Wet weather plan: how to keep kids entertained on rainy days
Let’s face it, Norfolk isn’t always going to be sunshine and blue skies. Luckily there’s plenty to do indoors to ensure showers don’t stop play
Little ones will go wild for Pensthorpe whatever the weather. The 700-acre natural park encompasses four gardens and a nature reserve, all of which teem with flora and fauna. Alongside the trails and bird hides, you can hop aboard the Pensthorpe Explorer and go off-road, try your hand at pond-dipping and meet the resident flock of flamingos. The playground WildRootz is brilliant, so too the indoor area Hootz House with its rope bridges, snaking slides and treetop towers. Parents will be delighted to hear that the café is excellent.
Pensthorpe Natural Park, Pensthorpe Road, Fakenham, NR21 OLN; pensthorpe.com
Glandford Shell Museum
It’s not often you come across a museum entirely devoted to shells, but in the tiny village of Glandford you’ll find just that. Indeed, it’s the oldest purpose-built museum in Norfolk and houses the finest seashell collection in the UK. Amongst the exquisite, delicately hued seashells on display, there’s an array of unusual artefacts including jewels, pottery, local archaeological finds and more (can you spot the sugar bowl once used by Queen Elizabeth I?). Afterwards, head to the nearby Art Café – a vegetarian and vegan restaurant – for a cup of locally roasted coffee and slice of cake.
The Shell Museum, Church House, Glandford, NR25 7JR; shellmuseum.org.uk
Sea Life Centre Hunstanton
Discover an amazing underwater world at Sea Life Hunstanton. Marvel at the Ocean Tunnel which holds a staggering 187,500 litres of natural seawater and is home to a kaleidoscope of fish, rays and sharks plus, of course, Ernie the Green Sea Turtle. Meet the Rainforest Rangers who’ll introduce you to creepy crawlies and critters, visit the seals in Norfolk’s only seal sanctuary that’s open to visitors, get up close to piranhas in the Amazon zone and no visit would be complete without hanging out with the Humboldt Penguins on Penguin Beach.
Sea Life Hunstanton, Seagate Road, Hunstanton PE38 5BH; visitsealife.com
Wells Maltings threw open its doors in 2018, following an impressive £5million transformation from historic building to thriving arts hub. The multi-faceted venue has everything you could need for a rainy day: there’s a state-of-the-art theatre/cinema, a heritage centre, modern art gallery and a café-bar. The packed events programme, which caters to all ages, could include anything from film screenings and theatrical performances to live music, drama, poetry, exhibitions, classes, talks, workshops… (Little tip: there’s an ice cream parlour called Swirl just up the road for post-culture treats).
The Maltings, Staithe Street, Wells-next-the-Sea, NR23 1AU; wellsmaltings.org.uk
Thursford is home to the world’s largest collection of steam engines and organs and you can listen to theatre organist Robert Wolfe play the mighty Wurlitzer daily. We suspect, however, that little ones will be more excited about the fairground carousels, not least the beautiful Venetian gondola ride. If you’re in Norfolk during the festive period, Thursford becomes a whirl of rhinestones and feathers for the annual Christmas Spectacular, an extravaganza of non-stop singing, dancing, music, humour and variety. Kids will also adore Santa’s Magical Journey, which takes them through fantastical lands to the great man himself.
Thursford Collection, Thursford, NR21 0AS; thursford.com
Muckleburgh Military Collection
For a lesson in military history, quick march it to the Muckleburgh Military Collection, which is on the former Royal Artillery Anti-Aircraft training camp at Weybourne. It’s Norfolk’s largest working museum of military vehicles, with tanks, guns, weapons, armoured cars and ships galore. There’s also a museum full of archival material and a quiz for kids to bring it all to life. If you’re lucky, you might see some of the vehicles in action, with tank demonstrations and military lorry rides and, should you feel the urge, you can even book to drive one of the tanks yourself.
Muckleburgh Military Collection, The Street, Weybourne, NR25 7EH; muckleburgh.co.uk
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway
Hop aboard the miniature Wells & Walsingham Light Railway as it steams its way between the seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea and the village of Walsingham. If you get on at Wells, make time to visit the Signal Box Café before embarking on the half hour journey, which will take you through pretty countryside, under bridges, past a hill fort and through a real ghost platform. Do keep an eye on the website, as they do excellent themed journeys at certain times of the year – the Easter and Halloween rides deserve a special mention.
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, Stiffkey Road, Wells-next-the-Sea, NR23 1QB; wwlr.co.uk
Now you have plans for the children arranged take a look at our luxury Norfolk holiday cottages to find your perfect family getaway.