What to do on a rainy summer day on the Suffolk coast - top ideas for days out whatever the weather
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
The Suffolk Coast is at its very best on a sunny summer afternoon but rain doesn’t always have to stop play.
If you are looking for fun family days out to enjoy come rain or shine, we have the ultimate list here.
1. Wildlife and farm parks
Although largely outside, farms and zoos offer a great selection of indoor attractions so you can shelter from the showers.
And if you are keen to do more than just watch the animals from afar, why not step up and join the keepers?
With the adult and junior keeper experiences at Africa Alive you can enjoy a taste of what life is like as a keeper!
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Both experiences provide an opportunity to work with the knowledgeable keepers and a variety of animals in the park. You will receive an experience tee-shirt, colour photo and a certificate to remember your time at Africa Alive.
Easton Farm Park, near Woodbridge, welcomes visitors, young and old, to enjoy the fun activities the park has to offer, including pony rides, train rides, meeting all the animals and even cuddling a few of them, too.
And to get really ‘hands on’ get book yourself on to Wild Days Conservation Holiday. Join conservation experts in surveying animals, checking nest boxes, and generally helping out with conservation jobs in this beautiful part of the UK.
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2. Indoor fun
When the rain is coming down heavier than ever, you can get out and enjoy some undercover fun.
There are more than 50 museums in Suffolk. Each one is unique, and they are all packed with fascinating stories and objects.
From prehistoric discoveries to amazing archaeological finds; from Saxon burials to fishing and farming in the age of steam; from the drowning of Medieval Dunwich to the development of Radar - there’s something for visitors of all ages find out about, see and do.
The Sizewell B Visitor Centre offers a unique insight into nuclear power in an interactive exhibition and there’s the opportunity to pre-book a tour of the power station.
And, if you’re in Lowestoft, head to the Claremont Pier. It’s a hive of activity and entertainment, from traditional fruit machines and video games, to roller skating, fantastic live music, perfect party venue, great fish and chips and fabulous brasserie dining with the best sea views in town!
3. Foodie Treats
Just because it is raining, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid the beach altogether.
Have you taken a trip to Southwold Pier? It is famous for eating and drinking across the sea, under the sun and over the waves.
From The Boardwalk to the Beach Café and Clockhouse, Southwold Pier has a fabulous choice of restaurants and cafés to fill the gap from breakfast, through to morning coffee and pastries, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
View Point Cafe in Felixstowe is a warm and friendly cafe with both indoor and outdoor seating. Serving all day breakfasts, snacks, fish and chips, ‘dish of the day’, cakes, ice cream, teas and coffees while you take in the stunning views across the river and the opportunity to watch the huge cargo ships being loaded and unloaded at the Port of Felixstowe.
Or why not Snape Maltings and drop into The Granary Tea Shop to rest a while and enjoy the extensive range of teas, coffees and hot chocolate with wonderful cakes and slices.
4. Nature days
If you love nature then a trip to The Suffolk Coast is a must. Big skies, big landscapes – the beautiful backdrop to a wonderful selection of flora and fauna.
Wander among the wetlands and woods at RSPB Minsmere. Potter along the beach, and pause to watch some amazing wildlife. Explore the Wild Zone with the family, then sample some delicious home-cooked, locally-sourced food in the café.
From tiny meadows to rolling heaths, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s reserves are as varied as the animals and plants that live in them. You are welcome to explore them anytime free of charge or go along to one of the many events that take place in the year which are organised by their education officers and wildlife groups.
The Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a stunning landscape packed full with wildlife and exciting places to explore and discover. There’s something for everyone - tranquil and unspoilt landscape including wildlife-rich estuaries, ancient heaths, windswept shingle beaches and historic towns and villages.
And if the rain does set in, just slip on a waterproof and make the most of it.
5. Sailings barges, ferry’s and river trips
From the beach to the inland waterways, there is plenty of ways to enjoy the water this summer.
For the adventurous, there is Iken Canoe. You can enjoy an exhilarating day on the Alde Estuary and hire out Canadian canoes, sit-on-top kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
You can be the captain of your own ship and take control of the wheel with a day boat hire along the River Waveney from Oulton Broad to Beccles with Oulton Dayboats.
Or for a more leisurely day, or to stay dry on a wetter day, try cruising up and down the beautiful and historic River Orwell aboard the Orwell Lady.
The cruise leaves from Orwell Quay in Ipswich and the Orwell Bridge cruise sail lasts approximately an hour so is ideal for families with children.
Another way to enjoy the River Orwell is with the Sailing Barge Cruises which take you on a relaxing trip on one of their vintage sailing barges- Thistle, Hydrogen and Kitty.
Big Dog Ferry runs four leisurely 3-mile trips a day on an open boat up to Geldeston Locks from the market town of Beccles while Waveney River Tours offer trips along the River Alde from Snape Maltings and the River Waveney from Oulton Broad on board their 100 seater passenger boats.
Deben Boat Trips offer 30 minute trips on the Oystercatcher, taking you along the River Deben from the pretty village of Waldringfield.
6. Family Fun
The Suffolk Coast is packed full with things to do for the whole family.
Here are three of our favourites…
• The Suffolk Punch horse has been a part of the Suffolk landscape since the early sixteenth century and the The Suffolk Punch Trust is an educational and environmental charity dedicated to breeding and preserving the Suffolk Punch horse. Their home, the Hollesley Bay Colony Stud, is the world’s oldest and largest Suffolk Punch stud farm. It is the perfect place to meet these magnificent horses and to find out how they shaped the landscape of East Anglia.
• Set within 50 acres of enclosed coastal parkland, Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park is just minutes from the popular seaside town of Lowestoft – a great place for a day out for all the family.
• Relax while the children enjoy the Southwold Boating Lake. Bring back your own childhood memories watching your children paddle away on the lovely lake in the little paddleboats just for them.
7. High Octane
Beacon Rally Karts is a great place to enjoy fast, furious, four-wheeled fun. The three large outdoor dirt circuits range in size and difficulty: the 150 metre track is where younger drivers can dip a toe into the racing waters, while the 350 and 750 metre tracks are designed for older drivers. They mix fast corners with tight hairpins and exciting chicanes to keep you on your mettle, and a lapse in concentration will swiftly find you in the tyre walls!
Taking to the high seas now – The Coastal Voyager in Southwold provides a variety of trips to suit people with different interests, such as the exhilarating sea blast for adrenaline seekers or the peaceful river cruise for those looking to experience the outstanding natural beauty of the River Blyth.
Slow the pace a little with Viking Mariners; offering luxury sailing experiences on the River Orwell and beyond on either one of their sailing yachts, power craft or barges. Relax and take in the beautiful sights during the cruise or for the more energetic let your skipper show you the ropes.
8. Theatrical Delights
If you fancy a spot of culture head to the theatre or maybe catch a film…
The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft plays host to major West End productions, top comedy, orchestral concerts, touring drama and musical productions, opera, ballet, music, dance and top notch amateur theatre as well as a successful cinema - boasting the largest screen and cinema auditoria in the town.
Aldeburgh Cinema showcases the very best of world cinema at the heart of this delightful seaside town. It provides a programme of film screenings, live shows and special events.
Head inland to Halesworth and you’ll find the versatile arts venue, The Cut. It offers an extensive range of arts, music, theatre, dance, comedy, cinema, workshops and art exhibitions.
Southwold and Aldeburgh are home to the successful and highly-acclaimed Suffolk Summer Theatres. With a broad mixture of comedies, thrillers and family drama; performing five shows at both St Edmund’s Hall, Southwold and the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh between July to mid-September. It’s classic theatre for a modern audience.
A Suffolk Coast spectacular, Snape Proms includes everything from folk and jazz, world music, classical, comedy and poetry in the glorious setting of Aldeburgh Music at Snape Maltings Concert Hall from 29th July to 28th August, definitely a must-do experience for anyone visiting this summer.
9. Take a trip back in time
The Suffolk Coast has a wealth of history. There are museums throughout the area that will give you a real sense of our past…
The Long Shop Museum in Leiston provides a lasting memento of this region’s history of manufacturing.
It tells an inspiring story of enterprise and endeavour through the stunning collections, hands-on displays and the remarkable family behind the factory.
It’s called ‘The Long Shop’ as it was the world’s first purpose built workshop for assembly line production and as its output grew, it was staffed by engineers who designed and made ploughs, steam engines, peat harvesters, trolley buses, washing machines and more, which were exported across the world.
Experience riding on working trams, trolley buses and a narrow gauge railway at the East Anglia Transport Museum in Lowestoft. With exhibition halls, period street scenes, ‘Tar, Sweat and Steam building’, a café serving hot and cold snacks and a souvenir shop.
The museum accommodates examples of trams, trolleybuses and motor buses from various parts of the country, with a number of examples of motor buses built at the Eastern Coach Works in Lowestoft.
Woodbridge Tide Mill is one of the Suffolk Coast’s most iconic buildings and one of just two working Tide Mills in the country. Why not visit this beautiful mill and live a miller’s life for the day and kids will love meeting the Millie the Tide Mill Mouse!
The music of Benjamin Britten is the soundtrack of The Suffolk Coast. At The Red House in Aldeburgh you can explore the life and work of this world-famous composer in the place where he lived and worked.
10. Outdoor adventures
Suffolk based Cycle Breaks offer supported, gentle cycling and walking holidays along the Suffolk Coast. You’ll enjoy lovely accommodation, luggage transportation, quality bike hire (or bring your own), delightful routes along quiet country lanes and mechanical assistance on call to give you peace of mind.
Ever wanted to learn to surf? At Southwold Surf School & Bike Hire your surf lesson will include a thorough safety brief, advice on how to enter the water, paddling, catching a wave, popping-up and riding waves. All surf lessons include your own soft surfboards and they also offer a wide range of wetsuits.
The team at Wild Adventures under Suffolk Skies offer an all-season programme of scheduled events with a hint of adventure and can tailor most of the walks and workshops into on-demand events as well.
And to cool yourself off head to Beccles Lido – a traditional outdoor swimming pool.
Want to spend more than a day on the coast? See our guide of where to stay here.
Find out all you need to know about days out, beaches, where to stay and more by logging onto The Suffolk Coast website