Need a break? Or looking for ideas for a day out with the kids? Then look no further than the Essex Discovery Coast.
Take the resorts of Walton, Frinton and Clacton. With their mile upon mile of soft, safe sand sloping gently into the sea (plenty of Quality Awards here), they're bucket-and-spade heaven. Pack a picnic, pick your spot and the kids will be entertained all day. If you can drag them away from the beach, you'll find plenty else to keep them occupied, including Clacton and Walton piers, crammed with rides and amusements (look out for the value wristbands). For quieter pleasures, fly a kite on the greensward at genteel Frinton, hunt for fossils along the Naze, take a ride along the coastal cycle path or board a boat in search of seals.
Southend-on-Sea is another major family destination. A wind-whipped walk or ride on the historic train that runs the length of the pleasure pier (the longest in the world) is an absolute must - look out for the new cultural centre opening this year. Back on dry land, the thrill rides at Adventure Island will have them screaming with joy. With its beaches, watersports and aquarium, there's plenty else going on. Come for the air show or one of the festivals (all free!) and soak up the atmosphere.
Essex Discovery Coast
Get a sense of true maritime Essex by taking a trip on one of the many Thames Sailing Barges moored at Maldon. Alternatively, visit the coastal towns of Burnham-on-Crouch, often called the Cowes of the East, and Brightlingsea that come alive with yachts during the boating season.
The Maritime Essex tour has been created to give visitors a guide to some of the best attractions along the coast. It's an eight point route, starting at Harwich and finishing at Leigh-on-Sea. Delights on this tour include Walton-on-the-Naze, which is an early Victorian seaside resort, where you can visit the second longest pleasure pier in the country. For a more sedate pace visit Frinton-on-Sea famed for its Art Deco buildings. Here you can enjoy a stroll along the attractive seafront, take in the vistas of the great North Sea and watch the more adventurous showing off their kite-boarding skills.