There is arguably nowhere in Suffolk that offers a better family day out than Southwold: this charming seaside town is as picturesque and quintessentially English as they come. The famous 18th century lighthouse sits in the centre of a cosy collection of shops, pubs, restaurant and houses. Looking out across a breathtaking coastline it has guided vessels into Southwold Harbour for well over 100 years.
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The harbour itself is home to a boatyard, chandlery, brokerage and the award winning Harbour Cafe. Nestled directly on the banks of the River Blyth the cafe alone is reason enough to pay Southwold a visit. Open every day between 8am and 4pm this eatery bakes fresh scones, cakes and offers a decent list of specials. It’s your choice of a light bite or lunch by the river as soups, quiche and salads are joined by more hearty favourites such lasagne and jacket potatoes. They have a great policy of supporting local producers too so it’s the ideal place to get a taste of real Suffolk.
The relaxed, informal building couldn’t be anymore fitting to its riverside location as oil lanterns and vintage life-rings hang from wooden beams that curve across the roof to give the impression of being inside a gigantic upturned boat. The outside area is perfect for catching a bit of rest-bite and refreshment with ice creams and chilled drinks in the summer sun whilst during those colder winter months there is nothing more comforting than warming up indoors with a decent coffee and cake by the roaring log-burner.
If a good beer is more appealing than a mug of tea then the famous Adnams brewery is right around the corner. This is one of the most respected independent beer companies in the world and a jewel in the crown of Suffolk’s proud brewing tradition. Take a tour of the building, learn the production process and visit the Adnams store to take something home with you… considering the town’s iconic lighthouse makes up the logo for its signature ale, a bottle of Adnams Southwold may be the only memento needed to remember your trip.
Southwold lies 30 minutes from from some award winning floating accommodation: The Onderneming and Twee Gebroeders. Both vessels are late 1800s sailing barges, the former is moored on the river Alde whilst the latter can be found on the Deben. Proudly combining ‘luxury with an open, dog-friendly approach’, both boats sleep up to 4 and flawlessly blend historic touches with 21st century comfort. If dry land is more your thing then head to Woodfarm Barns. This gorgeous dog-friendly accommodation is made up of a collection of six cottages and an exquisitely maintained 500 year old farm house. All three options are perfect for families and friends staying in Suffolk who want their holiday to live and breath what makes this county so special.
RSPB Minsmere is a fabulous popular destination for twitchers and non-twitchers alike
There’s tons to see (and hear) with stunning coastal scenes accompanied by rare birds breeding and calling in on their annual migrations. There are also otters to be seen in the reedbeds if you look carefully and a plethora of wild flowers and plants
It’s a great place all year round and the visitors centre is free, with helpful staff and volunteers. They also have a great little RSPB shop and café, serving teas and light meals using locally sourced ingredients. There’s also their Discovery Centre and Wild Zone for families, and they have guided walks throughout the year
The Thorpeness Emporium sits within the heart of village; it is a vintage, antiques, and collectibles market comprising many stalls, tables and cabinets. They have an ever-changing selection which has been collected together by over 30 traders.
Many treasures to be found include a lovely selection of jewellery and accessories, homewares and furniture, pictures and prints, clothes, ornaments, glassware, collectibles and so much more!
The Thorpeness Emporium is easily accessible and situated on one level, it is staffed by friendly traders, and is open 7 days a week.
Next door to the emporium is The Kitchen@Thorpeness, the perfect place to grab a light lunch, cake, cream tea or hot drink.
An impressive 16th century stately home in the village of Long Melford in Suffolk
Historically it’s the ancestral seat of the Parker Baronets. All I know is, we go there a lot and it’s a huge hit with our guests here at Woodfarm
It’s also now the home of the annual Leestock Music Festival, of which we are a corporate sponsor and I have also played at, in 2013 & 2014, with my band Elephant in the Room with my musician’s hat on!
Steeped in history, much of which can be found on the National Trust website or Wikipedia!
A beautiful 16th century moated, Grade 1 listed Hall in the heart of Suffolk. It’s still a family home and is set in 10 acres of magnificent gardens in the tranquil Suffolk countryside
Although a prviate residence they welcome bookings for tours of the Hall and Gardens throughout the year. There’s a ‘check availability’ link on their website so you can see if your preferred date is available. The Gardens and their popular Cafe are also open on a Wednesday from May to September
PLEASE do not visit without making an appointment!
A social enterprise sharing the history of life in East Anglia through historic buildings, collections and landscape
This is largely done through active participation and education. It’s a fabulous place to have a look round and you’ll be amazed by the sheer size of it. It looks on the face of it just like a large Tourist Information centre next to Asda in Stowmarket. However, it’s a real ‘Tardis’ and opens up behind into acres of space in which to delve into the history of the area
Excellent farm shop and cafe’ right on the A12 so easy to get to for anyone visiting Suffolk’s Heritage Coast
The owner sources the best ingredients and strive to produce the best roadside food possible. It’s had high praise in many national newspapers including The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and many others. They use fresh, local produce, using over 100 local suppliers
Not only a great stop off for a cuppa or to pick up some food for supper, they also sell a range of gifts here too
You know what this is surely? It’s been all over the telly for years now. However, if you’ve never been you are in for a treat!
Superb farm shop, restaurant, butchery, clothes & gift shops and farm trail
Famous for being a mate of Jamie Oliver, Jimmy has built a phenomenal empire here, attracting hundreds of visitors to Suffolk every day
You must eat in the restaurant whilst you are there because a) It’s good and b) My nephew is one of the chefs!
Ickworth is a National Trust property; an amazing house set in 1800 acres of stunning woodland
The origins date back to 1253 with a timber house that no longer exists. What is here now is an impressive house dating back 100 years, with its centre-piece, the incredible ‘Rotunda’ providing an imposing sight as you approach
This in 2012 from our first of many visits;
We toured the house, starting in the basement, which is ‘staged’ as it would have originally been, with the finishing kitchens, the pump rooms and some of the servants’ quarters. It’s very life-like, giving us a real sense of how life was 100 years ago for the working classes
Fabulous Farm Shop, Farm Trail and Plant Centre in Mid Suffolk
I use to live round the corner and remember this place as a big old shed selling a small range of farm produce. It then grew organically (scuse the pun) into what it is today, which is a triumph of rural business development/ agricultural diversity
A brand spanking new, purpose built complex selling a range of local produce, including much of their own, as well as a huge range of other locally sourced products. The food is always of a superb quality and not overly priced at all!
They have a great little cafe’ / restaurant in there too, as well as a really interactive farm trail, which is a big hit with kids