From alpacas to axe-throwing bar - 25 of the best days out in Norfolk
- Credit: Norfolk Alpacas
From an afternoon tea with alpacas to an axe-throwing bar, here are some of the best days out in Norfolk with something to suit everyone.
WITH THE KIDS
1. Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, Lenwade
This 85-acre park offers a Jurassic adventure for all the family, with animatronic dinosaurs and attractions including Dippy's Splash Zone, Dippy's Raceway, a Dinosaur Trail and The Dinomite Indoor Adventure Play Area. New addition Dippy's Theatre opens on May 29 and will host live shows. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm with adults and children over 90cm £14.95 and children under 90cm free, pre-book an entry slot at roarrdinosauradventure.co.uk
2. Hippodrome Circus, Great Yarmouth
The Jay family, who have owned the building since 1979, create mesmerising circus shows all year round and the venue also features the world-famous Water Spectacular built in 1903. Upcoming shows include Pirates Live! from May 28 to June 13, which will have socially distanced seating, and the Summer Circus and Water Spectacular from July 7 to September 19, which will hopefully be able to run at full capacity. Ticket prices vary, for Pirates Live! call 01493 738877 or for the Summer Spectacular visit hippodromecircus.co.uk
3. Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham
A stunning 700-acre nature reserve set along the River Wensum that all the family will enjoy, with lakes, woodland walks and four different gardens to explore. There is also an outdoor play area called WildRootz and visitors need to pre-book a slot for the indoor play area Hootz House alongside a day ticket. The park is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm and every bank holiday and you can book at pensthorpe.com - tickets cost £12.95 for adults and £11.95 for children (aged 3 to 16).
4. Wroxham Barns
Wroxham Barns is open daily from 10am to 5pm, with free entry to its shops and food outlets. The Junior Farm and Fun Park, which underwent a six-figure refurbishment last year, are open at weekends during term time (£8.99) and everyday in the school holidays (£12.99) and under-twos are free. Visitors can meet adorable animals, including donkeys, lambs and goats, and enjoy attractions such as the Jumping Pillows, mini golf and go-karts. Pre-booking tickets is essential at wroxhambarns.co.uk. New for 2021, Wroxham Barns is running family camping experiences this summer.
5. Banham Zoo
This award-winning zoo is home to over 2,000 animals from around the world, including giraffes, zebras, tigers, monkeys and leopards. It is also home to domestic livestock, such as llamas and Pygmy goats, a range of colourful birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Each day there are events where visitors can learn more about the animals, including bird of prey displays. The zoo is open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm and tickets cost £22.50 for adults, £16.50 for children (3-15) and under-threes are £1.10 including a donation - pre-booking is essential at banhamzoo.co.uk
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6. RSPB Strumpshaw Fen
This peaceful nature reserve is located along the River Yare and is a birdwatcher's paradise. Take a pleasant walk round the reedbeds, woodlands and orchid-rich meadows, with a number of trails to choose from of varying distances. Upcoming events there include Strumpshaw's Brilliant Bug Ball Family Trail and pond dipping. It is open daily 9.30am to 5pm (£4.50 adults, £2.50 children or free for RSPB members, first child and under-fives) and can see the full upcoming programme at rspb.org.uk
7. North Walsham and Dilham Canal Boat Tours
Take a guided boat tour of Norfolk's only sailing canal, built in 1826, onboard an electric boat. Tours last around one hour and can be arranged at a time of your choosing, with Covid-secure measures in operation. Tours embark from Ebridge Mill car park (NR12 9NG), from where a steerer guides passengers upstream, taking in the wildlife and providing background history of this fascinating waterway. Boats cost £40 for up to six people and call Graham to book on 07585 160772 - for more information visit nwdct.org
8. Sheringham Park
This popular park boasts nearly 1,000 acres of woodland, parkland and farmland with coastal views. There are four waymarked routes, with distances ranging from one to five miles, and look out for wildlife as three species of deer can be seen alongside birds and butterflies. It is run by the National Trust and parking costs £6.50, or it is free for members, which can be pre-booked at nationaltrust.org.uk/sheringham-park.
9. Burlingham Woodland Walks
Seven miles east of Norwich, these gentle walks pass through woodland, farmland and orchards and vary in length to suit all abilities. You can start in North Burlingham, with free parking off the A47 opposite St Andrews Church, in Acle, which links in with the Weavers’ Way, at Fairhaven Gardens or in Lingwood. There are plenty of things to look out for, including sundials, a sculpture trail and an area within Drive Plantation is used to display natural form artwork by local GCSE students at Acle High School. See the different routes at norfolk.gov.uk/out-and-about-in-norfolk/norfolk-trails
10. Holkham Estate
There are 3,000 acres of cycling and walking routes to explore in the park, surrounding the 18th-century hall, with maps at the entrance to Holkham Park and by the Visitor Reception. This summer it is also hosting the inaugural Festival of Sport from August 13 to 15, with a jam-packed weekend of activities and famous faces including Mike Tindall and Helen Glover. The car park is open from 9am to 5pm and costs £5 per day.
11. Raveningham Gardens
The Raveningham Estate, located between Loddon and Beccles, has been home to the Bacon family since 1735 and boasts 5,500 acres.The garden features wildflower meadows, glasshouses and a walled Victorian kitchen garden and you can see the latest opening times at raveningham.com - tickets are £5, £4.50 for concessions and under-16s are free. The Raveningham Centre at the estate is also bringing back its popular Sculpture Trail from July 31 to September 5, which will run daily from 10am to 5pm (£6 or under-18s free), and you will need to book an arrival time slot. Tickets will go on sale in June at raveninghamsculpturetrail.com and dogs on leads are welcome.
12. Bishop's House Gardens, Norwich
Bishop Graham and his wife Rachel open their private garden to the public on select dates each year in aid of various charities. The historic private garden is full of delights such as herbaceous borders, a small woodland walk, bee hives and more. See upcoming opening dates at dioceseofnorwich.org/about/senior-staff/bishop-of-norwich/gardens
13. Bressingham Steam and Gardens, Diss
This popular attraction has been open for 60 years and was established by horticulturalist Alan Bloom MBE. There are six main garden areas, including a summer garden, winter garden and an area known as Foggy Bottom, with ornamental grasses and perennials. At the Bressingham Steam site, there are also four railway lines, which wind through the gardens, The Gallopers and a Dad's Army Exhibition. The museum and gardens open from 10.30am daily and the site closes at 5pm (5.30pm from June to August) and ticket are priced at £12.49 for adults (16+), £11.49 for over-65s, £7.99 for children (3-15) and under-threes are free (all include a donation) - pre-booking essential at bressingham.co.uk
Norwich's reputation for amazing food and drink continues to grow and it is home to three restaurants in The Michelin Guide 2021, which are Benedicts, Farmyard and Roger Hickman's. The thriving Golden Triangle Area is home to fantastic pubs, such as The Black Horse and The Unthank Arms, and hidden gems for foodies include Blue Joanna, offering Asian-inspired street food tapas style, and The Green Grocers wholefoods store, café and bakery. As well as incredible eateries in the Norwich Lanes, including the famous Grosvenor Fish Bar, the NR3 postcode has become a hotspot for great food in recent years with pop-ups Xo Kitchen at The Artichoke and Danomey Kitchen at The Stanley.
15. Burnham Market
This vibrant village is a hit with holiday-makers visiting the Norfolk coast and it has a great food offering, including award-winning restaurant Socius, which takes a modern British take on tapas, and critic Giles Coren is a fan after reviewing it for The Times last summer. Other great spots include The Hoste Arms, also a luxury boutique hotel, where Norfolk produce is the star of the show and Number 29 Bar and Restaurant, which offers delicious breakfasts, lunches and mains, including Korean beef brisket bao buns and a seafood mixed grill.
Holt is home to the famous Byfords, with an excellent café that offers dinner in the evening too, with grazing plates, platters, stone-baked pizzas and a range of mains - you can also pick up pies, pasties and much more from its takeaway hatch. Nearby Eric's Fish and Chips blends nostalgia with a modern European influence, with options such as battered squid and halloumi and spinach arancini alongside the traditional fare, and you can also order wine by the bottle and beer. If you are looking for something sweet, head to Owl Tea Rooms, established in 1929, for delicious cakes and cookies.
17. Looses Emporium, Norwich
Looses Emporium in Magdalen Street is the largest centre for antiques and collectables in East Anglia and it is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful items. It specialises in antique, vintage, retro and modern furniture and you can also find vintage clothing, garden tools, jewellery and glassware and much more. It is open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm and Sunday 10.30am to 4.30pm.
18. Holt Antiques and Interiors Centre
Located in Candlestick Lane, this centre houses many dealers and is also an Autentico Chalk Paint stockist. You will find antique furniture, collectables, paintings, unique lighting, retro, vintage and industrial decor, clocks and accessories for the home and much more. It is situated just outside the town centre and there is free parking. The opening times are Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm.
19. Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
A great day out for all the family is guaranteed at the Pleasure Beach, with a whole host of rides for all ages. This includes its star attraction the wooden rollercoaster, which opened in 1932, and it travels under gravity until it arrives back at the station. Other rides include the Sky Drop, Supreme Waltzer and the newly-revamped Snails and Fairy Tales Ride. It is open from 11am to 9.30pm, offering three-hour sessions with unlimited rides. Tickets cost £13.50 and under-12s need to be accompanied by an adult, under-threes are free but they still need a valid ticket. See opening days and book at pleasure-beach.co.uk
20. Go Ape, Thetford
Go Ape at the High Lodge in Thetford Forest offers three treetop activities to suit different ages and abilities and also available to book is a Forest Segway experience (£35pp). Treetop Adventure (£20pp), which has minimum height of one metre, is ideal for little adventurers and young families and features crazy crossings and zip wires. Treetop Adventure Plus (£25) is aimed at older children, over 1.2 metres and aged six and above, with higher platforms and longer zips. The hardest course is Treetop Challenge (£35 or £30 for under-16s), for thrill seekers over 10, where you will venture high into the treetops with a dual course so you can choose which obstacles to tackle. Book at goape.co.uk/locations/thetford
FOR COUPLES AND MEET-UPS WITH FRIENDS
21. Boom: Battle Bar, Norwich
This multi-activity bar opened in Norwich's Castle Quarter last summer and is the perfect place for a date night or an evening out with friends. The games on offer include axe-throwing, 'crazier' golf, electric darts, shuffleboard, beer pong and Skee-Ball. The bar serves all the beers, wines and spirits you would expect, alongside cocktails and tasty street food. It is open Monday to Friday 1pm to 11pm, Saturday 12pm to 11pm and Sunday 1pm to 11pm - book at boombattlebar.co.uk/norwich
22. History Mystery Escape Rooms, Norwich and Blickling
Experience true stories from history inside unusual old buildings as you solve clues to escape before an hour is up. The Secrets of the Tunnels game takes place below KindaKafe in Castle Meadow in Norwich, where you will dig up the city's subterranean history and legends in a genuine medieval street. The Queenmaker game runs inside Blickling Church and your challenge is to get your daughter Anne Boleyn, who is thought to have been born in a manor house where Blickling Hall now stands, up the altar to marry Henry VIII.The other two games at the Museum of Norwich reopen in the summer. Book at historymystery.games, with prices starting at £40 for two people, and outdoor and play-at-home games are also available.
23. Ocean Room, Gorleston
If you are looking for a lively outing, the Ocean Room has a jam-packed programme of events coming up. This includes Wonder Cabaret on May 28, with music, comedy and magic, starring Britain's Got Talent golden buzzer act Matt Edwards, ska revival show Badness on May 29, a Madonna tribute night on June 5 and The Joe Ringer Band with Ibiza Orchestra Live on June 11. All events are at half capacity while social distancing remains. The Ocean Terrace, which will overlook the seafront, is also launching soon at the venue and it will serve coffees, juices, cocktails and tasty food. See the full programme and book at oceanroom.co.uk. The Ocean Room also hosts Bongo's Bingo nights, which combine the traditional game with a party and giveaways, and you can book at bongosbingo.co.uk
24. Norfolk Alpacas, Bradfield
Located near North Walsham, Norfolk Alpacas offers a range of experiences and the animals are also available for wedding and event hire. For £35pp, you can enjoy afternoon tea together with a few of the alpacas and then burn it off by taking them for a walk in the countryside, with a minimum of four people per booking. You can book by calling 07595 188653, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message on the 'Alpaca Daily' Facebook page - see the full details at norfolkalpacas.co.uk/book-online
25. PigSpa at The Pigs, Edgefield
The Pigs pub, hotel and spa is nestled in the north Norfolk countryside and it is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. There are 19 luxury rooms, each with its own private courtyard, firepit and in-spa room facilities. This includes a bath big enough for two people, a drench shower, sauna and steam room - some even come with a hot tub. At the PigSpa, which you can also visit just for the day, there are a range of treatments available, including facials and massages, which all need to be booked in advance. Book a room or spa treatments at thepigs.org.uk