A county bursting with history, culture, and natural beauty and located in the heart of southeastern England, there are plenty of things to do in Essex. From exploring ancient castles to enjoying coastal walks, there’s something for everyone in this charming county.
Located just east of London, Essex is a place that has captured the hearts of many visitors over the years. With over 350 miles of coastline, it’s no surprise that beach lovers flock to the seaside towns of Southend-on-Sea, Clacton-on-Sea, and Frinton-on-Sea during the summer months. Meanwhile, history buffs can indulge themselves in the county’s rich past by visiting the grandeur of Colchester Castle, the oldest recorded town in Britain, or taking a trip to the charming medieval village of Lavenham. The county is also a haven for nature enthusiasts, with Epping Forest providing ample opportunity for outdoor activities such as cycling, walking, and horse riding.
Whatever your interests, there are diverse range of things to do in Essex, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a longer stay, and here we bring you all the details about the things to do in Essex with your family, friends or solo.
Adventurous & thrilling things to do in Essex
Essex is not just a county for peaceful countryside walks and quaint village visits; there are plenty of adventurous activities to get your blood pumping. Here are some of the most thrilling things to do in Essex:
Experience the ultimate adrenaline rush with a tandem skydive over Essex. You’ll soar to an altitude of 12,000 feet before jumping out of the plane, freefalling for up to 40 seconds before your instructor opens the parachute. This thrilling activity provides breathtaking views of the county as you slowly descend back to earth.
Try Water Sports
With its proximity to the coast, Essex is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Head to Southend-on-Sea for some exhilarating kite surfing or windsurfing, or go for a kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding adventure on the tranquil rivers and lakes in the countryside.
Get off the beaten track and explore the rugged terrain of Essex on a quad biking or 4×4 off-roading adventure. There are various tracks and trails across the county that cater to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, offering an exciting and bumpy ride.
Go Ape at the Forest
Swing, climb and zip through the treetops of Epping Forest with Go Ape, an aerial adventure course that includes zip wires, rope bridges, and Tarzan swings. This is a fantastic activity for families, groups of friends, or team building days out.
Visit Adventure Parks
If you’re looking for a day out that offers a variety of activities, check out the many adventure parks in Essex. They offer a range of activities like climbing walls, high ropes courses, bouncy castles, and more, ensuring a fun-filled and exciting day out for all ages.
Relaxing things to do in Essex
Essex is a county famous for its bustling cities, idyllic countryside, and stunning coastline. While there are plenty of other things to do in Essex, sometimes it’s nice to simply unwind and relax. Fortunately, Essex has plenty of options for those looking to take it easy. From scenic walks to spa treatments, here are some of the most relaxing things to do in Essex.
Take a stroll in one of Essex’s many parks or nature reserves
With over 350 miles of coastline and numerous parks, there are plenty of places to enjoy the great outdoors in Essex. Take a relaxing walk in one of the county’s parks, such as Weald Country Park or Hadleigh Country Park, or explore the countryside on one of the many hiking trails.
Enjoy a spa day
Essex is home to a number of luxurious spas, offering everything from massages to facials to full-body treatments. Book a day at one of the county’s top spas, such as Lifehouse Spa and Hotel or Greenwoods Hotel and Spa, and indulge in some well-deserved pampering.
Visit a vineyard
Essex has a growing reputation for producing high-quality wines, and a visit to one of the county’s vineyards is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Take a tour of the vineyard, sample some of the local wines, and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.
Relax on one of Essex’s beaches
With over 350 miles of coastline, Essex has plenty of beaches to choose from. Whether you prefer the sandy beaches of Clacton-on-Sea or the rugged coastline of Southend-on-Sea, a day at the beach is a great way to unwind.
Take a boat trip
Take a leisurely boat trip along one of Essex’s waterways, such as the River Crouch or the River Stour. Sit back and relax as you take in the stunning scenery and wildlife. Many boat trips also offer food and drink, making it the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Family-friendly things to do in Essex
If you are planning a family vacation or day trip, Essex has a plethora of family-friendly activities and attractions that cater to all ages. From interactive museums to adventure parks, and scenic walks to wildlife reserves, Essex has something to offer for everyone. Let’s explore some of the best family-friendly things to do in Essex, which are sure to make your trip a memorable one.
Colchester Zoo is a perfect day out for families with young children. The zoo is home to over 220 species of animals, including elephants, giraffes, tigers, and penguins. The zoo also offers various events and activities, such as animal feeding, a sea lion show, and a train ride through the park.
Located in Southend-on-Sea, Adventure Island is a popular amusement park with over 40 rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and children’s rides. The park also features a mini-golf course, arcade games, and various food outlets.
Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park
Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park is a farm-themed park that allows children to get up close with farm animals, such as goats, pigs, rabbits, and sheep. The park also features various play areas, including a soft play area, sandpit, and outdoor play area.
Chelmsford Museum is a great place for families to learn about the history and culture of Essex. The museum features various exhibitions, including natural history, archaeology, and local history. The museum also offers various activities, such as craft workshops, family trails, and storytelling sessions.
Epping Ongar Railway
The Epping Ongar Railway is a heritage railway that runs steam and diesel trains between Ongar and North Weald stations. The railway also offers various events, such as Santa Specials, Easter Eggspress, and Halloween Ghost Train. The train ride offers stunning views of the Essex countryside and is an enjoyable experience for all ages.
Romantic things to do in Essex
Essex is a county known for its beautiful countryside, quaint towns, and rich history. It’s no wonder that it’s also home to plenty of romantic things to do. From cozy restaurants to scenic walks, here are some of the best romantic things to do in Essex.
Take a stroll through Dedham Vale
Dedham Vale, located in the heart of Constable Country, is the perfect place for a romantic walk. The area is filled with stunning scenery, including rolling hills, meandering rivers, and charming cottages. Take a leisurely stroll hand in hand with your significant other and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Dine at a romantic restaurant
Essex has no shortage of romantic restaurants perfect for a cozy dinner for two. From modern fine dining to traditional British fare, there’s something for every taste. Try The Railway in Billericay for a charming countryside vibe or Milsom’s in Colchester for a luxurious dining experience.
Go on a hot air balloon ride
For a truly unique and unforgettable experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the stunning Essex countryside. Enjoy the breathtaking views with your significant other and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Visit a historic castle
Essex is home to several beautiful historic castles, such as Colchester Castle and Hedingham Castle. Explore the fascinating history and architecture of these stunning landmarks while enjoying a romantic day out.
Relax at a spa
For a more relaxing and indulgent day out, visit one of Essex’s many spas. Enjoy a couples massage, soak in a hot tub, and unwind in the tranquil surroundings. Try The Lifehouse Spa in Thorpe-le-Soken for a luxurious and rejuvenating experience.
Social things to do in Essex
Essex is also home to many charming towns and villages, each offering unique experiences and social activities. From exploring fascinating museums and art galleries to indulging in delicious food and drink, there are plenty of social things to do in Essex.
Visit Colchester Castle Museum
Colchester Castle is one of the most important historic sites in Essex. It is a museum that showcases the history of the town and its people. You can explore the castle’s various rooms, which depict different periods in the town’s history. There are also various exhibitions and events held throughout the year.
Southend-on-Sea is a popular seaside resort town in Essex, known for its long pier and amusement park. You can take a stroll along the pier, play games at the amusement park, or relax on the beach. The town also has many shops, restaurants, and bars to explore.
Enjoy the food and drink scene
Essex has a thriving food and drink scene, with many restaurants, pubs, and cafes offering delicious cuisine. Whether you’re looking for traditional British food or international cuisine, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. There are also many breweries and vineyards in the area, offering tours and tastings.
Explore the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Dedham Vale is a beautiful area of countryside in Essex, featuring picturesque villages, rolling hills, and meandering rivers. You can take a walk or cycle through the countryside, or visit one of the many charming villages, such as Dedham or Flatford.
Visit the Lakeside Shopping Centre
The Lakeside Shopping Centre is a large indoor shopping centre in Essex, with over 250 shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can spend the day shopping for clothes, electronics, and gifts, or watch a movie at the cinema.
Attend a music festival
Essex is home to many music festivals, including the V Festival and the Brentwood Festival. These festivals feature a range of musical acts, as well as food, drink, and entertainment.
Explore Epping Forest
Epping Forest is a large area of woodland and open countryside in Essex. It is a popular destination for walking, cycling, and horse riding, with many trails and paths to explore. There are also many historic sites within the forest, including Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge.
Festive and eventful things to do in Essex
Essex offers a wide variety of festive activities and events throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities or adult-oriented festivities, Essex has something to offer for everyone. From traditional Christmas markets to outdoor ice skating rinks and seasonal theatre productions, there are numerous ways to embrace the holiday spirit and make the most of the festive season in Essex.
Visit the Christmas Markets
Christmas markets are a staple of the festive season, and Essex offers several options to choose from. From the medieval-themed markets in Colchester to the Hylands House Christmas Market in Chelmsford, there’s something for everyone. These markets offer a wide range of handmade gifts, festive food, and drinks, as well as live entertainment.
Skate on an Outdoor Rink
One of the best ways to enjoy the winter season is by skating on an outdoor rink. In Essex, there are several outdoor skating rinks to choose from, including the one in Chelmsford’s Central Park and the Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre in Chelmsford. You can enjoy skating under the stars with your family or friends, followed by hot chocolate or mulled wine.
Attend a Christmas Pantomime
Christmas pantomimes are a must-see for families during the festive season. In Essex, there are several pantomimes to choose from, including the Cliffs Pavilion Theatre in Southend and the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. These shows offer a mix of comedy, music, and dancing that will keep both kids and adults entertained.
Experience the Magic of Christmas Lights
The festive season in Essex is incomplete without the beautiful light displays. From the Tiptree Christmas Lights Switch On event to the Clacton Christmas Lights Switch On, there are several events where you can enjoy the magical lights and the festive atmosphere. These events often feature live entertainment, fireworks displays, and seasonal food and drink.
Visit Santa’s Grotto
Meeting Santa Claus is a highlight of the festive season for children, and Essex offers several opportunities to do so. From the Santa’s Grotto at the Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park in South Woodham Ferrers to the Santa Specials at the Epping Ongar Railway, there are several places to visit Santa and make lasting memories with your family.
To conclude, we can easily say that Essex is a fantastic destination for anyone looking for all-inclusive fun and adventure. With a wide range of activities and attractions to suit all tastes, you’ll never be short of things to do in this vibrant and exciting county. Whether you’re into history, culture, nature, or simply having a good time, there’s something for everyone in Essex. So why not start planning your trip today and experience all the amazing things this wonderful county offers?
What is Essex known for?
Essex is known for many things, including its beautiful coastline, rich history, vibrant nightlife, and world-famous celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and Russell Brand. It is also known for its thriving music and arts scenes, picturesque villages, and excellent shopping opportunities.
How far is Essex from London?
Essex is located to the northeast of London and is approximately 25-30 miles away from the city center, depending on where in Essex you are traveling to.
What are the best things to do in Essex?
Some of the best things to do in Essex include visiting historical sites such as Colchester Castle, exploring the beautiful Epping Forest, enjoying a day out at the seaside in places like Southend-on-Sea, and shopping at some of the county's many retail destinations.
What are the best beaches in Essex?
Essex has several excellent beaches, including Southend-on-Sea, Clacton-on-Sea, and Frinton-on-Sea. These beaches offer a range of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, as well as plenty of amenities such as cafes, restaurants, and shops.
What are the best pubs in Essex?
Essex has a fantastic pub culture, with many traditional and modern establishments to choose from. Some of the best pubs in Essex include The Railway Tavern in Chelmsford, The Queen's Head in Chelmsford, The Chequers in Billericay, and The Eagle in Kelvedon Hatch.
What is the best way to get around Essex?
The best way to get around Essex depends on where you're going and what you want to do. The county has a good network of roads and public transportation options, including buses and trains, which are affordable and convenient.
What is the weather like in Essex?
The weather in Essex is typically mild and temperate, with warm summers and cool winters. The county experiences some rainfall throughout the year, but overall, the weather is pleasant and enjoyable.
What are the best places to stay in Essex?
Essex has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, and self-catering properties. Some of the best places to stay in Essex include the historic city of Colchester, the coastal town of Southend-on-Sea, and the beautiful countryside around Epping Forest.