You know when you first move into a new area you have so many plans. Well, when we first moved to Suffolk back in 2007 my husband and I had so many plans of places to visit and things to see. Nine years later – we still have a very long list that we haven’t ticked off. When The Suffolk Coast invited us along to see what Felixstowe with Kids has to offer for families this summer I was expecting a day at the beach with a fantastic fish and chip shop recommendation. Instead, it was our perfect kind of day I truly never knew there was so much to see right on our doorstep.
Your Guide to Felixstowe with Kids
Felixstowe and Old Felixstowe
Felixstowe is easy to get to as a major port in the UK the transport links are fantastic you can get the train from Ipswich and there is good public bus service. The easiest for us though is straight down the A14 and then into the town.
The town is split into two halves there is Old Felixstowe to the North, which is a little wilder, less tourist like and also less crowded. Then Felixstowe which has it’s amusements, facilities, and a little more crowded. However, unlike the beaches in Essex and Norfolk that we visit this was a lot less crowded.
One of the things I have always loved about the British Sea Side are the beach huts that line the edge of the beach. Pretty colours, multicoloured and often with cute seaside themed names, they look to be a great place to spend the day and a great base to explore the beach and town from. But, they often change hands for the price of a small apartment on popular beaches and once people “move” in they rarely leave. What I didn’t realise is that there is a booming business in Beach Hut rentals – contact details here for how to rent your own Beach Hut at Felixstowe.
Organised through agencies and private hire you can rent a beach hut for the day to use as a base. Some like ours had easy access to a car park run by the council and others you can find off road parking. With a beach hut you have somewhere to store your stuff, return to and eat as well as relax in whilst the kids play on the beach and paddle in the waves.
Right at the edge of the mouth of the River Orwell Languard Fort has been in the same position since the 16th Century. Part of English Heritage (free entry if you are a member) it is well worth a visit. The current structure stands from the mid 19th century and is great for kids to explore.
With a video production introducing you to the history of the fort from the Spanish and Dutch invasions of the 16th Century through to the role it played in protecting our cities and towns in WWII you can find out all about it.
During the summer holidays there is a tour for kids – for £1.50 children can take part and as they explore the fort they look to identify pictures and also spot Ronald the Rat. Once they have spotted him and matched up the pictures to their locations they receive a pencil and a prize.
We started to take the audio tour around the fort as well – however, my kids are explorers and not great at following the instructions so instead of heading the direction the audio tour sent us we ended up exploring the fort in our order listening to the audio tour as we wanted and discovering and learning as we went.
Just outside of the fort at Language Point where you can catch a ferry over to Harwich and Essex there is a little cafe which serves hot and cold lunches as well as delicious fruit scones.
After a session Beachcombing with Beach Bonkers I’ve decided that when I grow up (never mind the kids) I want to be a professional beachcomber. Beach Bonkers runs daily in Felixstowe and for a donation, you take a walk along the beach discovering the natural finds.
Accompanied by Kate the kids and I took a 45-minute walk in front of Felixstowe town hall discovering the natural wonders that had found their way onto the shore. At the same time, we were joined by Paula who works for FCC Environment the organisation that runs the local dumps and recycling who talked to the kids about the other side of the stuff found on the beach – rubbish. We learnt some interesting facts – like did you know old socks are turned into carpets?
If you think that you are unlikely to find anything on such a busy beach you will be really surprised. We discovered feathers, hag stones, shells, bryozoans (plant-like animal colonies and the focus of my Master’s thesis!), mermaids purses, sea glass, as well as a rare sea shell a Whentaltrack (dutch for spiral staircase) and the first time that Kate had seen one on Felixstowe beach.
The family after us also found a sharks tooth in amongst the pebbles. You can find Kate at the sea front most days opposite the town hall but check with her Twitter as she takes an artificial beach to many festivals around the country.
Did you know in Suffolk there are 4 foot-ferries? No, I didn’t either. They serve tourists and the local communities taking them from one river bank to another one. The Felixstowe Ferry right at the north end of the town takes tourists and locals from Felixstowe over to Bawdsey across the River Deben.
It’s such a fun trip and after watching the families crab on the jetty we’ve added a crab line to our camping supplies list for this summer. You signal you want the ferry by waving a paddle in the air and then the ferry man arrives.
Across in Bawdsey you have a pretty Suffolk village as well as a nature reserve and apparently good shark tooth finding pebble beach. Around the head there is a sandy beach but be aware that there is a strong undertoe and currents in this area and the locals don’t recommend swimming at all.
What can’t be missed is the Boat House Cafe inside the sailing school it’s open to the public and if you are lucky enough you may get a table outside. However, even inside is great and the cake and ice-cream are the best according to J and T.
Of course, you could just spend the day at Felixstowe Beach – from the touristy area around the peir and amusements through to the wilder and less crowded Old Felixstowe it’s the perfect British Sea Side experience. Why, not pick up a bucket and spade and build some castles, take a paddle.
Or if your kids are anything like mine have a go at making some sand angels.
We explored Felixstowe on behalf of The Suffolk Coast – all words, pictures and recommendations are our own.