If you’re looking for a day out in the outdoors, look no further than Essex. It’s bursting with all kinds of activities, from exploring coastal towns to playing crazy golf. Take a look at some of the best things to do outdoors in Essex.
Things to do in Essex
Visit coastal towns
Essex has a generously sized coastline – more than 350 miles to be precise – meaning there’s an abundance of seaside spots to visit. Offering beautiful beaches, safe waters and plenty of things to do, a day at the seaside is one of the best outdoor activities in Essex. If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach with many cafes and attractions, head to Clacton Beach, Chalkwell Beach and Martello Beach. To escape the crowds, Essex has its fair share of peaceful beaches. Some of the best places to go are the Naze, Brightlingsea Beach, Jaywick Beach and Shoeburyness Beach.
Essex is one of the driest counties in the UK with a wealth of gardens to visit. One of the top gardens you should visit is the RHS Garden Hyde Hall. With wide reaching views and bold architectural plants, this is a one of a kind place. Another top site is the Beth Chatto Gardens. This world-famous garden is known for its transformation from an overgrown wasteland into a flourishing haven. Some other gardens you should visit in Essex are Cressing Temple, Green Island Gardens, Gibberd Garden, Marks Hall and the gardens at Audley End House.
If you’re wanting to get the kids out of the house, a fun outdoor activity to keep them entertained for hours is a trip to a farm. Essex is home to plenty of farms where you can do a bunch of exciting things like ride tractors, feed animals and pick fresh produce. White Elm Petting Farm is the place to be for getting up close to alpacas, miniature ponies, wallabies and pygmy goats. Another great farm to visit is the Cammas Hall Farm right by the border with Hertfordshire. Between June and October you can pick your own fruit and veg, and between August and October there is a maize maze to run around in. The rest of the year there is a nature trail, tea barn, farm shop and children’s play area. Some other farms you may enjoy are Barleylands Farm Park, Daisy May’s Farm and Hasty’s Adventure Farm.
This island off the coast of Essex is the ideal place to spend time outdoors. It’s surrounded by calm, shallow waters which are perfect for swimming or water sports like jet skiing, paddle boarding and windsurfing. Prefer to stay closer to shore? Try your hand at crabbing on West Mersea Beach. If you want to try your hand at fishing, book a trip with one of the local fishermen who take day trips into the Estuary. For a little ramble, Mersea Island is home to Cudmore Grove Country Park. With open grassland, sandy beaches and plenty of wildlife, it’s a lovely place to relax in.
A fun and imaginative way of exploring is by going on a walking or driving trail. There are unique Trails all over Essex, from classic seaside towns to picturesque villages. These include Burham-on-Crouch, Chelmsford, Colchester, Dedham, Harwich, Maldon and Mistley. Visit our Essex Trails to find out more.
Whether it’s a quick stroll or a long ramble, Essex has something to offer every walker.
There are tons of country parks each offering something different. For some forest walks, head to Hatfield Forest and Epping Forest. If it’s coastal and river views you’re after, Marsh Farm Country Park is a great place. For a little bit of everything, Weald Country Park has over 500 acres of woodland, lakes, meadows, open grassland and plenty of wildlife like fallow deer, herons and mallard ducks. Some other country parks worth checking out are Danbury Country Park, Great Notley Country Park, Hadleigh Country Park and Thorndon Country Park.
Cycling is another great way to get around and enjoy all the sights that Essex has to offer. If you’re interested in seeing picturesque villages full of timber frame buildings, take one of the cycle routes around Coggeshall, Finchingfield and the Hedinghams. For a little bit of culture and history, cycle around Braintree and Great Dunmow. Stop by and visit the museums and galleries to learn more about Essex’s long and fascinating history. For a relaxing ride in the countryside, head towards the Essex/Suffolk border. The rolling landscape and scenic views of Constable Country will make you understand why the painter John Constable was so captivated by the area.
For a fun family activity, why not play a round of golf? West Park Pitch & Putt is rated as one of the best golf courses in the South East. There is a mature 18 hole pitch and putt course, a 9 hole footgolf course, and a crazy golf 9 hole course. For a themed game, head to Pirates Bay Adventure Golf. Navigate your way around cannons, pirates and a huge ship at this 19 hole course.