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Things to do cheap from RAF Mildenhall

My son and his wife and kids ages 5, 7, 9 are stationed at Mildenhall with USAF. Grandpa (me) wants to go visit but son won’t be back from deployment until july. I’m on a budget but staying with them so no hotel costs until they throw me out. What can we do as family? The only thing I have to do is see a friend on Achill Island county Mayo, Ireland. The kids r homeschooled so any excursion will be field trip.

Posted by
1024 posts

Mildenhall is located in Suffolk, a fairly rural area of Eastern England. Assuming you will have a car to use, there are a number of charming little villages near there. Bury St. Edmunds is the site of an old abbey, and Newmarket is a horse racing area. You can venture out to Norwich, if you like, although I am hard pressed to think of any sites that are all that compelling. To the west is the town of Ely, which has a fine Gothic cathedral to visit and explore. Ely is also the closest real rail hub, and you can park the car there and catch the train to Cambridge, the university town, for a nice afternoon visit. If you prefer to drive to Cambridge, rather than taking the train, there is a fine aviation museum located at RAF Duxford, which should keep the kids fascinated for a few hours. Of course, if you want to go to London, the train departs from Cambridge.

I don't know about Ireland, but I do know Suffolk and points south.

Posted by
727 posts

There are many lovely places around Suffolk. Once away from Mildenhall, you will find few Americans unless of course, you go to Cambridge - which I highly recommend. If you are going in the summer, I would suggest some of the Suffolk coastal towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh. The kids would love the beaches here. Not sandy but pebbled and the towns are quaint and interesting. I would not suggest Great Yarmouth. Towards Bury St Edmunds another small village to explore is Lavenham. Duxford air museum, Thetford forest, Ely Cathedral, Newmarket Races are all good suggestions.

All this would be better with a car. Are you planning on seeing your friend in Ireland first? If so a flight into Stansted on Ryan Air from Dublin would be the most convenient. Stanstead to Mildenhall (approx. 50 miles).

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks all for the cool responses—The Person Who Writes Stuff, Wbfey1, Mpaulyn, thanks for the links Ramblin On!! I love the air museums and have been to many here in the US with kids so seeing one in the UK would be awesome!! I am a Library science major so oldest, coolest and interesting libraries would be great as well. Thanks for the comments!!!!!

Posted by
512 posts

Hi barias2,
I was assigned to the Lakenheath/Mildenhall/Feltwell complex for five years and lived in the town of Mildenhall during my time there. There are many, many attractive places neraby. East Anglia is a gem.
I assume your son and daughter-in-law will have a car. Walking around to explore towns and villages is pleasant and free. Right in Mildenhall, behind Sainsburys there is a walking path that follows along the River Lark down to Barton Mills, an easy walk.

As has been suggested, Bury St. Edmunds is so pretty, especially in spring and summer when all the flowers are in bloom. Wednesdays and Saturdays are market days and fun to browse. The center of town is very compact and easily walkable. Visit the abbey ruins and gardens and the cathedral. If you go to Newmarket, go early in the morning to see the jockeys out exercising the race horses.
Definitely take a ride up to the Queen's estate at Sandringham. There is an admission charge. We always took visitors there and then over to nearby Hunstanton or Kings Lynn. Both are fun places to explore. Right outside of Hunstanton are the lavender fields which might be in bloom while you are there.
There are many many beautiful stately homes and properties in the area. I know you are looking for cheap but it is hard to go to England and not visit these places, even if you have to pay a fee. If you join the National Trust it more than pays for itself if you visit several properties. Since your daughter-in-law is home schooling the kids she should look into joining. Some beautiful estates relatively nearby include Anglesey Abbey and Lode Mill (right outside of Cambridge), Oxburgh Hall, Holkham Hall up on the coast, and lots of others.
Don't skip the cute little town of Lavenham with its crooked timbered houses. Another must, and very close by, is the town of Ely with its beautiful cathedral and picturesque riverfront. It is right up the road from Mildenhall. And there is also a small museum in Prickwillow on the way to Ely that explains how the fens were drained. Nearby Thetford has ruins right in town and the Thetford Forest nearby for outdoor activities. And Cambridge is only thirty minutes away by car. Lots to do there.
There are also some castles relatively nearby: one in Norwich, one in Framlingham. Southwold is a pretty beach town with its colorful little beach houses.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks Pat, we will look into joining the National Trust. My son and DIL will love this info as well and I am sure they have some cool stuff lined up for us but this info is fantastic!! I’m glad I stumbled onto this site!! Thank you so much!!!!

Posted by
28131 posts

If you want to see old libraries, get to Cambridge.

Pepys Library, donated and built by the man himself, complete with shelves, is just as it was, arranged nit by content or colour or importance, but by size. Open for free a few hours a week, most of the year.

There are others -
Wren Library (yes, designed by the man himself after the reconstruction began after the Great Fire of London) at Trinity College holds more than 200,000 books printed before 1800, , open free limited hours most days; while the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, has one of the greatest early medieval European manuscript collections in the world, with over 600 manuscripts,CorpusChristiCollege open occasionally, and most items available to view on line.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. You won't believe what 's at Cambridge. If you love books, that's the place.

Then again if you are headed west to the other place, Oxford, you could do worse than spend a few hours at the Bodleian.