What To Do On A Family Day Out In Great Yarmouth

There is so much to do on Great Yarmouth seafront that it’s impossible to do it all in a day, but supposing that’s all you have what is worth focusing on? Here is how we spent our family day out in Great Yarmouth recently (contains reference to gifted experiences which are linked to).

a close up of a toddler eating a stick of pink rock with a great yarmouth label on it
Great Yarmouth is great for a fun family day out


A Fun Packed Day Out With Children In Great Yarmouth


When to visit Great Yarmouth

As a traditional English seaside town Great Yarmouth is at it’s best in the summer months. Yes you can get crowds, but it’s also when everything is open. Between October half term and Easter it can be very quiet with lots of attractions and restaurants closed, even on term time weekdays in Spring and Autumn much can be closed. As much as I would love to support the town all year round, to see Great Yarmouth at it’s best I would recommend visiting in July or August, or a weekend in May, June, September or October. The beach is obviously open all year round, but if there are any attractions you particularly want to see and you are visiting when it's not summer check they are open before you travel.


Arriving in Great Yarmouth 

You can get the train to Great Yarmouth from Norwich, but unless you are staying at one of the many holiday resorts nearby the most popular way to arrive is by car.  There are plenty of car parks and pay and display parking, but check the side roads for free parking too as there is some available and the short stay car parks can be expensive. The street meters are cheaper than most of the sea front car parks which can cost over £20 for the day. More reasonable private car parks are dotted around too.

Most of the attractions aimed at tourists are along the road which runs parallel to the beach (Marine Parade running to South Beach Parade) and between this road and the beach. Further in land there are also shops and restaurants, but the main reason to visit Great Yarmouth is to embrace the full on tackiness and fun that you can have by the beach. From fairground rides to crazy golf, trampolining to a model village and fresh doughnuts to hot chips, a day out is a lot of fun.


Brunch

While the beach is always open even in summer much of the entertainment doesn’t open early so we had a lazy start to the day with a full english breakfast at Sara’s Tearooms which is open from 10am in peak season.


A close up of a cooked English breakfast from Sara's Tearooms in Great Yarmouth it includes baked beans, hashbrown, bacon, sausages, tomato and egg
Starting our day with a hearty brunch


Amusements and Fairground Rides

There are amusement arcades and fairground rides along the seafront and beach which are a lot of fun, but the cost can quickly add up so budget accordingly, go karts for instance costs £3 ago and crazy golf can cost around £8 per person. As well as the individual rides there are two "amusement parks": Joyland aimed primarily at children to the North, and the Pleasure Beach suitable for families to the South. Joyland rides require tokens (1 token per person costing £1.50 each although discounts apply on bulk purchase) whereas The Pleasure Beach is currently operating wristband entry costing £13.50 per person (under 3s are free). If you have young children who just want to go on a couple of small rides then Joyland may be best, but I love the Pleasure Beach for the large number of rides suitable for all the family (except babies, particularly old people and people who shouldn’t go on rides).

Both amusement parks are limiting the number of people, Joyland are doing this with a queuing system to go in and the Pleasure Beach with prebooked sessions. I found Joyland a little cramped and busy inside when we visited pre-Covid where as at the Pleasure Beach the rides are more spaced out. 


A close up of a hand holding some orange Joyland ride tokens
Joyland has rides for younger children and requires purchase of tokens

a waltzer at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach with lights and blurred people moving quickly
The Pleasure Beach has thrill rides for all the family and requires prebooking wristbands


SEA LIFE Centre

SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth is one of the attractions that is normally open all year round. It’s pretty similar to most of the other SEA LIFE aquariums around the country (with the exception of Weymouth and London which are bigger) and it’s a lovely place to walk around.


A family looking into a rock pool at SEA LIFE centre in Great Yarmouth and a member of staff wearing a mask on the other side
SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth is open all year round, but time slots for visits must be prebooked


The Beach

Great Yarmouth beach is a bit of a mixed bag with lots of sand and quite a few stones too. The good news is that with the tourist attractions spread along the seafront for some distance (“The Golden Mile”) you should easily find space to relax on the beach even on the busiest days. There are Lifeguards on duty in July and August so head to the flagged area if you want to swim. This isn’t really one of the Norfolk beaches people flock to for a day on the sand, but my children happily spent a couple of hours on it after a busy day on the rides and the SEA LIFE centre.

A sign put up by the Lifeguards on Great Yarmouth beach showing information about the day, weather and tide
There is plenty of beach to run around on at Great Yarmouth

Treats and sweets

There is a huge range of places to buy all the normal seaside fare including rock, candy floss, ice creams, fish and chips.


Other activities of note in Great Yarmouth

Merrivale Model village
The Hippodrome Circus
The Racecourse
Horse and carriage rides
Time and Tide Museum
Jurassic Journey - dinosaur themed walk around attraction


The Future Of Great Yarmouth

Despite visiting in peak season there were numerous signs of closures from pandemic hit businesses in an already struggling town. I haven’t visited the shopping centre or main areas of the town, but driving to the seafront I could see plenty of evidence of deprivation in a town which is never going to see the level of visitors that it did in it’s heyday. The future is looking up for Great Yarmouth though and there has been a lot of investment recently. A new Marina Centre complex is due to open in 2022 which will include a large swimming pool complete with log flumes. The faded beauty of the glass Winter Gardens has also received a lottery grant to help restore it, reopening in 2026 as a heritage, arts and education venue. 

A view from Marine Parade to the Winter Garden in Great Yarmouth which is a bit like a large metal and glass greenhouse, photo taken in 2018
The Winter Garden is just one of the projects to receive funding recently to bring it back to life


Some people may think it’s a bit cheesy and dated, but I fully recommending embracing the tackiness because Great Yarmouth is an awesome place for a family day out or weekend away.

Norfolk with Children : A day trip to Great Yarmouth


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