Wellington Bowl on Great Yarmouth Promenade viewed from the front outside with tall white towers either side and green facade and glass front

Indoor Activities Great Yarmouth [AD]

Great Yarmouth is one of the UK’s favourite tourist destinations. There really is something for everyone here, making it the ideal choice for a family holiday. Whether you’re visiting with children, as an adult only group or with a dog, the one thing we can’t control is the weather. For days when rain stops play or the sun leaves you running for shade, check out the best indoor activities Great Yarmouth has to offer. I’ve made a note of which of the attractions welcome dogs and you can also check out my post about dog friendly Great Yarmouth.

Indoor Activities Great Yarmouth: Theatre and Cinema

Heading to the theatre or cinema is always one of our go-to indoor activities. It’s such a great way to completely relax and switch off. Despite that, it’s not something I’ve ever really thought of doing on holiday. But since visiting the Hippodrome Circus and Arc Cinema in Great Yarmouth, I’m a convert. We visited on the hottest week of the year and the heat was getting a bit much. A few hours inside a cool building made all the difference and we came out ready to face the rest of the day.

Hippodrome Circus

If you’re not aware of Great Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus, then you are missing out on something really special. There really is nothing else like it in the UK or elsewhere in the world. The building itself is the only remaining dedicated circus building in the world. On entering the building, its vintage feel is like taking a step back in time. Surprisingly enough though, that’s not what makes the place special.

Outside of Hippodrome Circus indoor attraction Great Yarmouth
Hippodrome Circus

In 1903, an original water feature was built in the Hippodrome Building. The circus ring floor was created to drop down, revealing a pool. As these things often do, this spectacular theatre fell into disrepair until it came into the hands of the Jay family, who restored the unique sinking floor in 1981.

Fast forward to 2022 and the Hippodrome Circus puts on incredible shows that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. It is definitely one of the most unique indoor activities in Great Yarmouth.

Summer Circus and Water Spectacular Review

When we got tickets for the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Summer Circus and Water Spectacular, I didn’t know what to think. My children LOVE a circus, so we’ve been to quite a few of the traditional Big Top style shows. We were prepared for acrobatics, music, fun and laughter. But we really couldn’t get our head around what the water feature was all about.

The first half was as expected. A colourful performance with lots of laughs from Jack Jay and his sidekick Johnny Mac. Incredible dancers performing daring stunts that seemed to defy gravity. And an all-round brilliant circus. Half time soon arrived, bringing an opportunity to buy snacks and drinks and stretch our legs. But we were still left wondering what the “water spectacular” part of the show was all about.  

Acrobat in the Great Yarmouth hippodrome circus hanging from the ceiling wearing pink with blue lights around

It wouldn’t be long until we found out. Soon after the beginning of the first half, everything became a little bit wetter. The show went on whilst the floor gradually lowered, with the dancers re-entering the stage dressed as synchronised swimmers. As far as I could see, the pool was of a depth where they could still stand, but the dancing and acrobatics were now taking place in the water.

None of us have seen anything like it before or since, because it’s not something that takes place anywhere else in the world. If you have a spare afternoon for indoor activities in Great Yarmouth, we would highly recommend spending it at the Hippodrome Circus.  

Performers inside the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus pool
Performers in the pool

Arc Cinema

The Arc Cinema in Great Yarmouth is a state of the art venue offering a range of screenings including plenty of family-friendly options. Its five brand-new screens all boast luxurious seating in leather armchairs. Each one offers plenty of legroom, ideal for getting comfortable and immersing yourself in a film while 4K Sony digital projection and 7.1 Dolby digital surround sound bring the scenes to life.

Arc Cinema Indoor attraction Great Yarmouth photographed from the outside
Arc Cinema

Family Films at Arc Cinema Great Yarmouth

The moment we stepped into the beautifully air-conditioned cinema building, we knew this was one of the best Great Yarmouth indoor activities for a hot summer’s day. The girls headed straight for the fantastic selection of sweets, drinks and popcorn before finding our screen. During our visit, there were several family films on offer and we opted for Minions: The Rise of Gru. Apparently this was THE must-see film of the summer for anybody under the age of about 11.

Two girls standing outside Arc Cinema indoor attraction Great Yarmouth in front of a minions poster
Ready to watch Minions: The Rise of Gru

Before having children, we used to go to the cinema a lot. I often feel a bit guilty that it’s such a huge treat for my children because we go so rarely these days. And that’s predominantly because of the cost. By the time you add up the cost of four tickets plus drinks and snacks, the price becomes prohibitive. Fortunately at Arc Cinema Great Yarmouth, that’s simply not the case. Their family ticket offer of just £5.95 per person instantly transforms it into a cost-effective way to spend the afternoon.

Better still, if you head to the cinema on selected days, it’s even cheaper! Kids club showings at 11am on weekend mornings and everyday in the school holidays are just £2.95 per ticket. That’s for everyone, not just the kids! The films they show are great too, with recent children’s titles to watch.

Although the cinema itself is right in the centre of Great Yarmouth, there is free customer parking at the front. If you’re staying for a little longer, there are several public car parks and on-street parking in the area too. My only complaint about Arc Cinema is that it’s too far away for us to travel to every week from home!

Other Indoor Activities in Great Yarmouth

If you’ve been to Great Yarmouth, you’ll realise that there’s absolutely loads to do both in town and in the surrounding areas. These are a couple of our favourite things to do that are completely indoors. We visited in the height of summer, so the cool indoor air was bliss. They’re suitable for any time of year though, so they’ll be equally good places to warm up in the winter months.

Wellington Bowl

You can probably guess that Wellington Bowl on Great Yarmouth promenade is a ten-pin bowling centre. However, what its name doesn’t give away is the fact that there are so many other indoor activities to do there as well. 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.

Wellington Bowl dog friendly indoor attraction on Great Yarmouth Promenade viewed from the front outside with tall white towers either side and green facade and glass front
Wellington Bowl is free to enter and dog friendly

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.

Dog friendly indoor activities at Great Yarmouth bowling alley Wellington Bowl viewed from beside the bowling lane with four balls on the rack and looking towards the pins
Wellington Bowl Ten Pin

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.

The children's veggie burger meal at Wellington Bowl
Children’s veggie burger meal

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.

View of the beach from indoors in Wellington Bowl looking across the decking with picnic benches on and Great Yarmouth beach in the background
View from the outdoor seating at Wellington Bowl

Sea Life Great Yarmouth

As regular visitors to the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, we couldn’t wait to explore Sea Life Great Yarmouth. Each Sea Life Centre offers a different experience, with plenty of new facts to learn about the incredible creatures in our oceans. If you’re visiting Great Yarmouth for a day or two, you might want to check out the special offer tickets combining Sea Life and the Observation Wheel.

Two girls inside the entrance to an ocean tunnel at Sea Life Centre Great Yarmouth
Ocean Tunnel

Visiting Sea Life Great Yarmouth

Sea Life Great Yarmouth is as fun and interactive as you would expect. It’s a real treat for the senses, from the relaxing sensation of watching fish swimming around, to the slightly unnerving experience of observing the resident sharks and crocodiles. One of our favourite parts was the rock pool area, where children (and adults) are able to see the creatures living around the British coastline and even touch the star fish.

Medusa guards the Sea Life Centre’s Ocean tunnel, standing tall and watching over all of its creatures. We loved watching the sharks swimming overhead and trying to spot Noah the green sea turtle. It was lovely to find Nemo as well, the girls loved dipping into the miniature tunnel to see the clown fish and have a photo.

Visiting the Sea Life centre is always an educational experience but we found the one in Great Yarmouth particularly informative. I’m not sure whether there is more going on or whether it’s because my children have grown up a bit since our last aquarium visit. Either way, we all came out a little more knowledgeable about our oceans and how we can help to look after them.

Turtles inside a tank in the Sea Life Centre Great Yarmouth
Two girls inside a clownfish tank display in the Sea Life Centre Great Yarmouth
Finding Nemo

Sea Life Conservation

One of my favourite displays at Sea Life Great Yarmouth was the video and information about the Beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland established in 2019 by the Sea Life Trust. The video shows the journey of captive whales Little White and Little Grey from a grotty tank in Ocean World Shanghai, to their own little corner of the ocean in Iceland. The same sanctuary also hosts a puffin rescue centre.

In addition to that, the Sea Life Trust set up the Cornish Seal sanctuary. They rescue and rehabilitate grey seal pups around the county’s coastline. It’s great to see that the Sea Life Centre both supports projects like this and educates visitors on their importance. I’m sure they’ll inspire the next generation of marine biologists.

Indoor Activities Great Yarmouth: Eating and Drinking

If you’re heading indoors for a quick break from the sun or to see out a rain shower, you might just want to grab some food. There are plenty of places to eat and drink in Great Yarmouth, so here are two that we particularly enjoyed. Both are dog friendly and have both indoor and outdoor seating.

Sara’s Tearoom

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.

The menu

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. They even sell pupcakes for the dogs! 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.

Beer battered halloumi with chips, salad and mushy peas at Sara's Tearoom dog friendly eatery in Great Yarmouth
Beer battered halloumi

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.

Kids veggie cheeseburger with chips and beans
Kids veggie cheeseburger with chips and beans
Jacket potato with coleslaw and side salad on a blue and white plate at Saras Tearoom Great Yarmouth
Jacket potato with coleslaw and side salad
Coffee cake on a plate served indoors at Saras Tearoom Great Yarmouth
The handmade cakes at Sara’s Tearoom come highly recommended

The setting

Sara’s Tearoom is one of the friendliest places we’ve eaten as a family, including the dog. Everything arrived quickly including Bubbles’ pupcake. The view from the seating on the promenade is stunning and there’s plenty of space indoors too. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and we didn’t feel rushed at all even though it was busy. I went twice during the time we were in Great Yarmouth, once with the family and once on my own. It was a great place to sit with my laptop to do some work. Next time we’re back in the area, we’ll definitely be visiting Sara’s tearoom again.

Lacon Arms

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.

The Menu

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.

Salad from the salad bar at the Lacon Arms dog friendly Great Yarmouth pub
Salad from the salad bar

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.

Veggie burger containing battered mushrooms served with fresh coleslaw, corn on the cob and chips
Veggie burger
King prawn linguini with toast and tomatoes on the side
King prawn linguini

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.

Kids halloumi strips and chips with cucumber strips on a wooden table indoors at the Lacon Arms near Great Yarmouth
Kids halloumi strips and chips with cucumber strips


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!

Kids donut sundae at the Lacon Arms dog friendly pub near Great Yarmouth
Kids donut sundae

The setting

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.

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