Beach huts. Boat trips. Buckets and spades. And crabbing. Lots of crabbing. If this is the stuff of bygone family holidays, prepare to rekindle your fondest childhood memories. North Norfolk has all this in, ahem, spades. There’s something else, though, about this scenic swathe of England’s east coast that invariably seduces parents in search of hassle-free family holidays (other than a stylish base, of course).

Beaches – safe, sandy, and so improbably vast as to never feel busy, are the obvious draw. But this uncrowded coastline is also blissfully uncommercialised. Like the cute little port town of Wells-next-the-Sea with its unmissable beach (more on that later), seaside towns here are more take-it-slow than kiss-me-quick, and there are quaint coastal villages with looks to charm. It’s a winning combination when you’re at that ‘simple pleasures with a dash of nostalgia’ stage of the family holiday lifecycle.

Those who know and love North Norfolk tend to want to keep it to themselves (join them and you’ll know why). Here we spill the beans and share our pick of this part of Norfolk’s best family days out with a ready-made itinerary…

Arrival: Popcorn and pool time

Settling into your room at The Harper, make the joyful discovery of complimentary popcorn (Norfolk-made, naturally) and other assorted nibbles. Cue happy kids – and they’ll be happier still with a dip in the private pool (all to yourself for 30 minutes but don’t forget to book your slot in advance). All this splashing about will have worked up appetites, so dry off and stroll down to the village for dinner at our little sister The Langham Blue Bell, where a leafy garden proves perfect for running off energy before bedtime.

Day 1: Beach huts and high ropes

Fuel up for a day’s exploring with a generous breakfast in Stanley’s, then you’re off to one of Norfolk’s (if not England’s) best beaches.

The beach at Wells-next-the-Sea is a pine-fringed swathe of soft, golden sand is famously backed by a long line of brightly coloured beach huts on stilts. Hire one out with Happy Huts, and relax as the tribe scamper happily on the sand below. Beach facilities are excellent, swimming is safe within the yellow buoys, and RNLI lifeguards are in attendance from June to September. Don’t forget to bring a jacket to enjoy the sand in the cooler months though. When the tide’s out, the sand stretches a mile to the distant sea, dotted with shallow pools perfect for little ones. In Wells Beach Café, next to the car park, serves great ice cream.

Enjoy a Harper picnic here, or in the dunes at neighbouring Holkham Beach. It’s a lovely, two-mile walk along the sand from Wells, though with kids it’s easier to park on Lady Anne’s Drive (turn right off the coast road opposite the entrance to Holkham village) and take the shady boardwalk to the beach. As you emerge, its epic scale will take your breath away. Sit back as the kids clamber up and down the dunes (they’ll sleep well tonight!), with views out to sea one way and a forest of fragrant pines the other. Before you leave, explore Holkham Estate’s 25,000 acres where an adventure play area and treetop high ropes course keeps intrepid children entertained (think rickety bridges, thrilling zip lines, and if you’re brave enough to join them, a bird’s-eye view of the estate).

With fresh air quotas restored, return for drinks in The Yard and the pleasures of the tasting menu in Stanley’s.

Day 2: Grey seals and gillies

With any luck, all that sea air will mean everyone sleeps in a little longer. After a leisurely start (and a second coffee while the kids work through their crumpets and jam), take the road up to National Trust-owned Morston Quay for a North Norfolk family holiday highlight. The shallow waters around Blakeney Point, a four-mile spit of sand and shingle that unfurls along the coast from nearby Cley-next-the-Sea (home to the famous windmill) harbour Europe’s largest colony of grey seals. Hop on a boat at the quay and see them up close as you glide past the shingle banks of beautiful Blakeney Harbour – designated a National Nature Reserve. Accustomed to visitors, they’ll sometimes show off, much to the delight of younger passengers.

Back on dry land, drop into The Morston Anchor for fish and chips – and a tub of ice cream for the kids.

No trip to North Norfolk in summer is complete without a spot of gillying, so after lunch, head to Blakeney (a half-hour walk along the coast path from Morston Quay). Gillying is local parlance for crabbing – the time-honoured art of catching Norfolk gillies (as crabs are known here). There are few gentler pleasures than sitting on the quay on a summer’s afternoon, dangling your bait and waiting for the thrill of the catch. You can pick up crab lines and buckets at Creek Lifestyle on Westgate Street, which leads on to the quay. They’ll fill fast if you’re lucky, so be sure to return their captives gently home (ideally at the water’s edge) before too long.

Later, round it all off with dressed crab and samphire (what else?) for supper back at base, after a final family splash in the pool.

Day 3: Departure (via zip lines and pink flamingos)

Alas, all good things come to an end, but not before breakfast and an hour or two immersed in nature at magical Pensthorpe – a 700-acre reserve with a wetland discovery area (look out for the resident flamingos), sculpture trail, and extensive eco-friendly play areas with zip lines, rope bridges and underground tunnels. Just off the A148 near Fakenham (and therefore en route home), it’s a feelgood blend of conservation education and healthy, screen-free family time. Dare we say it, it’s also a great alternative to the coast should the weather decide to misbehave.

To secure your family fun, click on the booking link to the right