Great Yarmouth Central Beach at dusk with the moon visible in a pink sky above the sea

Outdoor Activities Great Yarmouth [AD]

If you love to spend as much time outdoors as possible, you’re going to be spoiled if you head to Norfolk. As one of the UK’s favourite summer holiday destinations, Great Yarmouth is awash with brilliant outdoor activities. This is a list of fantastic things to do outdoors in and around the area. Many of these attractions welcome dogs, and you can also read this post about dog friendly things to do around Great Yarmouth. Should the weather turn unexpectedly, check out these indoor activities in the area.

Outdoor activities near Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth’s reputation precedes it. The town is well known as one of the most popular and affordable tourist destinations in the UK. So, if you head there it is easy to overlook nearby destinations that also have plenty to offer. Norfolk has long, sandy beaches aplenty and a plethora of family activities.

Lost World Adventure Golf

Lost World Adventure Golf, a fantastic 9-hole mini golf course is located in the centre of Hemsby in Norfolk, just a short drive from Great Yarmouth. If you’re looking for an evening outdoor activity, this is a great option as they put floodlights on at dusk. Whilst we went during the daytime, I can imagine it being exciting as dark falls with all the sound effects and creepy creatures!

Giant stone snake painted green with red eyes at Lost World Adventure Golf Great Yarmouth
I wouldn’t want to meet this guy after dark!

The Mini Golf Course

Embarking on Lost World Adventure Golf with children is like taking on an Indiana Jones style mission. Head onto the course, listening for sound effects and looking out for spooky goings on. Putt your way past tropical plants, realistic dinosaurs and fossils and navigate water hazards. There is even an Aztec Temple to look out for en route!

The course is a real leveller, with adults and children alike finding it quite tricky. This isn’t somewhere to go if you don’t like to be beaten by your children! From our family, my youngest was the best at Adventure Golf. She has quite a laid back, unflappable temperament and managed not to get distracted by everything going on around her. My eldest who is much more of a live wire and usually beats the rest of us at everything really struggled.

Large dinosaur model at Lost World Adventure Golf Great Yarmouth towers over little girl holding a golf club and golf ball with palm trees in the background
It’s behind you!
Pyramid shaped water feature at Lost World Adventure Golf Great Yarmouth with water descending from the top and palm trees in the background
There are some tricky water features to navigate

Panning for Gold

Once you’ve finished adventure golf, it’s time to grab a pan and look for gold in the sandy bed of a stream. Fill up your pan with sand and water, before shaking it on the surface of the water to wash off the sand, revealing tiny nuggets of gold. Swap your sparkling treasure for a souvenir medal at reception.

Girl in red t-shirt and shorts panning for gold in a stream outdoors in front of a large gold skull with a gold bucket beside her at Lost World Adventure Golf Great Yarmouth
Panning for Gold

Lost World Adventure Golf Tips

If you’re planning visiting Lost World Adventure Golf, here are a few things you might need to know:

  • Lost World Adventure Golf is open from Easter to the end of October half term every year.
  • Opening hours are 10 am to 10 pm during peak times and on bank holidays and 10 am to 6 pm off peak.
  • This is an extremely reasonably priced attraction, for the 2022 season it was just £4 per person for golf and £3 per person to pan for gold.
  • For some extra tips on how to complete each hole, download the scorecard app. This also allows you to keep score and acts as a loyalty card so you gain points each time you play. When you’ve collected enough points, you get a free game.
  • Dogs can’t go on the Lost World Adventure Golf course, but they can wait by the panning for gold area. You can also grab a coffee from Madisons Coffee and Donuts next door and drink it while you wait if you’re looking after the dogs or prefer to relax rather than play.

Hirsty’s Family Fun Park

Whilst you’re in the Hemsby area, I highly recommend a trip to the popular Hirsty’s Family Fun Park. Offering traditional, low-tech family fun, this is a brilliant place to go with families of all ages and dogs are welcome too. Whilst young children will love the playground and barrel rides, even teens will be enthralled with the tricky maize maze. Don’t worry, there’s a café too, so the grown ups can relax while children play.

Bouncing pillows at Hirsty's family fun park
Enjoying the bouncy pillows

Maize Maze

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!

Girl by the entrance to the maize maze at Hirsty's family fun park
Remember to take a drink into the maize maze, you might be in there a while!

Adventure Playground

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.

Girl jumping high on a trampoline at dog friendly Hirsty's Family Fun Park
Enjoying the trampoline

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.

Two girls on barrel ride being pulled behind a tractor at Hirsty's Family Fun Park with maize behind
Barrel ride

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.

Girl on a red pedal go kart at Hirsty's Family Fun Park near Great Yarmouth
Pedal go karts

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.

Horsey Gap Beach

You are probably going to want to visit the beach at some point during your holiday. Great Yarmouth itself has a fantastic beach, and others in the area have something different to offer too. We did some research before booking a beach day and discovered Horsey Gap. In the summer, seals hang around in the sea, curiously watching swimmers and water sports enthusiasts. 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 is dog friendly in the Summer, although they’ll need to be kept on a lead so they don’t chase the seals. 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.

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.

Seal popping its head above the water in the sea at Horsey Gap dog friendly beach near Great Yarmouth
Seal at Horsey Gap

Outdoor activities in Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth itself has plenty of outdoor activities on offer. We recommend spending at least a day or two there to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the beach, stroll along the promenade and sample all the attractions. Some people head to Great Yarmouth just for the pleasure beach, but there’s so much more to it than that. Here are a few of our favourite outdoor activities in Great Yarmouth.

Merrivale Model Village

Merrivale is one of the most interesting model villages we’ve visited because it has such a variety of things on display. Most of this Great Yarmouth attraction is based outdoors. However, if the weather does turn or you want to get out of the sun, you can nip inside to the café or vintage arcade.

Whilst the model village itself is predominantly very quaint, 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.

Miniature rocket in Merrivale Model Village Great Yarmouth with blue sky in the background
Model rocket launch
Replica of the Great Yarmouth Ferris Wheel in the Merrivale Model Village
Replica model of the Great Yarmouth Ferris Wheel

Crazy Golf

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!

Girl playing crazy golf at Merrivale Model Village with mountains to put the ball through on a yellow run up to the hole
Playing crazy golf

The Old Penny Arcade

If you decide it’s time to head back indoors, make your way to 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.

girl shaking hands with a vintage fortune teller machine in the old penny arcade at Merrivale Model Village dog friendly Great Yarmouth attraction
Fortune teller in the old penny arcade

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

Did you know that the majority of the rides at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach are outdoors? They even welcome dogs, although having a four legged friend with you does mean one person will have to miss out while everyone else goes on the rides.

Girl on purple elephant on flying Dumbo ride at dog friendly Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
Flying Dumbo ride

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.

Two girls on the twister ride at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
The girls went on the twister ride several times over

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.

Girl on teacup ride at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
Lia went on some of the smaller rides like the teacups alone while Libby was on the bigger rides

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.
Two girls walking across the moving floor in the Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach funhouse
Walking across the moving floor in the Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach funhouse

Great Yarmouth Beaches

With so many outdoor activities on offer, spending a day on the beach may not be the first thing you think to do in Great Yarmouth. But with miles of beautiful, sandy beaches, it is well worth dedicating some time to chilling on the beach.

Great Yarmouth Central Beach

The main Great Yarmouth attractions are adjacent to Central Beach. This runs from Britannia Pier to Wellington Pier, alongside the beachfront promenade. There are plenty of cafés, entertainment and public toilets right by the beach. There are loads of ramps for disabled access too, making it a great choice for a family day out. From April to September, there is a lifeguarded stretch of water on Central Beach. Look out for fun inflatables and donkey rides! Both car parks and roadside parking are available right by the beach. This area of the beach isn’t for dogs, although they are welcome on the beachfront promenade. So, if you have a beach-loving pooch with you, head to North or South beach.

Great Yarmouth Central Beach at dusk with the moon visible in a pink sky above the sea
Moon over Central Beach Great Yarmouth
Girl wearing glasses and a grey hairband holding the moon on Great Yarmouth beach at dusk
Catching the moon

Great Yarmouth North Beach

Great Yarmouth North Beach is located north of Britannia Pier. Its wide dunes are ideal for dog walking and offer access to a long, sandy beach that is dog friendly and much quieter than Central Beach. Public toilets, beachfront cafés, tennis courts and bowling greens lie adjacent to the beach. Head to North Drive for parking and disabled beach access. As you head out of Great Yarmouth along North Beach, you’ll come to the summer home of a colony of Little Terns nesting. Fences around the birds keep them safe from visitors. To safely view the birds without disturbing them, seek advice from the RSPB cabin on the beach.

Great Yarmouth South Beach

Located to the South of the Pleasure Beach and Wellington Pier, Great Yarmouth South Beach has grassy dunes and plenty of clean, white sand. If you’re driving, head past the pleasure beach and park along the road. Disabled access is available, as are public toilets. This area of the beach is dog friendly and it’s nice and easy to get to the busier areas when you want to grab an ice cream or some food. Towards the far end of South Beach, freight ships can be seen in the Outer Harbour.

Where to eat outdoors in and around Great Yarmouth

Sara’s Tearoom Great Yarmouth

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. Choose to sit outside under cover on the beachfront promenade overlooking the sea. Or, head for the seating in the Pleasure Beach Gardens themselves. Indoor seating is available too if you prefer. Sara’s Café is dog friendly indoors and out and they even sell pupcakes!

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. 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
Jacket potato with coleslaw and side salad
Coffee cake
The handmade cakes at Sara’s Tearoom come highly recommended

Lacon Arms

If you’re over in Hemsby exploring Lost World Adventure Golf and Hirsty’s Family Fun Park, the Lacon Arms an ideal pace to eat. 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. It consisted of two huge battered mushrooms. This 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
Kids halloumi strips and chips with cucumber strips

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