21 great family days out this summer, including budget ideas

PUBLISHED: 11:18 18 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:18 18 July 2020

Thornham Walks Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Thornham Walks Picture: SONYA DUNCAN


As school summer holidays arrive, what are the options for family days out to allow youngsters - many of whom have already been stuck at home for months now - to let off steam? Here are 21 ideas, including many that won’t break the bank.

Southwold Pier Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSouthwold Pier Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

With many lockdown restrictions easing before schools officially break up next week, there are more options for things to do than there were a few weeks ago.

But, with many attractions limiting their opening hours and requiring visitors to book in advance, it’s important to check ahead before making a special trip. These ideas are just a starting point - there are many more to choose from, including a host of free-to-visit parks and beaches around the region.

Free and cheap things to do

Southwold Beach and Pier: The award-winning pier has now reopened for visitors, and is open every day from 10am to 7pm, with a one-way system in operation, The Boardwalk Restaurant is also open daily from 10am, offering a takeaway menu, or you can take a picnic to eat on the beach. 
The arcade and Treasure Chest, which sells toys and ice cream, are both open from Wednesday to Sunday.

The Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Yarmouth. Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOODThe Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Yarmouth. Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOOD

Taverham Mill: The water park is open, but it’s advisable to check the Anglian Water Parks website to check what facilities are open before travelling. The site has trails to wander around the lakes and plenty of wildlife to see. There are admission charges (usually £3 for adults and £1.50 for children) but parking is free.

Parks in Norwich: Public parks in Norwich are open and a number of sporting activities are available for those who want to let off steam. These include free basketball facilities at a range of sites, the world-class BMX track at Sloughbottom Park, the footgolf and pitch and putt courses at Eaton Park and Mousehold, and skate parks at Eaton Park and several other sites. Playgrounds in the city’s parks are still closed at present, although this is soon due to be reviewed.

Holt Country Park: This park on the Norfolk coast is a lovely place to visit for a wander, with lots of woodland to explore, waymarked trails and a picnic area. The car park, toilets and Hetty’s House tea rooms are all open, but the playground is currently closed, as North Norfolk District Council has not yet reopened its play parks, although it aims to do so soon.

Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Hemsby beaches: If you fancy a day out at the seaside, many attractions in this area are now open, including games and amusements in the Pleasure Beach Gardens. RNLI lifeguards are patrolling Gorleston and Hemsby beaches. One-way “stay left” systems are in place in the busiest areas to help ensure social distancing. Most public toilets are now open.

Woody, of Pleasurewood Hills fame Picture: PLEASUREWOOD HILLSWoody, of Pleasurewood Hills fame Picture: PLEASUREWOOD HILLS

Covehithe Beach: Looking for a quieter beach where you can get away from it all and just enjoy the sea? This secluded beach is ideal. It can only be accessed by foot or cycle, leaving your car near the church and following a footpath to the dunes.

Thornham Walks: If you are looking for somewhere different to go for a walk with the family, this estate in north Suffolk has now reopened. It offers 12 miles of walks, including woodland and countryside. The play area and main toilets are now open and Refreshments are also available, but the volunteer and visitor centre and bird hide are currently closed. The parking is pay-and-display.

Cromer Pier: You can take a walk along the iconic pier, which is open daily from noon, with takeaway meals available including fish and chips. It’s possible to pay contactless anywhere on the pier with no minimum purchase.

Events with a charge, from boat trips to fruit picking

Two endangered Sri Lankan leopard cubs at Banham Zoo. Picture: BANHAM ZOOTwo endangered Sri Lankan leopard cubs at Banham Zoo. Picture: BANHAM ZOO

Boat hire at The Waterways, Great Yarmouth: The famous Venetian Waterways, which recently underwent a £2.7million restoration, ornamental gardens and boating lake have reopened to the public. The Waterways are a real haven for wildlife, including ducks and herons. The Island at the Lake community cafe is open from 10am to 3pm daily, with a socially distanced queuing system. Boat hire is resuming from 11am on Saturday, July 18, at a cost of £8 for half an hour for up to four people.

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Broads river trips: If you fancy taking the family on a river trip on the Broads, the good news is that companies are starting to offer these again. The Southern Comfort Mississippi Paddle Boat, which operates from Horning, has started up its river trips again with reduced numbers because of social distancing. The cost for an adult is £9, £7 for a child and £28 for a family. You can check sailing times on the Mississippi River Boat Facebook page, and call the office on 01692 630262 to reserve seats and check for availability. Broads Tours, based in Wroxham, is offering day boat hire and also aims to have river trips up and running again very soon.

Beccles Lido: The popular outdoor pool is currently expecting to reopen on July 20, in time for the summer holidays. It will initially be open for lane swimming only and you will need to book. The pool’s management has said it will introduce family sessions only when its new systems and procedures are proven and it is confident it can do so safely. For the latest updates, visit @beccleslido on Facebook.

Indoor swimming pools and leisure centres: It has been announced that these facilities can reopen from July 25, as the holidays start, but most pools and centres haven’t yet finalised their opening dates. You may also need to book, so it’s important to check your local pool’s website or Facebook page before visiting.

Among the centres which have announced their plans are Wymondham and Long Stratton Leisure Centres, which are set to reopen its gyms and classes on July 25, although the pool at Wymondham will not reopen until August 10.

Crazy golf: With many fun courses around the area, this is the perfect family sport and social distancing from other groups shouldn’t be a problem.

Pirates Island Adventure Golf at Blofield, near Norwich, reopened last month and has holes based around caves, waterfalls and crocodiles. Pre-booking via their website is essential.

Fruit picking: Pick your own has been proving extremely popular so far this years, and there will still be fruit around to pick during the summer holidays. It’s advisable to check farms’ Facebook pages or give them a call before travelling to check what fruit is available to pick.

Wiveton Hall Fruit Farm at Holt gives visitors the chance to pick their own raspberries and all the fruit and vegetables grown at Wiveton are used in their popular cafe, which has reopened. The Tacons, at Rollesbury near Great Yarmouth, is another popular venue, with PYO raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries and currants.

Big days out - zoos and theme parks

Africa Alive, Kessingland: The zoo is open again, with various safety measures in place. All visitors, including pass holders, are required to book a timed arrival slot. You can do this in advance online, or it is possible to book on the day, turning up and booking your etickets from your car via the zoo’s wi-fi. However, you may have to wait if you choose this option. Admission prices are £22 for adults and £16.50 for children aged three to 15 including a donation, and there is also a £1.10 charge including donation for under-threes. There is a one-way system in place. For full details on what’s available, visit the zoo’s website.

Banham Zoo, near Diss: Like its sister attraction Africa Alive, Banham is open, with various safety and social distancing measures in place. It requires all visitors to book a timed slot. Again, you can either do this in advance online or turn up and book your etickets from your car, although this does mean you may have to wait. The main admission prices are the same as for Africa Alive.

Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft: This top theme park will be open daily all through the summer holiday period, from July 18 to August 30, from 10am to 5pm daily, but with limited numbers. Most rides are open, but a few are closed either for refurbishment or, as with the children’s Woody Copters and Mini Pirate Ship, for social distancing reasons. All visitors need to pre-book online, including those with season passes. Pre-booked prices are based on your height and start from £15.50 for both 140cm and above and 90cm to 139cm, with children under 90cm getting in free. There is a non-rider £13 option.

BeWILDerwood, Hoveton: The popular treehouse adventure theme park is reopening on July 18, with decreased visitor capacity, new queuing and one-way systems and various safety measures. Storytelling shows and crafts will still be available, but face painting will not be offered, although visitors are welcome to arrive in their own costumes and face paint. Visitors are asked to book in advance via the website, including those with annual passes, and there will also be phone bookings on the day if there is enough capacity. Prices are based on height, at £15.50 for 92-105cm, £17.50 for over 105cm and £9.50 for age 65-plus booked online, with children under 92cm getting in free

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach: The famous pleasure beach has reopened, with limited numbers and a whole raft of social distancing and safety measures. Visitors are being asked to book a three-hour time slot for their visit online and will have unlimited access to the rides during that time. There is a standard ticket price of £12 for all classes. Under-threes get in free, but must be included on the booking.

Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, Lenwade, Norwich: The dinosaur theme park, set in 85 acres of woodland, has reopened, with limited capacity and a range of guidelines in place. All visitors are being 
asked to book their arrival time online, including season ticket holders. However, there is no time limit, so you can stay as long as you want. All catering outlets are open for takeaway only. Predator High Ropes and outdoor live shows will be opening from July 22 onwards. Tickets for guests 90cm and over will be priced at £16.50 and £8.25 for reg disabled/carer. Children under 90cm get in free,

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