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You.Unplugged: This Autumn

Fantastic for Families

If you are looking for somewhere to create happy memories, then Suffolk might just be the perfect place to take your family on holiday this autumn.

From building sandcastles on the beach on a crisp, sunny day, to whizzing along off-road cycle tracks through the forest, or coming face to face with a giant woolly mammoth, this enchanting county offers a varied mix of things to keep children busy and their parents happy and relaxed.


Gear up for some high speed action

Children of all ages need space to run wild, if only for a few days. Explore the beaches (and their piers) along the Suffolk coast this autumn. They won't be as busy as in the summer, so perfect for running around at top speed.

And if speed is your thing, take to the indoor track at Anglia Karting in Ipswich for a taste of life in the fast lane. There is a mini-circuit for 5-7 year olds and a more challenging one for older children and adults.

Brandon Country Park in Thetford Forest is a magical place for exploring on foot or by bike. It has over 30 acres of forest and parkland with an adventure playground, miles of nature trails and an eight mile cycle route. Keep an eye on their exciting programme of events, which includes a night safari, autumn wild food taster and fungus foray.

To the south of the county lies Alton Water Park on the scenic Shotley Peninsula. Perfect for enjoying a mini-adventure, you can go kayaking and sailing on the 400 acre reservoir, or cycling off-road around its woodland perimeter.

Cycling in Thetford Forest ©VisitEngland
Cycling in Thetford Forest ©VisitEngland

Meet the animals

Animals are always a hit on a family outing. Explore the farm trail at Hollow Trees Farm near Hadleigh and stop off at the family-friendly cafe, farm shop and garden centre afterwards. Jimmy's Farm near Ipswich would be a great choice too, with plenty of farm animals and other more exotic creatures to meet.

Africa Alive! near Lowestoft has all sorts of animals from African lions and aardvarks to zebras and rhinos. Other animal attractions include Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm near Ipswich; the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary near Stowmarket; and Easton Farm Park near Woodbridge.

Piglets at Jimmy's Farm (c) Alex Healing
Piglets at Jimmy's Farm (c) Alex Healing

Tours of The National Stud are available in Newmarket, the home of British horse racing. Explore the UK's only commercial stud farm, see some beautiful horses and learn about the exciting world of horse racing. Make sure you include a visit to the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.

RSPB Minsmere on the Suffolk coast is a must-visit reserve for budding bird-watchers. There are regular Birdwatching for Beginners workshops, which are suitable for families, and from 30th September to 22nd October 2017 4 X 4 safaris around the reserve are on offer to view beautiful red deer at close quarters.

National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket
National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket

Bring history alive

Mix the family fun up a little bit and learn about Suffolk's fascinating past. Visit West Stow near Bury St Edmunds and wander through the Anglo Saxon village. Built on the site of an original settlement, the reconstructed village and museum plays host to events which include longbow and archery workshops and an Anglo-Saxon Crafts and Living History event this autumn.

Explore Lavenham with a children's quiz, which is available from the Lavenham Tourist Information Centre. The village has plenty to marvel at, including colourful, crooked houses around every corner, with ancient, exposed beams. And not only that, but did you know that the Guildhall in Lavenham is the fictional birthplace of Harry Potter and appears in one of the films?

The Crooked House in Lavenham, Suffolk ©ShowCapture
The Crooked House in Lavenham, Suffolk ©ShowCapture

In the centre of Bury St Edmunds is the medieval Moyse's Hall Museum, with lots of family-friendly displays and events and just outside of Bury St Edmunds is the National Trust's Ickworth House, Park and Gardens. This lovely Georgian Italianate palace, set in a bucolic English landscape, offers all sorts of treats for children and adults. Explore the park with the I Spy Woodland Trail or encourage your children to work their way through the list of '50 things to do before you're 11 and ¾.'

Ickworth House comes to life during its living history events where volunteers dress up and the house is busy with re-enactors cooking and doing their chores in 1930's style. Take part in one of the events on offer this autumn, and look out for the children's autumnal crafts and den-building workshop in October.

Ickworth House The National Trust
Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds, owned by The National Trust

Kentwell Hall in Long Melford is the location of some fun family events this autumn. The Halloweenies event is perfect for children aged 10 and under. Dress them up and send them off to the School of Sorcery and Magic. They will learn how to make a wand, mix magic potions and cast spells, before entering the magical woodlands filled with mystical challenges to test their new-found skills.

If you like hearing your children say “wow!” head for Ipswich Museum to meet, the life-size model of a woolly mammoth and Rosie, the rhinoceros. Woolly mammoths are believed to have lived in the Ipswich area until 11,500 years ago and their huge teeth and other remains are on display in this atmospheric museum. There is also a towering giraffe and other curiosities of the natural world to see.

Next door to the museum is the Ipswich Art Gallery, which is currently exhibiting Bagpuss, Clangers & Co. On tour from the V&A Museum of Childhood, the exhibition is on until 29th October and includes original puppets, scripts and filming equipment.

Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge © National Trust
Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge ©National Trust

A short walk away is Christchurch Mansion which is also well worth exploring. The mansion is a multi-layered museum with and art gallery and rooms showing different periods from the 16th to the 19th century. Of special interest to children might be the amazing collection of Victorian toys and games and the natural history collection of preserved insects, birds, reptiles, fossils and other goodies.

Do include Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge in your visit to Suffolk. The 255 acre estate is home to the significant, perhaps royal, Anglo-Saxon burial site which was excavated in the late 1930s. A ship tomb was found, indicating the high social status of the person buried there and some of the findings and replicas of the treasures can be seen in the museum at the National Trust site.

Family events this autumn

Look out for family-friendly events on the events pages of our website this autumn.

Highlights include Fireworks and Theatre in the Park in Ipswich on 5th November; Scaresville 2017 at Kentwell Hall in Long Melford from 4th October - 4th November and the Flipside Festival for children and young people. Puppet shows, instrument making workshops, drama, dance, music – it's all happening on the 24th - 26th October in Lowestoft on the Suffolk coast.

Where in Suffolk will you take your family this autumn?

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