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City Guide: Cromer, Norfolk
Everything you need to know for a family trip to: Cromer
First the basics, Cromer is a coastal town in the north of Norfolk. It’s pretty teeny at just over 20 miles wide and it’s next closest big town is Sheringham. It’s famous for Cromer Crab which makes up a large source of local income and it became a seaside town for rich Norfolk banking folk around the 19th century. It suffered several bombings in the second world war and was hit by further set back in 2015 when the pier was damaged in a storm.
It’s been through a period of reinvention from around 2016 and is a great place to visit as a family. It’s a lovely town full of 30 independent coffee + cafes bars. Lots of independent small shops and plenty of sights to see. We visit regularly throughout the year as a family for day trips. Below are some of our favourite things to do as a family and our tips and tricks.
If you are coming for the day head to the car park on the seafront near the top (Runton Road, carpark). It’s ever so slightly cheaper and has three bonuses a) there is always space b) there are clean public toilets next to it c) it’s a lovely walk down the steep sloped path to the beach front and a perfect intro to Cromer.
Cromer centres around the pier, which is has the only working theatre on a pier left in the UK. At the end of the pier is the RNLI Henry Blogg lifeboat museum named after the longest serving lifeboat man who saved 837 lives (which is free). There are regular shows throughout the year and the prices are pretty fair. The shows are slightly more old fashioned but still you can usually find something family friendly to watch. We love a walk along the pier to check out the views. Grab a coffee and play on the arcades, we usually just take a stroll and grab a drink elsewhere.
To the left of the Pier
If you park at Runton Road car-park this is how you will walk into Cromer. The left of the pier has a long line of beach huts. Most are privately owned but there are a couple you can rent out. £10 during the week + £25 at the weekend for the day. The beach on this side is slightly sandier and shallower for paddling. There are really lovely clean toilets including baby change, shower and disabled toilets. These are situated next to a lovely little ‘hole in the wall’ style coffee stop cafe. The cafe serves coffee + tea at good prices, soft drinks and ice-cream. The bonus is it’s right next to an awesome pirate ship playground so you can grab a drink, look out to see and let the kids play.
There is also a handful of retro fairground rides including the classic helter skelter. It’s nicely done and not tacky but as with all fair ground rides not super cheap either.
To the right of the pier
The beach is much wider and a mix of rocks and sand, you can also swim here and it’s manned by lifeguards. It’s also perfect for surfing. If you’ve never surfed at the beach front you can grab some surfing lessons for individuals or as a family package. Or if you’re a surfer without your board you can hire suits + boards for a reasonable price from Glide Surf School. For a family surf lesson it’s £27 for under 16 and £32 for adults. Winter prices Nov-Mar are discounted * prices as current season 2019
A little further along, you will see the boats and the fisher (wo) men out with their nets. Kids love looking at the boats. And next to this the Lighthouse Rocket Cafe. High up above you can eat the best Cromer crab sandwich or fish platter (both I’d highly recommend) or for kids a lovely menu including vegan options while looking out over the sea front. Prices are great value for money and always fast + tasty.
As described above the beach is slightly different to the right and the left of the pier. Personally, I prefer the right side with my little ones just because the life guards are there and the beach is deeper so they have more freedom to run before they get close to the sea.
There can be quite a breeze on the beaches so we make sure to always take a warm layer and because of the mix of sand and stones we take a picnic blanket for sitting on. It’s a perfect digging beach so make sure to bring a bucket + spade.
The beach is at the bottom of a steep slope and surrounded by beautiful colourful houses and cottages. Head up one of the slopes and into the town. It’s small and walkable and mix of small local shops with a couple of slightly larger names like Co-op + Boots. You won’t find big brands here though in general. It’s much more local. There is a lovely independent kids shoe shop called Happy Feet. Digby’s also known as Harrold's is a traditional chocolate shop if you need a sugar fix and Fancy This, Fancy That is the shop to pick up your crabbing bucket and line from if you’ve forgotten it.
Eating in Cromer
Cromer is one of the few Norfolk towns that has places open 7 days a week (this isn’t always the case in Norfolk ) and so if you are ever visiting a smaller nearby town it’s a great place to head on a Sunday.
Fish + Chips recommendations is what people always ask about most and we have two favourites. No.1 Cromer is owned and run by chef extraordinaire Michellin starred Galton Blackiston. Here you have three options. Take away downstairs, a low key dining experience inside and on the top floor a slightly fancier restaurant delivery style of fish and chips. The chips are the same whatever the floor the price differs on the service. For the money we prefer the top floor. The views of the pier and the seafront are breathtaking and all for about £1 more per dish per person. The kids meals come in a bucket and spade which you can then use on the beach which is an added bonus. Their sprat starters are also delicious. However, this place is crazy popular. You might need to book in high season and even in low season there is always a wait. If you have very hungry children and a wait is too long I’d suggest Mary Janes.
Mary Janes is located less than a 5 minute walk away and while it’s not as modern in decor the fish and chips are just as tasty.
For coffee in town locals recommend Grey Seal coffee house for a little treat. Ethically sourced, award winning coffee and you can buy fresh bread. What’s not to like!!
Other than eating and the beach…
Cromer is full of lots of lovely things like the Amazona Zoo and the Cromer Museum. If you are staying in Norfolk for a few days I would recommend buying the museum pass. It is usually only a little more than the ticket price itself and gets you into lots of other lovely places for free in and around Norfolk. Be brave and have a little wander you will definitely find your own adventure as there is always lots of events on in Cromer. Currently, you can spot the Peregrine falcons at the parish church in the town centre with the telescopes set up outside.
As with all good seaside towns there are two small games arcades by the beach. They are full of the obligatory 2p machines and we always pay a visit and play with a lucky £. They are very similar but we prefer Leisureland a little more as there are more kids 2p options versus the more adult games.
Need a park to run about...head to North Lodge Park. It’s got a boating lake, great views and loads of space to run. In the summer it will often have shows on too.
If your children are a bit older and up for a walk choose a direction and head east or west along the coastal paths (check the weather first) east and you’ll run into the lighthouse. West and you’ll get to Overstrand.
There are so many beautiful little seaside stops surrounding Cromer and if you’re driving don’t be scared to just hop out of the car if you see somewhere nice. We often do a lot of roadside shopping which is pretty unique to Norfolk. Keep some cash to hand as often you will see, asparagus, strawberries, jams, plants + crabs for sale at the side of the road. Most have honesty boxes and it’s a great way to support locally.
If you’re travelling by train remember to breathe in the views the journey itself is pretty spectacular.
*Thumbs up from us. H wearing Scout sunglasses
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