From speed boats to spas – 25 of the best days out in Suffolk
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Whether you live in the county or are visiting for the weekend (or longer) we’re certain there’s something on this list you’ve never tried before. From adrenaline-pumping action, to sedate strolls in the countryside...
Days out in Suffolk with children
Adventure golf – The whole family will enjoy the themed, American-style adventure golf experiences at Stonham Barns in Mid-Suffolk and Ufford Park in Melton. Smugglers Bay at Stonham is pirate themed, complete with bubbling volcanoes and a shipwreck. It’s open from 9am Monday to Sunday, priced at £7 for over 16s, £5 for juniors and £19 for a family of four. Ufford’s Congo Rapids is filled with dinosaurs and water obstacles (including a couple of pulley bridges to navigate). It’s open every day. A family of four (with two under 16s) is £24.50.
Clip and Climb, Ipswich – This place (at Cardinal Park) houses one of the biggest and highest collections of climbing walls in Europe, with challenges for beginners and hardcore climbers alike. Sessions (Tuesday to Sunday) are 90 minutes long and priced at £14.50 per person. It’s suitable for over fours.
Ninja Tag Active, Ipswich – Based in Buttermarket at Superbowl, this is a great way to burn off excess energy. Pay £1 for a wristband before you get into the games arena where you have to run, jump, crawl and climb the obstacles to tag the checkpoints in the timeframe. Games are £5 or £8 for two sessions.
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Paddle boarding, Alton Water, Stutton – Spend the whole day in the great outdoors. Bring your bikes to explore the off-road paths (or hire on site). Picnic around the reservoir. And visit the water centre to hire stand up paddle boards, kayaks, pedalos and more. SUPs are £15 for one hour (dependent on weather) and there’s even a mega SUP which takes four to eight people, priced at £10 each.
Escape Ipswich – Can you get out in an hour? Use your puzzle-solving skills to beat the games master. Challenges include The Da Vinci Room (code-breaking and symbols), Contagion (defeat the lab lock to reach a vaccine), and Taken (rescue hostages from a deadly serial killer). It’s suitable for over 10s and for groups of two to six. You must pre-book sessions (Wednesday to Sunday) and they’re priced at £20 for adults and £15 for under 16s.
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Planet Laser, Bury St Edmunds – One of the UK’s premier indoor laser tag arenas, spanning 6,000sqft across three levels, with cool lighting and sets, and an awesome soundtrack. There’s a café on site, plus mini bowling and an arcade. One game is £7 or it’s £12 for two sessions. There are special offers during the school holidays and after school. For example, a two-hour pre-booked session over the summer half term is £12 per person (under 16s).
High Lodge, Thetford Forest – Hire bikes. Take a picnic. Follow one of the cycling or running trails. See how agile you are in the adventure play area. You can even book axe throwing here! Segway trails are something the whole family can get involved in, priced at £35 per person for an hour. Book via Go Ape. Parking charges apply and range from one hour to £12.50 for a whole day.
Nature days out in Suffolk
Arger Fen – The thick carpet of dainty bluebells in these woodlands will take your breath away. At the moment they’re interspersed with frilly white heads of wild garlic in the boggier, lower parts. The woods are a nature-lover's paradise. Follow the undulating trails, spotting native British trees (including wild cherries), nesting birds, butterflies and, on warmer days, grass snakes basking in the sun. Close by for lunch is Assington Country Kitchen. Or grab a picnic from the site’s farm shop.
Flatford – Walk in the footsteps of Constable – or hire a boat and row along the river, where weeping trees nod into the water, and cows graze lazily at the river’s edge. The café, shop and free John Constable exhibition are all now open, as is the visitor centre with information on all the wildlife you can spot around the National Trust site. Note that Fen Bridge between Flatford and Dedham is currently shut, but you can still walk to the village following an alternative path. Entry to the site is £5 per car.
Walks in Suffolk
Dunwich Heath – Venture across heathland, through woodland, and in one of the Suffolk Heritage Coast’s richest locations for birdlife. Begin this circular walk at Dunwich Heath, passing Mount Pleasant, an ancient monastery, and Dunwich Museum. Take in lunch at Dingle Hill tearooms or The Ship on your day out. The 5-mile jaunt should take around two hours.
The Three Mills Walk – A stunning 5.5-mile linear walk from Long Melford to Sudbury via the old Great Eastern railway line. You begin at Melford Hall, hiking past the sites of the Borley, Brundon and Sudbury mills, and ending up at Gainsborough’s House. Stop for a bite and a pint at Nethergate Brewery on the way. The fairly easy walk should take around three hours and buses (check before travelling) leave Sudbury, heading back to Long Melford, regularly from York Road.
Gardens to visit in Suffolk
Blakenham Woodland Garden – An almost hidden treasure in the Suffolk open garden season, this peaceful, truly delightful oasis is only open until June 30. It is a natural expression of all of the joys of spring, bringing together both native and exotic trees, shrubs and plants alongside a plethora of seasonal bulbs. First cultivated by former MP John Hare, the garden has passed through the hands of Michael Blakenham (former chair of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew). Entry is £5 daily from 9.30am to 4.50pm. Find the garden at IP8 4LZ.
Helmingham Hall Gardens – You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the pages of a Jane Austen novel when you visit the grounds of this country estate, swathed in parkland. The gardens have been lovingly kept by custodians the Tollemache family, and boast an orchard, apple tree walk, rose garden, knot garden, herbaceous borders and more. Dogs are welcome, and there’s a shop, ice cream parlour and tea room on site (for a fantastic afternoon tea). Look out for evening openings this summer, live music, and the ever-popular spring plant fair, this year on May 30 and 31, with tickets available now.
Days out in Suffolk for food lovers
Bury St Edmunds – The market town has over the past five years become the ‘foodie capital’ of Suffolk and is well worth a day trip for eating out. Begin nearby at Wyken Vineyards’ farmers market on a Saturday morning, or Bury St Edmunds Farmers’ Market on the second Sunday of every month. Both are absolutely crammed with excellent producers selling everything from award-winning bread, to artisan chocolates, cider, beer and pies. Bury St Edmunds’ foodie scene has something for everyone. A brilliant kitchen shop. Specialist beer shop Beautiful Beers, Woosters bakery, a Greek deli, fantastic butchers, an Adnams gin store (where you can make your own spirit), and brand new chocolate shop, Marimba, where all products are made just two miles down the road. Food-wise, tuck into Canadian poutines at No4 at The Abbeygate, gourmet cheese toasties at Wright’s, delicious cakes at No 5 Angel Hill, field to fork plates at Bens, quirky afternoon teas at The Angel, a chef’s table experience at The Northgate, and award-winning fine dining at 1921 or Maison Bleue. That’s not forgetting the recently crowned Michelin-starred Pea Porridge – known for its Moorish-inspired menu. You won’t go hungry.
Aldeburgh – The seaside town has many delicious propositions for foodies. Buy wet or smoked fish from one of the huts along the beach front. Specialist cheese shop Slate is filled with fromages, accompaniments, savouries and salads. There are three ice cream stores including one where you can pick your own inclusions, long-standing favourite Ives, which sources ice creams and sorbets from small dairies across the UK, and chocolatier and gelato house Harris & James, where flavours could include Bakewell Tart or Jaffa Cake. Butchers Salter & King sells only the finest locally sourced meats. There are three independent wine shops. And fill your bags with freshly baked bread and artisanal cakes (and doughnuts) at the Two Magpies Bakery and Café. Food-wise there are obviously the town’s famed fish and chips...but don’t overlook gems such as Aldeburgh Market, seafood restaurant L’Escargot Sur Le Mer, the award-winning Lighthouse restaurant, The Brudenell (try the new Bru Buckets to take away), the newly taken over Regatta, superb Thai takeaway from Eliza’s, and gorgeous tea, coffee and cakes at the Cragg Sisters tearoom. Nearby Snape’s food hall is worth visiting too. And there’s a great farmers’ market on site – the next from 9.30am to 1pm on June 5.
Foraging, Rougham – Join the team from Forage Kitchen near Bury St Edmunds on a day-long course for beginners with experts in the surrounding woodland. You’ll learn all the basics (including what NOT to pick) before heading back to the kitchen where the chefs will prepare a three-course meal including a glass of wine or soft drink. Dates coming up include May 28,29 and 30. This summer foraged gin and foraged chocolate courses are coming too.
The Food Hub, Kenton – A whole raft of cooking classes is planned for 2021 in the state-of-the-art cookery school. Coming up are Enriched Dough on May 30 (£79 with light refreshments), and Dim Sum with Lilian Hiw on June 26 (£99 including lunch and refreshments).
Antiques – While away an afternoon delving into the treasures of Suffolk’s antiques shops. If you’re over in the east, start perhaps in Beccles, before heading over to the Yoxford Antiques centre (complete with beach hut shops and a café), and traversing down to Woodbridge via the multi-storey Marlesford Mill. Over in the west, you’ll find antiques shops in Long Melford, Clare and Cavendish – with many a good café and tearoom along the way. There are regular weekly and monthly auctions for your diary in Suffolk too.
Adrenaline-packed days out in Suffolk
Flight simulator, Mildenhall – Take pilot lessons, or fly ‘just for fun’ in a state-of-the-art simulator at Sim2do. You can try out anything from an F-35B Lightning II jet, to a Lynx MK7 helicopter. Prices vary, but start at around £60 including a briefing and various missions. You must be over 10 and a minimum height of 5ft 2ins.
Speed boat – Feel the wind running through your hair as you jet off from Southwold along Sole Bay in a Sea Blast rib boat with Coastal Voyager. The 30-minute, exhilarating trips are £29 for adults, £21 for 14 to 17-year-olds and £17 for under 13s.
Karting, Ipswich – Pit the entire family against one another with a few laps at Anglia Indoor Karting. There are practise sessions you can do on your own, or race through heats in a grand prix. Arrive and drive is £19 for 12 laps, seven days a week from 10am to 10pm. And there are various sessions for children, including Happy Hour, Monday to Friday for eight to 15-year-olds, between 4pm and 6pm.
Ringo, Ipswich – Fling yourself down the slope at Suffolk Ski Centre – on an inflatable ring. It’s great fun! You’ll need to be fit enough to walk back up the slope with the ring (on a ski lift), and gloves are a must. Sessions are one hour and cost £13 per person, with a minimum of four for the session to run. Book in advance.
Romantic days out in Suffolk
Stay in a windmill, Cockfield – The Windmill near historic Lavenham is unlike any other self-catering accommodation you’ll ever stay in, and has featured regularly on TV and in luxury lifestyle magazines. Built in 1891, the top floor, curved living space, gives incredible views out across the countryside where you can watch the sun rise together. All mod-cons are included – from a bespoke super king bed with luxury linens, to a huge bathroom with free-standing bath and monsoon shower.
Couples’ Spa Day, Kesgrave Hall – While away the hours together at this purpose-built spa, with a spacious wooden sun deck, hot tub, sauna, and cosy nooks for relaxing. A full spa day is £175 per person, including refreshments, use of the facilities, a two-course lunch, and three Elemis -treatments. Or try the after-hours spa from 5.30pm, which includes a glass of prosecco, 25-minute treatment and £30 towards dinner in the restaurant.
Boating, Thorpeness – After lunch in the nearby Dolphin Inn’s flower-filled gardens, or at the adjacent tearoom, launch a boat, kayak or canoe out into the Peter Pan-inspired Meare together. The lake, in this much-loved ‘fantasy village’ is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm daily. Boat hire for two is £17 for one hour.
Hire a vintage car, Stowmarket – Pack a picnic and let one of the chauffeurs from G T Classic Car Hire ferry you around the county in an Aston Martin DB8, or Ferrari. There are self-drive options too, including a Morris Minor convertible, available for 24 or 48 hours hire including 150 free miles for each 24-hour period and full insurance for one driver. Hire is from £155 per day.