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Homespun in Woodbridge

Suffolk: The high street you can still love

The changing face of many high streets has earned unwelcome attention across the UK. But in Suffolk our sense of ownership, innovation and distinctiveness, as well as pride, has helped us to maintain a unique, independent vibe every town or village should aspire to.

Without doubt, the shopping experiences in our county will only enhance your overall enjoyment on a holiday or mini-break to Suffolk, any time of the year. To help you decide where to visit, here's our convenient shopper’s guide to the best places to spend your hard-earned cash, as well as take a well-earned rest, gift-wrapped with love.

Vanil in WoodbridgeOne of many indie shops in Suffolk: Scandinavian inspired Vanil in Woodbridge

WOodbridge

Recently shortlisted for the title of ‘Great British High Street’, with a ‘Highly Commended’ accolade, The Thoroughfare in the historic riverside town of Woodbridge is home to a wide range of independent shops, restaurants and cafés. Visit the 64-metre replica of the Bayeux Tapestry and a range of festivals and events throughout the year. Here are a few handy suggestions to start exploring this hidden gem, just over an hour by train from London.
Explore FramlinghamA view of the iconic Woodbridge Tide Mill Living Museum, nestled on the River Deben

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Based in a good-looking Georgian shop, Homespun on Market Hill is a unique fashion brand focusing on the quality of the fabrics and washable cashmere. The source: Mongolia, and created with Suffolk handiwork.

It’s quite rare to have three generations in one family apply the right set of skills and love for baking as much as The Cake Shop Bakery in Woodbridge does. Using traditional skills and enduring early starts, bread and cakes are made fresh on the premises daily and is something of a mainstay in the town. A few years back it won ITV’s ‘Britain’s Best Bakery'.

Vanil is ever-evolving, displaying an eclectic mix of colourful homewares, aesthetic pieces and functional objects. It's hard to ignore the eye-catching shop front. Buy unique gifts or furnish your home with a selection of Scandinavian inspired rugs, pictures, furniture and lighting.

Woodbridge Violins

Gifted craftmanship of violins for nearly 30 years at Woodbridge Violins 

Whilst you're here...

Take a glamping escape at Secret Meadows, a short distance from the centre of Woodbridge 

The FireStation for great roasted blends

Secret MeadowsGypsy's Rest at Secret Meadows luxury glamping site

Ipswich

The waterfront in Ipswich is the most coveted area in Ipswich, but venture further north, away from the town centre, and you’ll discover rows of historic Tudor streets, bustling with indie shops, cosy cafés and small independents. Explore The Saints, St Peters or St Nicholas Street - or all three!

Shopping in IpswichExplore Ipswich's independents along St Peter's Street

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Artsy, quirky and full of personality, LoveOne is a unique gift shop selling hand-picked accessories, stationery and fun homewares, plus cards and prints with local artists and makers. 

To beautify your mantel piece, Emma’s Florist has the most colourful, fresh and vibrant plants and flowers in town; everything from cacti to chilli plants, bespoke bouquets to exotic houseplants. 

Hopsters is a craft ale and specialist spirits retailer stocking unusual collections of local and imported drinks; something very different from what's on the supermarket aisles! Pop along to one of their Beer Tasting evenings, served with pizza. 
LoveOne in IpswichLoveOne in Suffolk is a little treasure trove of goodies

Whilst you're here...

Cited as Ipswich’s best coffee houses and set among the artisan retailers of The Saints, Applaud Coffee offers the ideal pitstop pre- or post-shopping spree; for brunch, lunch or simply their award-winning blend!

 

Applaud Cafe Ipswich Al fresco coffee at Applaud

Bury St Edmunds

The attractive, historic market town of Bury St Edmunds offers the complete mini-break, and its shopping offer is diverse and full of smartly presented retailers vying for your attention. You’ll discover a treasure trove of independent shops with an eclectic mix of cafés, shops and salons - from jewellery to fashion, through to homeware, handcrafted gifts and records.

St Edmunsbury Cathedral in Suffolk (c) Visit EnglandSpring is one of the best times to visit Bury St Edmunds and Abbey Gardens

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Located in a beautiful, rambling 16th Century building in the heart of the town, Javelin's multi award-winning store is an eclectic boutique store spread over 3,500 sq ft, offering a cultivated and unique selection of brands across womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, jewellery and gifts.

Music guru Ross has worked in record shops his entire working life and is the creator of Vinyl Hunter: a record store and coffee shop serving locally foraged fayre. They offer an eclectic, handpicked stock of both vintage and newly-released records and have managed to create a community hub to share their love of music.

From puppets hand-felted in Nepal and luxurious British wool blankets, to Indonesian rattan baskets and vintage style lanterns; The Shop hand source eco-friendly A-Grade sheepskins, cowhides and other animal hides such as reindeer and goat. With a strong sense of ethics, they support indigenous tribes such as the Sami people who have been herding reindeer in Scandinavia for centuries.

Javelin Bury st EdmundsJavelin has existed on the high street since the 1980s

Whilst You're here...

 Take a break from shopping at the independent, Mexican influenced coffee shop, Guats Up!, based in the heart of the town centre. They use Suffolk roasters Butterworth & Son.

 

Guats Up  Rustic, Mexican interior of Guat's Up in the heart of Bury St Edmunds

Southwold

This picturesque seaside town of Southwold is a bit of a haven for enthusiastic shoppers, coffee-goers and those in the pursuit of great art. It boasts a high street packed with independent retailers - many long stayers, but also innovators - including galleries, boutiques, cafés and restaurants. And what’s more, it’s a stone’s throw from the beach. Food and drink is central to Southwold’s make-up, with many award-winning eateries, as well as home to the historic Adnams Brewery (tours daily). Fortunately, it’s all located close together, giving you time to explore Southwold’s more natural attractions.
Southwold High Street on the Suffolk coastTake a stroll along Southwold High Street

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Perfect for designer basics, Collen & Clare’s flagship boutique at the end of Southwold High Street is a little gem, selling a range of leading designer brands for both men and women.

Adnams is synonymous with Southwold on the Suffolk Coast, with familiar smells of malt speading throughout the seaside town. Head to their flagship shop, Cellar and Kitchen, at the end of the high street (away from the beach), where staff offer expert advice on the right beer, spirit or wine for you. If you’re here for a day or longer, a tour of the brewery or distillery (or both), is a must.

Lift: an independent home accessory and lifestyle store in Southwold that’s devoted to sourcing and creating well-designed, functional items for your home and for you. Everything is bold, bright and uplifting and often Danish or Japanese inspired. And, every 200th customer at Lift gets £5 to do something good; say take a friend for coffee or donate to charity.

 

Lift SouthwoldColourful Lift in Southwold

whilst you're here...

Best coffee and artisan bakery at the Two Magpies Bakery

Stay at Kessingland Camping and Caravanning Club and camp beneath the stars or consider So Southwold for your self-catering cottage needs.

Two Magpies SouthwoldArtisan bakers and coffee crafters at Two Magpies Bakery, Southwold

Clare

The Suffolk ‘Wool Towns’ in the heart of Suffolk is not only known for impressive medieval, timber-framed architecture, you’ll discover an abundance of independent gift shops, galleries, antique emporiums and delis, surrounded by picturesque countryside. Here we explore the picture-perfect market town of Clare.

Clare in SuffolkDiscover independent retailers in the charming, historic market town of Clare

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For antique over-load, discover one of the largest antique warehouses in Suffolk, and possibly the region. Clare Antiques and Interiors offers four floors of objects, collectables and furniture from over 100 individual dealers from across the UK.

The charming nook of a bookshop Harris & Harris Books was finalist in the East England Region Independent Bookshop of the Year Award. It’s a booklovers dream, selling books old and new, as well as bookish gifts and a host of exciting events.

Promoting coveted artists and specialising in original, affordable works of art, Sea Pictures Gallery exhibits maritime inspired arts and crafts, with exhibitions changing every eight weeks. The gallery is housed in a charming Georgian building, in-keeping with this perfectly kept, charming market town.

 

Shopping in Clare SuffolkHunt treasures in the vintage emporiums of Clare

whilst you're here...

Suffolk is full of delis, but the Number One Deli is popular with visitors and locals alike, situated smack bang in the centre of town. Coffee ground to order, it serves a range of local produce such as Suffolk Cheese, ham, eggs and freshly baked bread. It’s the perfect pit-stop pre- or post-mooch. A favourite, too, with cyclists exploring the Suffolk countryside. 

Number One Deli Clare Locally sourced ingredients sold and eaten at Number One Deli in Clare

Beccles

A pretty market town which overlooks the Waveney Valley, Beccles is made up of small market squares and winding streets; packed with independent shops, plus a diverse mix of coffee houses and restaurants. The town also hosts two popular antiques fairs and a food & drink festival in May.
Beccles in the Waveney ValleyThe market town of Beccles, nestled against the River Waveney, is a haven for watersports

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 The family-run Mea Boutique is a women’s fashion emporium based in Beccles (and another in Southwold), offering pure luxury: clothes, scarves, jewellery, handbags, shoes and giftwares.

Baileys Delicatessen is superbly supplied with deli favourites, right in the heart of Beccles, close to the Suffolk Coast and home to much of Suffolk’s produce. Local produce includes meats, cheeses, chocolate and coffee, and the food served upstairs looks delicious too.

If you’re looking for a bit of relaxation time, then the natural approach at Saxon Therapy is worth a spot of 'me time'. Alternative and medicinal needs are catered for in the shop, and there’s a range of in-house therapists to make you feel truly relaxed. Using local companies, their ethos extends to the environment.

 

Baileys Deli BecclesDelicious counter-service options at Baileys Deli in Beccles

Whilst you're here...

Serving a true Neapolitan Pizza, OakFired at Royal Oak has been recognised by the Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association, with a Gold Award for best UK pizzeria. 

Oak fired pizza in BuryBest pizza in town, according to the officials!

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