18 brilliant things to do on a day out in Great Yarmouth
- Credit: Stacia Briggs
I love Great Yarmouth in all its funfair, ice-cream, sticks-of-rock, road train, amusement arcades, water gardens, circus, chippy chips, end-of-the-pier glory.
My family’s favourite Norfolk seaside town, Yarmouth is where we head if we want to have fun: the Hippodrome Circus, the Pleasure Beach, The Imperial Hotel, doughnuts on the prom, rides in horse and carts. The town is an essential part of every summer.
My husband - who started his career as a chef in Yarmouth and who loves it even more than I do – and I have become the town’s biggest cheerleaders and so it is with great (Great?) pleasure I present some must-dos for visitors with a little help from Visit Yarmouth.
1. Pretend you are a giant at Merrivale Model Village which although small in scale is vast in terms of entertainment. And in truth, it’s not even particularly small: there is a full acre of fun to explore, offering you the opportunity to walk through tiny town centres, villages, farms, travelling fairs, sports stadiums, zoos, holiday parks, country clubs, castles and cottages. The penny arcade as you leave the village is a treat, too. merrivalemodelvillage.co.uk/
2. The beach is brilliant – From Winterton-on-Sea in the north to Hopton-on-Sea in the south, there are 15 miles of wide, clean, sandy beach to explore and Central Beach in Yarmouth between the two piers is a glorious place for a paddle.
3. You’ve got to have chips - Our favourites are from the market: try the pickled onion vinegar.
4. Have you been to the historic Hippodrome Circus? The circus has topped my list of things to do in Norfolk for decades. Based in my favourite building in the whole county, the circus is one of the many wonders of Norfolk. We joined the Jay family for last-minute rehearsals for Pirates Live which runs from May 28 to June 13, a chance to see the show which was released in online form (reviewed here ) during this year’s lockdown. You’ll meet mermaids and an octopus, spend time on a 40ft pirate galleon, learn the Rum Rhyme and along the way take in some breath-taking circus acts including the cloudswing, aerial chains, fire-breathers, aerialists, dancers, swimmers, acrobats and gymnasts hippodromecircus.co.uk
5. Mini golf – There are lots of opportunities to take to a small-scale green along the Golden Mile such as the Pleasure Beach Gardens, Pirates’ Cove, Castaway Island and Lost World Adventure Golf and if it rains, try The Windmill Adventure Golf for a one-of-a-kind indoor experience through 11 themed areas.
6. Take afternoon tea by the sea - There are lots of places to take afternoon tea (or smaller sibling, a cream tea) in Great Yarmouth. We headed to Marine Lodge Hotel on Euston Road where we partook of an afternoon tea from sister hotel Palm Court Hotel in one of the Lodge’s new luxury bedroom suites with panoramic views over the sand. The Imperial Hotel on North Drive also serves afternoon tea and there are cream teas a-plenty at venues such as Sara’s Tearooms on South Beach Parade. Fancy cats with your Cream Tea? Darling Darlings Cat Lounge on Marine Parade can help.
7. A visit to the historic Pleasure Beach on the Golden Mile is a proper day out with all the fun of the fair – don’t miss the Haunted Hotel, historic wooden roller coaster or the newly-refurbished Snails and Fairytales ride. pleasure-beach.co.uk
8. Time and Tide Museum - A really exciting museum set in one of the UK’s best-preserved Victorian herring curing works. The museum has brilliant ever-changing exhibitions – at present there is a stunning collection of more than 300 Star Wars toys, original cinema posters and memorabilia. Blackfriars Road, NR30 3BX, museums.norfolk.gov.uk/time-tide
9. Take a walk along the historic South Quay – In 1913, it’s said that so many boats were operating out of Yarmouth that you could walk across the river from boat to boat and the beautiful buildings along the river are an echo of this seafaring port’s past. Just off South Quay you’ll find the Great Yarmouth Row Houses and Old Merchant's House. The Rows were a network of winding alleyways were port workers lived.
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10. Rock on at Docwras Rock Factory and Shop where you can watch seaside rock being made and see a range of rock for sale that will have your eyes popping! 13 Regent Road, NR30 2AF
11. Get a bird’s eye view of Great Yarmouth on the Great Yarmouth Giant Wheel which offers a 360 degree view of the town and the east coast. At a towering 50m high, the wheel is in town until September. Evan De-Koning, who operates the wheel with brother Jake, said the views extended for up to 10 miles on clear days, with riders able to see Breydon Water, Lowestoft wind turbine, Caister water tower and the gentle curve of the coast. Tickets bought in advance offer great deals greatyarmouthwheel.com
12. Where can you find Venice in Norfolk? At The Waterways, where the Venetian Waterways, the Ornamental Gardens and the Boating Lake, just north of Yarmouth’s Golden Mile, there are winding canals, miniature bridges, walkways and islands. A great place for a picnic and for hiring a boat or pedalo for a leisurely trip on the lake. North Drive, NR30 4EW
13. Travel in style on the Golden Mile - Travel in a horse and landau or in the Lord Choo Choo road train which is small, but perfectly formed (both leave from the Landau Station close to Britannia Pier). And along the Golden Mile you’ll find a host of indoor and outdoor entertainment from rides to amusement arcades and a host of food to choose from although it’s hard to pass up the opportunity for doughnuts and ice cream.
14. Conspiracy and…squirrels – The Elizabethan House Museum is where it’s said the plot to execute Charles I was hatched in ‘the conspiracy room’. There’s also a jaw-dropping stuffed squirrel tea party. 4, South Quay, NR30 2QH.
15. Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre has more than 2,000 marine animals from sea turtles to rays, sharks and seahorses. Look out for the Ocean Tunnel, a 250,000 litre tank with an Atlantis theme.
16. Peerless entertainment - The Piers - Yarmouth has two, the 210m Wellington which opened in 1853, and Britannia Pier which opened in 1858. The Wellington was the seventh pier to be built in Britain and is now a fun family entertainment centre with a ten-pin bowling alley with diner and amusement arcade while the Britannia has a traditional end-of-the-pier funfair, showbar and theatre and a wood-slatted walkway. Joyland fun park, which opened in the town in 1949, is just next door with the famous Snails and Tyrolean Tubs.
17. Great Yarmouth Minster is the largest parish church in England and narrowly survived bombing during the Second World War. The churchyard and cemetery are also fascinating.
18. Dimascio’s Ice Cream Van by the Outer Harbour, opposite the Power Station - A very personal recommendation, but a trip to Yarmouth wouldn’t be the same without a visit to Richard in his van for a 99. There are better views in Yarmouth, but the ice cream is a dream.