Our favourite nature reserves, wildlife parks, zoos & animal experiences in Norfolk
Whether it’s a nice walk with a bit of bird-spotting or you’re looking for something a little exotic, Norfolk has plenty of opportunities for wildlife-filled days out.
To help you plan your next trip, we’ve pulled together a list of the best places to visit to find everything from sea life to Siberian tigers!
The best nature reserves, wildlife parks & zoos in Norfolk
The home of the Broads and endless expanse of countryside and coast, it’s fair to say that Norfolk’s not short of an opportunity to get up close to wildlife — whether at a zoo, a child-friendly animal experience or just glimpsing animals in their natural habitat.
1. Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens— for Asian mammals, birds, reptiles & 250 acres of manicured garden
For fans of wildlife and history, be sure to take the quick trip to Thrigby Hall, nearby Great Yarmouth. With landscaped gardens, children’s play areas and a willow-patterned garden, there’s enough fun to be had without enjoying the array of animals on show!
Thrigby Hall offers the opportunity to discover snow leopards, gibbons, deer, otters, rare tigers and even crocodiles in the swamp house — as well as doing a great job of supporting local and international conservation projects. Don’t worry if the weather’s taken a turn for the worse, either; the forest and tropical houses provide enough cover to keep everyone dry.
As well as free parking and admission for under-4s, there’s also the Cockatoo Café for a quick pit stop.
2. Banham Zoological Gardens— to connect with nature (and red pandas!)
Set in over 50 acres of open parkland and beautiful grounds, Banham offers the chance to see an array of incredible wildlife from the more common otters and alpacas, right through to some must-see creatures including red pandas and snow leopards.
Run by the charity Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), Banham is your ticket to no fewer than 2,000 animals — a true bonanza of beasts. For the little ones or big kids amongst us, there’s even the opportunity to book an animal experience.
Of course, there’s plenty to see and do other than the wildlife, with some excellent refreshments on site too, including Parkside Pizza and several other snack shacks.
3. Pensthorpe Natural Park— for wetland wildlife, bird hides & picturesque waterside walks
With a diverse range of habitats, Pensthorpe Natural Park (which is about 45 minutes from Norwich) is home to a whole host of water-loving wildlife. Managed by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, this nature reserve is an ideal location to see everything from cranes and flamingos, to teal, avocets, redshank and many more.
To keep things low key, make the most of the walking trails through the Millennium Garden, Wildlife Habitat Garden, Corten Infinity Garden Wave and the Wave Line Garden, all imagined by renowned garden designers.
You can also go pond dipping, learn more about each of the habitats and even take an off-road safari. There’s plenty of non-animal fun to be had too! Kids can explore indoor and outdoor play areas and the gift shop — we’re sure by the end of the day you’ll all be tired out!
4. Snettisham Park— a for ‘live lambing’, a deer safari & a true rural Norfolk experience
This attraction is almost 330 acres of land growing feeds, barley, sugar beet and much more. The park is also home to more than 400 ewes, as well as horses and ponies.
Take advantage of the opportunity to bottle feed lambs in the spring, ride ponies and enjoy handling a variety of smaller animals. That’s not forgetting Snettisham’s 45-minute deer safari, an experience that old and young are unlikely to forget in a hurry.
There are walking trails around the site to enjoy and you can recharge at the tearoom before visiting the gift shop.
5. Pettitts Animal Adventure Park — for domestic animals, exotic creatures & kids’ rides
The self-styled ‘premier family park’ in Norfolk, Pettitts certainly lives up to its billing with a mix of all creatures great and small. Think everything from guinea pigs and owls, to ring-tailed lemurs and racoons.
Visit with your favourite small animals in the petting zoo and feed fish, walk through the farmyard, meet meerkats, enjoy the newly reopened and refurbished reptile world and much more. Families can enjoy play areas and rides as well stocking up on snacks and treats as you go around.
6. Happisburgh Owls— to discover a range of friendly, awe-inspiring birds
If you’re not snapping the picture-postcard lighthouse or admiring the pristine coastal panoramas on offer at Happisburgh, you’ll definitely want to meet their owls. Happisburgh Owls’ experience will allow you to get up close and personal with this family-run attraction’s range of tame, fascinating and undeniably cute birds of prey.
Whilst their entire owl family is stunning, be sure to keep your eyes out for ‘Dusk’, a black melanistic barn owl. Melanism is a 1 in 100,000 genetic mutation in owls and is the opposite of albinism. So, whilst Dusk is not quite one in a million, he’s pretty rare!
Discover Norfolk’s wildlife from one of our holiday parks
There’s definitely no shortage of wildlife on offer in Norfolk, no matter where you are staying.
Our Waxham Sands Holiday Park offers luxury touring and camping holidays beside the gorgeous sands of Waxham, only a moment from Horsey Gap, renowned for its resident grey seal colonies. A few miles up the road you’re immersed in the beauty of the Broads, awash with birdlife and on the doorstep of the Happisburgh Owls.
If you’re seeking a more permanent commitment to Norfolk, we also offer holiday home ownership at Golden Beach, our second location in Norfolk. Those at Azure Seas, our owners-only park in Suffolk, will also be able to pop up to the Broads in no time!