Things to do in Essex

Things to do in Essex

No matter where in the UK you are from, almost everyone has an idea of what Essex might be like. For some, it immediately conjures up images of TOWIE glamour; for others, the iconic Southend pier. Many think of Essex as a commuter haven, given its proximity to London. Some picture large urban towns or quaint villages, countryside and coastline. Whatever your perception of Essex, I’ll wager it has more to offer than you imagine.

Essex is wonderfully diverse, offering visitors and residents a mix of history, nature, and entertainment. From exploring Colchester Castle to beach days at Southend-on-Sea, and from nature watching in Danbury Country Park to retail therapy in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex has something for everyone.

As a mortgage broker serving homebuyers in Essex, Goldmanread is a very proud advocate for the region. In this article, we will share our knowledge of the biggest attractions of the county and discuss the many reasons that Essex is a great place to live, visit and work.

Thinking of moving to Essex? For insightful and impartial mortgage advice in Essex, get in contact Goldmanread today.

Why move to Essex?

Essex is an ideal location for homebuyers of all kinds, including first-time buyers, families, couples, and retirees. The region boasts a flourishing economy and property market, with a wide range of affordable homes available. There are many options in beautiful towns and villages that are full of character and charm.

Residents of Essex enjoy an excellent quality of life, thanks to the stunning surroundings, welcoming and friendly locals, and excellent leisure and recreation facilities. Being part of London’s commuter belt, most major towns have direct trains to the capital, making it a convenient location for those who work in the city but want to spend their downtime somewhere more relaxed.

Natural beauty

Essex boasts diverse natural landscapes, a highlight of which is Dedham Vale, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). People flock here for tranquil walks along the River Stour and stunning countryside views. Known as ‘Constable Country’, art lovers can glimpse the scene of The Hay Wain, which remains largely unchanged.

The Essex Coast stretches along the county’s eastern shores, showcasing stunning coastal scenery, salt marshes teeming with wildlife, and picturesque estuaries. Epping Forest, another cherished beauty spot with roots in the Iron Age, is home to ancient woodlands that were the 12th-century hunting ground of King Henry II.

Cultural highlights

Essex has plenty for culture lovers, such as the vibrant arts scene in Chelmsford, numerous museums and the acclaimed Essex Book Festival. The Mercury Theatre in Colchester and the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend-on-Sea provide stages for world-class performances as diverse as opera, comedy, drama and good old-fashioned panto. And events like the Maldon Mud Race offer quirky and quintessential Essex experiences.

Intriguing heritage

Essex has been inhabited for thousands of years, and much of the past is still visible. Colchester, for example, is Britain’s oldest recorded town. Its Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and Norman castle offer a fascinating glimpse of the town’s history.

Audley End House, a splendid Jacobean mansion, woos visitors with its opulent interiors and immaculately landscaped gardens. Nearby, Mountfitchet Castle provides an immersive journey back to medieval times. A fine example of a motte and bailey castle, it is complete with reconstructed buildings, interactive exhibits, and living history demonstrations, offering visitors a hands-on experience of life in a bygone era.

Shopping, dining and leisure

Essex offers a wide array of shopping, dining, and leisure experiences. Lakeside Shopping Centre, West Thurrock, is the largest shopping destination in the region, featuring hundreds of high-street retailers, restaurants, cinemas and entertainment venues.

If you are a lover of fine dining, head to Epping, Dedham, Chelmsford or Colchester, where you will find many leading restaurants such as Talbooth and the Michelin-starred Haywards. Essex is also home to the famous Tiptree preserves, and there are several Tiptree Tea Rooms throughout the county, which are well worth a visit.

Great schools and further education

Essex has many ‘outstanding’ prep, primary and secondary schools and is home to the University of Essex. Read more in Goldmanread’s guide on the best schools in Essex.

Diverse property market

The Essex housing market is affordable compared to the London and South East averages and can meet the needs of a wide range of buyers. The county’s diverse mix of urban centres, coastal towns and rural villages means there is something to suit every budget and lifestyle. Read more in Goldmanread’s guide to the property market in Essex.

Family days out in Essex

There are so many fun things to do in Essex, with many great family days out.

Here are Goldmanread’s top three:

1. Southend-on-Sea

I may be biased (Goldmanread has offices in Westcliff), but Southend on Sea is still one of the most enjoyable days out in the Southeast. Holidaymakers and daytrippers have been flocking here since the Victorian era for its beaches and traditional seaside activities.

The town is famed for having the longest pleasure pier in the world. If you walk the 1.33 miles to the end, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Essex coastline and a fine restaurant, cafe and gift shop. To save your feet, you might opt to take the pier railway, which children adore.

No trip to Southend is complete without a visit to Adventure Island, the largest theme park in Essex. This beloved seafront feature has its origins dating back to the 1920s. Covering seven acres, the park has a fantastic selection of rides, attractions and restaurants, and offers free entry and flexible wristband offers.

2. Essex Outdoors Danbury

Essex Outdoors Danbury is a popular outdoor activity centre situated in a stunning woodland haven. Offering a wide range of activities such as rock climbing, orienteering, kayaking, and bushcraft, it’s perfect for adventure-loving families and also ideal for team-building experiences.

3. Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is one of the UK’s most prominent zoological parks, renowned for its dedication to wildlife conservation and education. Established in 1963, the zoo has grown from humble beginnings to become a leading conservation institution, actively involved in numerous global breeding programs and conservation initiatives.

Colchester Zoo houses over 200 species from around the world, including endangered species such as Amur leopards, Sumatran tigers, and African elephants. The zoo offers educational talks, feeding sessions, and interactive experiences, providing visitors with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

Looking for a mortgage in Essex? Get in touch

I hope this has given you an inspirational glimpse of things to do in Essex. Above all, our lovely county is renowned for being home to some of the warmest and friendliest people you could hope to meet.

If you are looking to move to Essex and need mortgage advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Goldmanread. As a whole market broker, we can search a wide range of lenders to find the most suitable and competitive deal for your circumstances.

Clive Read
Clive Read

Clive Read is an appointed representative of PRIMIS Mortgage Network. PRIMIS Mortgage Network is a trading style of Personal Touch Financial Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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