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Ipswich waterfront (c) Steve Arnold

Top Ten Things To Do In Ipswich

Suffolk's county town is a vibrant place to spend some time, with a pleasing mix of culture and history. It's a great place to spend a few days of exploration and our list of ten 'must see' things in the town will take visitors off the beaten track, as we delve into its hidden corners.
Ipswich Transport Museum © Rod EdwardsIpswich Transport Museum © Rod Edwards

1. Explore Ipswich on foot

The best way to get a feel for a place is to take a guided walk with a qualified guide. Learn about the history of the town and hear about some of the characters who have made their mark over the centuries. Don't miss the statue of 'Grandma' which is based on the character created by cartoonist Ronald "Carl" Giles. Rather touchingly, 'Grandma' looks up at the office window where Giles worked for many years, as if waiting for him to peer out and wave!

Regular walks take place from May to September, and there are seasonal (Halloween, Christmas and afternoon tea) walks at other times of the year.

2. Sail down the River Orwell and savour the views

Make sure a trip along the beautiful River Orwell is at the top of your 'to do' list. There are several options which start from the bustling marina at the Ipswich Waterfront. The scenery changes dramatically as you leave Ipswich, sail under the elegant Orwell Bridge and drift peacefully along the river, passing by the picturesque Shotley Peninsula.
Cruises are available from a variety of operators and include brunch or afternoon tea trips, birdwatching expeditions, candlelit supper cruises and more.
The Orwell Lady in Suffolk

3. Explore the artworks at Christchurch Mansion

Built in the 16th century as a gentleman’s town residence, Christchurch Mansion now houses an eclectic range of displays, including a wonderful collection of work by artists Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. The Wolsey Art Gallery, a large room within the mansion, also has a display of Constable’s possessions, including his wife Maria’s wedding band and his paint brushes and palette.

Christchurch Mansion feels huge inside with layers of different rooms and collections, a striking china and glass gallery and a fascinating collection of Victorian toys and games. Entry to the museum is free and many events take place in the grounds throughout the year.

Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, Suffolk

4. Take a stroll in one of the town's glorious parks

Ipswich has some lovely parks both within the town itself and on the outskirts. They are sanctuaries for wildlife and perfect for taking a stroll along their miles of footpaths and around their pretty lakes. Some offer beautiful views (Orwell Park on the banks of the River Orwell has stunning views along the river) others put on events throughout the year and all of them offer a tranquil space for a few hours of relaxation.

5. While away an evening on the Ipswich Waterfront

The vibrant waterfront is a buzzing mix of cafes, restaurants, luxury apartments, the impressive Suffolk University building and The Salthouse boutique hotel. Spend a pleasant evening here watching the yachts bob gently on the water, indulge in some people-watching and listen to live music in one of the bars.
The Saltouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich, Suffolk

6. Take a trip to the theatre

If you fancy an evening of cultural entertainment, there is plenty of choice in Ipswich. If your preference is for theatre, live music or comedy, there is a range of venues offering exciting events.

What about a Halloween production laid on by the Red Rose Chain theatre company? Taking place at Gippeswyk Hall, a grade II listed Tudor manor house (thought to be haunted!) the spooky event is a “promenade site-specific experience that will lure you into a theatrical world of the supernatural”.
The 400 seater New Wolsey Theatre is central to cultural life in Suffolk and is host to many dynamic new productions. Some of these are written and produced in-house and other pieces are collaborations or on tour from London and further afield. 

7. Delight in dance at Jerwood Dance House

If you are in the mood for music and dance, take in a performance at Jerwood Dance House, on the waterfront. There's an innovative programme of modern dance from internationally renowned choreographers and dancers, with productions which will appeal to both adults and children

8. Taste your way around Ipswich

Suffolk is known as #TheFoodieCounty and Ipswich is a good place to indulge the tastebuds. Just outside of the town, at the top end of the Shotley Peninsula, is the Suffolk Food Hall.

A smorgasbord of tasty treats, the 'champion of champions for local food' showcases some of the best local produce the county has to offer: meat from their own Red Poll cows and pigs; locally grown vegetables and bread which is baked on site every morning. There's a delicatessan, cheesemonger, chocolatier and foodie workshops are on offer too.

Within the town is a wide choice of world foods to enjoy. From modern British cuisine at Aurora on the waterfront, to Asian dishes at Aqua Eight and Chinese cuisine at Trongs. The list of great places to experience wonderful food in and around Ipswich is endless.
Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses (c) Rod EdwardsSuffolk Cheese at the Suffolk Food Hall ©Rod Edwards

9. Visit Jimmy's Farm

A few miles from Ipswich is Jimmy's Farm, which first appeared on our TV screens over ten years ago. From humble beginnings, the farm has developed into a top attraction with an award-winning restaurant, a fabulous farm shop, nature trail, butterfly house (currently closed) and there are several festivals throughout the year, celebrating science, food, drink and music.
Piglets at Jimmy's Farm (c) Alex Healing
Ipswich waterfront, SuffolkIpswich Waterfront

10. Shop for a Suffolk souvenir

It's always nice to take home a reminder of an enjoyable holiday or day out and what better place to find a 'handmade in Suffolk' souvenir than at the Town Hall Galleries in the centre of town.
The Suffolk Craft Society has their permanent gallery here and they sell a wide range of beautifully made products including ceramics, jewellery, glassware, art, knitwear and more.
There are some fabulous independent shops tucked away from the main high street in Ipswich too. The Saints is full of boutiques and interesting shops and is a great place to hunt down some unusual treasures. There's also a twice yearly market that pops up in St Peter's Street with craft and vintage stalls a-plenty.



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