Norfolk is famous above all else for its unspoilt coastline – here, for the price of parking your car, you can enjoy a wealth of old-fashioned, family-friendly seaside resorts. We also recommend the Broads National Park (combining the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads – Britain’s largest protected wetland area), which is home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the UK as well as many of Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s 43 nature reserves, the vast majority of which are free to enter. We've shared our favourite free days out in Norfolk with the kids, come rain or shine.
This includes Hunstanton, Sheringham, Cromer and Great Yarmouth, and also the wide sandy beaches of Holkham, Happisburg and Sea Palling, and the beautiful marshes and mudflats of the north Norfolk coast, much of it protected by the National Trust.
RNLI Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer
Bring the kids here and let them be inspired by the story of coxswain Henry Blogg, who won the George Cross and British Empire Medal for helping to save more than 800 lives. Interactive displays tell the story of the RNLI in a way that appeals to both adults and children, and you can see the lifeboat in which Blogg served during World War II. Events at the museum include storytelling for kids.
Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth
At the far west end of Breydon Water, this English Heritage-owned ruined 3rd-century Roman fort has gorgeous views that make it a perfect spot for picnics.
NWT Ranworth Broad, near Wroxham
Among the best free Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves, this has a floating visitor centre hosting hands-on learning activities and a boardwalk with information about the plants and animals that live here.
NWT Foxley Wood, near Fakenham
This is the largest ancient woodland in Norfolk (it’s about 6,000 years old), with footpaths that take you deep into the woods, which are full of flowers in spring and butterflies in summer.
NWT East Wretham Heath, near Thetford
Another great natural site for a family day out in the great outdoors, this has two meres (heathland lakes) that are fun to walk around and that also make great picnic sites.
For a dose of city culture, head here – the wealthiest city after London during the medieval years 1650–1750, thanks mainly to the wool industry. You can see the legacy of that wealth today. Most notable is Norwich Cathedral, open daily and featuring spectacular vaulted ceilings. The city also has the largest collection of medieval churches in Europe: there are 31 to visit. Of the many other medieval buildings to stroll past, one of the most impressive is the Guildhall – the largest and most ornate outside London, with a highly regarded café. More up to date is The Forum, in the middle of Norwich, with a free digital-screen gallery and exhibitions, as well as shops, cafés and a Tourist Information Centre.
Norfolk’s second-largest city was also England’s third most important port in medieval times. Many of the old port buildings along the River Ouse are still standing, including the impressive Custom House, where the elegant rooms now house displays on the city’s maritime history and hands-on computer displays.
Find out more about family holidays in Norfolk, including our hand-picked recommendations for places to stay with kids.