In England

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

The sunshine of the past week was beckoning me to the coast. So we took a little family day trip to Great Yarmouth Sunday to give me my beach fix.

The overview: Great Yarmouth is a resort town, about an hour and a half drive from Bury St. Edmunds on A143. And days later I can’t help but still think that it’s like a little, English Myrtle Beach. At least, it reminds me of the Myrtle Beach I remember from circa 2000: an unpretentious destination for juvenile fun (and perhaps a bit past its prime).

The main beach is framed by two piers and lined with your average touristy-boardwalk fare: donut and ice cream stands, souvenir and tchochki shops, miniature golf courses, arcades, pleasure gardens (amusement parks, for you Americans) and other goofy attractions. A tourist drag connects Britannia Pier to what seems to be Great Yarmouth’s High Street area, with your usual High Street shops and McDonald’s.

It didn’t take us long to decide that the manufactured attractions weren’t really suiting our mood or style, but could have been a blast at another time without the baby (and with some cocktails). However, you can’t go wrong with fish and chips and ice cream!

The beach is very wide, and the tide doesn’t seem to come in too high to pack down the sand. In fact, the soft sand gives way to small smooth stones as the beach approaches the cold North Sea. Our kiddo enjoyed throwing rocks into the water (“spsh!”) and picking rocks out of the sand… but ultimately we’ve been spoiled by the beautiful sand castle-making beaches we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy in our lifetime.

Really, Great Yarmouth could be a wonderfully fun destination for families with school-age children who can enjoy the rides and arcades and pirate mini golf. And it’s probably loads of fun as evening falls, with the lights and music capping off long active days of play and junk food, and the young adult crowd heading out to the few clubs we spotted. Of course, if you’re looking for a place to lay in the sand and look at some water, there’s plenty. But we’re going to keep looking for “our” beach.

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