Summer holidays offer the chance to recharge our batteries, spend quality time as a family and soak up some much-needed sun. Eastlife brings you some of the best attractions around the region that are worth the visit.
This reconstructed Castle and Norman Village offers the chance to experience Norman England life as it was in 1066. The village behind the castle walls is complete with costumed characters, knights, and animals. Visit the extraordinary House on the Hill Toy Museum, packed with some 80,000 toys, a rock and roll exhibition, and a dinosaur park. Stansted, Essex CM24 8SP 01279 813237. www.mountfitchetcastle.com
This award-winning treetop forest adventure is set in the heart of Britain’s largest lowland pine forest. Go Ape’s first ever course is centred on 30 miles of trails from which to explore 50,000 acres of forest. The mother of all courses features the longest crossing, some 26 metres from platform-to-platform. For younger children, there is a treetop junior outdoor adventure course. And for visitors looking to take a scenic journey through the forest, forest Segway exploration is available. High Lodge Forest Centre, Thetford. www.goape.co.uk
Adventure Island is a fabulous theme park with a great choice of rides for all age groups, from the Sky Drop and Rage, to traditional favourites like the Big Wheel, Crooked House and Helter Skelter. There are plenty of places to eat and drink – plus, it’s right at the heart of Southend’s attractions! Western Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea. 01702 443400. www.adventureland.co.uk.
This award-winning park is East Anglia’s largest family leisure park. With over 50 acres of attractions, the thrills include adrenaline-fuelled rides for the very brave – such as the 120-foot tall, 50 mph twisty rollercoaster ride “wipeout’ – family rides, water rides, karts and miniature railways, and rides for younger children.
Rides added just last year are the Jolly Roger – a 40 metre drop tower, The Lighthouse, Pleasurewood Pony Rail, Laser Labyrinth, and an Illusionist Magic Show. Two new rides are planned to open later this year: The Woody’s Tea Party tea cup ride and the Moby Dick. Corton, Lowestoft 01502 586000
MANNING’S AMUSEMENT PARK
Manning’s offers a host of seaside amusements with arcade games, children’s funfair rides – from mini Waltzers to giant bouncy castles, swing boats and funny mirrors – indoor crazy gold, a Jackpot casino, a bar and grill, and plenty of snack stops. Manning’s was openend in 1933 by Sir Billy Butlin and has been run by the Manning family since 1946. Popular too is the year-round Sunday market and regular craft and farmers’ markets on Saturdays. Look out for their Carnival Party on 18 August. Sea Road, Felixstowe, 01394 282370. www.manningsamusements.co.uk.
The Pleasure Beach, with its mixture of high-octane rides and traditional attractions, sits at the top of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile dominating the seafront skyline with its famous Skydrop. Spread over nine acres, it offers huge family fun, full-throttle white knuckle rides to exhilarate and thrill, water attractions to catch your breath and fun rides to keep the children happy for hours. South Beach Parade, Great Yarmouth. 01493 844585. www.pleasure-beach.co.uk.
This zoo is one of Europe’s finest, with over 250 species in 60 acres of beautiful parkland. Enclosures include Orang-utan Forest, Penguin Shore, Playa Patagonia, Dragons of Komodo, and Tiger Taiga – which houses the rare Amur Tiger. Plus, Colchester Zoo also has an African zone where you can see elephants, giraffes, zebra, and rhinos. Kids will love the daily shows! Maldon Road, Stanway, Colchester, Essex CO3 0SL. 01206 331292. www.colchester-zoo.com
HUNSTANTON SEA LIFE
Visit the Shark Lagoon and watch in awe as, while you walk through the underwater tunnel, they glide all around you. Other highlights include an incredible otter sanctuary, penguin sanctuary and a whole host of other incredible marine creatures. Southern Promenade Hunstanton, Norfolk PE36 5BH 01485 533576. www.sealsanctuary.co.uk
REDWINGS HORSE SANCTUARY
Redwings is the UKs largest horse sanctuary, caring for over 1,300 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules every day. At any of Redwings’ three locations, visitors can meet some of the rescued residents and find out more about Redwings’ work, first-hand. A visit to Redwings Horse Sanctuary is a memorable day out. Caldecott Hall, situated on the A143 between Great Yarmouth and Beccles NR31 9EY. 0870 040 0033.
This wonderful zoo is home to a wide range of animals from Tropical South America including jaguars, otters, spider monkeys, birds of prey, parrots and flamingos. All animals have arrived through the generosity of other British Zoological gardens; none are imported from the wild. The Zoo is open daily, and along with a lovely array of animals, there is a gift shop and a café. Amazona Zoo. Hall Rodd, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9JG. 01263 510 741.
THRIGBY HALL WILDLIFE GARDENS
You’ll find a renowned collection of Asian mammals, birds and reptiles in the pleasantly landscaped grounds and gardens of Thrigby Hall. These include snow leopards, rare tigers, gibbons, deer otters, crocodiles, and more. Filby Road, Thrigby, Great Yarmouth NR29 3DR. 01493 369477
Experience the plains of Africa – an awe-inspiring presentation of the African Savannah, where the animals roam freely together as they do in the wild. Get up close and personal with the rhinos, giraffes and zebras; climb aboard the road train; encounter the King of the Jungle and enjoy a stunning birds’ eye view of the lions’ domain from the Lookout Lodge. Whites Lane, Lowestoft NR33 7TF. 01502 740291.
WOBURN SAFARI PARK
You’ll need to devote a whole day to take in everything at Woburn. Drive through the Bedfordshire safari park with many, many species of animals in natural groups: rhinos, giraffes, lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, and much, much more, plus the action-packed Wild World Leisure area. Woburn Safari Park really is a jewel in the East Anglian crown, and well worth a visit! Woburn Park, Crawley Road, Milton Keynes, Bedford MK17 9QN, 01525 290407.