Visit Great Yarmouth for a family staycation
- Credit: Visit Great Yarmouth
Staycations have never been so popular with the cost of living hitting our pockets and the Covid pandemic impacting foreign holidays.
Say goodbye to long airport queues, over-inflated prices and the ongoing threat of last-minute flight cancellations and holiday at home this year.
Great Yarmouth in Norfolk is often overlooked, but offers the perfect family getaway with a budget to work for all.
Travelling with my wife and eight-year-old daughter Amelia, Haven’s Wild Duck Holiday Park proved to be a great base in a picturesque part of the county.
We stayed in a caravan overlooking the ponds, but with a range of bronze, silver, gold and lakeside signature options you can holiday on a shoe string or push the boat out.
Check-in was effortless and the facilities are clean, tidy and perfectly placed offering privacy yet close proximity to all the entertainment and activities.
With a village like feel, you can meander through the shop, restaurant and bar area to find plenty of outside activities and a fair-sized inside swimming pool with water slides. There is also an outside pool and sport courts.
Our weekend was kept busy with a mix of free and affordable activities on the site including archery lessons, kart hire and a host of ranger activities like pond dipping.
Evening entertainment was spot on too and the staff were accommodating with quick service and ample staff on shift.
With so much to do you could easily stay for a week and keep the children entertained on the park alone but there is much to explore in Nelsons County. Prices start from £249 for a three night break based on a family of six sharing bronze accommodation in July.
To book visit haven.com
Here is a selection of places we visited during our stay:
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens
On the drive to Norfolk we stopped off at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens for a first-class animal experience.
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Having never heard of the place before we were first struck by the intimacy of the park and the closeness you could get to the animals.
The layout of the park and cleverly constructed walkways allowed you to be in almost touching distance (but with safety measures in place) to really get as close to gibbons, tigers, snow leopards and much more. The crocodile and alligator enclosure is the best and most well stocked I’ve seen having been to all the big UK wildlife parks.
The say timing is everything and turning up around midday allowed us to see really active, happy animals and the excitement of feeding time for the tigers.
You could easily spend a day at this family-friendly wildlife park with play facilities, outside picnic areas or a café for those who want to go hassle free.
Entry costs £16.95 per adult and £12.95 per child (4-16).
Charming seaside funfairs are not hard to spot if you make your way round England’s coastline but not many can boast history quite like Pleasure Beach.
It's the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year, but not even our head of state can compete with the longevity of the famous wooden rollercoaster – the oldest in the UK and one of only two still using a brakeman (or woman in this instance). Having opened in May 1932, the attraction is 90 years old this month. It’s rickety, high and lightning fast in places. But it’s seeing a seated brake operator at the rear of the first carriage that really makes you sense you’re riding something special. Despite having no brakes fitted to the track at all it’s the safest I’ve ever felt on a ride.
Of course, it’s not all about the past. Pleasure Beach has all the modern rides.
Adrenalin junkies can check out Sky Drop, Pendulum, Lightning 360 and the must-have log flume.
There’s also plenty for the younger more delicate riders with classics like the 120-year-old Gallopers carousel leaving you with a nostalgic smile on your face.
Entry costs £15 for a three hour session.
Sara’s Teamrooms – Great Yarmouth Seafront Cafe
Just a few feet from the main attractions at Pleasure Beach you will find a friendly smile and delicious homemade cakes.
The family-run business navigated the inevitable hurdles of the Covid pandemic and remains a firm favourite to grab a spot of lunch.
Sara runs the cafe with the help of her son and team of dedicated staff. The varied menu offers exemplary homemade meals at affordable prices.
Its prime location nestled in Pleasure Gardens, near the bustling attractions overlooks the clean beach and sparkling sea.
We stopped for lunch having dragged Amelia away from the roller coaster after her third go.
Sara's son talked fondly of Great Yarmouth and his favourite job many years ago – as brakeman on the famous roller coaster.
The menu had something for every taste. But it’s the homemade cakes - like the lemon cake we tried - and brownies that will keep you coming back year after year.
Martham Ferry Day Boat Hire
It would be rude to not spend a lazy morning exploring the Norfolk Broads if you’re holidaying in Norfolk.
With too many boat operators around the Broads to choose from we’re making it easy and recommending this friendly independently-run boat hire team.
Within minutes of arriving, we’re kitted up, briefed on water safety and the rules of navigation. Our guide talked us through the map and destinations to head for before giving us a demonstration of how to operate the electric boat.
The relaxed but professional briefing set us at ease as we set off towards Horsey, navigating our way round the winding waterways of the Norfolk Broads National Park.
Mooring up to visit the windmill in Hornsey was made more fun by the panic on my wife’s face as we tied up the vessel.
Time for a quick cuppa, a look around and then it was time to head back.
You could spend hours on the Broads, spotting wildlife, enjoying the stunning scenery and avoiding the odd sailing yacht on the way. It’s the most relaxed I’ve been in years.
Filby Bridge Restaurant
We ended our stay with a final stop off at picturesque Filby Bridge Restaurant.
With a stunning view across Filby amd Little Ormesby Broad, the family-run business offers unrivalled quality, with affordable prices, set in a stunning location.
Dining on Sunday, we all opted for the roast dinner and we were not disappointed with large servings, huge Yorkshire puddings and delicious desserts to choose from.
My wife and I had the lamb and my daughter chose roast beef. The restaurant was busy when we arrived but service was organised and the staff interacted with customers in a friendly and welcoming manner. I recommend the Eton Mess for those who have room for dessert after the main course.
The restaurant caters for all tastes and the al a carte menu had a great selection of meals.
Tony, who served us, talked passionately about the Broads and the business that has been run by his family for several decades. “You can look out of this window every day and every day it’s different. It’s such a beautiful part of the country and we’re so lucky to have this view every day we come to work,” he said.
It was the perfect way to top of a fantastic visit.