From watersports to rollercoasters, there’s plenty to enjoy in Suffolk. Sunbathing on one of its beautiful beaches should be just one of many things on your to-do list when visiting
Mess about on the water at Thorpeness Meare
Canoeing, kayaking and rowing enthusiasts – and novices alike – can take to the water at this safe and shallow lake, with more than 40 acres to paddle. There are little islands to explore, which have been specifically designed with children in mind – they’re named after characters from Peter Pan (Wendy’s Home, Pirate’s Lair, to name a few) and populated with crocodiles and treasures. The lake, which is also home to a large family of swans and ducks, has been capturing children’s imaginations for a century – and it’s a great opportunity to see how much fun they can have without technology at hand. There is also an old-fashioned tea room where you can refresh with a cuppa and some cake when you disembark. Note that the lake is only open during high season, which is spring to October.
Make like a monkey at Go Ape in Thetford
From March to October, and some weekends either side, you can take in the great outdoors at the Go Ape adventure park. Outdoorsy types can embrace the opportunity to swing from trees, zoom down paths and trample wild terrain in 50,000 acres of pine trees – the largest man-made forest in the UK. A day out here makes for an exciting and invigorating family activity. Feel like Indiana Jones on a daring trail of crossings and zip wires, or take a more sedate Segway trip around the forest with state of the art cross-terrain machines. Restaurants, mazes, a sculpture walk, cycle trails and hire bikes will provide plenty of outdoor entertainment for the more intrepid members of the family.
Head to the lighthouse at Southwold
This pretty town overlooks the North Sea and lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty. In summer months you’ll want to pack a picnic and head straight for the golden sand with its neat row of prettily painted beach huts, but there is plenty to occupy you all year round. Known as Chelsea-on-Sea because of its smart shops and expensive homes, the town has excellent gastropubs, clean streets and a beautiful church – the St Edmund, King & Martyr (take your kids – they’re encouraged to ring the church bell). Head to the white lighthouse, which visitors can climb for a special view out to sea. For £1, you can jump on the ferry to little village Walberswick (between March and the end of October). This is one of the few remaining ferries powered by oar – it takes a few minutes to row from the beach at Southwold to the possibly even nicer one at Walberswick. The service has been running visitors across the river Blythe since 1236, and you can make like many passengers before you and pitch up at The Anchor at Walberswick– a family-run, dog-friendly pub with welcoming staff serving tasty, locally grown produce.
Go below stairs at beautiful Ickworth
For a little taste of how the other half used to live, head to Ickworth House, a stately home near Bury St Edmunds. Now run by the National Trust, this is a gorgeous Italianate palace with a very unusual design. The house is dominated by an enormous rotunda – a rounded central building originally built by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his impressive art and artefact collection during the 18th century. The collection remains intact – so you can peruse his outstanding paintings by Gainsborough, Hogarth and Reynolds, as well as sculptures, and silverware by the Huguenots. The pieces on display are matched only by the building itself – the architecture is very unusual, thanks to the rounded walls. Head downstairs and you will find costumed 1930s staff at work – listen in to their conversations and watch them prepare food for the one-time tenants of the property. They are very good at keeping in character and provide a fascinating insight into how the house – and stately homes like this one – were once run in this country.
Why not take a look at our hotels in Suffolk and indulge in everything this destination has to offer.