15 things to do with teenagers in Suffolk
- Credit: contributed
It can be hard to entice the Youtube and Fortnite generation out of their bedrooms into the ‘real world’. Here are a few local suggestions to try at all price points.
Cycling at Alton Water
We often head here for a cheap day out. For the princely sum of only £3 for the car park, there's access to both a surfaced four mile bike track and an eight mile cross country track - which our two really enjoy. There's a café (which also does takeaways) on site, and bike, helmet, trailer, tagalong, cart and child seat hire is available Tuesday to Sunday. One of our favourite things to do is to have a ride, enjoy a picnic on the wide grassy expanses, and kick a football about.
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Did you know that aside from the sea, there are quite a few places you can try a spot of wild swimming in Suffolk?
Highly recommended is the stretch of the river Waveney near Outney Common, where the water quality is consistently good. There's an island there which often has a rope swing hanging from it for a bit of good old fashioned fun.
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Swimming off the fishing platform from Friars Meadow in Sudbury is a pastime locals have been engaging in for years. And nearby in Wissington, Rushbanks Farm Campsite has a beautiful wild swimming area (although you have to pay to stay overnight and use it).
Lots of swimmers enjoy larking about in the river at Dedham too, with triathletes regularly using the stretch of water in front of the boathouse for training.
As ever, be careful as there could be hidden objects under the water (never jump in without investigating) and only swim in free flowing water.
Stock up on bacon, buy a line and net, and you're away. Our children never get bored doing this and, quite frankly, will sit for hours trying to catch a whole bucket of the clawed crustaceans. Our favourite places are at Felixstowe Ferry, Orford Quay, off the jetty at West Mersea and at Walberswick (where handily the car park now accepts card payments).
Boating at Thorpeness
Open from 8.30am to 5.30pm every day, you can hire anything from a sail boat to a punt, canoe, kayak and others here. Each boat is priced according to how many passengers it will take but it will never work out at more than £10 per person. The pretty lake, with its islands, is only 3ft deep, and wonderful to explore on a warm day. The tearoom is excellent as well.
Footgolf at Fynn Valley
The golf centre introduced the growing sport of Footgolf a few years ago and, I'm happy to report, it's really good fun for the whole family (and a lot less tiring than lugging about golf bags). The all-weather par 34 course is just £16 for a family of four for nine holes or £25 for 18. Individually its £6 for nine holes or £10 for 18 holes for an adult, £5 or £7.50 for under 18s and £4 or £5 for under 13s. The new café on site is good for refreshments before or after and it's a good, clean, well-kept course.
Roller skating at Curve Motion
On a industrial estate just out of Bury St Edmunds town centre, this skating and soft play centre has enduring appeal for all ages.
The rink hires out quad skates only (you can bring your own as long as they're not 'street skates') and offers lots of different sessions throughout the week. 10am to 12pm on Saturdays and Sundays is reserved for families. Skate Love is a social session with music and games from 12noon at the weekends and during the holidays, but teenagers are much more likely to go for the Roller Disco on Saturdays from 5pm to 10pm, with funky lighting and visuals and a live DJ. Entry is £8.95 and skate hire is from £2.75 to £2.95.
I still flinch when I recall the pain of being hit by paintball pellets at parties growing up in the 80s and 90s. So I think it's great that more laser-based games are building their profiles across the country. In Suffolk, Battlefield Live has locations at Jimmy's Farm and High Lodge, with the 'guns' shooting environmentally-friendly infra-red lights to a distance of up to 100m. The all-weather games are aimed at over eights and brilliant for groups. It's £17.50 for two hours including all the equipment you need. Our kids beg us to take them.
One of the largest laser tag arenas in the UK in found in Bury St Edmunds. The site uses the Helios Pro system, and boasts 6,000sqft of multi-level play for up to 30 people at a time. The more games you play, the cheaper it gets. For example, one game is £7, but three is £15. Special offers include three hours of unlimited play during the holidays for £13, unlimited play on Wednesdays for under 16s from 4pm to 6pm for £10, and unlimited play from 6pm to 9pm on Fridays at £13.
Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns isn't just a place to meet raptors and watch birds of prey displays. One of the highlights for our family is Meetkat Kastle where at 10.30am and 2.30pm every day there are encounter sessions for up to five people aged eight and over. It's £20 per person for the 20 to 25 minute experience, during which you climb into the enclosure with the keeper while they climb over and around you. Brilliant. And they might even learn something too.
Beacon Rally Karts
Arrive and drive sessions at this outdoor karting centre in Martlesham are available every day from 10am to 3pm for children aged five and over. There are three tracks to choose from and four sizes of karts. You can book in advance, but there are usually spots if you just turn up on the day. It's £13 for 10 to 16-year-olds for 10 minutes, or £19 for over 16s. The more minutes you book, the cheaper it gets.
Puzzle Room challenge
We were very impressed with ourselves last year when we managed to escape the Gamekeeper's Bothy at Suffolk Food Hall and can't wait to go back for one of the newer escape the room games - Vanished.
You have to have your wits about you, and keep your eyes peeled for even the smallest of clues as you try and work out a way to get out of the space in an hour.
It's £70 for two to four people with the price increasing but becoming cheaper per head, the more there are in your group.
Canoeing and kayaking
If you've never explored the serene area around Iken Cliffs between Aldeburgh and Snape, this summer's the ideal time to pay a visit. Located here is Iken Canoe, which hires out canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for you to meander through the waterways on. It really is an amazing little part of our county, and you might encounter rare birds or otters playing in the marshlands. Prices vary, but a canoe for up to three people for two hours if £35 and a sit on top kayak for two for up to two hours is £30.
Fancy speeding around on a genuine hovercraft at speeds of 35mph? Our kids absolutely blooming love this activity which covers 10 acres of private farmland across its grass course. It's £30 for five laps or £65 for 30 minute. Booking in advance is essential. The site is based in Mendlesham.
Segway at High Lodge
If the idea of taking on the high wire challenges at Go Ape here fills you with dread, why not keep it closer to the ground by taking on the Segway course instead? This is better for older children as you need to weigh at least 7stone to use the Segways (we're still waiting). After a safety and usage briefing you've got an hour to speed along the pre-marked trails. Prices are from £35. Under 16s must be supervised.