Introducing guest blogger Jacquie from Flashpacking Family
Suffolk, dubbed ‘the foodie county’ of the UK, has a 50 mile stretch of coastline which is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is totally unspoiled and great for families who love the outdoor life with little seaside towns to explore, large stretches of empty beaches for beachcombing, beautiful forest walks and wetlands for wildlife spotting and some of the best fish & chips in the country!
Growing up in Suffolk, I spent a lot of my time in and around the Suffolk coast, and although we no longer live there, my family home and my heart is still in Suffolk. It is a place where so many wonderful summertime memories can be made and we love to do all sorts of fun things in Suffolk with our own children whenever we’re back there staying in our holiday home.
If you are looking for a quaint, laid back destination with coastal towns that haven’t changed much since their heyday in the 1950s – with a great selection of lovely coastal pubs – then this is the place for you.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
1. In and around Aldeburgh
Aldeburgh is top of many people’s list of places to visit in Suffolk. It is a very pretty little seaside town with beautifully coloured Victorian seafront houses and a handful of clothing shops, delicatessens and restaurants. Fun fact – Aldeburgh is famous for the best fish & chips in the country.
If you want to try them, ask for take-out and head to the beach to eat them with a lovely backdrop of the pastel-coloured houses or the fishermen’s huts (where you can also purchase fresh seafood if you are self-catering).
Of course, Aldeburgh is traditionally famous for its connection to Suffolk born artist, John Constable and composer, Benjamin Britten, who was responsible for creating the Snape Maltings concert hall (about 5 miles from Aldeburgh) which is a leading UK centre of the arts. Everything is housed under the roofs of re-purposed Victorian warehouses, set in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are lots of family-friendly events through the year, like family singalongs to hit musicals and child-friendly concerts. During the month of August, they host the Snape Proms which offers a huge array of musical events. You can also head there just to eat, to take scenic boat trips along the River Alde or just go and take a walk and enjoy the outdoor sculptures.
Aldeburgh is a good place to visit if the weather is not great because it has one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK and a great shelter from the rain. You can also visit the Moot Hall which is a lovely little historical building housing the Aldeburgh museum where you can learn about life in Aldeburgh through the ages, dating back to the Romans and Anglo Saxons.
Just along a 2-mile coastal road from Aldeburgh is Thorpeness which is almost a purpose-built quaint little fairytale seaside holiday village with mock Tudor houses, a house in the clouds and a huge Peter Pan themed boating lake.
Boating on Thorpeness Meare is such a fun day out. You can hire the boats by the hour (rowing boats and kayaks) and head off to explore the Peter Pan themed islands. It’s a great choice on a sunny summer’s day and if you were really organised, you could take a picnic with you to have on the boat or on an island, although there are lots of swans and geese around so the islands can get quite messy! One word of advice – the water is not deep at around 60cm but they do not provide life jackets.
When you are out in the middle of the meare, you’ll get a great view of the famous House in the Clouds which you can actually rent as your self-catering holiday accommodation if you fancy something a little different.
Make sure to pop into the Tearoom next to the Meare for a cup of tea and a slice of cake (or an ice cream!) after all your exertions. Also worth checking out for lunch is the Dolphin Inn along the road which has a great family-friendly beer garden where they put on a BBQ on sunny weekends.
2. In and around Southwold
As you follow the coast North, Southwold is about 12 miles along from Aldeburgh and is another great example of a British seaside town. It’s not very large and you can easily walk around it in a morning or afternoon, visiting the lighthouse, the pier and the beautifully coloured iconic beach huts.
Fun fact – in 2018 a beach hut sold for an outrageous £150,000!!
If you take a stroll along the pier the kids will enjoy looking at their distorted reflections at the wacky wall of mirrors and there is a water-powered clock. Not to be missed is the Under the Pier show where you can see around 20 weird and wonderful interactive mechanical creations. If the weather is not great, you can do a tour of the world-famous Adnams brewery. If you’re not a beer fan, they also have their own range of wine, gin, whisky, and Prosecco!
Before or after visiting Southwold, you can visit the Maize maze which is on the road to Southwold. Each year the farmer grows his field of maize and cuts out ever more elaborate mazes (only open in the summer months when the corn is fully grown!). There is one for the kids and an adult one. So far, we have found the kids one challenging enough! There are stamps to collect and if you complete the collection, you get to claim your prize. There are also enormous bouncy pillow trampolines and tractors, playgrounds, pedal-powered go-karts, and a dressing up box!
If you happen to be around this area in mid-July and love a family-friendly festival then you should check out Latitude which is an annual festival and has been going since 2006. It’s located just off the A12 near Southwold and is definitely worth considering even if you just pop in for the day. It has been growing in popularity with families and in 2018 it won best family festival at the UK festival awards. There is a kid’s area with lots of fun activities, an enchanted garden, a woodland area for kids 12+ and a separate family camping area.
If you are looking for somewhere great for lunch, there are plenty of places in Southwold but we would actually recommend the White Hart in Blythburgh which is about a 10-minute drive inland. It has the best outdoor space for kids to run around, backing onto the Blyth Estuary, and serves really delicious food.
First time visiting the UK? Here’s what you need to pack
3. In and around Framlingham
If you want to get away from the coast then Framlingham is a lovely place to visit. It is only 14 miles inland and is a beautiful little market town dominated by its 13th-century castle. Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England here. Fun fact – Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Castle on the Hill’ is based on it as he grew up in Framlingham.
There are amazing views across the Mere to the castle and lots of green space for you to enjoy a picnic while the kids run around. Take a little walk around the market square and along Double Street to see some pretty colourful Suffolk houses.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay, the Crown Hotel is a lovely old building with Tudor beams, log fires and four poster beds.
Somewhere else you could visit is the nearby Easton Farm Park which is just a couple of miles out of Framlingham and a great place to spend the day whether your kids love animals or not. Easton Farm Park is home to some Suffolk Punch horses who used to do all the heavy work on farms in Suffolk before the heavy machinery came along. They are absolutely enormous but are sadly veering towards extinction! There’s a petting corner and pony rides as well as lots of playground areas including an enormous bouncy pillow.
The kids can drive around in their own little pedal tractors (free of charge) which you can pick up from the main entrance. If you are unlucky enough to have wet weather in Suffolk, you could head here for their heated indoor play area and cafe.
Another option for lunch in Easton is the White Horse pub which we would highly recommend trying. It has delicious food made from fresh local produce and a safe beer garden out the back with a climbing frame for the kids.
4. Getting close to nature
Of course, being an area of outstanding natural beauty, we would recommend getting out walking or biking to really enjoy the Suffolk coast.
Most of the beaches in Suffolk are very stony and whilst you may prefer a beautiful white sandy beach, there are still hours of fun to be had on a stony beach. We love to walk along the rugged coastline and there is hardly ever anyone on there. The best beaches to visit are Dunwich, Thorpeness, Aldeburgh, Southwold and Walberswick (for crabbing).
Our favourite beach is Dunwich. It has such an interesting history. Although it was once one of the largest towns in the country in the 11th Century, it all fell away into the sea during storms in the 13th and 14th Centuries, There isn’t much there at all now, although you can get some excellent Fish & Chips or an ice cream at the Flora Tea Rooms after a long beach walk.
There are also lots of forests around the Suffolk coast and many of them are great for walks or bike rides with kids. We love to go in May and early June when the rhododendrons are out. Our favourite walks are in Dunwich Forest, Tunstall forest, Westleton Heath and Dunwich Heath.
About the Blogger
Hi! I’m Jacs. I’m wife to Ed and mum to two little boys, Ernie and George and the content creator for Flashpacking Family. Ed and I travelled extensively before we met and then as a couple we took a year out to travel through Africa, India, Nepal, Tibet, China and SE Asia.
After getting back we settled down and started our family, although we didn’t settle in the traditional sense. Our wanderlust was still there and so when our eldest child was 11 weeks old we took him on his first flight and haven’t looked back. We love to travel as a family and notice so many benefits for the kids and for our family unit as a whole through spending quality time together and slowing down to appreciate the world around us.
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