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Great Yarmouth – Review

The last time I visited Great Yarmouth was as a teenager, this was where we had all of our family holidays from when I was born until I was about 14 years old, so returning some 37 years later as part of a grown up couple was a bit of a pilgrimage for me.

The lead up to this long weekend break was a little nerve-racking, you romanticise about your childhood holiday destinations (well I do!), and as a kid I loved everything about this place, I didn’t know whether it had changed beyond all recognition, potentially destroying my memories forever.

I needn’t have worried, as I am pleased to report that this seaside town has been brought up to date where it needed to be, but ultimately this is the same Great Yarmouth of my youth.

Great Yarmouth boasts 15 miles of golden sandy beaches and loads of attractions meaning that you can’t easily get bored.

Like most British Seaside resorts, Great Yarmouth is a very traditional town, but unlike many it’s managed to keep up to date and is now a modern seaside resort that is steeped in history and offers visitors a fantastic mix of sea, sand, sun, entertainment and heritage.

We stayed and the very smart and well appointed Furzedown Hotel just a few minutes walk from the popular Britannia Pier area of the town and opposite the unique Venice-inspired water gardens (Waterways) that had just been reopened after a £2.7m restoration. When I was young this had animal themed boat rides around its canals, but whilst the rides are no more, it is still a popular (and free) attraction to take a relaxing walk or sit for a while.

So we started at one end of The Golden Mile; a must for thousands of visitors where you can take a stroll along its wide pavements enjoying numerous attractions along the way, including amusement arcades, adventure golf, Sealife centre, model village, horse and carriage rides, fairground rides, Pleasure Beach and gardens as well as take advantage of the many places to eat and drink at numerous stalls and restaurants.

Britannia Pier

The Britannia Pier and Joyland hasn’t really changed over the years which I loved. The bustling Pier (one of two at Great Yarmouth) has the traditional mix of amusements and fairground stalls, restaurant/cafe and theatre.

Joyland

Next to this Pier you have the Joyland which I loved as a kid, most of the old rides are still here, it’s aimed at younger children (with shorter and gentler rides) but we couldn’t resist taking a ride on The Snails (honest, it was just old times sake!).

The prices surprised us (in a pleasant way), you need to buy tokens for the rides, we just bought our two tokens for £1.50 each which I didn’t think was expensive at all, larger bags of tokens can be purchased to bring the price down a little further.

Actually, all the prices at Great Yarmouth were a pleasant surprise, we travel a lot around the UK, and I have to say that the cost of everything here was very reasonable.

A walk along the Prom reveals a wonderful golden beach with donkey rides, and a few fairground rides. There are plenty of places to stop and rest and numerous places to have a snack and drink.

Wellington Pier

The Wellington Pier has been redeveloped a little and looks definitely cleaner and more modern than it did when I was a kid, here you’ll find amusements, 10 lanes of 10-pin bowling and your usual mix of cafes, kiosks and shops.

The old Winter Gardens is the towns iconic Victorian glass building, it’s a Grade II*-listed building which has been closed for the last 10 years and is in an urgent state of repair and was recently named as one of the UK's most endangered buildings, it’s very sad to see any beautiful building needing this much care and attention. I hope it gets the restoration it so urgently needs very soon.

A Hidden Delight

Just up from the Wellington Pier and to the right of the model village we found a little gem, a small museum of old 1p and 2p amusement machines that you can still use and the delightful Merrivale Tearooms.

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

At the other end of the Golden Mile is the Pleasure Beach. This will always be a fun place to visit, young generations get to enjoy some smaller rides, older generations get to enjoy some nostalgia. 80’s pop fans will love the fact that Madness filmed “House of Fun” on the rollercoaster. Staff are friendly, prices again are reasonable.

Shopping

If you need some retail therapy then Great Yarmouth doesn’t disappoint as there are plenty of independent boutiques and shops, big high street names and traditional souvenir shops.

Regents Road is great for shopping (and it looks like there's more to come with some redevelopment happening) and is the main way up to the town and market area. The market is home to some delicious produce, especially fresh fish, locally reared meat, farm-grown vegetables and fresh bread.

Eating Out

The options for eating out are vast and you can be sure of a delicious meal at one of the many café's and restaurants, pubs or tearooms; or just treat yourself to some hot chips, freshly made donuts, afternoon tea or a refreshing ice cream.

There is simply so much to see, do and experience that you’ll never be bored. We are certainly going to make this trip an annual event.

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