The school summer holidays are fast approaching and our wonderful county has hundreds of attractions for people to enjoy.

With lockdown set to be lifted later this month we will be able to get out and enjoy everything Essex has to offer.

So whether you are looking for inspiration for a day out or planning a staycation close to home, here are 13 things not to miss right on your doorstep.

Read more >> The 20 bucket list things you should do in Essex (how many have you ticked off?)

Take a stroll along Southend Pier and enjoy some ice cream

Southend has plenty to offer those wanting to enjoy a day by the seaside. 

The pier is 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 – it’s 1.3 miles long.

Make sure to enjoy an ice cream afterwards too.

Rossi ice cream comes from Southend and has been hand-made to an Italian recipe in the town since 1932.

Be a zookeeper for the day at Colchester Zoo

Step into the boots of a keeper or just enjoy a visit to Colchester Zoo.

You'll be able to meet meerkats, elephants , giraffes, penguins, sea lions, tigers and primates.

The Naze, Walton

Go hunting for sharks teeth and fossils dating back to the Ice Age at The Naze.

This wondrous part of the Essex coast also boasts the Naze Tower where you’ll be treated to stunning views over the Walton backwaters, countryside and coast.

Have afternoon tea and try Tiptree jam

The county is home to Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree and a proper afternoon tea will be served with on the the brand's famous preserves.

Choose from one of the ten Tiptree tearooms located throughout the county.

Try Mersea or Maldon Oysters

Mersea Island is where the region's native Mersea oysters are harvested from – you can try them with a little vinegar and tabasco for a tasty dish.

They are served fresh daily at a number of locations.

Maldon oysters are just as good too, and served in top restaurants all over the world.

Go seal watching

You can take boat trips to see seals from the Walton backwaters or Burnham-on-Crouch to Foulness Island. Both seal watching trips are amazing.


As one of the driest counties in Britain, Essex’s gently rolling landscapes speckled with picturesque villages inspired many gardeners to work their magic. If you are seeking inspiration in Essex gardens, you will not be disappointed.

Step back in time at historic gems like Bridge End and Easton Lodge, lovingly restored to their former glory. Drink in the vistas at Audley End with its ‘Capability’ Brown vision of temples and lakes. Reflect awhile at Beth Chatto’s water garden with its huge gunnera towering above a hundred shades of emerald.

Breathe in the heady scents at RHS Garden Hyde Hall and get carried away to distant shores.

Dedham Vale

You can 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.

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.

Lee Valley White Water Centre

Are you a fan of exhilarating sports? 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.

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

The aerodrome is the oldest surviving in the world.

You can experience the site and even attend an event where you get to watch the vintage aircraft fly in.

Visit Layer Marney Tower

Layer Marney Tower near Colchester in Essex is the tallest Tudor Gatehouse in the UK, a magnificent building standing 80 feet tall within stunning grounds.

The Tower stands on the shores of the river Blackwater, and construction was initiated by Lord Henry Marney in the 1520s, a close friend of Henry VIII.

The Gatehouse and ranges which were continued by his son after his death were supposed to be part of a grand palace, but construction ceased after his son's death.

Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle is the most iconic building in Essex.

Built 900 years ago, the ancient defensive landscape of the motte and bailey castle, along with the Norman keep form an impressive heritage treasure that is well worth a visit.

Surrounded by the formal gardens and undulating woods and stunning lake, it is a place to explore, picnic, and create your own adventure.

Audley End House and Gardens

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.