You will find a full list of local attractions awaiting your arrival at The Sidings, but to help you plan, here are some suggestions, click the links for the individual websites.
The Mid Suffolk Light Railway museum and award winning steam railway is across the road from the Sidings.(3-5 min walk) – Suffolk’s only standard gauge heritage railway. Open weekends and bank holidays throughout the Summer and over the Christmas period . Steaming most weekends. Many exhibitions and events. Café, souvenir shop and on selected weekends a bar carriage which specialises in local beer and cider.
Stonham Barns ( 4 miles) Leisure and retail village – Owl Sanctuary, Garden Centre,and selection of Shops and craft workshops, with crazy golf and a café.
Thornham Walks – Just 3 miles north, the grounds of the Henniker family’s home. 12 miles of waymarked footpaths wind through the estate (dog friendly if on lead), playground, Forge Café and The Thornham Coach House restaurant and café, and some artisan shops.
Helmingham Hall – ( 9 miles) The home of the Tollemache family, Gardens open to the public, The present Lady Tollemache’s recent reworking of the gardens has been widely featured in magazines and elsewhere and is well worth the detour.
Museum of East Anglian Life Based in Stowmarket, just 7 miles away, the Museum provides a lively evocation of rural life in this area.
Bressingham Steam and Gardens ( 10 miles away) – Steam train rides, Museum, Gallopers, beautiful gardens and a café . Next door Blooms Garden Centre has a great selection of plants and gifts, a soft play area for small children and a useful café.
Framlingham Castle – ( 14 miles) A stunning grade 1 starred castle ruins dating from the 11th Century. Famous residents included Queen Mary ” Bloody Mary ” . English Heritage maintained, it offers a wealth of exploration for both adults and children. Good programme of children’s activities at half term and holidays. Framlingham itself is an agreeable market town worth a look as well, particularly if you are visiting the Castle or en route to the Coast.
Easton Farm Park – (18 miles) Further on from Framlingham is the excellent, well run Easton Farm park which offers a great opportunity for children to see and interact with farm animals and just have a very pleasant day out.
Jimmy’s Farm (20 miles) offers more farm animals, children’s activities and a shop and restaurant just south of Ipswich. As shown on TV, justly famous !
Bury St Edmunds (15 miles) this is an outstanding market town with fine Georgian and medieval architecture including the splendid restored 18th Century Theatre Royal and the medieval cathedral. The cathedral is surrounded by the original Abbey ruins set in gardens. Good shops and restaurants, and,as this is the home of Greene King, there are a number of good pubs. Ickworth Hall, Park and Gardens are only a short drive from here.
The Suffolk Coastline – Several great seaside towns and villages:
Aldeburgh is now a famous and fashionable seaside town with several excellent pubs and restaurants (try the Cross Keys for traditional pub grub, or the Lighthouse or Regatta for more upmarket dining) and universally acclaimed fish and chips to be found from two shops in the High St. You can swim, stroll along the blue flag pebble beach and buy freshly caught fish and shellfish, view the RNLI Aldeburgh lifeboat, stop at the Moot Hall which houses the Aldeburgh museum, or try your model boat on the boating pond. Maggie Hambling’s famous sculpture of the Shell is on the beach between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness. Aldeburgh is now home to the Hightide theatre festival in September.
Thorpeness is a village built in Edwardian times as a seaside retreat by the Ogilvy family. Half timbered villas nestle around the Meare, a large ( 65 Acre) shallow lake where rowing boats, punts and small yachts can be hired by the hour to sail, punt or row to visit a series of islands with a Peter Pan theme with pirates, crocodiles and Wendy houses. There is a gift shop, cafe and pub all of which offer food, a decent beach ( pebbly with a little sand) and an extra attraction is a sight of the House in the Clouds . You can walk from Thorpness to Aldeburgh on the coastal path (approx 1.5 miles), passing Maggie Hambling’s striking shell sculpture on the beach
Southwold – This is a charming and highly fashionable seaside town with a long partly sandy, dog friendly beach, pretty beach huts, award-winning pier, great pubs (our choice is Adnams pub, the Nelson, but there are many good Adnams pubs in the town as this is the home of the brewery). Delicious fish and chips and ice cream also aplenty.
Walberswick – just across the river from Southwold, you can take a passenger ferry or foot bridge to sample the full delights of this increasingly chic village which also has a pretty much the best sandy beach for swimming locally and where crabbing seems the most popular children’s activity in the Summer holidays. Within Walberswick there are tea rooms, restaurants, two pubs, an art gallery, original crafts and gift shops. Fresh fish can be bought from Uncle Fred in Church Lane and from the harbour huts.
RSPB Minsmere – A top destination for birders, but good for everyone with woodland, wetland and coastal scenery. Below the cliffs at Dunwich a town lies submerged, at the top an excellent pub ( The Ship) is to be found.
Snape Maltings – On the approach to Aldeburgh or Thorpeness you will find The Snape Maltings complex. The concert hall, the creation of Benjamin Britten, is world famous and has frequent top class concerts ranging from the Aldeburgh Festival in the early Summer to the Snape Proms in July and August ( classical, jazz and much more) which has daily concerts and walks . There is also a regular concert programme through the rest of the year. The newly refurbished complex also has an excellent range of craft shops, restaurants and a pub.( The Plough and Sail).
That’s just a few ideas, there are plenty more though, go to Visit Suffolk’s website to learn more.