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Things to do in Essex

Visiting Essex is quite a bit more diverse than one would care to think. Will you be drawn to rollercoaster rides? Or will you go rodeo-style? Or you may prefer something slightly wilder. We list a variety of different things to do this weekend in Essex.

You are more than welcome to enjoy Essex county’s beautiful heritage, why not relax a bit at towering cathedrals and stately manor houses?

Or perhaps Marvel at the world’s largest toy collection at Mountfitchet Castle, the illustrious former Motte and Bailey castle? Perhaps you would otherwise like to see the most complete surviving aerodrome from the First World War at Stow Maries.

Visit in Essex

You will see the wonder in your kids’ eyes as they take photos of wildlife during their walks around any of the many nature reserves.

The landscape is flat and it is easy to walk along the abundant coastal paths or walk in the picturesque countryside.

Essex, loosely part of East Anglia, has 350 miles of coastline, 35 islands and two international airports.

It also boasts the oldest recorded city in Britain, Colchester, based on a reference by Pliny the Elder, the Roman writer, in his Natural History (Historia Naturalis) in 77 AD.

Places to visit in Essex

History buffs will appreciate the journey through time when exploring Roman country. Essex has more than just history – it has plenty of shops and spas.

Relax and experience the elegance of Essex horticultural gardens. Enjoy one of England’s last running steam trains, delight in the wonder of science at The Time Machine at Adventure Island in Southend on Sea, or admire the quiet horticultural gardens at Essex’s Horticulture Park.

Time Machine Adventure Ride

Enjoy a break from the modern atmosphere by using a steam-train or book a spa stay in the spa and shopping centre in the cities of Essex.

The Best things to do in Essex

The Colchester Zoo currently houses more than 200 different species including Komodo dragons in their special humid enclosures.

Komodo dragon

The Kingdom of the Wild in the Colchester Zoo is a place of feeling like you are on a safari watching white rhinos, ostriches and leopards.

The award winning Colchester Essex attraction is one of the largest and best in the country and one of the amazing host of things to do in Essex.

Make a tiger friend at the Colchester Zoo

More than 260 species are represented on its 60 acres of parkland and lakes! Don’t forget to pop into the discovery and visitor centre!

Sea lion visits

You can see elephants, giraffes, zebras and kudus in the Colchester’s own Africa Plain or walk through underwater tunnels and admire the sea lions watching you right back!

This is truly an outing with fun things for all the family!

Relaxing Things to do in Essex

Constable Country is part of the wonderful Dedham Vale region that features outstanding natural beauty. Take a 13-mile walk around the small isle of Mersea, south of Colchester.

This is a picturesque, circular walk through the beautiful Essex countryside along the Sussex border, known as Constable Country, after the English romantic painter John Constable, who lived here and was inspired to paint by the tranquil scenery around the river Stour.

Just one of the many reasons to visit Essex.

John Constable's Flatford Mill painting

Crossing water meadows, babbling brooks and meandering along the river, it’s a lovely route through a quintessentially English landscape of gentle farmland, dotted with charming villages.

Great Notley Country Park is a nature reserve covering some 100 acres of open space and outstanding natural beauty.

The site is home to Sky Ropes and Essex’s longest play trail – 1.2km – including a giant see-saw, climbing forest, tyre swings, sand pits, rope climbers, slides, forts and a water play area.

This historic parkland makes a great place for all ages for outdoor adventures and is one of the great things to do in Essex!

Great Notley Country Park - Nature Reserve in Braintree

Attractions in Essex

Visit Essex to experience water parks, outdoor golf, mini golf, a trampoline park, indoor tourist attractions, outdoor playgrounds and parks, ancient woodlands, outdoor cinemas and theatres, outdoor rail and transport are all popular attractions.

Stare in Awe at Chelmsford Cathedral

Chelmsford Cathedral - Wikipedia

The Chelmsford Cathedral church is approximately 880 years old and is open to the public at any time in the year.

On a sunny summer’s day the lush gardens are a wonderfully relaxing spot to spend a few hours.

Osea Island

Osea Island Causeway

Osea Island sits inside the River Blackwater Estuary which is only accessible over an ancient Roman Causeway.

The causeway has also appeared in Daniel Radcliffe’s 2013 feature film The Woman in Black.

The area can be hired for holidays and special events with the charm of the seaside as well as an unspoiled and rural English town that attracts people from far and wide.

Cliffs Pavilion Theatre

Cliffs Pavillion Theatre

Cliffs Pavilion is one of the most popular arts theatres in Essex. Close to the Southend on Sea coast the building is a fantastic environment for the theatre.

The Pavilion has hosted quite a few shows – big names such as Aladdin and Peter Pan.

There have been many performances by musical giants throughout history involving the space such as John Mayer, Paul McCartney, One Direction, Blur and Oasis.

Braintree Village

Excellent outlet shopping at Braintree Village

Essex isn’t necessarily without shops but Braintree Village in Chapel Hill is among its most popular shopping destinations.

Set in a tranquil village environment, the outlet centre offers a choice of brands and is the perfect place to escape from hustle and bustle of busy upper streets.

The old converted farm building at Blake House Craft Centre also houses a wide variety of shops.

Not in Braintreee, but located in West Thurrock, we also recommend the Lakeside Shopping Centre.

Visit the oldest hotel in Colchester

The Rose and Crown hotel in Colchester

The Rose and Crown Hotel is the oldest hotel, in the oldest recorded town in England.

Built over 700 years ago it’s a really historic building that retained all of its 14th century charm.

Relax in the oak clapboard Tudor Bar-Beam Brasserie by sitting around a real log fireplace.

However the most unusual is the 800 year old jail house in the basement. It’s no longer a work prison but you can wander down for a look. Or it can be hired for private functions or for special events.

Visit East Anglian Railway Museum

East Anglian Railway Museum

The centre is an accredited museum, part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage and even an official Visit England quality assured visitor attraction.

They offer an educational real steam railway museum, heritage centre and a café, enough to entertain even the most dedicated train fans.

See everything trains, from vintage carriages to diesel engines.

For younger kids and visitors it is even possible to even see Thomas the tank engine pass through the museum.


Epping Ongar Railway

Step back in time with the Epping Ongar Railway and experience the romance of travel in bygone times as you pass through picturesque countryside, beautiful forest and historic towns.

 This railway is both the longest heritage railway in Essex and the closest to London, easily accessible via the tube network.

This is also the only heritage line that runs on a former part of the tube network!

Their vintage buses start from the front door of Epping and Shenfield stations, whisking you back in time to their period stations, with heritage steam and diesel hauled trains.

Attend a Cricket match at Essex County Cricket Ground

Essex County Cricket Club

Essex County Cricket Club have been playing on Essex County Ground since 1967.

The ground often attracts a large home crowd with a capacity of 6500, and is regarded as The Fortress.

The Essex County Cricket team plays in the ground on Saturday and Sunday at the weekend and is a great sporty things to do in Essex.

Admire Essex’s Garden pleasures

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

RHS Garden Hyde Hall is and inspiration to all who walk through its magnificent area of outstanding natural beauty.

Group visits, picnics, a reading room and regular events are all offered here in these beautiful gardens.

Enjoy an ‘Pier-fect’ day out

Southend Pier

Southend Pier is a major landmark in Southend-on-Sea. Extending 1.33 miles (2.14 km) into the Thames Estuary, it is the longest pleasure pier in the world

Art with a difference

Firstsite Art Gallery

Firstsite is the East of England’s contemporary visual arts organisation where you can experience the most exciting developments in contemporary art.

Explore the rich artistic legacy cultivated by the East of England’s unique landscape and character.

Open all year – with free admission and a vibrant programme of exhibitions, films, workshops and events to spark your imagination, alongside a café and shop, First-site in Lewis Gardens in the high street, in the county town of Colchester Essex, is for everyone.

Visit the Historic Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle

A fine example of a Norman castle in Colchester, Essex, England, dating from the second half of the eleventh century.

The keep of the castle is mostly intact and is the largest example of its kind anywhere in Europe, due to its being built on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius.

Enjoy Taking a Historic walk in Essex

Hedingham Castle

Castle Hedingham is a 3.8 mile loop trail located near Halstead that features a great forest setting and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and running.

The castle itself is a large earthen ringwork castle with two baileys built probably in the late 11th century.

Explore the Langdon Nature Reserve in Basildon

Visit Peter Rabbit!

The Essex Wildlife Trust manages the Peter Rabbit Trail at Langdon Nature Reserve in Basildon, Essex.

A variety of carved wooden characters are spaced out around the route with favourites such as Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggy Winkle.

Visit the Historic Market Town

Saffron Walden Market

Saffron Walden is a delightful market town located in north-west Essex. It has a rich heritage of old buildings and the market has been here since 1141.

It derives its name from the most expensive spice in the world, saffron of course!

Use the Olympic Mountain Biking trail and aspire to be an Champion

Olympic mountain biking course

Feel like a champion on the Olympic course built for mountain biking in Hadleigh Park, adjacent to the historic Hadleigh Castle.

River float

Family paddling at Dedham Vale

The Dedham Vale received a designation of ‘an area of outstanding natural value’ in 1970.

A little under 90 square kilometres and housing just 10,000 people the area serves as a perfect stop for travellers who love the countryside.

The countryside covers about 90 square km of land and farmlands with ancient woodland, lakes, streams and meadows.

Dedham Vale offers a perfect romantic and spectacular landscape.

Get into the Boathouse Restaurant for a meal, then hire a boat and make your way down the river for another 45 minutes.

These boats have been used for renting since the 1900s and are the perfect peaceful trip along the river.

Have some Thrills and spills

Adventure Island at night

Adventure Island is the U.K’s No.1 free admission fun park. Situated on Southend-On-Sea’s famous seafront along the western esplanade, there are over 40 fabulous rides and attractions.

You don’t pay to enter, you only need to pay when you play!

With over 40 rides and attractions there is fun for all the family, from the outrageous RAGE roller coaster to the calming slip of the Helter Skelter, the fun just doesn’t stop here!

Marsh Farm

Marsh Farm fun

Marsh Farm in Southwoodham Ferrers is a must-visit place for all animal lovers.

Meet the animals, feed the birds and cuddle with the dogs on Marsh farm.

The facility serves various indoor and outdoor play areas and family events.

Check out The Broom-way – from a distance

The desolate Broomway

The Broomway is a spooky centuries old path which dates from late medieval times.

When the tides go out it disappears completely cutting off Foulness Island. This area has good reason to be checked out from afar – the treacherous path has claimed more than 100 lives of those brave (or foolish) enough to venture upon it.

Promenade Park

Splash Park

Maldon’s Promenade Park on the sloping bank of the River Blackwater, is a fantastic place for your entire family to spend a day out. Enjoy Splash Park, the Galleon playground for children, try your luck playing crazy golf or enjoy an enjoyable morning stroll along the coast.

You’ll never forget the endlessly fun things to do in Promenade Park with its incredible natural surroundings at any moment all year round.

Tea for me and tea for you

The iconic Tipton Jam Factory

The Tiptree tea rooms and visitor centre is open seven days a week, closing only for the Christmas break.

Holding a royal warrant since 1911, jam has been made here for more than 130 years.

This Factory Hill gem also has a charming and quintessentially English museum that offers free entry.

Enjoy Fresh air at the beach

West Mersey Beach

West Mersea is a fairly old fashioned type of resort beach, but in the good sense. Whilst you will find holiday parks and beach huts there is also an unspoiled, laid-back feeling about the place.

Pleasures are simple; crabbing off one of the jetties, digging in the sand or just watching the boats go by.

Enjoy the Essex Outdoors

Essex Outdoors sailing

Essex Outdoors offers a variety of outdoor learning options.

There’s an abundance of activity fun for kids from zip cables to sailing to archery.

This is a perfect place for the younger and the older to enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

There are four locations throughout the county, situated in Mersea, Bradwell, Danbury and Harlow.

Essex Outdoors is the natural home of extraordinary adventures!

Enjoy your day at Admirals Park

Admirals Park

Admirals Park is located in the city centre of Chelmsford and provides a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle.

There is lots of space to wander, trees, greenery, flowers, rivers and riverside walking paths as well as bridges.

This beautiful park has lots of places for picnics.

When you travel with children there are many playing areas there, but a cute stroll around is just as enjoyable as a fun run.

There are also several areas for children to play and there are plenty of options for adults to play inside the park.

Try some Dry Slope Skiing at the Popular Brentwood Ski Centre

Whether you are looking to just have some fun, brush up on your skills or get ready for a winter holiday, this dry ski centre offers the best.

Easy to get to and the most affordable choice of snow-sports activities available in the South East.

They are open to everyone – and if you are able to ski or snowboard already, you can go and practice without the need of tuition.

If you are a beginner and would like to learn, they offer a wide range of lessons with experienced instructors to get you started.

And if you fancy something all together different, why not go and try snow tubing! No experience or lessons are needed and anyone can do it – great fun for all the family.

Visit the Audley End House and Gardens

Audley End Estate

Audley End House and Gardens is one of the greatest sights of East Anglia.

Looking for a fun family day out? This spectacular stately home and outstanding, spacious grounds, has something for all of the family.

Visit a real life Downton Abby setting and explore life below stairs in the service wing, meet the horses in the stable yard and run around in our children’s play area.

You could even join in at one of our fantastic events from their thrilling jousts to half term activities.

The woodland features many trees and some of the best creatures in the country.

Take one of the numerous steam engines or diesel train trips through the woods.

Travel back in time and visit the Old Talliston House & Gardens

Weirdly wonderful Talliston House

Talliston House was once an ordinary council house on an ordinary street, that has been transformed into a miniature palace.

It contains a magical labyrinth of rooms have been themed over a 25-year project to look like different locations or a different period of time.

Talliston means hidden place indeed. It’s a truly weird experience and a unique place to visit during you holiday.

Catch up some History at our local historic Chelmsford Museum

The Chelmsford Museum has a great location with a lot to see among many interesting facts.

Following a complete renovation, Chelmsford Museum reopened in 2019 to take you through Chelmsford’s history, from the Ice Age, right through to the present day.

From the chance to see a mammoth, or watch a princely Anglo-Saxon burial, to finding out what used to be on your street, the museum has something for everyone.

The museum will also show you history of the Essex Regiment during the war.

Follow the trail through the beautiful Oaklands Park to locate this special museum.

Enjoy Essex’s Sea Life Adventure

Southend SeaLife Adventure

Sea Life is a few steps from Adventure Island in Southend on Sea.

England’s first and very own ‘ZooQuarium’  has many special creatures to see!

Immerse yourself in the wonders of life on planet earth, with everything from the mysteries of the deepest oceans to the beauty of the jungles and deserts.

Learn about rescue monkeys or even penguins, with daily talks. Meet the giant meerkat and see why they are such extraordinary animals.

The Abyss hosts some of the weird and wonderful creatures only found in the cold, hidden depths of the ocean, like spider crabs and lumpsuckers.

Go deep below the water, into the coral-fill depths of Deepwater World’s ocean tank which is home to number of species of tropical sharks.

Come and see some of the fiercest ocean predators living in harmony with a beautiful variety of tropical fish. In a tank of 195,000 litres of water, you’ll be surrounded by fish as you walk through our tunnel.

See turtles, otters and many species of fish.

Visit Pangaea for a Jurassic adventure and to be amazed by the awesome pre-historic creatures that once roamed land and sea.

Visit Essex and Explore the Best things to do in Essex

Lots of fun to be had in Essex!

So take note of all of the exciting and  fun things to do in Essex, Places to visit in Essex, and things to try out in Essex and experience all of the heritage that this British county has to offer you!

Visit Places that varies from beautiful gardens, historical castles, and natural beautiful parks or nature reserves in Essex. Bring the whole family and enjoy wonderful days out. You are more than Welcome and urged to have some fun with one or more of our Essex Escorts in the event of being an adult and being all alone in Essex.