Best things to do in Norfolk with kids

by Jan

With a choice of beach, countryside, and the Broads National Park, you’ll never tire of things to do in Norfolk with kids.  Whether you’re looking for wildlife attractions, theme parks, historic houses, or museums, there’s plenty of family-friendly days out to enjoy.

In this post we share a detailed list of the top things to do in Norfolk.  Whatever you enjoy, there’s something for everyone.  So, what are you waiting for…..?

Norfolk with kids: Fun at the beach

Norfolk beaches

With over 90 miles of gorgeous coastline, one of the best things to do in Norfolk with kids is a day at the seaside.  And even better, its free!  Norfolk has a wonderful choice of unspoilt, sandy beaches, many of which are backed by sand dunes.

Popular family beaches in Norfolk include Holkham, Mundesley, Brancaster and Sea Palling, but there are plenty more to choose from.   Kids will love playing in the sand, rock-pooling, or paddling in the sea.

Beach at Brancaster, Norfolk, UK

Crabbing in Wells-next-the-Sea

One of our favourite family activities at the beach in Norfolk is crabbing (or gillying!).  Two of the best places for catching crabs are the harbours at Wells-next-the-Sea and Blakeney.

Wells has a lively quayside, which is perfect for crabbing.  All you need is a large bucket, crabbing line, net, and bait, all of which can be bought locally.

After crabbing, walk the mile to the gorgeous sandy beach, take a boat ride or head to the playground.

Rock-pooling in West Runton

Rock pools at West Runton beach, Norfolk, UK

If your kids (or you) love rock-pooling, head to West Runton in Norfolk. As the tide goes out, the beach is left with a network of rock pools brimming with sea creatures.

Plus, don’t forget to keep your eye out for fossils.  Runton is famous for being where the ice-age Steppe mammoth skeleton was discovered!

Top tip:  Wear some sea shoes, as it can get a bit rough underfoot!

Explore the pier at Cromer

Cromer Pier, Norfolk, UK

Just along the coast from West Runton is the seaside town of Cromer, renowned for its crabs.

There are plenty of places in Cromer to buy fish and chips or crabs.  However, if you want to catch your own, head to Cromer Pier, another of Norfolk’s hot spots for crabbing.

Cromer Pier is a Grade-II listed Victorian Pier, with its very own theatre at the far end.  This historic pier hosts regular shows, with a variety of music and dance acts.

Cromer has a blue-flag beach and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may spot the Banksy! (Here’s a clue – it’s on one of the groynes just past the pier!)

For details of our walk from West Runton to Cromer, click here.

Norfolk with kids: Wildlife attractions

Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens

If your children love animals, don’t miss Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens near Great Yarmouth.  This wildlife park is in the grounds of a country mansion and is home to a variety of endangered animals.

As well as seeing rare Asian animals at Thrigby Hall, kids can explore the Swamp House, the 250-year-old landscaped garden and enjoy the play areas.

Banham Zoo

Another attraction for wildlife enthusiasts in Norfolk is Banham Zoo, near Norwich.  This large zoo is home to over 2, 000 animals, including monkeys, meerkats, kangaroos, and some big cats.

Banham Zoo also has a collection of creepy crawlies and reptiles, as well as birds and farm animals. For younger children, there’s an exciting adventure playground.

Seals at Horsey Gap

Seals moving on Beach at Horsey Gap, Norfolk, UK

One of the best experiences for nature-lovers in Norfolk is spotting the seals at Horsey Gap.  Admittedly, you don’t have to look too hard, as there are so many of them on the beach.

Norfolk is one of the best places to see seals in the UK and Horsey Gap.  In fact, Horsey Gap is one of their favourite pupping habitats.  During November to January you’ll see thousands of gorgeous Atlantic Grey and Harbour seals chilling on the sandy shores.

We absolutely loved watching these lovely animals (from afar) and it’s is definitely one of the best natural Norfolk experiences for kids.  Click here for more details on seeing seals at Horsey Gap.

A boat ride to Blakeney Point

Alternatively, another option for seeing seals in Norfolk is a boat ride to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve.  This nature reserve is home to England’s largest Grey Seal colony and a presents a fantastic opportunity to see them in their natural habitat.

You can take a seal trip from Morston Quay, where you’ll find a choice of companies offering rides.  As you’d expect, the boat trips are popular, so it’s best to book in advance.

Amazona Zoo

Now, although you might not expect to see tropical animals in Norfolk, Amazona Zoo near Cromer is home to over 200 South American animals .

The exotic collection at Amazona Zoo includes monkeys, capuchins, pumas, macaws, and parrots.  As well as the animals and Tropical House, younger children can enjoy the indoor play area or the outdoor adventure park.

Norfolk with kids: Historic houses and heritage

Sandringham Estate

Probably the most famous stately home in Norfolk is Sandringham House.  This is private home of HRH the Queen and many monarchs before.

Sandringham Estate is family-friendly and ideal for a day out with children in Norfolk.  It has a 600-acre country park with trails and a brand-new play area, inspired by buildings from the royal estate.

Plus, when the Queen is not in residence, you can explore inside and see the Royal collections of vehicles, ceramics, and memorabilia.

Blickling Hall

View of the rear of Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Another of Norfolk’s most popular stately homes for families to visit it Blickling Hall near Aylsham.  Blickling Hall is the former family residence of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII.

Set over 4,600 acres, Blickling Hall has sweeping grounds with 4 trails for walking and cycling with kids.

The trails are interesting, as there are so many points of interest along the way.  Look out for a mausoleum, a Gothic tower, a lake, and some very elaborate gardens.

Nowadays, the National Trust own this Jacobean mansion and estate and admission is free to members.

Click here for details on walking at Blickling Estate.

Holkham Hall

Holkham Hall is one of the most magnificent stately homes in Norfolk.  It has extensive grounds that include a national nature reserve and beach.  There’s plenty to entertain kids at Holkham Hall, making it perfect for a family day out in Norfolk.

Walking trails lead round the estate, or you could hire a boat on the lake.  Families with younger kids should head to the woodland play area, where you’ll find high-level bridges, walkways, and treehouses.

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral, Norwich, Norfolk, UK

Built over 900 years ago, Norwich Cathedral is a magnificent building which has withstood the test of time.  With one of the tallest spires in the UK, the cathedral towers over Norwich.  It’s a prime example of Renaissance architecture and is one of the top places to visit.

Kids will love the cloisters, which look like something out of a Harry Potter film.  Plus, you’ll often find seasonal activities, such as crafts and storytelling.  Admission to Norwich Cathedral is free.

Click here to discover more of the best things to do in Norwich

Burgh Castle

Burgh Castle views of Berney Arms Windmill, Norfolk, UK

History-lovers should head to Burgh Castle, one of the most impressive Roman buildings in Britain.  Although only ruins of the wall remain today, you can wander at leisure for a close-up look.

From Burgh Castle you’ll have a great viewpoint over the Breydon Water and across to Berney Arms Windmill.  For more information, read A visit to Burgh Castle

Felbrigg Hall

Another of Norfolk’s finest National Trust properties is Felbrigg Hall.  The estate near Norwich has huge gardens and woodlands for kids to explore.

Norfolk with kids: Fun on the Broads

The Norfolk Broads

Now, the Norfolk Broads is a National Park with a difference.  It’s all on water!

The Broads cover more than 125 miles of lock-free waterways so is perfect for a day out on a boat.  Or even a week!

While away the hours with incredible views, cute villages, waterside pubs, nature walks, and spectacular nature.

A day trip on the Broads

Boats moored at Malthouse Broad, Norfolk Broads, Norfolk, UK

A boat trip on the Norfolk Broads is a fun family day out.  Choose from guided river trips or hire a self-drive boat and be captain for the day!  We hired our boat from Broads Tours by Wroxham Bridge, but you’ll find boat rental services at Horning and Potter Heigham too.

Wroxham Barns

Wroxham Barns is a junior farm and fun park.  As well as feeding and stroking small animals, it offers rides, mini-golf, jumping pillows, and a pirate ship.  What’s great is that everything is included in the price of one ticket.  In addition, there’s a selection of heritage craft shops and cafés to entertain the adults.

A boating holiday on the Broads

Proud Captain, Norfolk Broads, Norfolk, UK

Of course, if you prefer the idea of being captain and sleeping on a boat, you could hire a boat on the Broads for the week.  We spent a wonderful time exploring the different Broads and made it as far as Beccles in Suffolk.

Click here for full details of our first boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads.

Norfolk Windmills

Berney Arms Windmill, Norfolk, UK

Whilst you’re in your boat on the Norfolk Broads, kids will love spotting the many beautiful windmills and windpumps.

They were originally built to help local millers grind corn and provide power for drainage.  However, today they provide a very picturesque addition to the landscape, and some serve as museums for local history.

Watersports on the Broads

Boy paddleboarding on Norfolk Broads

Another fun way to discover the Broads is on a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or canoe. There are several launching points throughout the Broads.  Click here for details of canoe hire from Salhouse Broad.

You will need to pay for a short visit toll to use the waterways (unless you’re a member of British Canoeing).

NWT, Ranworth Broad

Nature-lovers on the Broads will enjoy a visit to Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve.  NWT have recreated new areas of wetland in a conservation project to protect the habitat of the Broads.

Follow the boardwalks through the wet woodland to get to the Visitor Centre.  Click here for more details of our visit to the NWT Ranworth Broad.

Norfolk with kids: Family attractions & days out

Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure

Now, if you’re looking for a family day out in Norfolk with younger kids, head to Roarr!, near Lenwade.  Roarr! is the UK’s largest dinosaur themed adventure park and is perfect for a fun family day out in Norfolk.

Roarr! has a selection of indoor and outdoor play areas, with dinosaur trails, rope bridges, splash zones, and crazy golf.  There are animals to see and when your little ones are tired of dinosaur hunts, head to Dippy’s Theatre for a live show.

Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, Norfolk, UK

For adrenalin junkies in Norfolk, the Pleasure Beach in Great Yarmouth is a must-visit place for you.  Set over 9 acres at the end of the Golden Mile, you’ll find white-knuckle rides, dodgems, and log flumes.

There’s something for all ages, so if you have little ones, they can try the less scary cups and saucers ride.  Afterwards, head to the beach.  Great Yarmouth also has a gorgeous stretch of golden sand, backed by sand dunes.

BeWILDerwood

Another of the best family attractions in Norfolk is BeWILDered.  Prepare your kids for a fun tree-top adventure.  They can discover treehouses, wobbly wires and slippery slopes.  Back down on the ground, families can enjoy marsh walks and boat rides.

Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, Norfolk, UK

For a show to entertain the whole family, head to The Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth.  This 1903 building is a purpose-built circus, the last remaining in the UK.  You will be dazzled with amazing acts, acrobats, and a special water spectacle.

The compère, Peter Jay, brings the show together with old-school slapstick humour, which will have the kids in stitches.  We went with two families and without exception everyone loved it and wanted to go back for more.

Lost World Adventure Golf

If your family enjoys crazy golf, the Lost World Adventure in Hemsby is a fun themed 9-hole course.  Look out for dinosaurs, fossils, and an ancient aztec temple.

Owl Trail, Holt

Holt Owl Trail, Holt, UK

Holt is a charming, Georgian town with a myriad of narrow streets and courtyards.  Here you can lose yourself in the alleyways browsing the galleries and craft shops. Holt really is a shoppers’ paradise.

However, if your kids don’t like shopping,  follow the Owl Trail.  It’s the perfect way to discover the gorgeous market town.  And, if you’re lucky, you might be able to sneak into a few shops along the way.

Firstly, collect a free trail map from the Visitor Centre by the memorial and then you’re ready.  Now, kids have to follow the clues and find the owls around the town centre.

The trail leads to all the prettiest areas of Holt.  And don’t worry, there’s plenty of cosy tea shops if you need a break en route.

Norfolk with kids: Outdoor fun

Holt Country Park

With a choice of short family walking trails, a play area and sensory garden, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Holt Country Park.

This award-winning country park is open all year and makes a fun day out for families.  Admission to the park is free, but there is a small parking fee.

Thetford Forest

With over 18 000 hectares of lowland forest and heathland, Thetford Forest is a brilliant outdoor place to take the kids.  And what’s even better is that it’s one of the many free things to do with kids in Norfolk.

There’s lots of things to do at Thetford Forest.  Firstly, you can follow one of the 4 walking trails or search for the Gruffalo.

Younger children can then enjoy playing in the natural playground, whilst older kids try Go Ape or Segway.

HIgh Lodge at Thetford Forest, Norfolk

Pensthorpe Natural Park

Nature-lovers will be spoilt for choice at Pensthorpe Natural Park.  Whether it’s the themed gardens, wetland areas or bird hides, you’ll find something to interest everyone.

Kids can burn off energy in the outdoor eco-play area, with its zip wires, wooden towers and tunnels.  Even on a rainy day Pensthorpe Natural Park makes a enjoyable day out for kids as there’s fantastic indoor play barn.

Sherringham Park

Family walks at Sheringham, Norfolk, UK

Another of the best free things to do in Norfolk is a visit to Sheringham Park. (There is a small charge for parking.)

Sheringham Park is a landscaped woodland estate in Upper Sheringham.  Although Sheringham Hall is private, the 1000 acres of surrounding parkland is owned by the National Trust.  The estate is open to the public and admission is free.

You’ll find four family walking trails at Sheringham Park, trees to climb, and lots of picnic areas.

Afterwards, you could hit the beach, which is only a few miles away.  Click here for more details on how we spent a day out in Sheringham.

Hilltop Outdoor Centre

Just up the road from Sheringham Park is the Hilltop Outdoor Centre.  Adventure-loving families will love the choice of exciting activities at the centre.

Children can try their hand at climbing, archery, high ropes or zip wires.  Or, if the kids are feeling brave, they could try the new Air Jump.

Norfolk with kids: Museums

If you are looking for some indoor fun, Norfolk has a good choice of museums which will interest families of all ages.  These are ideal for a rainy day in Norfolk.

Muckleburgh Military Collection

The Muckleburgh Military Museum at Weybourne holds a fascinating display of military memorabilia. The collections include weapons, uniform, and models.

Muckleburgh Museum stands on a former military camp, and you can see the artillery from the beach.  As well as the exhibits, kids can ride on one of the army lorries or enjoy the play area.

Mo Museum at Sheringham

The Mo Museum, Sherringham, Norfolk, UK

Sheringham Museum at the Mo is a small, family-friendly museum on the beachfront in Sheringham.  It offers a fascinating collection of exhibits showing the local history of Sheringham and its lifeboats.

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art

Art-loving families will enjoy the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, just outside the centre of Norwich.

The gallery has a collection of world-class art, with some classic and modern artists.  However,  younger children might prefer exploring the amazing life-size sculptures in the grounds.  Admission to the gallery is free.

Tide & Time Museum

Finally, prepare to take your family back in time to the ice age at the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth.  Then wander through the recreated streets to discover years of history about the people of Great Yarmouth.

This is one of the best museums in Norfolk for families and makes an enjoyable day out with kids.

How to get to Norfolk

Norfolk is a county in eastern England, in the region of East Anglia.  It’s the fourth largest in England, with a long coastline on the North Sea, giving a choice of beautiful beaches.

Norfolk is only a 2-hour drive from London by car.

Alternatively, regular trains run from London Liverpool Street and King’s Cross to Norwich.  The journey takes less than 3 hours.

What are your favourite things to do in Norfolk with kids?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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