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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Steam train passing by as children wave
East Anglian Railway Museum

Featured attractions

A horse up close
Redwings Ada Cole Visitor Centre
Two children sitting on a statue
Lee Valley Park Farms
Boy climbing
Essex Outdoor Centres
Boy suspended from a slide
Jump Street


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.

For animal encounters head to 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. Close by is Sealife Adventure too.

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 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 Nuclear High Ropes or Essex Outdoors or search the forest for Gruffaloes at Thorndon Country Park.

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

More ideas for Family Days Out

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.

Children running through a 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.

Girl trampolining

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.

Children harnessed to ropes on an outdoor adventure course

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.

Children feeding animals

With different 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.

A beach day!

A family walking along the beach with a kite
Essex has the second longest coastline in the UK, with award winning beaches. Come rain or shine, visit one of our seaside towns. For a full list of beach destinations, click here