Keeping the kids entertained during half term can be exhausting and that’s just coming up with ideas on what to do! There are so many different activities available in Essex and they don’t always have to cost the earth. A picnic in one of the many parks can be a great way to spend the day (English weather permitting!). I have put together a list of 25 things to do with kids in Essex all of which we have visited and enjoyed.
Things to do with kids in Essex
Always a great day out, especially for thrill seekers. It has rides for all ages so great for the whole family. It is free to enter and you buy tickets to use the rides. This is great if you have family members that do not want to use the rides as they won’t have to pay anything to come along. It is cheaper to buy your wristbands before you arrive. Always a successful day out with the kids.
The world’s longest pleasure pier with a train that can take you to the end and back if you don’t fancy walking the 1.34 miles. There is a café and a lifeboat museum at the end of the pier. Pair this with a bit of time on the beach or spend some pennies on the arcade machines and you are on to a winner!
This is a large park with a good play area for the children. There is a café onsite as well as a model boating lake. Great to bring a long your model boats or just sit and watch all the other boats racing around the lake.
This is a long sand and pebble beach backed with a large grass area so perfect for picnics without getting sand in your sandwiches! There are also facilities for BBQ’s and it is home to the Essex kitesurfing club. Parking is nearby and there is a children’s play area.
This is a great place for woodland walks with lots of different routes to explore. There is a great children’s play area which my kids love! It has lots of equipment to play on as well as a sand pit so bring your buckets and spades. Its great for picnics and there is a small woods inside the park that my kids love to explore and play in.
There are plenty of country walks, a miniature railway and a great children’s play area. There is a café onsite or lots of picnic benches to sit and have your own food. It is also home to an RSPB centre so great if your little ones like bird watching (my son included).
This is a great country park with lots for the children to do. There is plenty of space to run around, play football or maybe a game of cricket (whatever takes your fancy). There are lots of different play areas for the kids to explore as you walk round the park. There is a café near to the car park if you need a bite to eat. It is also home to Sky Ropes, with high rope adventure courses for all ages (2 years up). I think this park is great if you need to entertain teenagers or little ones.
South Weald, Brentwood
This lovely country park is great for wildlife. There are plenty of deer which children can feed with food bought from the park shop or you are welcome to bring your own vegetable cuttings. You will also spot plenty of ducks and other birds. It is home to the Stickman play trail (from the Julia Donaldson story Stick Man) so lots for the children to explore.
This is another lovely country park with woodlands to explore and lots of open space so room to fly a kite. It is home to the Gruffalo Trail (another Julia Donaldson story) with self guided tour maps available for 50p. The trail takes about 45 minutes and gives children the opportunity to explore the woodland.
This is a great place for walks if you have a buggy as it has a flat path running all the way round so a good option when other places are too muddy. There are play areas for children along the route and a nice café for snacks or lunch at the start.
Rettendon Common, Chelmsford
This Royal Horticultural Society garden is a lovely day out. It is such a pretty place to wonder round and enjoy being outdoors. In the school holidays they often have trials for the children to follow and there is a nice shaded play area. There is a café and restaurant onsite both serving tasty locally sourced food. I enjoyed this place so much that I became an RHS member!
We first visited this RSPB site as my son become interested in bird watching. It is a lovely, peaceful place to visit. There are a couple of walks you can do around the marshes as well as bird watching huts and children play areas. They sometimes have activities for children to join in with during the half term. We have done pond dipping and bug catching which they both thoroughly enjoyed.
There are some really good nature trails to follow and lots of different wildlife to look out for on route. A guide is available at the visitor centre. The visitor centre is a great place to sit and have a hot drink and take in the views. There is also a Wind in the Willows trail for children to follow with five wooden sculptures to find.
There is a lot to keep the children entertained at this promenade. There is a huge play area and a splash park (tickets required). There are lots of refreshment kiosks and plenty of space for picnics. There are also a number of beach huts by the play area which can be hired for the day. These make a great base for a day at the park and gives you a bit of shelter if needed.
This is great for crabbing from the jetty. Its such a fun and cost effective activity which children absolutely love. Its also nice to walk along the beach and look at all the colourful beach huts. You can also get some tasty, fresh seafood from the Oyster sheds. For more information check out my other post – A very British bank holiday – West Mersea Essex
Essex Marina, Wallasea Island and Burnham-on-Crouch
For something a bit different you can get a small boat across from Wallasea Island to Burnham-on-Crouch. The Burnham ferry runs 6 days a week and takes 10 minutes to make the crossing but a nice adventure for the kids. Burnham-on-crouch has lots of nice restaurants and pubs and a lovely riverside walk as well as a good children’s play area and the chance to go crabbing. It makes for a nice, fun day out.
South Woodham Ferrers
This is a lot more than a farm and has lots to keep children entertained. There are many different play areas, bouncy pillows, entertainment shows and a maze to name just a few. My children love a trip to Marsh Farm and you can easily spend a full day here. During school holidays there are always lots of extra activities and its great to visit at Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Its worth pre purchasing tickets online before you visit to receive a discount.
South Woodham Ferrers
This is a small Zoo but there are still lots of different animals to see including lemurs and wallabies. There is a nice children’s play area and an indoor softplay area. The tropical house is great to walk through and get close to lots of free flying butterflies.
This is a fantastic zoo with lots of things to do. You can easily spend a whole day seeing the many different animals, watching them being fed, playing in the play areas and having a ride on the train. Check out my other post for more details – Colchester Zoo – A Great day out with the kids
This is a great small working farm where you get given a guided tour and really get hands on with the animals. You can have a go at milking a cow and feeding hens as well as handling lots of other animals. Its a great way for kids to see a real working farm. Check the website for opening times as it normally only allows visitors in the afternoon.
This is a lovely small museum with lots of different exhibitions for children to explore. It has lots of information on the history of Chelmsford from the Ice Age until the present day. It is set in a park with a good children’s play area. Its a good option for those rainy days when you need to be inside and admission is free which is great!
This is probably more for children who are into playing armies and sword fights (like my son). The museum is crammed full with displays of military equipment old and new. It even has tanks outside the front of the museum. Again its another great option for entertaining the children for a few hours on rainy days.
Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood
This large, deep cold war bunker is very educational for children. You use personal headsets to take a self guided tour. There are adult and child tours available and several films to watch on route. Children can also have a go at dressing up in authentic military uniforms and gas masks.
I had to include this as its one of my daughters favourite places. It has recently relocated to a larger space and is great for children that enjoy arts and crafts. They have a large number of ceramics that you can choose from and paint. They run lots of workshops during half term (check out their website for details).
Take a ride on the miniature train and try to spot the many teddy bears that are hiding during the journey round. Then take a stroll through the enchanted fairy and elf walk and find the tiny fairies and elf’s that are hiding in wooden tree houses. The kids enjoyed their day here as it was something different. You can bring a picnic and use the picnic benches next to the play area or hot and cold food is available from the signal box café.
These are just 25 of the many great things to do with kids in Essex. I have tried to choose the places that we as a family love to visit, giving options for different budgets and weather conditions.
Would love to hear from you if you have any other places that should be added to the list.
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