There’s loads to do with kids in this part of Norfolk. We moved here with pre-schoolers who are now school age (just) and we have had lots of Norfolk adventures. Here are my top tips to building an enjoyable itinerary during your stay.
Norfolk is definitely an outdoor kind of place but I won’t bang on about the beach here, it is a given that the beach is a highlight for the kids where you can watch them run wild or take them to see the baby seals. Mind you, a ball, kite, flask of hot chocolate or, as I once saw, a small set of water colours so the kids can do a beach sketch whilst visiting the seals, seems to keep them happy. If you have exhausted the beach, checked out the villages new play area, and been for a trip on the Broads here is my top list of things to do:
First off is the amazing, award winning BeWilderwood. This tree-house adventure park, some 25 minutes’ drive from the barns, will have you and your kids smiling as you get on the giant zip wires, tree top walk-ways and oversized slides and swings. Deep in the forest, children make dens, scamper over trails of high walks, steps and slides and enjoy storytelling and face painting. The place feels remarkably relaxed and peaceful. I put this down to thoughtful planning (so queuing is kept to a minimum), good coffee and the fact that it feels so good to be outside in a wood all day. They have seasonal events too - this October half term they have a lantern parade. They are open from Easter through to the end of September. Then, just weekends and half terms in October, February and March. They are closed in December and January.
If you have pre-schoolers, then Wroxham Barns is a great option. At their junior farm you can feed lambs, pet pigs and rabbits, and collect eggs. There is a lovely manageable soft play. They also have a café, restaurant, shops, brewery and craft studio if you have got some grandparents with you too. Open year round, 10:00 – 17:00. Also in Wroxham there is the charming Bure Valley steam railway.
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Park is worth a visit, particularly if you want to stare into the eyes of tigers, snow leopards, cute meerkats, noisy gibbons or even crocodiles. Great for the under 10s as there are some tree top walks, wobbly bridges and even a mini maze. It never seems to get busy but I’d recommend you pack up lunch as the food isn’t great. Under 4’s go free. If you want to see wildlife with more space then Africa Alive is also a great option and is about a 45 minute drive south.
For a more outdoor whole family experience How Hill would be up there for me. Part outdoor education centre and part waterside gardens with woods, seasonal museum and tea shop as well as electric boat rides. The How Hill Trust put on the most amazing (best thing I have ever done with my children, ever) ‘Nature Tots’, ‘Marsh Monster’ sessions and family fun days. These get booked up quickly and run only in school holidays, but with a clear focus on getting your kids to love the outdoors and have fun. These super relaxed sessions include: making forest floor art and clay model hedgehogs, and for the older children, thatching a roof, then having a bucket of water thrown at you to see how well you did your job. If you are visiting during the school holidays I’d strongly recommend checking out what they have on offer….
When these sessions aren’t on you can still visit the nature walk, go on a boat ride and picnic in the lovely secret gardens. Sometimes the house and gardens themselves are open – where you can play the best game of hide and seek ever…although when our kids found a trapped rabbit and fed it the contents of their packed lunch we made a hasty escape!
For young children you can also visit Pettitts with its rides, play areas, mini railway and animals. Again it’s quiet and manageable for a young family. Or the whole family can head into Great Yarmouth. The new Jump warehouse trampoline centre in Yarmouth is a great wet weather option and apparently holds a great teenage discos. There is also the Sea Life Centre and the Time & Tide museum which plots the history of Great Yarmouth fishing industry and there is the fab little Silver Darlings café next door.
As our family gets older we are exploring more of what Norfolk has to offer. This half term my 6 and 4 year olds and me are going to BeWilderwood for the day, Norwich Castle, the Henry Blogg life boat Museum in Cromer (amazing for kids, so I am told) and some of the towns eateries (I have a list) and when then weather is good a trip to How Hill and a picnic will be the order of the day. If it’s wet (please don’t be) we will head into Yarmouth for an early session at the jump warehouse.