Seals

The Essex 'Bucket List'

20 Things you must do in Essex before you Pop your Clogs!

A ‘bucket list’ is definitely the ‘in thing’ at the moment, but why go to far-flung places when you have such fantastic things you can (and must!) experience in Essex before the inevitable happens?! See below.

Bucket List

20 Essentials for your Bucket List!

Aerial view of the island.
We don’t like to brag, but when it comes to islands, we have more than any other UK county (35), and in particular Osea Island – our ‘Essex gem’ and idyllic get-away in the Blackwater estuary, just off the coast of Maldon. You can stay in the island’s 400 year old cottages, the Manor House, Captain’s House or in modern apartments. 
Mersea Oysters
Whilst on the subject of islands – Mersea Island is where our native Mersea oysters are harvested from – try them with a little vinegar and tabasco – delish! Served fresh daily at The Company Shed, The Oyster Bar and The Coast Inn. Our Maldon oysters are just as good too, and served in top restaurants all over the World.

3. Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree

Tiptree cream tea
Essex is also home to the famous preserve makers Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree (by appointment to her Majesty), and you havn’t truly experienced an Afternoon Tea unless it’s been served with their delicious Little Scarlet strawberry jam. Choose from one of their 10 tearooms located throughout the county.
Fun at a raceday.
We all like a little ‘flutter’ now and again, but forget Ladies Day at Ascot (and the hassle of getting there), and spend the day at Chelmsford City Racecourse Ladies Day. The only racecourse in the UK with an all-weather track, and plenty of indoor viewing areas if it rains or gets a bit chilly.
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Ever wanted to know what it feels like to be an Olympian? Well you can pretend to be one when you ‘ride the rapids’ at the White Water Centre at Lee Valley – the only purpose built venue for the Olympics, and where Team GB won the canoe slalom in 2012. Try if you dare!
Picture of the pier during sunset.

Jamie (Oliver) and Jimmy (Doherty) love it (they are filming for a whole month on it in September), and we love it too – Southend Pier the longest pleasure pier in the World! You can take a trip on the train to the end or if you’re feeling energetic, take a leisurely stroll (or sprint) – it’s 1.3 miles long.

Rossi Ice cream
And whilst you’re in Southend you can’t leave until you’ve had our legendary fish and chips whilst watching the world go by. For dessert, a Rossi ice cream – hand-made to an Italian recipe in the town since 1932 - is a must.
Leigh-on-Sea
Just a little further along the coastline you’ll find Leigh-on-Sea, the nearest coast to London, and where you’ll find the cockle sheds. Nothing beats a sunny day in Old Leigh, sitting by the sea with a bowl of cockles – yum!
Colchester Zoo
Step into the boots of a Zoo Keeper for one amazing day. Colchester Zoo, one of the largest Zoos in Europe and Essex’s most visited attraction, will allow you to feed the meerkats, elephants , giraffes,, penguins, sea lions, tigers and primates.
Naze Tower
Our next ‘to do’ is hunting for sharks teeth and fossils dating back to the Ice Age! The Naze is a wondrous part of the Essex coast, and whilst there, you have to climb the wonderful Naze Tower too, where you’ll be treated to stunning views over the Walton backwaters, countryside and coast – just make sure you have a head for heights!
Seal watching
Yep those slithery things you can see from the top of the Naze Tower are indeed seals - so no need to travel all the way to Blakeney Point to see them now! As well as the Walton backwaters, you can also venture out by boat from Burnham-on-Crouch to Foulness Island – both seal watching trips are amazing.
Nightingale
Ever heard the ‘call’ of a Nightingale? Essex Wildlife Trust’s Fingringhoe Wick Visitor Centre has one of the largest concentrations of these amazing birds in the country, and there’s nothing better than listening to their sweet song. They have 11 visitor centres and 87 nature reserves dotted throughout the county.
Dedham Vale
You can actually ‘Walk in Constable’s Footsteps’ and sit in the exact spot where he painted ‘The Haywain’, regarded as his most famous painting, in the beautiful Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The scene today is exactly as it was back in 1821 when he painted it, a stunning area of the county not to be missed.

14. Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Julie’

Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Julie’
Designed by Essex’s very own sculptor, artist and cross-dresser (‘Claire’), the stunning ‘gingerbread’ style house, sits in the middle of a field with fabulous views over the unspoilt countryside and Wrabness beach. You may not be able to afford to stay there, but you can certainly take a peek for free!
RHS Garden Hyde Hall
Talking of fabulous views, nothing beats those from the RHS Garden Hyde Hall (one of only four in the UK). A stunning garden set in the heart of the Essex countryside, with views for miles over the south of the county and beautiful planting throughout, including ‘a first’ - the new Global Veg Garden due to be completed this year!
New Hall Vineyard
Now it would be rude to leave Essex without having a ‘tipple’! Newhall Vineyard near Chelmsford is the oldest vineyard in the UK, and was the first to grow and produce wine from the Pinot Noir grapes. A tour and tasting of award-winning wines may leave you feeling slightly ‘sozzled’, but also very happy!
Pictire of vintage aeroplanes standing in a row ready to take off.
Not far from Newhall is Stow Maries WWI aerodrome - the oldest surviving in the World! Experience the ‘silent wilderness’ – everyone comments on it – and attend an event where you get to watch the vintage aircraft fly in – just incredible.
Audley End House & Gardens

A must (for the whole family!), where history ‘comes to life’. Experience a real life period drama as you explore life above and below stairs at this decadent mansion. The authentic Victorian Service Wing, glorious gardens, Jacobean stable block and intricate interiors are all waiting to be discovered.

Picture of the courtyard in the evening with dimmed lights.
TOWIE fan or not, you can’t take a trip to the county without at least taking a peek at the original TOWIE ‘hang out’. Brentwood folk and Taxi drivers are used to be being asked as to its whereabouts, and you can’t miss Amy Child’s Beauty Salon either - just along from it on the High Street!
Hot Air Balloon
And finally, no point in travelling to Egypt to experience flying in a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, when you can take to the skies and fly over the beautiful Stour Valley in Essex (at a fraction of the cost too), and to every corner of the county for that matter!