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  • Audley End House and Gardens
  • Sunset in Colchester
  • Hylands House
  • Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum
  • Hadleigh Castle
  • RHS Garden Hyde Hall
  • Maldon Hythe Quay

Fun things to do in Essex

Wondering what to do in Essex? Essex is truly a county of contrasts. Steeped in history and infused with unique architectural, historic and natural treasures, encapsulating everything that is great about the coast, the countryside and market towns. There is a wealth of hidden gems waiting to be discovered and explored including FREE things to do in Essex. The county offers visitors a huge range of things you simply must see and do and wonderful places to go in Essex. Whatever your interests, you can be sure of a great day out.

Essex has a number of notable stately homes. Audley End House near Saffron Walden was once a Royal palace while Ingatestone Hall has been owned by the same family since the 16th century. Layer Marney Tower is the tallest Tudor gatehouse in Britain, made more impressive by the lavish terracotta decoration.

After exploring Essex don't forget to download and send FREE electronic postcards to your friends and family.


Lee Valley White Water Centre

More information on the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

Forget the beach this summer and dive into the waves at Lee Valley White Water Centre. Experience your own white water adventure on the same rapids that challenged the world’s best athletes during London 2012. You can try white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing and for the more adventurous there’s a special offer for Hydrospeeding and Hot Hot Dog sessions. Visit the website for more information.


The National Trust in Essex

Picture of the exterior wood carved front of Paycocke's House in Coggeshall.

Explore the National Trust properties in Essex including the royal medieval hunting ground at Hatfield Forest, an ancient woodland with streams and valleys; Paycocke's House, a stunning Tudor merchant's house with stunning woodcarving and panelling; Grange Barn one of Europe's oldest timber-framed buildings or discover Copt Hall Marshes and Northey Island on the rugged coastline.


Give nature a home with the RSPB

Picture of a cute Stonechat bird courtesy of the RSPB.

Whether you’re a keen birder, love nature, or just feel the need to get away from the urban sprawl for a while, Essex is perfect for spending time in the great outdoors. The RSPB offer a great range of nature reserves with different habitats for you to explore and a huge selection of creatures with fur, fin and feather to spot. What ever you do, help us give nature a home.

Image of four boys huddling together and looking down at the photographer.
Picture of a family cycling in the park.


Find out more about activities in Essex.

Find out more about activities in Essex.


Browse all attractions

Cressing Temple. Browse Essex attractions.

Browse through our database of Essex attractions.


Must see

Audley End House and Gardens. More must see places to visit.

A selection of Essex attractions every visitor must see.


Walk & Cycle Essex

More information on walking and cycling in Essex.

The gentle Essex countryside is perfect for walking or cylcing.


Inspirational RHS Hyde Hall

More information on RHS Garden Hyde Hall.

With sweeping panoramas, big open skies and far reaching views this Essex garden provides somewhere to watch the changing seasons and get closer to nature.


Historic houses and sites

More information on Essex historic houses and sites.

Influenced by Romans, Saxons and Normans Essex is unusually well supplied. With over 14,000 listed buildings in the county the range is enormous. 


Essex gardens and parks

More information on Essex gardens and parks.

The English passion for gardening is renowned worldwide, spanning centuries in age and taste, from grand country vistas to colourful cottage borders.


Wildlife and nature

Picture of two seals basking in the sun at Wallasea Island.

Essex is blessed with a rich and varied wildlife heritage with heaths, wetlands and important wildlife corridors scattered throughout the county.


Great outdoors

Family fun

go go go... geocaching

Little girl with artificial 'eyeballs' making faces.

Whether you are an expert or beginner, geocaching is great fun and a sociable, healthy and educational experience.


Fun at Old MacDonald's

More information on Old MacDonald's Farm.

Enjoy a wide range of farmyard favourites, rare breeds and exotic animals. There are indoor play facilities, outdoor activities and leisure rides to entertain and amuse.


Marsh Farm Animal Park

More information on Marsh Farm.

From meeting the animals to watching a milking demo to more action packed fun on tractor trailer rides and bouncy pillows. See the Pesky Pet show and have a magical day out.


Playtime at Barleylands

More information on Barleylands.

Say hello to farmyard friends big and small, meet birds of prey, run wild in the indoor play area, jump aboard the tractor & trailer ride and miniature train or join in the changing daily activities.


Tropical Wings Zoo

Three cute meerkats standing up and looking around curiously.

Tropical Wings Zoo is home to one of the finest tropical houses in the UK. There’s fun for the whole family with daily animal encounters, play areas and lots of animals to see. 

Historic houses and sites
Audley End House and Gardens

Saffron Walden

25% off entry to Audley End House
Colchester Castle Museum


FREE child entry to Colchester Castle
Layer Marney Tower


FREE child entry to Layer Marney Tower

Essex County Council
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