Explore the unspoilt beaches, traditional seaside resorts and coastal creeks stretching from the resort town of Hunstanton, in the north, along the coast to Holkham Beach and Wells-next-the-Sea with their vast expanses. At Holkham, visit historic Holkham Hall & Estate with its regular family activities including parkland history tractor-trailer tours, pond-dipping and Park Runs, and its parkland with a lake, a nature trail and deer. Then potter around the old port of Wells-next-the-Sea, now a little inland from its beach, and full of shops, cafés and pubs.
Continue east, as the coast becomes marshy in places. The National Trust-owned shingle spit at Blakeney Point is a National Nature Reserve that you can reach from Blakeney village. Boat trips from nearby Morston Quay take you to the seal colonies, or you can follow the North Norfolk Coast Path to Stiffkey Saltmarshes.
Head for the sandy beaches, usually safe for swimming, that begin at Sheringham and Cromer and go right down to the border with Suffolk. Cromer Pier’s Pavilion Theatre hosts a traditional summer show plus other entertainment, or visit Cromer Museum next to the church of St Peter and St Paul. Not far from town is the National Trust’s Felbrigg Hall, a beautifully restored Stuart property with wonderful gardens and woods to explore. Also just outside Cromer is Amazona Zoo, with exotic birds, monkeys and big cats.
Kiss me quick at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk’s biggest seaside resort, with sandy beaches backed by the Golden Mile of amusement arcades, the Pleasure Beach funfair, Britannia Pier and the Sea Life Centre. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also find the National Trust’s Elizabethan House Museum, where children are encouraged to dress up in Tudor costumes and find out what the house was like in Victorian times, with a playroom full of toys from the past. By it at South Quay are The Old Merchant’s House in all its Jacobean glory, and Row 111, another 17th-century house but one preserved as it was in the 1940s.
Great Yarmouth is the gateway to the Norfolk Broads. When not messing about on the water, visit the Museum of the Broads at Stalham, where you’ll find out how the Broads – navigable rivers and lakes – were created by medieval peat extraction. Wroxham, regarded as the centre of the Broads, is a pretty village but one that can get overly busy. Nearby, at Hoveton, is BeWILDerwood – a woodland adventure playground with zip wires and treehouses. You’ll also find the Norfolk Broads Cycling Centre here, where you can hire bikes and buy cycle route maps covering the whole of the Broads.
Discover Norfolk’s county town, Norwich – a handsome old city with one of the finest Norman cathedrals in the country. It’s a lovely city to walk around, with a lively market and medieval streets. Norwich Castle Museum & Gallery has plenty of hands-on displays to please youngsters, while older children may enjoy the rather more modern Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia.
West Norfolk, furthest from the coast, is often overlooked, but King’s Lynn, a wealthy port until the discovery of America, boasts superb old port buildings and the charming Lynn Museum, home to a life-size replica of Seahenge, a Bronze Age timber circle discovered at Holme-next-the-Sea in 1998. Parts of nearby Sandringham House are open to the public.