15 top family attractions in Suffolk
Don't fancy sitting in a hot car for hours to find the fun? No worries! We're lucky to have plenty of activities for the whole family right here in Suffolk. Make a note of these local gems and start ticking them off now!
1. Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park, Wherstead near Ipswich
Jimmy’s Farm is a fabulous day out for the whole family. There’s the wildlife park with over 80 species and breeds including traditional, rare and exotic animals from crocodiles, camels and capybara to pigs, and guinea pigs. A fairly new addition worth checking out is the new invertebrate enclosure in the tropical house, home to sun beetles and African train millipedes – larger than we’re comfortable with but a big hit with the kids. There’s also the WonderWood – a magical free-play area where kids, big and small, can build their own unique den as well as the land of the ancient dinosaurs (is it even a kids attraction these days without dinosaurs?). This summer you can even camp with dinosaurs if that’s your kids passion! As well as all the animals adults will enjoy the restaurant, vegetable and flower gardens, as well as the freshly made pizzas in the rustic woodland pub. When you’re done dining and looking at giant anteaters, African pygmy goats and meerkats, pick up some local treats from the brilliant farm shop, and gift, clothing and crafts shops on your way out.
2. Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge
Sutton Hoo is truly fascinating for children who love a historical tale – a king buried under a hill for centuries with his treasure and only discovered on the eve of World War Two. Kids will love learning about this fascinating early medieval find, one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the country. History really comes alive at Sutton Hoo, the site of an Anglo-Saxon royal burial of incomparable richness, and there’s a huge amount to learn and enjoy on a visit here. As well as the exhibition of treasures, there’s a sculpture and treasure trail, the chance to explore the burial site and dressing up. And, being the National Trust there’s the usual lovely gift shop and cafe on site.
3. High Lodge, Brandon
Suffolk is very lucky to have Thetford Forest to the north of the county, which provides miles of woodland walks and enjoyment for families. If you’re looking for a full family day of al fresco and wholesome activities, head to High Lodge near Brandon on the Suffolk/ Norfolk border where you can enjoy hours of forest-based fun. There’s something for all ages – all sorts of trails, play areas, Go Ape, bike hire, wildlife hides, adventure golf, archery, trampolining and much more. Brand new for 2022 is a disc golf course (think frisbee meets golf!). There’s also plenty of space for barbecues and picnics as well as an on site cafe and visitor centre. If that’s not worn you out, head to nearby Santon Downham, an idyllic forestside village with a river that perfect for paddling and wild swimming.
4. Southwold Pier and crabbing in Walberswick
For some free family fun head to the gorgeous seaside town of Southwold where you can spend hours playing on the beach and mooching round the independent shops. Top of our list for family attractions in this part of the county are Southwold Pier and crabbing in nearby Walberswick. The pier is all about classic, and slightly eccentric old-fashioned English seaside fun. There’s an arcade for older kids who love gaming, a restaurant, cafe, shops, and 80s retro games area. But it’s the quirky under the pier show that gets our vote. It’s one of the most unique collections of interactive machines and weirdly wonderful inventions in the world including things like experiencing the life of a fly in VR, training for your future on a Zimmer frame simulator, and taking out your frustrations with the financial industry on the ‘Whack A Banker’ machine (maybe that last one is best for the adults!). When you’re done with that mind-being activity take a walk along the beach to Walberswick where you can go crabbing in the harbour.
5. Easton Farm Park, Easton
A great day out for under 10s, Easton Farm Park in Woodbridge has mini kids’ tractors and Shetland ponies to ride, a giant bouncing pillow and animal encounters galore, from cuddling bunnies to feeding sheep. Inside you’ll find a soft play area as well as the chance to get involve din craft workshops. There’s also a cafe to get a caffeine fix and pick up children’s picnic boxes and if you want to make a weekend of it, book one of the cool and quirky on-site holiday cottages or camping spots. There are often themed months or events at the farm and this summer is no different with a month of Wild West fun including games, a cactus maze, and panning for gold.
6. Bressingham Steam & Gardens, near Diss
If your kids love the idea of travelling on the Hogswarts Express then treat them to a day of train-related fun at Bressingham Steam & Gardens on the Norfolk/ Suffolk border. Adults will love a stroll around the stunning gardens while kids can burn off energy taking rides on the Gallopers, one of the finest vintage carousels in the country, as well as a visit to the steam museum and of course a ride on a traditional narrow gauge steam train. There are four different train journeys to choose from The Fen Railway, The Garden Railway, The Waveney Valley Railway and The Standard Gauge Railway. There’s even The National Dad’s Army collection that parents or grandparents will love a mosey round.
7. Framlingham Castle, Framlingham
You’ll need a head for heights at this 12th-century castle because one of the main attractions is a wall walk along the towering walls with stunning views across the Suffolk countryside. Framlingham Castle is part of English Heritage and is arguably one of the best castles in the country. There’s a lot of history to discover here from Mary Tudor being crowned Queen of England to Ed Sheeran writing a song Castle on the Hill about it (that classes as history right?). You can discover all the fascinating facts on the audio guide and there’s always some sort of event on (this summer is a medieval season and there’s a special knight’s tournament in August). It’s a great day out for the whole family, plus there’s a cafe, shop and dogs on leads can even join you.
8. West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village & Country Park
12th century not far enough back in time for you? Try West Stow Anglo Saxon Village & Country Park, where you can experience life in Suffolk as it was in AD420. Another incredible archaeological site, there’s a fascinating exhibition as well as a stunning recreation of an Anglo-Saxon village surrounded by 125 acres of unspoilt countryside. There’s aways some sort of event or theme happening at the village such as outdoor theatre, storytelling, games, tours and courses like archery and longbow lessons. Plus you can dress up for the day in traditional garb.
9. Africa Alive Zoological Reserve, Kessingland
Future David Attenborough’s will thank you for a trip to Muddy Awards finalist 2022 Africa Alive! Zoological Reserve in Kessingland, near Lowestoft. There’s plenty to fill an entire day of family fun here with the chance to get close (but not too close, don’t worry) to lions, rhinos, zebra, chimps and lemurs spread out over more than 100 acres. Endangered wild animals aside, we also love the Discovery Zone, farmyard area, safari train and soft play area as backup entertainment if the weather turns bad. Over the holidays there’s a six weeks of summer fun programme that includes extra week-long specials like conservation week and photography and art week, as well as World Lion Day, and the Africa Summer Festival of Fun on 20 and 21 August.
10. Knettishall Heath, near Thetford
This area of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust breckland feels beautifully remote and is an idyllic spot for a pond dipping, paddling, a picnic and a woodland or riverside walk. There six trails within the 430 acres to choose from through woodland and heath near the Little Ouse River and the Woodland Trail has an added historical bonus – the Bronze Age burial mound of Hut Hill. It’s all about free, and wholesome fun for kids at Knettishall Heath with the chance to discover local wildlife, including wild ponies, and get off screens and into the great outdoors. Go on a Weds – Sun to make the most of the visitor welcome and cafe van.
11. Kentwell Hall and Gardens, Long Melford
Kentwell Hall is so much more than just a beautiful Suffolk stately home. It’s all about living history here and it’s a brilliant family day out for kids and adults who love to get immersed in a story and step back in time. dressing up is encouraged (when I was a kid went full Anne Boleyn on a trip here!). As well as a full back in time Tudor experience there are glorious gardens (30 acres of moats, lawns, walled gardens, massive clipped yews, espaliered fruit trees and giant cedars), as well as the house to look around. Throughout the year there’s a programme of amazing events. Next up? A War and Peace weekend and the Kentwell Hall History Festival.
12. Southwold Maize Maze, Reydon
Getting lost in the puzzling pathways Southwold Maize Maze then finding your way back out again is a surprisingly satisfying way to while away an afternoon. Running from 24 July- 3 Sept, the enormous maze is cut annually – this year it’s a Platinum Jubilee theme with 6 jubilee focussed information boards for you to track down. The reward for reaching the centre of the maze? A stunning view of Reydon marshes, home to many species of bird and quietly grazing cattle. There’s also a mini maze for little ones to explore too. When you’re not trying to find your way out of a field of corn, there’s also go-karting, three jumping pillows, a play area and a double zip wire to tire the kids out. Head to the Old Hall Cafe to refuel after all the action.
13. Thorpeness Meare
For proper ‘messing about in boats’ day out, head to the Suffolk coast and Thorpeness Meare – a boating lake that has been attracting tourists since the 1920s. Choose from sailing boats, rowboats, dinghies, kayaks and canoes – there’s a great tea room too. Once you’ve been on the boats Thorpeness is a fun place to walk around to check out the house in the clouds and it’s also right on the beach and a short, but lovely walk takes you down to Aldeburgh for fish and chips and shopping.
14. Ickworth House
We adore this National Trust estate for a full family day out in Suffolk. Not only is it simply stunning, but there are miles of walks and trails to enjoy as well as plenty of nice flat roads for riding a bike, trike and pushing prams. The play area is large enough for lots of age kids and there are lots of family-focussed activities on all the time like giant games, explorer packs for kids bug hotel building and geocaching. The Orangery is a great place for a lunch or for something more relaxed there’s the Porter’s Lodge.
15. Snape Maltings
Snape Maltings isn’t just a cultural arts and concert venue for adults, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy. There are plenty of free resources such as family gallery trails, a garden discovery trail, interactive exhibits, discovery cubes and audio guides to help explore the home of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, and during the school holidays special kid-friendly events take place. Snape Maltings is in such a beautiful spot of Suffolk that you can also hop on your bikes, take about trip along the River Alde or walk for miles spotting coastal wildlife. And of course, there’s lots of delicious food to be devoured and shops to look round too, including a toy shop.
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