Looking for the ideal day out in Essex for your family? Thankfully, this amazing area (close to the capital city) has no shortage of attractions, so you won’t have to resort to London’s hectic pace and expensive prices. Whether you’re looking for an active and immersive experience, or something more educative, there are a wide variety of options just waiting for you.
Although Essex is now more famous for its connection with Towie than its historical roots, this area has no shortage of interesting days out and buildings that have lasted for centuries. Ingatestone Hall still primarily remains a private family residence, but throughout the summer months, you can explore this Tudor building and grounds… although the delicious afternoon tea they serve is almost as popular as the 16th century home!
Paycocke’s House and Gardens was built in the 1500s on the wealth generated by the East Anglia cloth trade. One of the largest stand-out features of this Tudor merchant’s house is the exquisitely carved wood panelling. Alternatively, visit the Audley End House and Gardens – one of the most impressive examples of Jacobean architecture in the UK. Run by English Heritage, you can have the full period of drama experience during your day out in Essex.
If you want a historical short break without hanging around big, old houses, you can check out the East Anglian Railway Museum – its Platform 2 café is a popular, local eatery that serves their meals on vintage china and uses locally-sourced food; you may have to ring ahead, if you want to secure a table. This is more suitable for kids, as they run interesting children-friendly events, such as Meet Thomas The Tank Engine!
An impressive, 900-year-old Norman keep, Hedingham Castle runs events throughout the year, such as car shows and re-enactments. It’s a great place to spend a day, as there are 160 acres to explore, packed full of seasonal flowers. That’s not to mention the amazing, unique architecture throughout the castle itself, where both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I dined.
RHS’ Hyde Hall started with just six trees and has now budded out into a magnificent garden. With its very own plant centre, you can go home inspired to spruce up your own back yard. Alternatively, The Beth Chatto Gardens is a nursery that aims to inspire you with its own glorious gardens.
For a less cultivated landscape, head to Dedham Vale for wild walks and excursions, including a tour around Dedham Vale Winery. As tempting as wine tasting is, it may not be ideal for the kids! Instead, try the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy. Enjoy a day spent flying some beautiful birds and learn more about these feathery creatures from the highly knowledgeable staff.
Family days out in Essex don’t have to be boring – Rollacity gives you the opportunity to lace up your skates and show off your moves in the ring, complete with disco lights. Not your thing? How about jumping into a zombie horror situation with The Last Survivors? Set in a Secret Nuclear Fallout Bunker, you will have to take down your enemies and search for extra ammo – there’s only one way out and you’ll have to fight for your freedom!
Are you a fan of Call of Duty? Mayhem Paintball can make your video game dreams a reality with their exciting assortment of themed maps for you to take on your friends and family, as well as get some great exercise. Who will emerge victoriously?
If you fancy something a little more low-key, pop to the Electric Palace for a movie out with a difference. This cinema is no Odeon – built-in 1911, it still has its silent screen and ornamental frontage. Something for a rainy day, Electric Palace is just one of many stunning family days out in this area.