Situated in southeast England, Essex is a county which is brimming with things to do. Bordering London and with great rail and road connections, there’s no excuse not to sample what Essex has to offer. You’ll find a range of attractions, including the clamour of wildlife at Colchester Zoo, tranquil havens at the many gardens, fascinating historic houses, interactive museums, exciting adventure parks and plenty of shopping options.

There are over 350 miles of coastline in Essex which boast sandy beaches, salt marshes, oyster beds, hidden coves and the bright lights of Essex’s seaside resorts. With so many things to see and do, it’s the perfect place for a staycation. Keep reading to find out more about staycations in Essex.

 

Types of accommodation

If you’re wondering where to stay in Essex, don’t worry – there is an abundance of choice to suit all tastes and budgets. If you’re looking to save money or you simply want to enjoy the landscape that Essex has to offer, camping could well be the best option. There are plenty of campsites around Essex that offer all kinds of amenities for campers, motorhomes and caravans.

Looking for something unique? Glamping is a fun way to make the most of the outdoors without compromising on comfort. These days, there are more and more types of glamping accommodation, including Mongolian yurts, safari tents, treehouses, shepherd’s huts and log cabins. Why not treat yourself to a luxurious glamping holiday? That’s what a staycation is about after all.

If you prefer something a little fancier, there are numerous hotels all around Essex. You’ll find everything from B&Bs and traditional inns, to luxury hotels.

When it comes to holiday cottages, Essex doesn’t disappoint. Cottages are a great choice as they’re much more private and spacious than hotels. The self-catering aspect is also attractive for those staying with young kids or families. There are plenty of options in Essex, so whether you want to stay in a thatched cottage or a luxury riverside cottage, the choice is yours.

 

Different attractions

While a list of all the attractions in Essex would be exhaustive, we’ve put together some of our favourite ones. As one of the driest counties in the UK, Essex has plenty of gardens with a wealth of exotic plants. One of the best gardens is RHS Garden Hyde Hall. With wide reaching views and bold architectural plants, this is a very unique place. Another beautiful spot 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.

Fan of heritage railways? Then a visit to the Colne Valley Railway is a must. Based at Castle Hedingham Station, this railway runs for one mile. It has a reconstructed station, signal box and railway yard, and you can ride on a mixture of vintage steam and diesel locomotives, or visit the handmade miniature model railway.

Essex is home to numerous historic houses and grand manors. One of the most grandiose of them is Audley End House and Gardens. This 17th century country house was once a grand mansion for entertaining King James I. You can walk around the house and see the different rooms, including the state apartments and service wing. Don’t forget to explore the extensive garden. Another impressive mansion is Hylands Estate. This grade II listed public park has a whopping 574 acres of historic parkland to explore. Built in 1730, the Neoclassical villa is set within ancient woodlands, grassland, ponds, lakes and formal gardens. Keep your eyes open for the vibrant blossoms in the Pleasure Gardens and the One World Garden.

The city of Chelmsford is a great day out in Essex. There is plenty to see here, including the beautiful Chelmsford Cathedral. Originally built as a church 800 years ago, it later became a cathedral in 1914. You can take a self guided tour to admire the architecture in St Cedd’s Chapel, The Nave, The Chancel, The South Porch and Exterior. The cathedral is home to a collection of beautiful artwork including sculptures and stained glass windows. There are also lunchtime concerts featuring soloists and ensembles both instrumental and vocal.

 

Places of interest

Essex is home to many beautiful natural spots. Off the coast you’ll find Mersea Island which is the perfect day out by the sea with plenty of activities. Surrounded by calm, shallow waters, it’s the ideal spot for swimming and water sports. You can even take a fishing trip with local fishermen who run day trips. Kids will love crabbing on West Mersea Beach and building sandcastles on the many sandy beaches. To stretch your legs, head for a walk in Cudmore Grove Country Park.

Another beautiful area of Essex is Hatfield Forest. This is known as Britain’s best surviving royal hunting forest from medieval times. Stretching over 403 hectares, the forest is a biological SSSI with a wealth of wildlife. Keep an eye out for fallow deer and muntjac deer which roam around freely. There are many trails you can take which lead you past ancient trees, buttercup fields and a peaceful lake.