Did you know that there are dog friendly Great Yarmouth attractions around every corner? Check out these fantastic pet friendly attractions, beaches and restaurants in and around Great Yarmouth. Some of them will definitely surprise you! We headed to Norfolk recently with our dog, Bubbles. In this post, you’ll find information about each place, links to find out more about it and our review of it as a dog and family friendly day out.
Dog friendly Great Yarmouth attractions
With so much to do in Great Yarmouth, we were extremely surprised at how many of the attractions allowed dogs in. I was particularly impressed that many places allow dogs to go indoors. This makes a rainy day in Great Yarmouth with a dog so much easier!
You can probably guess that Wellington Bowl is a ten-pin bowling centre. However, what its name doesn’t give away is the fact that there are so many other things to do there too. Visitors can eat in their café with a beautiful view out to the beach. Grab a game of pool in the games room or hit the 2p machines with the kids. There’s also a separate arcade just across the boardwalk on Wellington Pier that is part of the same complex. Better still, whatever you decide to do, dogs are welcome to go along with you.
Ten Pin Bowling
Our first stop was a game of ten-pin bowling. The dog was able to join us at the end of the lane and watch. We had the opportunity to have food whilst we were bowling, but we opted to just have a drink and extend our visit by eating in the restaurant afterwards. Nonetheless, a menu was brought over by the friendly and efficient staff and we chose our food. When we did make our way into the restaurant, it was just a few minutes before our dinner was ready.
Food and drink
Like the bowling lane, Bubbles was made to feel at home in the restaurant. Dog bowls are dotted around so there was plenty of water for her, which was a relief as it was an extremely hot day. That said, the temperature inside Wellington Bowl was very pleasant. The staff were keen to help when we discussed dietary requirements and intolerances. The menu is simple. Burgers, chips, hotdogs, scampi and nachos. The children and I all went for a veggie burger and my husband decided on the nachos. The food was all tasty and the girls were impressed with the soft drink selection. Alcoholic beverages are available as well.
Our thoughts on Wellington Bowl
Employees of Wellington Bowl were so friendly and welcoming to both us and the dog that we went back on several occasions during our stay. We only used the bowling alley once, but you can just go into the bar and grab a drink at any time. On a hot day, it was great to be able to sit indoors or outside in the shade with the dog and take time to relax. Even if you don’t fancy bowling, don’t overlook Wellington Bowl as a dog friendly Great Yarmouth attraction.
Merrivale Model Village
Merrivale Model Village is a predominantly outdoor attraction, although there is a lovely display of Royal Memorabilia inside. Dogs are welcome everywhere, including the crazy golf course, gift shop and old penny arcade. There is a traditional tearoom on site as well. Whilst we didn’t try this out, the menu looks lovely with a range of cakes.
The Model Village
Merrivale is one of the most interesting model villages we’ve visited because it has such a variety of things on display. Whilst it is based around a quaint little village, there are a few outliers that made us laugh. Alongside the church, hotel and fabulous model railway, there’s a replica of the Great Yarmouth ferris wheel and a rocket about to launch! We also loved the fish pond with giant coy carp that you can feed for a very reasonable 20p.
Don’t forget to check out the rather majestic Merrivale Castle, fairground and theatre. The sensory garden is easy to miss as it’s off to one side as you go around a corner. It’s worth looking out for though, as all the plants have a different, strong scent.
One of the first things you come to on arrival at Merrivale Model Village is the little crazy golf course. There is no extra cost to play golf, so grab a club (children’s and adults sizes available) and a ball each. There are nine holes to navigate, increasing in difficulty as you go around. We started off counting how many times we hit the ball, but in the end we gave up and just made our way around the course. I am terrible at crazy golf so I did find some of the holes a little tricky, but the rest of the family got on fine!
The Old Penny Arcade
As you exit the model village, head into the vintage Old Penny Arcade. Change some money into old pennies, then explore the fully working arcade machines. My husband and I don’t usually get involved with the arcade when the kids are playing on the 2p machines, but this time we couldn’t resist. I couldn’t believe how similar some of these old arcade machines are to the ones the children still play on today. There was a fun fortune teller and horse racing machines too. I highly recommend changing £1 and having a go.
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
Did you know that Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach was dog friendly? I had no idea and I’m so impressed that it is! We went to an evening session from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and Bubbles was able to walk around with us. It did mean that only two or three of us could go on rides at a time so someone could stay with Bubbles, but that didn’t matter at all. It is so rare to find a theme park style attraction that dogs are allowed to visit that we made the most of it.
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach rides and attractions
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach really does cater for the whole family with its rides and attractions. Very little ones have eight things to choose from. Even children under 0.9 metres tall can go into the 4D Cinema and Haunted Hotel as long as they are accompanied by an adult. On the same basis, little ones can ride the Bonanza Horses, Cups and Saucers, Gallopers, Snails, Monorail and Yo-Yo.
Children over 0.9 metres tall have even more choice and even the biggest height limit is only 1.3 metres. This meant that my extremely small 10 year old was able to go on everything. She experienced her first upside down ride (pendulum) and the girls were able to go on things together without an adult too.
If you’re visiting the Pleasure Beach, make sure you put aside time for both the wooden roller coaster and the log flume. Both are brilliant rides, the roller coaster really gets up some speed but children are able to ride it, so it’s a fun thing to do as a family. Don’t forget to head to the Pleasure Beach website to check out the other rides and attractions and decide which ones you want to go on.
Queues at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
We were extremely impressed with the queues at the Pleasure Beach. Here in the Midlands, we are used to theme parks like Alton Towers and Drayton Manor, where long queues are part of the experience. Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach is completely different. At any time, we were able to step straight onto most of the rides. The only one with a queue to speak of was the roller coaster, and that was around 10 minutes long. This meant that we got through nearly all the rides we wanted to do within the three hours we were in the park.
Other things you need to know about Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
- Entry costs: At the time of writing, it costs £15 for general entry and toddlers aged 2 and under go free.
- Ride costs: When you pay for an entry ticket to Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, all your rides and attractions are included. This makes it a much cheaper option than going to a fairground where you pay for each individual ride.
- Limited capacity: Whilst I think we were lucky to find hardly any queues at all during our visit, they do limit the number of people allowed in at any one time. When booking, you choose a time slot and when that time slot becomes full, nobody else will be allowed entry so it’s never too busy.
- Food and drink: Within the Pleasure Beach, there are four places to buy food and drink, one of which is a licensed pub. We actually didn’t buy any food and drink at all while we were there because Libby didn’t even allow us to draw breath between racing around the rides. With a three hour time slot, you might find you do the same as us and completely fail to grab refreshments. It’s worth making sure you have a bottle of water and some snacks for circumstances like these!
- Pleasure Beach Gardens: The Pleasure Beach Gardens are outside of the Pleasure Beach itself and are free to enter. There is a cost to use the attractions there. We loved the look of the upside down house but unfortunately completely ran out of time. You can find out more about the attractions in the gardens here.
Things to do near Great Yarmouth that are dog friendly
Hirsty’s Family Fun Park
Located just a 15 minute drive from Great Yarmouth is the popular Hirsty’s Family Fun Park in Hemsby. In contrast to the theme park atmosphere of the Pleasure Beach, Hirsty’s Family Fun Park is full of traditional, low-tech family fun. The main attraction is the maize maze and there are plenty of other things to keep children entertained too. Dogs are welcome in Hirsty’s Family Fun Park including in the maze. We did try to get Bubbles to help us navigate our way around the maze but I can confirm she was absolutely useless.
The Maize Maze at Hirsty’s is absolutely enormous. Rather than simply trying to find your way to the centre and then exit, you’ll be searching for treasure. Children are handed an activity sheet on entry to the park including a list of jewels to search for within the maze. When you find each one, there is a corresponding sticker with a letter on it. Make your way around the maze to collect the letters and try to make a word.
As the maze activity packs are aimed at children, there is an assumption that finding the treasure in the maze is going to be simple. This is not the case. We split up inside the maze into two groups – one adult and one child in one group and an adult, a child and a dog in the other. There were twelve jewels to find (I think). We found a total of about five between us, and we were in there for around an hour!
I would strongly advise not going in with the intention of finding everything you are looking for, and rather enjoying the maze and finding what you can. If you are determined to complete the activity sheet, put aside a full day at the family fun park because at least half of that will be spent in the maze!
Hirsty’s playground is brilliant, with everything from swings to trampolines to zip wires and hay bales to climb. We do sometimes find that a park can be a bit young for our girls these days as they are eight and ten years old now. However, this was not the case at Hirsty’s at all. Equally, I know if we had been there with my nephew who isn’t yet two, there would have been plenty for him to play on as well.
Other things to do at Hirsty’s Family Fun Park
Don’t miss the barrel ride, with a tractor pulling children behind it in a barrel train. The girls were extremely impressed with this, apparently it really does go quite quickly. It’s very messy though, all the children were coming off covered in dust! Not that any of them were complaining! Bouncy castles provide hours of fun for little ones too.
My girls spent ages on the pedal go-karts. These were brilliant, because there were two-seater karts as well as single ones. So, my husband and I both had a go too. Children are fine to pedal them alone though if you’d rather not get involved. The other things we all loved were the bouncy pillows. Adults are allowed to accompany children and we were lucky to arrive first thing in the morning and had one of the pillows to ourselves as a family for a little while.
Eating and drinking
If you’re planning on spending all day at Hirsty’s Family Fun Park, you’ll need some sustenance to keep you going. A café serves lunch, snacks and hot and cold drinks. They’re also really happy for you to bring your own picnic to enjoy while you’re there. Picnic benches are dotted around, which is great when it comes to lunchtime. They’re also ideally situated so parents can have a sit down while children enjoy the play areas.
Dog friendly Great Yarmouth: Where to eat
One thing we do sometimes struggle with when the dog comes out with us for the day is finding somewhere indoors to eat. Whilst it’s sometimes nice to sit outside, if there is a threat of rain or wasps hanging around, we always prefer to have the option of being inside. These two dog friendly Great Yarmouth eateries have no problem with your pet joining you indoors.
Conveniently located in Great Yarmouth with stunning beach views, Sara’s tearoom has one entrance from inside the Pleasure Beach Gardens and one from the beachfront promenade. I grabbed breakfast in there whilst the girls and my husband were seeing a show at the cinema and immediately fell in love with it. Here’s why.
Pets come first
On entering the café, customers make their way to the till to place food and drink orders. I joined the short queue and ordered my vegan breakfast and a coffee. Then, I spotted their rather fabulous looking “pupcakes” and had to treat Bubbles to one of those as well.
I went and sat down and within a few minutes, my coffee arrived. With it on the tray were a fresh bowl of water and a pupcake. Whilst my breakfast wasn’t quite ready, staff were kind enough to bring Bubbles’s treat out anyway, making sure she had her drink too. That’s my sort of café. Unsurprisingly, we all went back there for lunch the following day.
A homemade selection of specials and cakes creates a tasty, fresh menu. It’s always great to see some really lovely veggie and vegan options for both adults and kids. Other dietary requirements were well catered for too. I was particularly pleased to see the beer-battered halloumi and chips, one of my favourite dishes and this was the best one I’ve ever had. Served with a choice of garden or mushy peas and a delicious fresh salad, this was an absolute joy.
The girls were delighted with the kids’ menu too. It was the first time they’d ever seen a veggie cheeseburger anywhere and this was their ideal meal. My husband enjoyed his tuna jacket potato and we all had to try out the cakes, just to make sure they were as good as they looked. I can confirm that they were.
A central location over in Hemsby makes the Lacon Arms an ideal stop if you’re exploring the village. A traditional pub with loads of space both inside and out, the Lacon Arms boasts a children’s play area and dog friendly seating both indoors and outside.
Sometimes on holiday, I get to a point where I’m absolutely craving something healthy. I’d reached that point when we went to the Lacon Arms, so it was a real treat to spot their fresh salad bar. This was so well stocked that even the children filled their plates with salad and polished it off.
The Lacon Arms has a great selection of burgers including the veggie burger that I went for, consisting of two huge battered mushrooms. It was served with delicious, thick-cut chips, corn on the cob and fresh coleslaw. My husband went for the king prawn linguini. He is quite fussy about where he has sea food and being located right next to the sea, the Lacon Arms fish options appealed to him. He absolutely raved about it, apparently it was delicious and extremely fresh.
The girls were impressed with the children’s menu, and so was I. Veggie options included mac and cheese, tomato pasta, tomato and aubergine curry and halloumi sticks and chips. They love halloumi just as much as me, so they didn’t hesitate to order the halloumi sticks and chips, both opting to have some fresh cucumber sticks with it. The children’s meals are a good size, both girls managed to finish them but they had plenty, especially as they had a plate of salad from the salad bar too.
As you would expect from a tasty menu like this, the desserts turned our heads too. Libby went for a donut sundae from the kids’ menu, whereas Lia was determined to have a grown-up pudding involving raspberry and dark chocolate. My husband sampled the lemon tart. They were all extremely tasty and I regretted being too full to have one!
The restaurant itself is light and pleasant with plenty of waiting staff on hand. All of our food was extremely quick to arrive, but the girls still found time to make good use of the children’s playground outside. For a small place, it had a good balance of things for younger children whilst there was still plenty for older ones to play on too. They spent most of the time bombing across the monkey bars at top speed. Which did give us the opportunity to enjoy a quiet drink.
Dog friendly Great Yarmouth beaches
Great Yarmouth beach itself is beautiful, with miles of white sand. Sadly, the busiest part of the beach is not dog friendly during the summer months. Whilst this is a shame, it is understandable, particularly with donkey rides along the beach and lots of very young children around. Dogs can go on Great Yarmouth Beach either side of Wellington and Britannia Piers in the summer, with the middle stretch being strictly no-dogs. You can however walk them all the way along the promenade.
Nearby Gorleston-on-Sea is another popular beach that also has restrictions on pets in the summer months. Dogs are not allowed from the Yacht Pond to the Ravine. The rest of the beach is open to dogs all year round. Fortunately, there are plenty of dog friendly beaches around the area. Ideal for our little beach dog. You can find a list of beaches that accept dogs here. Be aware that some of them do have restrictions at different times of year.
Having checked out the list of dog friendly Great Yarmouth beaches, we decided to head to Horsey Gap. The thing that appealed to us about the beach was that it’s possible to see the seals there in the summer. During Winter months, dogs are not allowed on the beach, but neither are humans. Instead, volunteers make sure everyone stays away so that seals and their pups won’t be disturbed.
When visiting in the summer months, the chances are you’ll catch sight of at least a few seals. We were extremely surprised that the seals merrily bob about in the sea, often coming relatively near to swimmers and paddle boarders. I wouldn’t for a moment advocate going too close to a seal, but in Horsey, they do make their way over to have a look at you. This was an incredible experience that we will all remember for many years to come.
The beach itself boasts miles of soft sand. It doesn’t get too busy as it’s such a long beach and everyone manages to spread out quite well. You can follow the coastal path all the way around to Winterton-on-Sea. At Horsey Gap, there is plenty of parking, at a cost of £3 for two hours or £5 all day during the summer months. However, there are no toilet facilities so if you intend to stay for a long time, you might want to consider parking up in Winterton instead. You’ll find the toilets at the end of Beach Road. If you intend to visit any of these beaches, there are signs up everywhere asking people not to use ring-style frisbees, which can get stuck over seals necks, causing injury and even death.
Other dog friendly Great Yarmouth options
Whilst the above are my recommendations for a Great Yarmouth dog friendly adventure, there are other things you might want to visit too. The below ideas can point you in the right direction, but please do research each place before making a booking.
Where to stay
We usually travel in our camper van, so I can’t offer a review of a dog friendly hotel. However, a quick Google tells me that the Imperial Hotel is happy to welcome pets and I’m sure there are other local hotels that will accept four legged friends too.
We stayed at the Breydon Water Holiday Park, which is very pet friendly. They accept tents, caravans, motor homes and camper vans. We stayed in our camper van and there was plenty of space for our large Olpro Cocoon Breeze awning. There are also loads of static caravans that guests can stay in too. The touring area of the site was fine, although the toilets could have been cleaned a little more frequently. A play park, swimming pool and arcade kept the children entertained and the restaurant served decent food and both alcoholic and soft drinks. The holiday park is about 20 minutes from Great Yarmouth so it makes a nice base for exploring the area.
Other dog friendly Great Yarmouth attractions
If you’re spending the day in Great Yarmouth, it is worthy of note that you can take dogs on Britannia Pier. The pier boasts a theatre, bars, rides and attractions. Dogs do need to be kept on a lead as there’s quite a lot going on in the area, but it’s a good place to pass an hour or two.
If you are interested in visiting historic sites in the area, head to Burgh Castle, an English Heritage owned, ruined Roman fort with three surviving stone walls. It’s free to stroll around and there are some lovely dog walks from the site. Follow the footpath down the hill and to the left to walk to the Fisherman’s Inn. It’s a beautiful walk at sunset. From there, you’ll see Berney Arms Windmill. This is another English Heritage site that welcomes dogs in its grounds, although they are not allowed in the mill itself. At the time of writing, the windmill is closed for refurbishment.
The other local English Heritage site that is dog friendly is Caister Roman Fort. This is a ruined Saxon shore fort, with ditch and wall sections in tact. Dogs on leads are welcome to visit.