Ten great summer days out in Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 15:59 05 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:53 05 July 2017
With its offering of historic castles, scenic walks and fantastic food, what's not to love about Suffolk? We've picked some perfect places to enjoy a summer's day out, rain or shine (it is England, after all…)
1. Step into History at Framlingham Castle
Set in picturesque countryside, Framlingham Castle is straight out of a fairytale. Located in the village of Framlingham, it was built in the late 12th Century by a powerful Norman family, the Bigods, and for over four-hundred years the owners of the castle would be the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk. Today this rich sense of history is bound to capture the imagination of any visitor, be they young or old.
Step back in time watching a Joust on Saturday 29 July or Sunday 30 July, a spectacle that will bring history to life as knights thunder past you aboard their noble steeds!
To fill rumbling tummies of budding jousters, head in to the village of Framlingham and visit the Castle Inn Pub; here you’ll find a family friendly atmosphere with a popular children’s menu
2. Sit Back and Relax in the Gardens of Helmingham Hall
A beautiful manor house with a fruitful history behind it, Helmingham Hall is the ideal place to relax on a sunny summer’s day. Since its completion in 1510, the property has been home to the Tollemache family who continue to reside here right up to the present day. Surround yourself by the aroma of the flowers in the rose gardens and find that perfect spot for reading a book, before indulging in a traditional afternoon tea accompanied by a glass of champagne.
On Sunday 30 July, Helmingham Hall will welcome some rather different guests as it plays host to the annual Suffolk Dog Day. Wagging tails and wet noses, accompanied by their humans, will descend on the property to take part in an array of fun-filled classes, with entry being open to all on the day.
The gardens are open between 3 and 5pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and admission is £7.00 for adults and £3.50 for children.
3. Be the first to see the sunrise at Lowestoft
The most Easterly settlement in the United Kingdom, Lowestoft is a coastal town well worth exploring. Although getting up at half past four in the morning may seem a little painful, you’ll be glad you set your alarm when you see the sunrise from Ness Point. The location of this beauty-spot means that you will be the first person in the UK to see in the new day, with the incredible views promising to be picture-perfect.
After your early start, head further inland to refuel at Lowestoft’s cafes. A full English breakfast will await you at the Potter’s Kiln, served from 8am, preparing you for the day of activities that this town has to offer. Visit the Ferini Art Gallery and sample some stunning artwork reflecting its costal location, or board a working tram at the East Anglia Transport Museum.
If you are planning on witnessing the sunrise, you might want a hotel to stay in: for a luxurious retreat, try the Ivy House Country Hotel, or for a family-friendly atmosphere The Courtyard at Laurel Farm ticks all the boxes.
4. Say hello to the Suffolk Punch horses at the Suffolk Punch Trust
The Suffolk Punch Trust dedicates itself to preserving this majestic horse as its numbers dwindle dangerously low as breeding levels are decreasing. Located in Hollesley, the Trust has opened its doors to visitors, giving budding equestrians the chance to learn all about this increasingly rare breed of horse. Attractions include morning demonstrations at the stables through which visitors can learn all about how to care for these animals.
The fun is not restricted to horse-lovers, however, since the Trust is also home to various breeds of sheep and cattle, with tractor rides around the farm being the perfect opportunity for aspiring farmers to sample country life. Find your adventurous side and embark on a guided woodland walk, or keep things relaxed and curl up for a cuddle with the resident guinea pigs and rabbits! After you’ve had your fill of the café’s home cooked food, you can watch the animals having theirs’ at feeding time, before little ones can let off some steam in the play area.
If you have your own tractor, or know someone else who does, take part in the Tractor Road Run on Sunday 16 July which sets off from the Trust. The event is in aid of Suffolk Age UK, and is bound to be a fun filled day for all involved as farmers and their friends jump aboard their tractors for a good cause.
5. Surround yourself with international music and arts at Maui Waui Festival
For a weekend with a difference, grab your tent and head to Maui Waui Festival on 25 to 27 August. Offering a cornucopia of international music, performance and arts, this is a family friendly festival not to be missed.
Now in its fifth year, the festival offers activities such as a circus, dance tents and comedy performances so it is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser for all. You can surround yourself with the live music of acts such as Dutty Moonshine Big Band, Dreadzone and Cut Capers, whilst little festival goers can enjoy face painting and story telling.
If huddling in a tent in the mud isn’t for you, don’t be put off! There is the option to try out ‘Glamping’ instead, where you can hire a yurt for a more luxurious experience. The festival will take place at Peakhill Farm in Theberton, with ticket prices for the full weekend at £90.
6. Get in touch with your Sci-Fi side at Rendlesham Forest
Think aliens are a load of rubbish? Well, think again, because in December 1980 the rumour mill went into overdrive with reported sightings of a UFO at Rendlesham Forest (they may have just been unexplained lights, but don’t let that dampen your spirits!).
Today, armed with a leaflet, your inner astronaut and a sprinkling of imagination, you can venture on the three mile trail around the forest. Here the sighting of the UFO has been re-created, allowing you to do your own bit of detective work as you sample what it really might be like to get in touch with the extra-terrestrial worlds. Perfect for young explorers and sci-fi lovers, this relatively short trail is easy for all the family to embark on.
If all the detective work leaves you feeling hungry, you won’t be short of nearby places to eat and drink. For good pub grub, sample the menu of The Greyhound Inn located in Woodbridge, or for that much needed coffee and cake head to Christine’s Patisserie.
7. Have Dinner with a Difference at Ipswich Waterfront
Arguably Suffolk’s most famous town, Ipswich is a must visit with a plethora of things to see and do for all the family. Dare to release your inner shopaholic with the array of shops on offer, from one-off boutiques to irresistible farm shops, before finding your sea-legs by exploring the marinas. Get to know the town in more detail and take part in an Ipswich guided tour, and to top off your day of exploring, why not try a slightly different dining experience? On Friday 14 July a Summer Supper Cruise will set off from Common Quay, where diners can experience a unique dining experience out at sea (perhaps not for the sea-sick suffers…). If you’d prefer to stay on the mainland, head to Isaacs on the Quay for a varied menu at a very reasonable price.
To complete your visit to Ipswich, stay over night at one of the town’s many hotels. The stylishly decorated Salthouse Harbour Hotel is sure to be a winner, with its quirky rooms offering unique features such as copper baths and panoramic marina views. The quay-side location is also ideal.
Tickets for the Summer Supper Cruise are available online for £38.50.
8. Be at one with nature at RSPB Minsmere
For nature lovers young and old, the RSPB coastal nature reserve at Minsmere is bound to be a crowd pleaser. Come armed with your wellies and binoculars and voyage along both buggy friendly paths and a few more challenging terrains, where you’ll be in with a chance of spotting a whole host of wildlife.
On the checklist of things to spot are bitterns, black and white avocets, adders, lizards and water voles, and if you’re really lucky you might even get to spot otters from the Island Mere Hide. If you aren’t a wildlife expert just yet, you can take part in a guided walk specifically for bird-watching beginners led by experts who can show you what’s what.
9. Go hop-ing mad for beer at Greene King Brewery
A visit to Westgate Brewery in Bury St Edmunds, the home of Greene King Beer, will give you the opportunity to witness the traditional processes behind the creation of a good old pint. There is the option to take part in a guided tour, where you can watch every step of the beer making process from extracting the liquor down to the mashing, fermenting and bottling. The brewing process here has a rich history; whilst the Greene King brewery was itself built in 1938, evidence of brewing in Bury St Edmunds can be traced all the way back to the Doomsday Book in 1086.
If you want to continue with your beer sampling, try out some of the many pubs that Bury St Edmunds has to offer. Why not head to The One Bull who brew their own beer just down the road, or settle in to The Dog and Partridge?
For further information, visit https://www.greeneking.co.uk/our-beers/greene-king-brewery/.
10. Grab your helmet for the Suffolk Coast 100 Mile Bike Ride
For the sporty few amongst us, embark on the Suffolk Coast Bike Ride on Sunday 23 July. Taking the spectacular Glemham Hall as its start and finish point, this ride allows participants to enjoy the best of the Suffolk countryside. You’ll wind your way across the open heathland near Dunwich as well as heading along the coast, meaning you will be accompanied by beautiful views throughout the ride. As well as the full 100 mile ride, there are somewhat shorter and more manageable options of 65-mile and 35-mile routes too. What’s more, a massage, refreshments and live music will greet you on your arrival back at Glemham Hall having completed the ride – what more motivation could you want?!
The nearby town of Woodbridge offers a wealth of places to find a well deserved meal, such as The Table where you’ll find an exciting menu with lots of multi-cultural options. If you’re in search of an afternoon tea in idyllic surroundings, head to The Tea Hut where a scone with cream and jam will have your name on it!
The ride can be entered online here; an entry pack is priced at £21, with proceeds going to the East Anglia Air Ambulance.