Essex: 20 Things To See, Do, Or Eat

Essex is a vibrant location with various attractions to keep visitors occupied, but discovering what to do can be tricky considering it’s difficult to know where to start. Since you’re spoilt for choice in Essex, this article has been written to provide inspiration for those who are intrigued to visit the destination but need guidance, and having read this article you’ll increase your knowledge of the area tenfold and gain some fantastic ideas of exciting things to do.

Colchester Zoo

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Colchester Zoo is a fabulous day out for people of all ages, and is home to 260 species across 60 acres of land. The Zoo is cited as the 11th best in the world, alongside being ranked in the top 2 zoos in the UK. There are opportunities to feed the animals and navigate through several different habitats, and you’ll be introduced to exotic species such as Komodo Dragons and Tigers.

Audley End House

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Audley End is home to one of the most impressive mansion houses in the country, a decadent landmark with an extensive heritage. When visiting the mansion, you can explore the grounds and enjoy the stunning countryside views, while meeting staff, seeing the horses, and appreciating the all-around Victorian theme.

Combined Military Services Museum

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This prestigious museum allows visitors to journey through the history of the British military, spanning multiple eras including the Medieval Battlefields, the Napoleonic Wars, and later through the 19th and 20th century, specifically covering the World Wars. There are various weapons on display, and numerous mind-blowing memorabilia which will blow your mind.


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Bartellas is a lovely contemporary restaurant which majors in good food, priding itself on a professional backdrop with smart surroundings. The food is very well priced, and the menu is suitable for all the family, with a range of choices from classics such as pizza and pasta, to more sophisticated starters, mains, and desserts.

The Beth Chatto Gardens

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This quaint series of gardens consists of plants which thrive in different conditions, meaning there is something to see all year round. This inspirational environment has become a world-renowned Gravel Garden with spectacular plants, and in addition there is a tearoom which allows visitors to relax after taking in the breathtaking surroundings.

Adventure Island

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This is a fun packed adventure park with fantastic rides across 7 acres of land. One of the biggest draws here is the quick queue times, where even on the hottest summer’s day you won’t be required to wait much longer than 15 minutes to go on a ride. The park is open until 10pm every night, creating a capacity to ride anywhere up to roughly 50 times per day!

Castle Park

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Situated in the north east of Colchester, this historic grounds consists of an Upper and Lower Park which is separated by an impressive Roman Wall. With a heritage that spans centuries, the park spans 11 hectares and is widely considered one of the most special parks in the country in terms of historical significance.

Mercury Theatre

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This is one of the most active theatres in the region, and has consequently done wonders for the creative economy. Over 130,000 people visit the theatre throughout the year, where there are incredible programmes put on throughout two auditoria. Mercury Theatre is renowned for touching audiences across the nation, and has garnered critical attention for its endeavors.

Hadleigh Castle

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Overlooking the Thames Estuary, Hadleigh Castle was built in 1215, and throughout the years it has played a significant economic role. Over time the grounds have expanded considerably, and was previously the home of Edward III who remodelled the location. The remains are protected by English Heritage, and this monument is a fascinating listed building.

Pipe of Port

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This streamlined restaurant first opened its doors in 1976, but it has since changed considerably to transcend in the 21st century. The modern environment offers brilliant food, award winning service, and is home to a host of world wines and other drinks. The owners of the restaurant focus on delivering homemade classics and contemporary British food.

Imperial Bird of Prey Academy

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As the leading bird of prey centre in Essex, the academy offers indoor and outdoor activities for children, and if you’re intrigued to discover these fascinating creatures, the centre is fantastic for adults too. It also contains a craft shop and tearooms, and is a fantastic day for all the family.

Halfpenny Pier

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Situated in Harwich, the Halfpenny Pier is revered in terms of architectural heritage, with neighbouring surroundings which are conserved due to their cultural significance. The pier itself is a fantastic day out, where there are various amusements contrasting the tranquility of the sea to create a diverse experience.

Boydells Dairy Farm

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A stunning day out for the family, this farm comprises a network of different animals targeted mostly at children, but the site can essentially be enjoyed by anyone who loves animals. The farm offers guided tours and school trips, and as a member of the National Farm Attractions Network, Boydells offers a high standard of service for their customers.

The Old Siege House

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Located in Colchester, The Old Siege House offers an ore-inspiring selection of European cuisine with an English twist, generating a unique blend of two of the most appreciated fares in the world. The environment within the restaurant is ambient, and the sophisticated and relaxing setup is the perfect environment for family and friends.

Chelmsford Cathedral

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This landmark is a centre of worship for people throughout Essex and London, but can be visited during the week and appreciated for its incredible architecture and heritage. Whether you’re a religious person or simply interested in observing a stunning building, this eye-catching attraction which was built between 1200 and 1520 offers a great experience.

Mountfitchet Castle

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Overlooking the Stort Valley, this historic castle was utilised as a fort for Saxon and Viking settlement prior to the 1066 attack by William the Conqueror. Having been forgotten about for some time, the castle was restored to its former glory throughout the 1980s, and is now open to the public to allow visitors to travel back in time.

East Anglian Railway Museum

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This wondrous museum is located at the site of the fully functioning Chappel & Wakes Colne Railway Station. Trains pass through every half an hour, and visitors can take short train rides as part of the experience, while enjoying the memorabilia on hand and learning about the history of trains and railways in the UK.

The New London Restaurant and Lounge

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This new age eatery is passionate about seasonal food, and is an enchanting setting with elegant surroundings. As a relaxed restaurant that prides itself on an unpretentious atmosphere, the restaurant collaborates with top quality suppliers to provide excellent food, and having won awards based on their standards, The New London Restaurant and Lounge is a must visit.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

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Enjoy a good day out at this public display garden, especially if you appreciate horticulture. The quaint backdrop creates a tranquil experience for anyone who desires to get away from the hustle and bustle and everyday life, and RHS aims to enrich people’s lives with plants, while making the UK a greener place.

Leisure Island

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This fun park is designed for children, with 14 rides for under 11’s alongside four additional attractions. Dogs are welcome at the park, and with plenty of food options and other appeasing features, this is a great place to visit and treat the kids.

I hope you have found this article informative, and have learned about fantastic places to visit in Essex. There are lots of locations to explore in the area, and this article has given twenty fantastic ideas to help you the viewer expand your horizons, and ultimately help you have a memorable time out.