50 things to do in the East of England

Children climbing a tree in the grounds of Mottisfont, Hampshire.

This summer fill your days with challenges and adventures and become the explorer you were meant to be, with our 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ activities.

With hours of sunlight on your side and the National Trust’s list of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ to get stuck into, the summer holidays will be a whirlwind adventure. With everything from rolling down hills to catching crabs, here’s our top places and activities to try.

50 things full activity list 

If you want to download a PDF of the whole list, then here it is.

Some of our favourite activities
Child enjoying the trees in Hatfield Forest, Essex a rare surviving example of a medieval royal hunting forest.

No. 1 Get to know a tree - Hatfield Forest, Essex 

The ancient trees of Hatfield Forest are like living sculptures. Some are an incredible 1,200 years old, there are even some that have become ‘walking trees', where a tree falls over, re-roots and begins to grow again.

Children den building

No. 4 Build a den – Sheringham Park, Norfolk 

Are you ready for a den building adventure? Explore the woods at Sheringham Park and you'll find plenty of sticks for building your den. Be creative, and once it's up, crawl in and have fun.

Learn to fly a kite in Knole Park, Kent.

No. 7 Fly a kite – Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire 

Dunstable Downs is the highest point in the East of England, which makes it the perfect spot for kite flying. Why not come and learn how to make a kite this summer and watch it soar?

Family picnic on the grass

No. 9 Eat a picnic in the wild - Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire 

At Wimpole you're spoilt for choice when it comes to picnic spots. Why not pack up your goodies and head to the folly? Here you'll be able to enjoy the view back towards the hall and lake from the ruins.

join us for a family fun day

No. 11 Explore on wheels – Blickling Estate, Norfolk 

Why not hire a bike and explore Blickling Estate on two wheels? Cycle through the woods and park on a route suitable for little legs, all safe in the knowledge that it will be traffic free.

50 things girl making daisy chain

No. 16 Wear a wild crown - Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk 

Making a daisy chain and turning it into a wild crown is a perfect summer activity when the sun is shining at Felbrigg Hall. All you need is a patch of grass with daisies and you're good to go.

Bridge Cottage, Flatford

No. 19 Play pooh sticks – Flatford, Suffolk 

Have we found the best bridge in the East for playing pooh sticks? Pick a winning stick, head to the bridge and watch those sticks go. Why not make a journey stick of your day, collecting any leaves or feathers you find and weaving them onto your stick when you get home?

Girl jumping over waves

No. 20 Go paddling – Brancaster Beach, Norfolk 

Do you love the seaside? Don’t be shy, the water might be a bit cold, but a paddle can still be fun. Try jumping over the waves as they wash into the sandy shore. How many can you jump over in a row?

 Children using blades of grass as whistles in the garden

No. 25 Join nature's band - Ickworth, Suffolk 

Just one blade of grass can create the most amazing sound, when you put it between your thumbs and blow - have you tried it yet? Visit Ickworth’s inspiration station this summer for more ideas.

Child looking at a bug in an insect catcher

No. 31 Make friends with a bug – Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire 

Wicken Fen is a really important home for wildlife, in fact more than 9000 species have been recorded here, including a spectacular array of plants, birds and dragonflies. You know what that means don't you, it's the perfect location for a bug hunt.

Child lying on the grass looking at the sky

No. 33 Go cloud watching - Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire 

Lean back, relax and explore our vast Fenland skies from the Skylight Garden of Anglesey Abbey. Here we've even created some special oak structures, designed to support you, as you watch the ever-changing shapes pass across the sky.

A family pond dipping

No. 35 Discover what's in a pond – Dunwich Heath, Suffolk 

What will you discover lurking in the pond at Dunwich Heath? Whilst you're there look out for footprints, feathers, fur and even poo around the reserve, as you track some of the other smaller animals that call Dunwich home.

Rock pooling at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex.

No. 39 Catch a crab – Blakeney Quay, Norfolk Coast 

This is probably the best place for catching crabs on the Norfolk Coast. Crabs can look pretty crazy when they’re scuttling sideways, but have you ventured up close to a crab? Remember to carefully put them back where you found them.

Girl in field looking through binoculars

No. 44 Watch a bird – Orford Ness, Suffolk 

If you're visiting Orford Ness this summer, remember to bring your binoculars, as there’s plenty of birds to spot on this nature reserve. To be a successful bird watcher, you'll need to be as quiet as a mouse while you keep a look out for our feathered friends.