37 Must-Do Family Days out in Essex

family day out in essex
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Planning a day out for the family? One that offers the perfect combination of beautiful beaches and parks, a great urban vibe and plenty of fun attractions for kids, teens and adults? Then head down to Essex! Just a short train ride from London, you'll find everything you could possibly want from a get-away with the whole family.

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Bedlam Paintball

Why kids will love it: Crown the ultimate Splatmaster champion on an action-packed afternoon at the Bedlam Paintball center in Colchester. This low-impact game is ideal for younger paintballers eager to get out into the field.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

Brentwood Theatre

Why kids will love it: The Brentwood Theatre and Community Cinema knows how to captivate children with imaginative shows for all ages. Catch a musical or classic movie on Family Film Sundays or settle in for a show performed by local talents.

Nearest Station: Shenfield & Brentwood.

Southend Planetarium

Why kids will love it: The night sky has always been a source of mystery to us all and this is your chance to observe it from up close. Spend an afternoon at the Southend Planetarium and learn everything there is to know about our stars and planets.

Nearest Station: Southend Victoria.

essex planetarium

FestWake Aqua Park

Why kids will love it: Fans of Total Wipe are going to love swinging their way through Festival Wakeboard and Aqua Park's floating jungle gym. Once you've completed the obstacle course as a family, hit the refreshing lake water by ways of the Zulu Slide.

Nearest Station: Basildon Train Station.

Old Mac Donalds Farm & Fun Park

Why kids will love it: Your tots have been singing about it for years and now they'll finally get to see it in person: Old Mac Donalds Farm & Fun Park. Farm-themed rides straight out of a picture book, with an oink-oink here and a quack-quack there, make for plenty of Instagram-worthy family moments.

Nearest Station: Harold Wood & Brentwood Rail Station.

Colchester Castle

Why kids will love it: For an interactive history lesson and a bit of historic cosplay, head to Colchester Castle. Home to star exhibits such as the Colchester Gladiator Vase and the ultimate escape-the-castle game, this outing will prove educative and fun.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

day out colchester castle

Blue Owl Pottery Painting Café

Why kids will love it: Get creative and get a personalized gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day out of it at the same time, by signing up for a painting session at the Blue Owl Pottery Painting Café in Essex. Daytime bookings are free, and pottery items to choose from are between £7 and £30.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station. There's also free parking available should you decide to come by car.

Escape Live

Why kids will love it: Take your family deep into the jungle with this Chelmsford-based Escape Room experience for kids. Escape the jungle by following a series of clues and completing a number of fiddly and creative tasks that will get you all into detective mode.

Nearest Station: Chelmsford Train Station.

Jump Street Colchester

Why kids will love it: Get onto your children's level of energetic bounciness by taking the family out to Jump Street, the UK's largest activity centre. Experience what it feels like to fly and see whether you all have what it takes to Clip'n Climb the colourful selection of climbing walls.

Nearest Station: Chelmsford Train Station.

Adventure Island

Why kids will love it: What's not to love? It's all right there in the name - an island full of adventures just a few minutes’ walk from the idyllic Southend Pier. Entrance to the park is free and wristbands for all the iconic rides and play areas can be purchased online at a discount of 25%.

Nearest station: Southend Central station .

adventure island essex

Hadleigh Castle & Two Tree Island

Why kids will love it: A day spent exploring the Hadleigh Castle will get your children's imagination going, and they'll have plenty of space to run wild with it too. Surrounded by parkland and just a forty minute walk from Two Tree Island, a visit to countryside of Essex will make for a refreshing day out for the whole family - and it's all for free.

Nearest Station: Leigh-on-Sea Station on Belton Way.

Chelmsford Treasure Trails

Why kids will love it: What could be more captivating than going on a treasure trail as a family? Go on this treasure hunt around Chelmsford's historic water ways and learn more about the area in a playful, exciting manner. You could even win real treasure in the form of £100 to spend on your next day - or even two days out -  in Essex.

Nearest Station: Chelmsford Train Station.

Monkey Madness

Why kids will love it: No child can resist a bit of Monkey Madness in the form of soft play areas and a colourful ball pit to dive into. You’ll only see them resurface in time for lunch at the Monkey Cafe. This play centre in Basildon has comfortable couch areas and WiFi, and hosts fun, interactive musical classes such as the Dramalamabingbong twice a week.

Nearest Station: Basildon Train Station.

Stubbers Adventure Centre

Why kids will love it: Take your kids on a day trip to Stubbers Adventure Centre and let them translate their indoor fort-building skills into the outdoors. Led by experienced instructors, they'll get to put on their hard hats and set about learning how to build a tree house. If woodland constructions aren't their thing, not to worry - there's plenty more to do here. From grass sledging to archery, you can do it all at Stubbers.

Nearest Station: Upminster Station.

day out for kids essex

Colchester Zoo

Why kids will love it: With one of the UK's best zoos just a train ride way, you have a great excuse for a Saturday-get-away with the kids. Colchester Zoo even allows you to plan your visit according to the animals you'd most like to see in action. There are various safari and jungle style play areas throughout the zoo and there are plenty of rainy-day options should the weather decide not to play along.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

Hollywood Bowl

Why kids will love it: If you're ready to let the good times roll, there's only one place to take the family: Hollywood Bowl in Basildon.  Reenact a typical American-style family fun day complete with burgers and hot dogs in a diner style set-up, and twenty-six bowling lanes to choose from.

Nearest Station: Purfleet Station.

Lakeside Karting

Why kids will love it: Toddlers who are already exhibiting dare-devil tendencies are going to have a blast channeling their inner Schumachers and "speeding" around in their wee electric karts at the Lakeside Karting track. Offering Family Race Sessions and junior tracks that encourage kids to "pedal to the metal", Essex's largest and fastest go-karting circuit will get your adrenaline racing.

Nearest Station: Chafford Hundred Lakeside Railway Station.

White Elm Petting Farm

Why kids will love it: If there's one thing family members of all age groups can appreciate, it's cute animals and a tea room that operates under the motto "happiness is a piece of cake". Spend a day petting alpacas at White Elm Petting Farm and top it off with a delicious slice of cake or homemade scones.

Nearest Station: Chelmsford Train Station.

family farm essex

Mr. Mulligans

Why kids will love it: It's a dream come true for many children and adults too: a place where indoor fairground and arcade fun is the order of the day all-year round. At Mr. Mulligans in Basildon, everyone will get everything they could possibly want from a day out. Great food, two adventure golf courses spread over two levels, and funky interior design.

Nearest Station: Basildon Train Station.

Madison Heights

Why kids will love it: The Madison Heights Family Entertainment Centre in Essex was made with kids of all ages in mind - even the over-forties overcome by a fit of nostalgia in the Sk8ters Roller Rink. The massive Monkey Puzzle soft play area will keep the youngest of the clan entertained for hours, and there are various restaurants to choose from once all that burnt energy starts sparking an appetite. Another plus - their large and free parking area.

Nearest Station: Maldon's West Station.

Bedfords Park Visitor Centre

Why kids will love it: A day out at the Bedfords Park Visitors Centre will give your kiddos the opportunity to experience the wild life they've only ever seen on BBC's Planet Earth series. Give your family a chance to breathe in the Essex countryside air while keeping your eyes peeled for badgers, hares and red deer.

Nearest Station: Romford Railway Station.

Lee Valley Park Farms

Why kids will love it: City kids don't get to enjoy the pleasures of farm and country life every day, hence a day hanging out with farmyard animals will go down a treat. At Lee Valley Park Farms, kids get to experience farmyard as well as exotic animals up close before racing down the park's Alpine Adventure area on squidgy doughnuts or the toboggan run.

Nearest Station: Cheshunt Station via a forty minute, scenic walk through River Lee Country Park.

Bridge End Gardens

Why kids will love it: For things to do in Essex, you can't go wrong with a visit to Bridge End Gardens. Your children will feel as though they are immersed in their very own fairy tale as they try to make their way out of The Maze.

Nearest Station: Audley End Station.

day out in essex

Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park

Why kids will love it: Bouncy castles, tractor rides, magic shows and goat races - there's something to do for everyone at Marsh Farm Animals Adventure Park. Spend your day practicing your den-building skills before going on a wild jewel hunt your family will be talking about for years to come.

Nearest Station: South Woodham Ferrers Train Station.

Natural History Museum Colchester

Why kids will love it: There are many things to do in Colchester, but you can't go without visiting the Natural History Museum - an educational place of wonder for the whole family.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

Firstsite

Why kids will love it: Children are full of creativity and a day spent taking classes or participating in any of the many workshops at the FirstSite art and community center as a family unit, will teach you great ways to explore this creativity together.

Join the Parent and Toddler Art Club and take part in different artist-led classes set in a spacious and safe environment. This is where your kids really get to experience the freedom of painting and experimenting with different materials. FirstSite also has an exciting Holiday Fun Program packed with exciting activities, that also comes with a hot lunch.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

East Anglian Railway Museum

Why kids will love it: A visit to the East Anglian Railway Museum is like going back in time. Learn about railway history and go on a train ride alongside Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends.

Nearest Station: If you arrive via the Marks Tey Greater Anglia Train Station, you will receive a 10% entrance discount.

railway museum essex

Promenade Park

Why kids will love it: The Promenade Park in Maldon is a paradise for children. With a huge selection of attractions ranging from playgrounds to mini-golf, families have a fantastic choice of activities to enjoy on days out.

Nearest Station: Maldon West Station.

Audley End House and Gardens

Why kids will love it: This Jacobean mansion will inspire your kids to dream up their own fairy tales and happily-ever-afters whilst exploring the beautiful surrounding gardens.

Nearest Station: Audley End Railway Station.

Intu Lakeside Shopping Centre

Why kids will love it: Home to Nickelodeon Adventure Lakeside, the UK's first Nickelodeon family entertainment centre, the Intu Shopping Centre offers a wide selection of family activities to explore on a rainy day.

Nearest Station: Chafford Handred Railyway Station.

Osea Island

Why kids will love it: A few days on the idyllic Osea Island will feel like diving into the pages of a classic storybook. Getting there is an adventure in itself, as the island can only be accessed via an ancient Roman causeway, but the real fun is yet to come. Pack everyone on to a canoe or bicycle, and see if you can spot all five species of the English Owl - because this is the only place in England where you'll find them all.

Nearest Station: Witham Train Station.

family day out essex

Essex Fire Museum

Why kids will love it: Stimulate your children's fascination with fire engines by seeing all there is to see at the Essex Fire Museum. It provides an interesting look at how firefighting - and the tools used to do so - have changed throughout history.

Nearest Station: Witham Train Station.

Chelmer Cruises

Why kids will love it: There's hardly a child in this country who hasn't at least expressed an interest in barges. Take yours out on a scenic cruise along the Chelmer and Blackwater waterways aboard The Caffel.

Nearest Station: Chelmsford Train Station.

Odeon Cinema

Why kids will love it: The Odeon is more than just your regular cinema - it offers the 3D and IMAX experience and much more. It also hosts special "Newbies" days - the latest releases in a baby-friendly setting.

Nearest Station: Chelmsford Train Station.

Tiptree Jam Museum

Why kids will love it: The Tip Tree Jam Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Essex. Sweet-toothed families will get a kick out of seeing how their favourite jams are made.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

family day trips essex

Green Island Gardens

Why kids will love it: A stroll through the Green Island Gardens in Ardleigh feels magical - especially on warm spring days and crisp autumn afternoons.

Nearest Station: Colchester Train Station.

Blake House Craft Centre

Why kids will love it: With ten acres and five miles of pathways to explore and get lost in, the Amazing Maize Maze at the Blake House Craft Centre will get the whole family working together to find a way out.

Nearest Station: Braintree Station.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

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