Days out with the kids; every visit ends with a memory

Planning a day out or a whole week’s holiday or even a fortnight?

Essex is bursting with many opportunities for your little ones, whether it’s a visit to a castle, museum, farm park, zoo or nature reserve, you’ll find a wealth of attractions and activities to keep your youngsters occupied and the whole family amused.

And that’s not all, many of our attractions organise a programme of family-friendly special events throughout the year and offer special deals, so it's well worth checking before you visit. 

There truly is something for all the family!

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Cudmore Grove Country Park
Cudmore Grove Country Park

Featured attractions

Picture of a girl sitting down and three lemurs around her.
Colchester Zoo
A mother and her two children are watching meerkats playing in cage.
Lee Valley Park Farms
Adventure Island
Adventure Island
Picture of a man dressed with a white coat experimenting with fireworks.
Royal Gunpowder Mills
A little boy with a hamster.
Barleylands

 

Discover the past with a trip to Audley End House, one of England’s grandest stately homes and explore the restored historic stables, complete with resident horses and a Victorian groom. Children’s stories are brought to life in the nursery suite with its authentic Victorian toys. Don’t forget to explore the coal gallery with its smells and sounds of 19th century innovation

Get hands on at Colchester Castle Museum, explore the Roman vaults, have a go at building a Norman archway, or try your hand at excavating a Roman doctor’s grave (and much more besides!). Explore the reconstructed Norman motte-and-bailey castle at Stansted Mountfitchet; then relive your childhood days at the toy museum. For some more history and a bit of gunpowder head to The Royal Gunpowder Mills. Brilliant for families, this museum not only explains the history of the factory that began producing explosives during the 17th century, but also offers fun, interactive opportunities for kids, including a Military Truck Tour and Professor Nitrate’s Mad Lab.

Have serious fun at the award winning Colchester Zoo, where you can feed the elephants or giraffes yourself, ore book an animal experiences to take part in or adopt an aninmal! There are around 260 species to see in over 60 acres of parkland. For tamer animal encounters head for Lee Valley Park Farms or Old MacDonald's Farm where children can cuddle and pet to their hearts’ content.

Thrill seekers should head to Adventure Island in Southend, a free admission fun park with rides and amusements for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Relive the age of steam at the East Anglian Railway Museum, the Colne Valley Railway, the Epping Ongar Railway and Audley End Miniature Railway; you might even come across Thomas and his Friends.

Essex’s great outdoors is the perfect playground for family adventures. From the simple pleasures of summer picnics at a country park and nature rambles to a range of exciting outdoor activities which will challenge minds and bodies, young and old alike.

If you’ve got youngsters who seem to have boundless energy, then more physical activities will be the order of the day. Some family bike action? With its gentle gradients and quiet country lanes, Essex is prime cycling country. For a traffic-free experience head for a country park, or strike out on a disused rail line like the Flitch Way, perfect for little legs.

After some wildlife encounters? With 89 Wildlife Trust sites and eight RSPB sites, sprinkled with boardwalks and hides and brimming with activities from pond-dipping to den-building, there are plenty of chances to get up close to the natives.

Something a bit different? Swing from the high ropes at Rope Runners or Essex Outdoors in Danbury or search the forest for Gruffaloes at Thorndon Country Park.

Go on, grab the kids and have a jolly good day out!

Discover the past with a trip to Audley End House. Children’s stories are brought to life in the nursery suite with its authentic Victorian toys.

Get hands on at Colchester Castle Museum, explore the Roman vaults, have a go at building a Norman archway, or try your hand at excavating a Roman doctor’s grave. Explore the reconstructed Norman motte-and-bailey castle at Stansted Mountfitchet; then relive your childhood days at the toy museum. For some more history and a bit of gunpowder and Professor Nitrate’s Mad Lab head to the Royal Gunpowder Mills; brilliant for families.

Relive the age of steam at the East Anglian Railway Museum, the Colne Valley Railway and the Epping Ongar Railway; you might even come across Thomas and his Friends.

Essex’s great outdoors is the perfect playground for family adventures. From the simple pleasures of summer picnics at a country park and nature rambles, to a range of exciting outdoor activities which will challenge minds and bodies, young and old alike.

Thrill seekers should head to Adventure Island in Southend, a free admission fun park with rides and amusements for kids (and adults) of all ages.

After some wildlife encounters? With 89 Wildlife Trust sites and eight RSPB sites, sprinkled with boardwalks and hides and brimming with activities from pond-dipping to den-building, there are plenty of chances to get up close to the natives.

Something a bit different? Swing from the high ropes at Rope Runners or Essex Outdoors in Danbury or search the forest for Gruffaloes at Thorndon Country Park.

Go on, grab the kids and have a jolly good day out!

Summer Activities and Aquatic Programme at Leisure World

Try Leisure World Colchester’s week-long Wet 'n' Wild courses – a taste of a different water sport every day, or join the fun-packed programme of summer holiday activities!

Grab a paddle and get started with canoeing. There’s a day of swimming personal survival and lifesaving, diving, snorkelling and water polo. These Wet 'n' Wild sessions will be running Tuesday 31 July to Friday 3 August (4 Sessions £20) or Monday 6 to Friday 10 August (5 sessions £25), 9.15-10am. Suitable for children 7+ years who can swim at least 10 metres on their front and back.

There are also intensive swimming courses running from Monday 6 to Friday 10 August (5 sessions £25), Stages 1 & 2: 9-9.30am or 9.30-10am and Stage 3: 9.15-10am.

At Kids' Camp, children in primary school years 1 to 6 can leap into action every weekday of the school holidays. A mix of sports and swimming, which includes lunch. 9am-3pm for £26, or give them a full day of excitement from 8am-5.30pm for just £31.

High-schoolers can make the most of their holidays too with Base Camp. Each full day of fun from 8am-5.30pm includes swimming, games and other activities. Prices start from just £31, including lunch, and some days feature trips to Roller World and Tenpin!

There are also two hour-long trampoline sessions on Tuesday 14 August at 11.30am and 12.30pm. Perfect for kids aged 3-11 years where they can jump to their heart's content while learning some basic moves at just £6 per child.

Advance booking for all Leisure World Colchester’s summer activities is essential.

Get more info and book your child's place!

Aquatic Programme at Leisure World Colchester
Aquatic Programme at Leisure World Colchester
Aquatic Programme at Leisure World Colchester
Aquatic Programme at Leisure World Colchester

More ideas for family days out

Pictures of youngsters climbing and crawling through tree trunks.

Kids Obstacle Camp is where kids get to have lots of fun and learn to climb ropes…jump over walls…cross the monkey bars…and swing on the hang tough rings. And we not talking about baby obstacles we are talking about race sized obstacles.

Picture of a woman climbing a vertically hanging net.

Life is all about experiences and special moments. Enjoy thrilling adventures with the whole family in the great outdoors. Spend some quality time together and create memories that last long after the sun has set.

Picture of three meercats standing up and looking around.

With its variety of habitats, Essex boasts a rich variety of animals, insects and birds in the wild, and for those who prefer their animal encounters to be a little more up close and personal, there are a number of attractions featuring both farmyard favourites and exotic creatures.

Picture of a hand holding a mobile device for geocaching.

Geocaching is high-tech treasure hunting using GPS devices, or smartphones, to locate hidden containers called geocaches. There are over 6,000 hidden in Essex. Not only is geocaching a sociable, healthy and educational experience, you can combine geocaching with cycling, hiking or running for a fun day out.

A group of people walking in Thorndon Country Park.

Nestled in a variety of landscapes, Essex’s country parks are the perfect places for the whole family to blow away the cobwebs and reconnect with nature. Criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways, they offer a huge range of activities from the simple pleasures of kite-flying and summer picnics to horseriding and adventure playgrounds.

Interior of the museum with a family looking at the displays.

One of the many challenges of parenthood is how do you keep children amused on a rainy day. We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve. Check out our list of places to go to that will keep kids (and you) happy and active. Being stuck inside doesn't have to be boring.

Explore our county

Picture of the iconic Firstsite building at night.
Discover Essex’s creative spaces. They come in all shapes and sizes and are crammed with artistic treasures, from international names to emerging local artists.
Picture of a sunset over the The Naze waters with some rocks protruding from the water.

Explore our 350 miles of coastline, the longest shoreline of any county in England, a place of surprising wild beauty, rich in wildlife and sprinkled with history and hidden cultural gems.

Essex’s history has been shaped by a wide variety of cultures. Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans – all left their mark. Echoes of their influence can still be seen today.
Picture of a cow at the edge of the River Stour and drinking water.
A scenic patchwork of rich farmland speckled with pastelwashed villages of thatch and timber, the views interrupted by mighty oaks and ashes presided over by the hurrying skies.