Essex Attractions

Essex offers visitors a choice of local attractions in the county, visitors can choose from a range of interesting and charming places to discover. The county includes a number of historic houses, museums, parks, gardens, a number of historic buildings, theatre, concerts and events. Essex’s location in the east of England means the tranquil English countryside and the great outdoors are all within reach located close to local towns and villages with a range of things to see and do in the county.

We have outlined a number of interesting attractions and places to visit for visitors to Essex, these include:

There are some fine examples of historical building here such as Audley End House located near Saffron Walden, a Jacobean mansion set in landscaped gardens. The grand mansion is an impressive sight, dating back to the 17th century, the house and gardens are amongst the grandest of England’s stately homes. Located in a tranquil landscape in the Essex countryside, the historic house includes a number of highlights including the drawing room, hall and library. The interior of the boasts classical details, period architecture and has collections of fine furniture and art

The Gardens have been restored to their former glories and visitors can see the Elysian Garden, The Parterre, Pond Garden and Walled Kitchen Garden each with its own design and intricacies offering visitors something new each season. The tranquil gardens provide visitors with a wonderful place to enjoy a stroll in scenic surroundings.

Visitors looking for historical sites can visit Hedingham Castle, located near Halstead, it is a great example of a Norman keep. The castle was built back in the 12th century by Aubrey de Vere and is currently still owned by one of his descendants. Visitors can explore four floors that detail the history of the castle these include the splendid Banqueting Hall famous for the 28 foot arch making it among largest Norman arches in England. Visiting the castle and the beautiful grounds is ideal for a day trip that the whole family can enjoy. During the summer months there are a number of events that are staged recalling the history of the castle.

There is also Hadleigh where the remains of a 13th century castle overlook the River Thames, the fine location gives rise to some stunning views. These two are relatively small when compared to Colchester Castle, the largest Norman keep in the whole of Europe. Currently the castle is now used by the Colchester and Essex Museum. The castle is seen as among the most historically significant buildings in the UK. The city of Colchester was the first capital of England under the Romans and the city still has some fine Roman remains.

Essex offers something for gardeners such as RHS Garden at Hyde Hall, Rettenden. This hilltop garden offers a fine rose collection and water plants, whilst Easton Lodge in Little Easton is a lovely 25 acre garden dating back many centuries. The Hyde Hall estate is 360 acres in size and offers visitors with a wonderful garden in all seasons and offers a place of peace and tranquillity located in the countryside.

Dedham Vale is on the border with neighbouring county Suffolk, is 'Constable Country'. It was here artist John Constable painted his greatest works, showing a pleasant, peaceful countryside. Bridge Cottage has featured in several of John Constable's paintings, today it houses a museum centred on the life and works of the famous artist.

The Essex countryside makes it a prime candidate for cycling with gently-rolling landscapes and green lanes, river valleys and scenic villages and cottages almost all around. Cycle Essex, consisting of a number of maps illustrates circular cycle routes has been created for all those who enjoy the pleasures of countryside touring by bike.

The routes meander through the county's most beautiful rural areas, and pass through some of the most charming villages and towns. Visitors can use their bikes to get around particularly in the summer when the weather is more conducive to doing so, a favourite is to explore by bike and then have a rest in a friendly pub and enjoy a pub lunch or go on a picnic in the scenic countryside, and it makes for a great day out.

Fans of the beach can take a look at one of the longest piers in the world at Southend-on-Sea whilst Clacton and Walton offer the fun of the seaside with events for the family to enjoy like the Clacton air show and music festivals Frinton-on-Sea has some great antique shops and boutiques.

Essex is essentially a rural county with small market towns, traditional villages full of character and some quiet country lanes. This countryside element is strong here and makes for a nice place to take it easy and unwind. Essex boasts a rich legacy of literary and music festivals visitors in summertime can certainly enjoy an open air concert or play in the heart of the lovely countryside, it makes for a picturesque setting.

Freeport Braintree is located on the outskirts of Braintree in Essex. The designer outlet village offers visitors with a wide range of shops, outlets and boutiques at discounted rates. Designed to be like a small village visitors will find extensive shopping facilities including well known names such as Marks & Spencer, Next, Gap, Levi’s, Adidas, Asics, Clark’s, Cotton Traders, Toshiba, Samsonite, Whittard Of Chelsea, Trespass, Denby and many more.

There are around 85 stores and outlets catering for men and women’s fashion, sports and outdoors and gift and accessories. There are a number of eateries and restaurants offering a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals including Pizza Express and Thorntons. There is a retail park next to the outlet village with a number of eateries and a Cineworld multiplex cinema.

The zoological gardens at Colchester Zoo are located a few miles from Colchester town centre. The zoo is one of the most popular attractions in Essex; visitors will find in excess of 260 species here with lions, tigers, giraffes, white rhinos, hippos, elephants, leopards, penguins, komodo dragons, snakes, tortoises and much more. There are over 40 daily displays including animal feeds for elephants and giraffes, animal training demonstrations, primate feeding, bird displays and feeding.

The zoo holds a number of regular events throughout the year and plays a leading role in a number of conservation projects and breeding programmes. There are a number of eateries on site serving a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals including ice creams, sandwiches, hot dogs, cakes, wraps and more. A visit to the zoo offers a fun filled and educational day out for the whole family.

Firstsite is a visual arts organisation located in Colchester town centre. Housed inside an eye catching building, there is a varied arts programme on show featuring a varied and changing programme of art exhibitions from local and international artists, with the aim of showing visitors the best developments in contemporary art. The MUSA Café restaurant offers a varied menu with a choice of sandwiches, salads, soups, mains, desserts and hot and cold drinks.

Mountfitchet Castle & Norman Village is steeped in history, the castle was built back in 1066 and is the only mote & bailey castle in the world that has been reconstructed on its original site. Visitors can experience what it was like in a bygone era and see the animals that roam freely in and around the Norman Village. There have been many artefacts discovered over the past few years, indeed visitors and staff often find items within the Castle site, see if you can find any when you visit!

Harlow has an impressive arts history going back many years. Since the Playhouse opened it has become an important part of the town’s identity and enjoys a great deal of support from its local residents. The Playhouse produces three seasons of entertainment a year, each of these has within it a diverse range of shows, including dance shows, plays, musical tribute and well known musicals among others. There is something for everyone to enjoy at this enjoyable venue.

It is recommended that prior to visiting Essex; visitors do their research and ensure any sights and attractions they plan on visiting are actually open on the days you intend on coming. The transport is also worth checking as maintenance and engineering works can mean a restricted service on public transport and the road network.

Essex is a county that has plenty to offer visitors with a mix of charming towns and market villages including a number of picturesque locations in the Essex countryside to enjoy in addition to the attractions in the urban centres. The city of Chelmsford with its central location is an ideal place from which to explore the county and range of attractions, charming market towns and villages ensuring visitors can enjoy both the urban and rural when visiting the county.

The county includes a number of historic attractions, museums, historic houses, parks, gardens and churches with some well known attractions including Audley End House and Colchester Zoo. Essex’s attractions ensure visitors can enjoy a short break, weekend away or a longer stay here.

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