This page is all about activities and places which seem particularly likely to be of interest to children under 10s (or so!). Of course, many of the other pages in the “See and do” section of this website also have ideas suitable for youngsters, and many of the attractions mentioned there offer facilities aimed to enhance their enjoyment for children, but this page looks at venues which place emphasis on keeping the younger ones and toddlers amused.
If fact, there’s so much for the whole family to do in Norfolk whilst staying at White Lodge Farm Cottages we’ve endeavoured to include only activities within an hour or so’s drive and have focused mainly on those attractions which are open all year (but please check opening times and dates!).
Just a few minutes down the road from White Lodge Farm is Melsop Farm Park, with farm animals, including rare breeds, and the occasional reindeer (in season!), well-used to being petted by children (and for wet days or should the youngsters tire of the birds and animals there's also a ball play area and adventure park). Open daily March to October and weekends and school holidays otherwise.
Bewilderwood is 50 acres of wild, imaginative outdoor treehouse adventure park with zip wires, jungle bridges, Crocklebogs, boat trips, marsh walks and organic food. Beyond that, it’s difficult to describe Bewilderwood as there’s nothing else quite like it anywhere else. One not be missed if you want to fire your childrens’ imagination (just have a look at their website!). Open Spring, Summer and Autumn and on certain days across the Winter. In March 2009 the attraction won a THEA as the best small theme park in the world!
Children never seem to tire of a trip to the Dinosaur Adventure Park, which, in addition to a dinosaur trail through woodland peppered with large but extinct mammals, offers a deer park, a large adventure play area with a ‘walk-in’ dinosaur, and a petting zoo. Fortunately, the petting zoo is largely populated with domesticated animals which are far from extinct. There’s also a large picnic area. Open daily except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The Dinosaur Adventure Park is now being dubbed as one of the “big three”, having recently been brought into the same ownership as Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! and special prices are available to those visiting all three.
Whatever you view on zoos, it cannot be overlooked that go-ahead zoos like Banham Zoo have an important role to play in both education and conservation. Banham Zoo is set amongst 35 acres of beautiful and well-maintained parkland and gardens offering the opportunity to observe almost 1,000 animals ranging from big cats to birds of prey and siamangs to shire horses and, suffolk punch, Britain’s oldest and rarest breed of horse (rarer, in fact, than the giant panda!). There’s also an adventure play area and daily animal feeding talks with the tigers, cheetahs, fur seals and penguins. The zoo is open daily, except Christmas Day.
For something a little different Planet Ice in Norwich has a rink for up to 450 skaters, offering two hour sessions throughout most days. It’s generally ‘pay and skate’ and for beginners there are double bladed strap on bob skates and skates are available in children’s sizes 8 to 12, up to adult size 12!
Working horses can also be seen at Gressenhall Farm which is run as a traditional 1920s farm with rare breed animals and horses working the fields. Set in 50 acres of beautiful countryside, the farm adjoins a work house, which between 1777 and 1948 provided food, lodgings and work for ill or destitute people from the local parishes.
Now a museum with a strong emphasis on education, there are special event days and every school holiday there's a whole range of family activities. This year, for example, there's Victorian cookery in the farmhouse, in the summer there”s hunting for mini-beasts in the river and the opportunity to make crafty souvenirs of your day in the walled garden. Open mid-March to end October and part of Christmas school holidays.
With miniature and full size railways and a merry-go-round, there”s loads to do at Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens and plenty of room for the children to let off steam! This one is also a favourite with the adults, some of whom may choose to look around the gardens created by the late Alan Bloom, whilst the other members of the family enjoy the extensive collections in the steam mueseum. For the best value for money consider one of the tickets which include the narrow gauge railways and gallopers rides. Open mid-March to October. Family tickets are available.
Norwich Castle Museum has something for all ages, but the young are especially catered for with many fascinating interactive exhibits. If you think muesuems are still stuffy with people whispering take your youngsters into the massive Norman Castle Keep! Here, Norman and Roman exhibits rub shoulders with touch screens and computer animation. A good venue for a wet day. Open daily except Christmas (3 days) and New Year’s Day.
Aimed principally at the younger visitor, whilst Pleasurewood Hills has six thrill rides, it also has over twenty family rides and activities including a miniature railway, racing karts and dodgems. Inevitably, there are minimum height requirements for children for some rides. Open school holidays and weekends from April to September and October half term.
How about having a go at ten-pin bowling? Number Ten is a modern facility with 30 lanes. Just by the Royal Norfolk Showground, it’s a 20 minute drive from White Lodge Farm. Strikes in Dereham is also very child-friendly with family bowling tickets, a kids' club and children's play area. Open daily except Christmas Day and, in Brandon, there’s Mr G's Bowling Centre with 8 lanes.
If you fancy a swim whilst staying at White Lodge Farm Cottages and don”t fancy the North Sea, there are private pools within 15 minutes’ drive, all offering day membership and well-appointed public pools. For more information see our page of swimming ideas.
For children looking for less sophisticated entertainment close at hand, there’s always the well-equipped children’s playground in Hingham, in Poringland the play barn, with indoor activities all year round for those aged 7 and under and, from Easter to October, outdoor activities include pony rides, tractor rides and visits to the farm animals. Open daily, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
A little further afield, in North Walsham there’s Run Wild. And you could always go cycling as a family along the lanes surrounding White Lodge Farm. Then there’s the old favourites like the coast and the Broads, each of which have a page in their own right.
Guests say ...
“The Dinosaur Park was fantastic. All dinosaur activities were great.”
“Banham Zoo is a great way to spend a showery day. Good soft indoor play area for under fives.
Check out feeding times as you arrive.”
“Melsop Farm Park: Friendly, unfussy but fun farm. Lots of animals, chance to hold animals, feed them
and also good play areas -inside and outside. Joseph (aged 2) loved the reindeer.”
“If you have children under 5 a day”s visit to Bewilderwood is a godsend. Very reasonable - everything is laid on - the kids
will have a ball!”
“Banham Zoo: Great good day out - allow a full day. Lots of different animals/birds to see.
What makes it great is the lack of people. You can sometimes feel like you”re the only people there.
Rated 10/10 by Samuel (aged 2).”
“Gressenhall is close by and Joe (2 years) would have played on the climbing frame/swings for hours.”
“The Dinosaur Park, Banham Zoo and Southwold (1 hour’s drive) are all great places to visit with children.”
“Would recommend Dinosaur [Adventure Park] and Bewilderwood. They are A* for kids and ‘Big Kids’.”
“Thetford Forest - High Lodge: The perfect place for a picnic, cycle hire and ramble around the woods. Great facilities for families.”
“Our five year old and 2 and a half year old really loved Banham Zoo and Africa Alive.”
“A fabulous local zoo [Banham Zoo] and well presented. Our 28 month old son loved everything about it.”
“The Dinosaur Adventure Park was fantastic value for money. Lots to do and fun for all ages.”
“Melsop Farm Park is great for little ones. Got up close and personal with all kinds of animals
in a really nice setting - and just down the road.”
“Thursford is toddler heaven! Dancing along with the barrel organs and Wurlitzer organ. Carousel and gondola rides.”
“Thetford Forest - High Lodge: Another good day out - nice visitors&rsquo centre/cafe. Great adventrure playground and plenty
of walking to enable little people to go to be early.”
“We had a great time at the beach - the sand was so soft. I collected lots of shells and stones.”
“Bewilderwood is a very natural and tasteful place - a bit unique and very relaxing.”
“[Gressenhall Workhouse and Farm] is a very good place to visit - entertaining as well as instructional.”