the Suffolk border. There are tons of things to do in Norfolk with children. And Suffolk, too. I’ve put together a list of my favourite suggestions. Do let me know if you have any more ideas.
Fun things to do in Norfolk with children – by the sea
- Go crabbing off Cromer Pier. The Grade II listed, 151 metre long traditional Victorian pier was Pier of the Year in 2015, according to the National Piers Society. The north Norfolk attraction is one of only five UK seaside piers with a flourishing theatre. After your crabbing session, you can check out one of the end-of-pier variety shows, or go for a run along the wide sandy beach. I’ve written more about things to do in Cromer here.
- Visit Caister on Sea. On a good day you can see the dolphins swim past the ‘Georgian Beach’ of this seaside resort near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
One of the top things to do in Norfolk: visit The Broads
- Take a boat trip on The Broads, ‘Britain’s Magical Waterland’, where the interconnecting rivers and lakes are often no deeper than four metres. The Broads National Park runs for 125 miles, and is one of the best-known Norfolk attractions. It extends all the way down into Suffolk. The waterway, created by peat-miners in the 14th Century, is home to over a quarter of the rarest plants and animals in the UK. There are plenty of cycle routes, suitable for all levels. Or families can hire a boat to meander down the water, past dragonflies, swallowtail butterflies, kingfishers and even otters.
Family attractions in Norfolk
- In the spring, feed lambs at Wroxham Barns, in Hoveton, Norfolk. While your kids are with the animals or at the children’s funfair, you can even get a massage or pedicure. Also open in springtime in Reedham, Norfolk is Pettitts Animal Adventure Park, which has meerkats, quad bikes and dinosaur crazy golf. Over in Suffolk, in Ipswich Jimmy’s Farm has a butterfly house – or reptiles, if you’re feeling daring. TV personality Jimmy Doherty runs the working farm, which has over 300 pigs and a restaurant in a 200-year old barn. Or there’s the historic Easton Farm Park, Woodbridge. It was the second farm park to be opened in the UK and you can pet bunnies and goats there.
- Unleash your inner sprites at BeWILDerwood, a treehouse-based adventure park in Hoveton, Norfolk. The place features zip wires, boat trips, storytelling and fantastical creatures like Crocklebogs, Twiggles and Boggles.
Free things to do in Norfolk
- Visit one of the many splendid beaches in Norfolk and Suffolk. Our friends recommended several: Holkham, Gorleston, Horsey Beach and Scroby Sands (you can see seals at both of these), Wells-Next-the-Sea, Albeburgh and Southwold. There are plenty more! If you’re looking for a seaside cottage to rent for your trip (or even one buried deep in the Norfolk countryside), Norfolk Cottages has plenty to offer.
Places to visit in Norfolk if you love nature
- Pensthorpe Natural Park is a nature reserve in Norfolk’s Wensum Valley. You can see cranes, flamingos and rare red squirrels there. The children can blow off steam in the WildRootz outdoor adventure playground, or on a Bug Walk.
Places in Norfolk that celebrate the arts
- Visit Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh’s arts complex. Founded by composer Benjamin Britten, the Suffolk centre for music features family-friendly concerts, children’s nature trails, art exhibitions and shops selling local artisan goods.
Things to do in Norfolk when it rains
- Watch clownfish, sea turtles or penguins at Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre. At Hunstanton Sealife Centre you can visit rescued pups at the seal hospital.
- Explore a historic house. There’s the National Trust’s Blickling Hall north of Aylsham in Norfolk. Also in the hands of the National Trust, in Norfolk’s Oxborough, is Oxburgh Hall. English Heritage’s Landguard Fort sits at Felixstowe, Suffolk and defends Harwich Harbour. The Dutch were seen off there in 1667, in the last opposed invasion of England by sea. Gressenhall Workhouse Museum in Dereham, Norfolk, gives a fascinating, family-friendly insight to life in a Victorian workhouse. A farm and an adventure playground help lighten the mood. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Norwich, Norwich Castle Museum is a hands-on place that takes visitors through Egyptian, Anglo-Saxon, Roman and Viking history. And one of the best days out in Norfolk can be had at Sandringham, the Queen’s country home.
Things to do in Suffolk
- Gawk at the House in the Clouds, a water tower converted into a kooky home by Scottish barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. The folly sits in Thorpeness, a Suffolk seaside village also designed by Stuart Ogilvie, back in 1910. It’s a pretty, fairytale place, full of mock tudor houses.
Some of these attractions are closed over winter, so do check to see whether they’re open before travelling there.
What would you suggest for families visiting Norfolk and Suffolk?
If you’re looking for even more things to do in north Norfolk and places to visit in north Norfolk, check out our other post.
I’ve written about things to do in Cromer here.
I’ve also written about luxury lodges in Norfolk, at Hemsby Beach Holiday Park, where we stayed on a press trip.
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This is a collaborative post. All views are my own.