- Things to Do in Bury St Edmunds With Kids – Quick Answers
- What is there to do in Bury St Edmunds for kids?
- Things to Do near Bury St Edmunds With Kids
- Markets in Bury St Edmunds
- Bury St Edmunds – As a Tourist
Bury St Edmunds is somewhere we decided to visit when we did our Suffolk in one day challenge. We included Bury because it’s a lovely town with lots of history and things to do with kids. It’s also my home town.
Things to Do in Bury St Edmunds With Kids – Quick Answers
Exploring history – Abbey Gardens
History on a rainy day – Moyses Hall Museum
Entertainment – Theatre Royal
Parks with room to run – Nowton Park and Hardwick Heath
Burn some energy indoors – Curve Motion
Wildlife and history – West Stow Country Park
Grand house and parkland – Ickworth Park
Woodlands to explore – Brandon Country Park
What is there to do in Bury St Edmunds for kids?
The Abbey Gardens is the perfect park in many ways. The gardens are stunning, there’s plenty of fascinating history and lots of things for the kids to do. There’s also a cafe, to satisfy all your coffee and ice cream needs.
From the town centre, you approach the Abbey Gardens downhill and enter through the Abbey gate. From here, you are presented with a choice. You can turn left to aviaries and small café, straight on for the formal gardens or right for the bowling green. If you go left or straight on, you will end up following the path down toward the river where you will find the incredible play area which features a sand playground alongside the traditional play equipment. There’s also a larger play area for older kids. It’s slightly tucked away, which stops it being too tempting for an overly ambitious 3-year-old.
Moyses Hall Museum
Cost: £15 for a family of five (click here for up to date prices)
The Moyses Hall museum is a local history museum in the centre of the town. They have regular exhibitions as well as permanent displays that tell the story of the area. Notable areas include the medieval dress up and the World War room. There is also a gaol room containing various torture instruments and a book made from a convict’s skin.
The Theatre Royal is the last remaining Regency theatre in the UK. It is run by the National Trust, but the best way to see it is to see a show. They have a full programme of plays which include children’s shows. I recommend having a look at what’s on.
Cost: Free (Cost for parking)
Away from the town centre Bury St Edmunds has many parks within easy reach. Nowton Park is a few miles out of town and worth making a bit of effort to visit. The extensive parkland was created for the Oakes family during the Victorian period. The family’s home, Nowton Court, is now a retirement home and the parkland is owned by the county council.
The best time to visit Nowton Park is in the Spring when 100,000 daffodils appear in the lime tree avenue. A walk around the park brings you to lots of different gardens, including the China area with its carved panda and bamboo planting. This is not a formal park though, and there is plenty of open space, woodland and wildflower meadows.
The park also has a cafe and a good-sized playground.
Cost: Free (Cost for parking)
Hardwick Heath is another significant area of parkland on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds. Like Norton Park, Hardwick Heath was the parkland for a big house in a former life. 55 acres is now owned by the council for public use.
Things to Do near Bury St Edmunds With Kids
West Stow Country Park
Cost: The country park is free to enter but there is a cost for parking. The Anglo Saxon Village is £16 for a family of five (click here for up to date prices)
West Stow combines centuries of history with 125 acres of natural areas. The River Lark passes through the site, close to a series of lakes. A walk on this area will also take you through woodland and heath. The Beowulf trail is fun to discover as you walk around.
The main attraction at West Stow (other than the adventure playground) is the Anglo Saxon village. This is a faithful reconstruction of the settlement that occupied the site from AD 420 to 650. You can dress up in clothes from the period and investigate the different buildings around the village.
Entry Cost: £36.25 for a family (click here for up to date prices).
Location: Horringer, IP29 5QE
The house is so different from anything else in the area with its rotunda and two enormous wings. The sculptures on display are undeniably beautiful. They also run crafts and activities to include family visitors.
Outside you will find an adventure playground, a deer park and long walks. If the little ones are up for it, then head out across the sheep fields to the obelisk. Alternatively, why not try one of the shorter walks or simply stay near the play area and enjoy the house and Italianate gardens? If you do decide to go for a long hike, make sure to take in the variety of woodlands and mysterious pond.
For more information on all National Trust properties in nearby Cambridgeshire, check out this post.
Brandon Country Park
Another excellent country park close to Bury is Brandon Country Park. This park is in the Brecks area on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. Like many of the parks I have already mentioned, Brandon Country Park is a former country house parkland with all the secret follies and landscapes that go along with that. There is also over 30 acres of woodland and heath to enjoy.
Read more about things to do in the Thetford forest area in this post.
Markets in Bury St Edmunds
There are plenty of reasons to visit Bury St Edmunds. Not least the markets. They do have a local market twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday) and the occasional special market, but it’s the Christmas Fayre that really draws in the crowds. This market is huge. It spills out of the traditional market square down side streets, filling buildings, and covering the Angel Hill and Abbey Gardens.
Stallholders and shoppers alike come from far and wide for one long weekend in November. We always make time to visit. We usually aim for Thursday evening or Friday when it is quieter. You can’t get around with the pushchair on Saturday! You’ll find everything you could possibly want from a Christmas market. From handmade local crafts to creepy dogs with flashing eyes imported from China. The food includes all manner of things to fill a Christmas hamper, cheeses, chocolates, chutneys and booze. If you need a snack while you shop, why not try one of the curries and wash it down with gluhwein?
If you would like to visit Bury St Edmunds, you could do worse than the last weekend in November. But beware the crowds!
Bury St Edmunds – As a Tourist
This is a personal perspective from a family day out we had in Bury. It’s a perfect 1-day itinerary for the town.
I don’t think I fully appreciated Suffolk when I lived there. It was while I was away at university in Yorkshire that the low rolling hills became something I looked forward to seeing again. (Now I live in flat Cambridgeshire it’s the hills and dales of Yorkshire I pine for!) I certainly didn’t appreciate Bury St Edmunds but the town has a lot to offer.
David and I decided to approach Bury with fresh eyes and spend a day there as a tourist. We were partly inspired by my favourite book for planning things to do locally. And partly inspired by the Lego exhibition the local museum had on. We also scheduled in a couple of multi-geocaches which would take us around the Cathedral and the Abbey Gardens.
We started our day at Moyse’s Hall Museum. The exhibition was small but very good and gave us a chance to look round the rest of the museum. I have been in the museum before, but I don’t recall ever looking around (I did have some artwork displayed there once, age 6). There’s plenty for children to do, it’s very interactive with dress up and quizzes.
My guide book highlighted a book made out of the skin of a criminal as a ‘must-see’. The story behind it was fascinating if a little grim. The book is in the final room of the museum before you return to the entrance/gift shop and is surrounded by instruments of torture, all with their own tale to tell.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
From here we headed down through the town to the Cathedral for the first of our two geocaches. (If you don’t know much about geocaching you can read my quick guide here.) This cache had us looking for clues all over the expanse of the Cathedral’s interior and was a great way to guide us towards details we might otherwise have missed.
The second geocache we did took us from the Cathedral around the Abbey Gardens. The Abbey Gardens is a large and beautiful park set around the ruins of the abbey which was torn down by the townspeople. It is also where I spent a lot of time ‘hanging out’ as a youth. From here we headed out of town on a linear walk along the river Lark. A really peaceful way to end our day.
Have you ever looked at your hometown as a tourist? Would you recommend we visit?