Is this your first visit to Essex?
Culturally vibrant, redolent with over 2,000 years of history, Essex is a fascinating place to explore. So, ignore the received wisdoms and come and enjoy one of Britain’s most surprising and rewarding counties. We have also put together some quirky facts you might not know.
Here are our top ten suggested attractions for you to visit for a great day out. You could even stay a while longer and explore more of our county.
The Museum Gift Shop stocks greetings cards, local history books, retro games, designer jewellery, mugs and a whole lot more.
Southend Planetarium is also situated within the Southend Central Museum. Live presentations and a range of fascinating talks introduce you to astronomy and take you on a tour of the night sky, allowing you to ask questions directly to the experts. Generally suitable for ages 7 to adult.
Programmes are three times daily (Wednesday - Saturday) and last about 40 minutes. Astronomy enquiries are welcome. The Planetarium is also involved with Star Observation Nights organised by the local astronomical society.
Advance booking is strongly recommended. Please contact the Central Museum on 01702 434449 for showing times and prices.
Must see attractions for your first visit
With glorious gardens and stunning countryside views, it’s not only the grounds at Audley End that are unmissable. The authentic Victorian Service Wing, impressive 17th century stable block, intricate interiors and wonderful works of art are all waiting to be discovered.
Free range family fun in the Farm Park with all-weather activities; farmyard friends, soft play, outdoor adventures, tractor & trailer ride, miniature train and more. Plus 60+ Craft Village shops & studios for you to discover as well as the new Tiptree Tea Room.
Magnificent Tudor building with the tallest Gatehouse in Britain and 16th century Italianate terracotta. Henry VIII was so impressed by the building he came to stay in 1522. Climb the tower and marvel at the views of the Blackwater estuary and beyond.
With sweeping panoramas, big open skies and far reaching views over the countryside, this Essex garden provides somewhere to watch the changing seasons and get closer to nature.
Beth Chatto is one of the most influential living gardeners in Britain, best known for her pioneering, ecological approach to gardening. Her gardens are internationally acclaimed.
The spectacular Rafael Viñoly-designed building, in the heart of the cultural quarter, is a modern art gallery in Britain's oldest recorded town. Regular new exhibitions run all year round.
The zoo features in the top 20 zoos in the world according to The TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Attractions Awards. With more than 270 wildlife species, over 50 daily displays, beautiful parkland and lakes, everyone will be entertained.
Discover the thrill of white water rafting at Lee Valley White Water Centre, the London 2012 venue where the rapids challenged the world’s best athletes. Book your own white water adventure now.
The biggest Norman Keep in Europe, Colchester Castle Museum, voted the Best Large Attraction in the 2015 Essex Tourism and Hospitality Awards delights thousands of families with its exciting new displays and hands-on activities.
Explore our county
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.