Fun Things to Do in Ipswich With Kids
Ipswich is a kid-friendly town with plenty of things to do. Plan ahead with our guide to the best things to do in Ipswich with kids.
Ipswich is Suffolk’s county town and one of England’s oldest. Set on the River Orwell, it has a booming theatre and arts scene, plenty of cafes and restaurants, exciting attractions and over 1,000 years of maritime history. You can also venture out into the rest of Suffolk, a county filled with natural beauty. With 50 miles of glorious coastline, rich countryside and medieval towns, it’s basically one giant playground for kids and adults.
So, what are the best things to do in Ipswich with kids? Here at Plum Guide, we know exactly where to go, what to do and where to stay. Keep reading for a range of ideas that cater to all ages and interests.
Ipswich Waterfront and Boat Trips
This culturally and historically significant area of the town has been a place of trade since at least the 700s (try have the kids get their head around that one). Although in total decline at one point, since the late 1990s, the quaysides on the waterfront have been completely revamped and injected with new life. It’s a great place to bring the kids for some lunch - you’ll find old warehouses converted into eateries and restaurants of all kinds. And what would a waterfront be without a boat trip?
After lunch, choose from the four boat trips available (none of which induce sea sickness, don’t worry). There’s sightseeing boat Orwell Lady, river cruise restaurant Allen Gardiner and barges Victor or Thistle. We recommend the Orwell Lady, which has plenty of things to keep the kids distracted. It takes you out for four miles to the Freston Folly, a tower built in the 17th century, and there’s a high chance you might spot peregrine falcons and seals.
Ipswich Transport Museum
Back on the mainland, you can discover even more forms of transport. The Ipswich Transport Museum houses over 100 vehicles which were made or used in the local area, spanning some 200 years. And when we say vehicles, we mean all kinds of vehicles, from fire engines and bicycles to prams and lawnmowers. It’s effectively a huge playground for the kids to explore, as well as for parents to secretly geek out. Some of us never grew up.
If you get hit with the ‘I’m bored’, there’s a model railway where kids of all ages can, alarmingly, drive the trains. There’s also an activity zone for younger kids. If in trouble, seek out a snack from the Sunbeam Tea Room.
It wouldn’t be a list of things to do in Ipswich with kids without mentioning Christchurch Park. This historical park stretches over 70 acres of rolling lawns, woodland and two arboretums. As well as oodles of space for kids to kick a ball around, there’s also a children’s play area, tennis courts, table tennis and a bowling green.
Throughout the year, the park hosts numerous events and activities like nature walks and trails, arts and crafts activities, and storytelling. We’ll let you in on a little secret (we are the experts after all) - the Upper and Lower Arboretums are a tranquil setting for relaxation if you want to get away from the kids for a bit.
Speaking of relaxation, our home Sweet Meadow is a spacious, four bedroom house set in a secluded location within the private Sayers Mansion Estate in Suffolk. There’s al fresco dining and plenty of space for the kids to run around in.
Hollow Trees Farm
If you’ve got little ones, a trip to Hollow Trees Farm is one of the best things to do in Ipswich with kids. There are hours of fun to be had for both children and adults. On the Farm Trail, you can come face to face with pigs, goats, chickens, cows and even alpacas. If that isn’t enough, there is also a playground with rope swings, climbing poles, mini tractors and a huge sandpit.
The Farm Cafe has plenty of treats for lunch, and you can even bring some fresh farm produce back to one of our homes you’ll be staying at. We think you’ll love Charcoal Wood, a child-friendly home with a private pool, tennis court and range of outdoor activities.
Planning a kid-friendly night out? The Regent Theatre is the place to be. Seating 1,551 people, this is the largest performing arts theatre in East Anglia. First opened in 1929 as a ‘cine-variety’ hall, it was among the first theatres in the country to play films with sound. You can even tell your kids that Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Costello and The Beatles have all played here (followed by chimes of ‘who?’ that make you feel oh so old). Today, the theatre showcases stand up comedy, touring musicals, classic pop musicians and children’s performances. There’s even a Peppa Pig live show. Rather you than us.
Without a doubt, one of the most foolproof ways to keep the kids happy is to head to the seaside. Luckily, Ipswich isn’t far from the coast, making it one of the best things to do in Ipswich with kids.
Felixstowe is a seaside town only 24 minutes drive from Ipswich. On a sunny day, one of your first stops will no doubt be the beach. The area of the beach south of the pier is known as Felixstowe South beach, and is sandier than the mainly shingled Felixstowe North beach. Once you’ve swam your heart out and built enough sandcastles, visit the Felixstowe Pier for even more fun and games at the Family Entertainment Centre. End the day with some classic fish and chips and ice cream from the Pier’s eateries.