Summer holidays are here - 18 great days out with the family
PUBLISHED: 10:41 18 July 2020
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
School summer holidays are here for some while others break up next week - but what are the options for family days out to allow youngsters, who have already been stuck at home for months now, to let off steam?
With many lockdown restrictions now relaxed there are many more options for things to do than there were a few weeks ago - including some great budget-friendly options.
But, with many attractions limiting their opening hours and requiring visitors to book in advance, it’s important to check ahead before making a special trip.
Here are 18 ideas for things to do, but these are just a starting point - there are many more to choose from, including a host of free-to-visit parks and beaches around the region.
Free and cheap things to do
Southwold Beach and Pier: The award-winning pier has now reopened for visitors, and is open every day from 10am to 7pm, with a one-way system in operation, The Boardwalk Restaurant is also open daily from 10am, offering a takeaway menu, or you can take a picnic to eat on the beach. The arcade and Treasure Chest, which sells toys and ice cream, are both open from Wednesday to Sunday.
Needham Lake and Nature Reserve: This park close to Needham Market is free to visit, and the car park is also free. The play areas have now reopened, with guidelines in place.
The park has picnic areas available, and you can also buy drinks and snacks from the kiosk. Toilets are open.
Clare Castle Country Park: Featuring the remains of a Norman castle, a disused railway station and open spaces for walks, this country park near Sudbury is a great place to wander. Its play area and play train have both now reopened.
The Platform One Cafe is open for takeaways from 9am to 3pm from Wednesday to Saturday. The public toilet at the end of The Old Goods Shed is open daily from 9-5, with a brief closure for cleaning.
Alton Water: The water park is open, but it’s advisable to check the Anglian Water Parks website to check what facilities are open before travelling. The site has trails to wander around the lake and plenty of wildlife to see. Children’s playgrounds are still closed, but mini golf and cycle hire are open, with restricted availability. Admission is free at Alton Water but there is a £3 all-day charge for parking.
Parks in Ipswich: Public parks in Ipswich are open, and most play areas are also reopening, but with some swings having been removed for social distancing, There are notices saying how many people can use a play area at once.
Christchurch Park play area is currently being redeveloped and expected to reopen in early August. Christchurch Mansion tea room and kiosk are open every day serving ice creams and refreshments, and the Holywells Park cafe is also offering a takeaway service.
In Christchurch Park, toilets near the kiosk are open from 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and 11am to 7pm at weekends, and in Holywells Park toilets near the play area are open from 10am to 4pm daily.
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Parks in Bury St Edmunds: All the parks and the play areas maintained by West Suffolk Council are open, including the play areas in the Abbey Gardens, Nowton Park and Hardwick Heath. Attractions include the abbey ruins and aviaries in the Abbey Gardens, and the arboretum, maze and ponds in Nowton Park. The Abbey Gardens kiosk is due to reopen later in the month. These parks are all free to visit, but you will need to pay for parking if you need it. The council has kept toilets in the parks open.
Felixstowe Beach: Take a picnic to the popular resort, or get fish and chips from the Pier Fish Co. Manning’s Amusements has reopened, with a number of machines being removed so that visitors can remain a safe distance apart. The machines are being cleaned after every use and visitors are being provided with hand sanitiser.
Covehithe Beach: Looking for a quieter beach where you can get away from it all and just enjoy the sea? This secluded beach is ideal. It can only be accessed by foot or cycle, leaving your car near the church and following a footpath to the dunes.
Thornham Walks: If you are looking for somewhere different to go for a walk with the family, this estate in north Suffolk has now reopened. It offers 12 miles of walks, including woodland and countryside. The play area and main toilets are now open and Refreshments are also available, but the volunteer and visitor centre and bird hide are currently closed. The parking is pay-and-display.
Events with a charge, from boat trips to fruit picking
Thorpeness Meare: The popular lake is now open again for rowing boat and kayak hire, with various restrictions in place to keep people safe. Hire time is initially being limited to one hour, and there is also a one-way system when you are arranging to hire a boat. Visitors can buy food from the Meare Tearoom and enjoy it on the lawn.
Beccles Lido: The popular outdoor pool is currently expecting to reopen on July 20, in time for the summer holidays. It will initially be open for lane swimming only and you will need to book. The pool’s management has said it will introduce family sessions only when its new systems and procedures are proven and it is confident it can do so safely. For the latest updates, visit @beccleslido on Facebook.
Indoor swimming pools and leisure centres: It has been announced that these facilities can reopen from July 25, as the holidays start, but most pools and centres haven’t yet finalised their opening dates. You may also need to book, so it’s important to check your local pool’s website or Facebook page before visiting.
Crazy golf: With many fun courses around the area, this is the perfect family sport and social distancing from other groups shouldn’t be a problem. Stonham Barns near Stowmarket has a pirate-themed course, Smuggler’s Bay Adventure Golf, as well as offering footgolf. You will need to book via their website.
Fruit picking: Pick your own has been proving extremely popular so far this years, and there will still be fruit around to pick during the summer holidays. It’s advisable to check farms’ Facebook pages or give them a call before travelling to check what fruit is available to pick.
Goslings Farm at Trimley St Martin near Felixstowe has more than 30 polytunnels with a wide range of fruit, and a calendar on its website showing what’s in season when. Varieties of strawberry, raspberry, redcurrants and apples are among the fruits available over the summer holiday period. Friday Street Farm Shop, near Saxmundham, is another popular Suffolk fruit farm.
Big days out - Zoos and theme parks
Colchester Zoo: If your family fancies a trip to the zoo this summer, the good news is that all buildings at Colchester Zoo are now open to the public again. So you can see all the animals, although there are still no keeper talks and public feeds. Following the change in social distancing to “one metre plus”, visitors are being asked to wear face coverings when visiting indoor buildings. Outdoor adventure play areas are also being opened up, with parents and guardians required to supervise children. All visitors need to book in advance online, except that zoo passholders can now visit after 3pm without pre-booking. For full details on what’s available and all the safety measures that are in place, download the zoo’s app. Tickets are released in blocks. Until July 21, prices will be £21 for adults and £15 for children aged three to 15, going up to £22.49 and £16.20 from July 25. There are also various concessions.
Africa Alive, Kessingland: The zoo is open again, with various safety measures in place. All visitors, including pass holders, are required to book a timed arrival slot. You can do this in advance online, or it is possible to book on the day, turning up and booking your etickets from your car via the zoo’s wi-fi. However, you may have to wait if you choose this option. Admission prices are £22 for adults and £16.50 for children aged three to 15 including a donation, and there is also a £1.10 charge including donation for under-threes. There is a one-way system in place. For full details on what’s available, visit the zoo’s website.
Banham Zoo, near Diss: Like its sister attraction Africa Alive, Banham is open, with various safety and social distancing measures in place. It requires all visitors to book a timed slot. Again, you can either do this in advance online or turn up and book your etickets from your car, although this does mean you may have to wait. The main admission prices are the same as for Africa Alive.
Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft: This top theme park will be open daily all through the summer holiday period, from July 18 to August 30, from 10am to 5pm daily, but with limited numbers. Most rides are open, but a few are closed either for refurbishment or, as with the children’s Woody Copters and Mini Pirate Ship, for social distancing reasons. All visitors need to pre-book online, including those with season passes. Pre-booked prices are based on your height and start from £15.50 for both 140cm and above and 90cm to 139cm, with children under 90cm getting in free. There is a non-rider £13 option.
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