With lots of family-friendly days out to enjoy around the coast, countryside and Broads National Park, there is no shortage of things to do with the kids on a getaway to Norfolk.
Whether you fancy hiring a boat to explore the tranquil waterways of the Norfolk Broads or spending a nostalgic day together at the seaside there are plenty of ways to keep children entertained and avoid the dreaded ‘I’m bored’ during your next short break or half term holiday.
Discover some of the best things to do with the kids in Norfolk in this informative guide.
#01 Explore the Norfolk Broads by boat
The landscape that’s most associated with Norfolk is the iconic Broads National Park which comprises around 125 miles of gentle lock-free waterways that wind their way through acres of beautiful countryside.
An assortment of pretty villages are dotted around the Norfolk Broads and taking to the waterways is a wonderful way to go exploring.
- Wroxham is known as the capital of the Norfolk Broads and after spending time riding the miniature trains at Barton House Railway in the village, you can hire a day boat from Broad Tours for a fun-filled family day on the water.
- Guided river tours are also available on handsome steamer boats with full commentary so that you can learn more about the Norfolk Broads and spot a range of local water birds.
- Canoe hire is available at Salhouse Broad and the still waters of the Norfolk Broads make this an ideal activity for children and beginners. Set off together on a family canoe trip to explore some of the narrower and more secluded parts of the water where you can watch an array of Norfolk wildlife.
Other things to see and do include visiting the National Trust-owned Horsey Windpump and taking a nature trail around Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Horsey Windpump is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the Norfolk Broads and you can climb up 61 steps to the top of the windmill for one of the finest views around.
#02 Get up close to some local Norfolk wildlife
There is an assortment of fascinating Norfolk nature reserves and peaceful patches of ancient woodland where along with spotting some rare species of flora and fauna, you can watch some wonderful wildlife thriving in their natural habitats.
- Blakeney Point is part of a large coastal nature reserve and home to the UK’s largest colony of grey seals in England. The best way to get close to the seals is on one of the special boat trips that leave from Morston Quay.
- Cley-next-the-Sea is one of the best Norfolk locations for birdwatching with a long stretch of shingle beach that backs onto tranquil salt marshes. A Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre is nestled amongst the salt marshes with six hides where you can watch the variety of seabirds that nest here.
- A large nature reserve at Holkham includes a deer park with special organised walks that allow you to watch and learn more about the site’s herd of fallow deer. The special landscape at Holkham includes pinewoods, dunes and marshes with wildflowers, sea lavender, and trees that attract a range of butterflies and birds.
One of Norfolk’s greatest natural wonders actually lies underneath the sea. The Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds is the longest reef of its kind in Europe and is home to more than 700 marine species including sponges, starfish, anemone and Cromer crab. It’s well worth trying a family snorkelling session at Cromer to discover this magnificent underwater world.
#03 Spend a day at the seaside
With over 90 miles of coast to explore, Norfolk is an ideal destination for a seaside holiday that the whole family can enjoy. Traditional family-friendly attractions include Victorian piers, classic amusement arcades, colourful beach huts and pretty parks. There are lots of Norfolk beaches for the kids to build sandcastles on whether you prefer spending time in a peaceful coastal cove or at a bustling seaside resort.
- The pleasure pier at Cromer contains a fully operational theatre and runs a full season of family-friendly end-of-the-pier cabaret shows each summer. It’s also free to go crabbing along the length of Cromer pier if you fancy trying this family-friendly activity.
- The beach at West Runton between Cromer and Sheringham is one of the best spots along the Norfolk coast for kids to go rock pooling with lots of interesting creatures lurking in the various tide pools.
- ‘Sunny Hunny’ as Hunstanton is affectionately known is one of the only west-facing beaches in the county so is one of the best places in Norfolk to watch the sun go down. There’s also lots of things to keep kids happy in Hunstanton with The Pier bowling alley and a beachfront promenade that’s full of rock shops, ice cream parlours and amusement arcades.
Many of Norfolk’s beaches are dog-friendly too so four-legged friends can join you at popular locations such as Mundesley, Wells-on-Sea and Old Hunstanton with a range of dog-friendly cafes where you can stop for refreshments.
Other favourite things to do at the Norfolk coast include seeing an array of amazing underwater creatures at popular SEA LIFE centres in Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth.
#04 Explore the grounds of a Norfolk stately home
There are lots of Norfolk National Trust sites as well as other privately owned stately homes that are just right for a family-friendly day out that everyone will enjoy. Sandringham House is owned by Her Majesty The Queen and is one of the grandest Norfolk estates to explore - especially as you can see the place where the royal family celebrates Christmas!
- The landscaped park at Felbrigg Hall features lots of accessible waymarked trails which are perfect for wheeling prams and pushchairs over. There’s lots of woodland to explore here too with spotter sheets to help little ones identify different types of wildlife.
- Blickling Estate has its own cycle hub with bike hire and special trails so families can get out exploring on two wheels. Garden games including croquet, badminton and quoits can be played in the grounds too for some outdoor family fun.
- Holkham Hall on the Norfolk Coast has lots of ways for kids to burn off some energy. They can have fun in a woodland play area and tackle a rope course to travel through the trees. There’s also a mile-long lake at the estate with boat hire so you can take to the water.
Houghton Hall is another Norfolk stately home that’s great for little ones with a large picnic and play area plus a beautiful walled garden for families to explore. The Royal Park that surrounds Sandringham also features lots of family-friendly waymarked trails, a children’s play area and open spaces that are perfect for picnics.
#05 Step into the past at a Norfolk castle
Uncover some fascinating tales from the past by visiting a Norfolk castle. From terrifying underground dungeons to medieval moats and towers that can be climbed to the top, there is a range of ancient ruins and fascinating fortresses to explore.
- Norwich Castle was built over 900 years ago and the original Norman staircase can still be climbed from the ancient castle keep for a wonderful view over the city. Much of the castle has now been transformed into a museum filled with interesting artefacts and tales from the past.
- Castle Rising is a wonderfully preserved medieval castle with 12 acres of surrounding earthworks to explore. Children will love climbing up and clambering through a series of staircases and tunnels and the sprawling site is just right for a game of hide and seek.
- The pretty grounds of Caister Castle are perfect for a picnic with a series of pathways to follow around the surrounding nature-filled woodland. The moated brick castle also comes with a 90-foot tower that you can climb to the top of and an on-site motor museum.
Other ancient Norfolk sites worth visiting during your getaway include Burgh Castle in the Norfolk Broads which is one of the UK’s best preserved Roman monuments and Castle Acre, an entire Norman settlement near King’s Lynn.
#06 Have fun at a Norfolk theme park
One way to keep the kids smiling during a short break or holiday to Norfolk is by arranging a day out to a fun-filled theme park. Children can enjoy adventures in a mysterious world that’s full of strange creatures, play alongside huge dinosaurs or cute animals and ride a rollercoaster in a classic seafront pleasure beach.
- Bewilderwood Norfolk is a theme park set within a magical forest with towering treehouses, twisting tunnels, tricky mazes and beautiful boat rides for children to enjoy. The theme park is based on a series of enchanting children’s books and little ones will really feel like they are part of the fictional world of Bewilderwood.
- Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure is set within 85-acres of Norfolk Broads countryside and features splash zones, adventure play and high ropes courses where kids can try to escape the clutches of a hungry T-Rex. There are also raptor racer cars, live shows and a special trail where kids can come face-to-face with lots of life-size lizards.
- The Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach first opened in 1909 and features classic fairground rides such as dodgems, teacups and waltzers. The highlight of the pleasure beach is a wooden roller coaster that has been in operation since the 30s.
Other places that will keep the kids entertained all day include Pettitts Animal Adventure Park near Reedham and Rainbow Park in Hunstanton, a seaside fairground with a big wheel and traditional helter skelter.
#07 Have an adventure at Thetford Forest
Covering a massive 18,000 acres of scenic Norfolk countryside, Thetford is the UK’s largest lowland forest and the perfect setting for a family-friendly day out. With gentle walking trails that are accessible to all and lots of nature for children to spot, heading to Thetford Forest is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise. Dogs can come along too so this is a Norfolk outdoor adventure that everyone can enjoy.
- The High Lodge Visitor Centre at Thetford is the best place to start your forest adventure. Not only do a number of pathways start from the visitor centre but you can also hire bikes from here and explore a series of special cycle trails.
- A couple of Go Ape treetop rope courses feature various thrilling climbs, swings and zip rides with options for younger and older children. Eco-friendly Segways are also available if you fancy taking a scenic off-road ride through the forest.
- Children can try their hand at den-building at the High Lodge children’s adventure play area which features a helter skelter and giant treehouse. If you fancy learning a new skill as a family, hour-long archery sessions are also available at Thetford Forest at weekends and during school holidays.
If you’re bringing a four-legged friend with you to Thetford Forest it’s worth heading to the dog agility course which is located close to Lynford Arboretum. After working up an appetite here you’ll find an assortment of picnic areas dotted around the forest where you can stop for lunch.
#08 Spend time together in a beautiful Norfolk garden
Norfolk is blessed with some extraordinarily beautiful gardens where you can awaken your senses with an array of colours, textures and scents as you wander amongst the flowers. Norfolk’s gardens feature everything from wildflower meadows and ancient woodland to herbaceous borders and sculpture trails.
- You can take a magical train journey around the various flowers and plants at Bressingham Steam and Gardens. The gardens also feature a vintage carousel ride and the woodland Foggy Bottom which is home to 500 varieties of conifer.
- Norfolk is renowned for its lavender and you can see these fragrant purple fields in all their glory at the Norfolk coast village of Heacham. Norfolk Lavender is one of the UK’s largest gardens of its type and the 100-acre site also features an animal garden and play park to keep the kids happy.
- Pensthorpe Natural Park near Fakenham features a wetland area, natural meadows and The Millennium Garden designed by Piet Oudolf which is a celebration of different colours and textures. A stream runs through the natural wildlife garden at Pensthorpe which is a haven for butterflies, dragonflies and bees.
Another great Norfolk garden to visit is Raveningham which has been home to the Bacon family since 1735 and features an Edwardian English Country Garden and a lakeside arboretum, all surrounded by ancient woodland. You can also take a turn around pretty walled gardens at Felbrigg and Houghton Hall and explore sprawling formal gardens at the royal Sandringham Estate.
Plan your Norfolk getaway
If you have been inspired to try some of these child-friendly activities during your next short break or holiday, you’ll find lots of lovely family-friendly cottages where you can rest your head after days of exploring.
From coastal cottages near the beach to characterful windmills in the Broads National Park, browse the full collection of Norfolk holiday homes available from Kett Country Cottages to find the perfect base for your next getaway. There are also lots of dog-friendly cottages so that four-legged friends can come along too.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.