Wondering where to take the kids for the holidays? If you could take them to a land of fairytales and magic; a place where time travel is possible; a region full of wild and extraordinary creatures, where you can swing through the trees like Tarzan, or ride a camel into the sunset; you would, wouldn’t you? Well, that place exists, and its name is Suffolk!
A LAND OF FAIRY TALES AND MAGIC
Suffolk has many folk and fairy tales, but did you know that it also has a whole fairytale village? Thorpeness was transformed into a fantasy playground in the 1920s by a rich Scot named Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. Ogilvie built mock Tudor and Jacobean houses, created a floating House in the Clouds, built a golf course, and, with the help of his friend J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, designed a magical boating meare with pirate islands, and hideouts for Wendy and the Lost Boys.
Another magical place is Lavenham, one of Suffolk’s beautiful Wool Towns, and the birthplace of the most famous wizard that ever lived: Harry Potter! J.K. Rowling based the fictional wizarding village of Godric’s Hollow on Lavenham, and the Harry Potter cast and crew used Lavenham as their set in 2009 and 2010. If your kids love Harry Potter, show them Lavenham, aka where the Potters lived before the fateful night that You-Know-Who came to find them…
De Vere House in Lavenham is the fictional birthplace of Harry Potter
Magic of a different sort can be found in the brilliantly bizarre arcade at Southwold Pier. It may look like a traditional games arcade, but each of its games has been built by madcap inventor, Tim Hunkin. Your kids will love playing “Whack a Banker,” “The Booth of Truth,” “Gene Forecaster,” and “Mobility Masterclass,” and we’re willing to bet you will, too.
HOME TO CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
Big, small, feathery, furry, scaly, hooved, antlered, even maned – Suffolk is home to creatures of all kinds, and any budding David Attenborough or Michaela Strachan will be thrilled to meet them.
One of Suffolk’s many nature reserves, Lackford Lakes is where kingfishers swoop down to the water, and flocks of starlings create beautiful shapes overhead. Make sure to pick up a wildlife explorer backpack from reception, specially put together for little explorers! Another must-visit reserve is RSPB Minsmere, the past headquarters of BBC Springwatch. This incredible place boasts some of the country’s rarest birds, as well as majestic red deer, and shy otters.
At Needham Lake in the heart of Suffolk, kids can explore the wildlife whilst also enjoying a mini assault course as they walk around the lake.
Take a picnic and relax in the nature reserve at Needham Lake
A PLACE WHERE TIME TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE
If you thought time travel only happened in 80s cult movies, think again. In Suffolk your children can spend a day with the Tudors at Kentwell Hall, meet a warrior king at Sutton Hoo, learn skills from the Anglo-Saxons at West Stow, live the life of a miller at Woodbridge Tide Mill, walk in the footsteps of Mary Tudor along the Framlingham Castle battlements, travel like an Edwardian on the Mid Suffolk Light Railway, meet servants from the 1930s at Ickworth House & Gardens, and descend underground like Neolithic flint miners at Grimes Graves. And why not find your own treasures? Hunt for shark’s teeth, see glass, or fossil corals that are millions of years old by joining one of the beachcombing days this summer on Felixstowe, Bawdsey and Sizewell beaches. And as the beaches are refreshed twice a day, every day, with each high tide, who knows what treasures you will find?
Walk in the footsteps of Mary Tudor along the battlements at Framlingham Castle
At Africa Alive!, a zoo and conservation centre, kids can come face-to-face with the beasts of Africa’s rainforests and savannah, including lions, giraffes, chimpanzees, white rhinos, zebras and lemurs. At Oasis Camel Park kids can encounter the iconic humped creatures from Africa’s deserts, and even enjoy a camel ride, or learn to be a keeper for the day.
A trip to the Oasis Camel Park is a great day out for the whole family, not just the kids
Animals from afar are fascinating, but so are Suffolk’s native creatures. At the Suffolk Punch Trust, kids can meet Suffolk’s only native horses, gentle giants called Suffolk Punches. At the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, your kids will be able to admire over 80 owls and birds of prey, including some incredibly cute baby owls.
Or see beautiful horses and learn all about the exciting world of horse racing at the National Horse Racing Museum. Kids can have a go on the horse simulator and find their inner jockey at Suffolk’s newest attraction.
Finally, at Easton Farm Park and Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park, it’s all hands on deck to care for Suffolk’s farm animals, including the annual new arrivals of all sorts of species.
If your kids are already mini adrenaline junkies, Suffolk has the attractions that will get their pulses racing. At Go Ape, kids of all ages (and adults, too) can act like Tarzan and Jane and take on a thrilling treetop assault course. If it’s speed they’re after, an afternoon’s racing at Anglia Indoor Karting or a day at Southwold Maize Maze will have your kids jumping for joy. Speed-loving families can take to the sea aboard the Coastal Voyager and zoom around Southwold’s Sole Bay, or visit the colony of seals at nearby Scroby Sands. And if it’s simply good old-fashioned competitiveness that gets your kids going, why not hold a family crabbing competition at Walberswick beach?
Crabbing in Walberswick