Enjoy days out in Essex

From farms and festivals to castles and clock museums, Carol Jolly, of the Essex Tourism Association, explains why Essex has everything you need for a grand day out with her 25 things that make the county special

1 Lee Valley Regional Park Where? Stubbins Hall Lane, Waltham Abbey EN9 2EFWhen should I go? Open daily from 10am to 5pm Why visit? Spend time on the Lee Valley Park Farms for a fun family day out feeding the animals and learning more about the countryside and where our food comes from. At Lee Valley's Gunpowder Park look out for The Mowgli Stories at 3pm on August 23 (tickets are �10 for adults and �6 for children) and Life in the Park After Dark from 8pm on August 27 (�4.10 per child).How much does it cost? Admission to the farm is �6.80 for adults, while children and concessions are �5.40. Under 2s are freeFind out more...www.leevalleypark.org.uk

2 Natural History Museum Where? Opposite the main gates to Castle Park, ColchesterWhen should I go? Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Sunday, 11am to 5pmWhy visit? Housed in the former All Saints Church, this museum focuses on the rich natural heritage of Essex. Discover what rocks lie beneath your feet and even find out what wildlife lurks in your garden. There are hands-on displays, a chuchyard nature reserve and a well stocked shop. How much does it cost? It is freeFind out more...www.colchestermuseums.org.uk

3 Tymperleys Clock Museum Where? In Trinity Street, off Culver Street East, ColchesterWhen should I go? Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, until November Why visit? This is the perfect place to take some time out and look back at the past. Once owned by William Gilberd, a scientist and physician to Elizabeth I, this 15th century timber-framed house is now home to Colchester's collection of clocks and watches. In particular you'll find the Bernard Mason Collection, one of the largest collections of clocks in Britain.How much does it cost? Absolutely nothingFind out more...www.colchestermuseums.org.uk

4 The Cookery Workshop Where? Ashlyns House, 83 Fourth Avenue, Frinton on Sea CO139EB When should I go? Demonstrations are by appointment. The coffee shop and deli are open Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm Why visit? It is time to taste the difference with a choice of cookery demonstrations at The Cookery Workshop. Classes include learning how to make pates, bread, tapas and mezze, with vegetarian options and ideas for summer entertaining. The Cookery Workshop also serves Italian roasted coffee and freshly-baked biscuits. How much does it cost? Prices varyFind out more...www.cookery-workshop.co.uk

5 The Cliffs Pavilion Where? Southend on Sea When should I go? A choice of family theatre treats run throughout the summer Why visit? There is a great choice of spectacular summer shows at the Cliffs Pavilion throughout the holiday season. From July 28 to August 1, don't miss Never Forget, the Take That musical direct from its acclaimed West End run which features great songs from the boys including Relight My Fire, Pray, Back For Good, Babe and, of course, Never Forget.How much does it cost? Show prices varyFind out more...www.thecliffspavilion.co.uk

6 Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve Where? Three miles south-east of Colchester When should I go? The reserve is open daily, except Mondays, from 9 am to 5pmWhy visit? Fingringhoe Wick provides activities for families and children all year round. These include Wildlife Discovery Days for eight to 12 year olds and Family Nature Days for the whole family. This year a new Fingringhoe Explorers Club for eight to 14 year olds offers children the opportunity to take part in bushcraft and practical activities.How much does it cost? Donations invited from non-members. �2 for adults and �1 for children.Find out more...www.essexwt.org.uk

7 Tiptree Jams Visitor Centre Where? Tiptree, Colchester CO5 0RF When should I go? Summer opening: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Sunday, 11am to 5pm Why visit? Get a real taste of Tiptree in the building where the famous jam was first prepared. The Tiptree Visitor Centre and museum is a great place to discover more about village life in Essex, as well as jam-making. Visitors can also enjoy freshly-made lunches and homemade cakes in the quiet, relaxed tea room or on the outdoor terrace. How much does it cost? Entry is freeFind out more...www.tiptree.com

8 Brentwood Theatre Where? 15 Shenfield Road, Brentwood CM15 8AG When should I go? There is a packed diary of shows from now until the year ends Why visit? Brentwood Theatre has recently re-opened following the completion of its new facilities which include a 40-seat theatre. Highlights this summer include Alice In Wonderland Jr by The Debut School of Performing Arts on Sunday July 5 and Tuesday, July 7 and An Evening of Country Music on Sunday, July 26.How much does it cost? Show prices varyFind out more...www.brentwood-theatre.org

9 Essex Art and Design Show Where? Cressing Temple Barns, Witham Road, Cressing CM77 8PD When should I go? Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27, 10am to 5pm Why visit? This is the 5th successful year of the Essex Art and Design Show. Look out for showcased work from more than 70 artists and designers featuring a wide range of exhibits such as fine art, photography, ceramics, jewellery, textiles and contemporary crafts. Visitors will have a chance to buy original art and meet the artist who created the work. There will also be weekend demonstrations. How much does it cost? �4, children under 16 are freeFind out more...www.essexartanddesignshow.co.uk

10 Cressing Temple Where? Witham Road, Braintree CM77 8PD When should I go? Open every day except Saturday, 10am to 5pm Why visit? Cressing Temple is a scheduled ancient monument dating back to the 13th century and home to the two finest remaining Templar barns in Europe. The site's rich heritage is reflected in a host of unique buildings and beautiful gardens. Visitors can enjoy falconry demonstrations, an extensive events programme and the opportunity to relax in the popular Templars' tearoom and gift shop.How much does it cost? Adults �4, concessions �3Find out more...www.cressingtemple.org.uk

11 Essex Country Parks Where? Across Essex When should I go? A full programme of special activities runs through the summer Why visit? Essex County Council runs seven beautiful country parks offering open spaces, woodland trails and coastal walks. Look out for Belhus Woods Country Park, Cudmore Grove Country Park, Danbury Country Park, Great Notley Country Park, Hadleigh Country Park, Throndon Country Park and Weald Country Park. How much does it cost? Prices for events varyFind out more...www.essex.gov.uk/countryparks

12 RSPB Rainham Marshes Where? It is signposted from the A1306 between Rainham and Purfleet When should I go? Daily 9.30am to 5pm until October 31 Why visit? RSPB Rainham Marshes offers a summer of family fun in 2009. Make the most of the great outdoors with a relaxing walk or let the children loose in the adventure play area. The packed events schedule has something for everyone and there is always the chance to stop by for a bit of cake in the caf�. How much does it cost? Non-RSPB members cost �2.50 per adult and �1 per child. A voluntary �1 donation is asked for car parkingFind out more...www.rspb.org.uk/rainham

13 Hollytrees Museum Where? On Colchester High Street When should I go? Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.Sunday, 11am to 5pm. Why visit? History is delivered with humour and fun in this vibrant museum. One room is dedicated to childhood and is like a large playroom, with snakes and ladders incorporated into the floor, a crawling tunnel and displays celebrating Colchester's famous nursery rhymes, Old King Cole and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.How much does it cost? It is freeFind out more...www.colchestermuseums.org.uk

14 Debden Antiques Where? Three miles south of Saffron Walden next to Carver Barracks When should I go? Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays Why visit? Explore this treasure trove of desirable antiques, all displayed in a beautiful 17th century barn. This is a great place to browse for that something a bit special among a wonderful selection of antiques for the home and garden. In a separate building behind the antiques barn The Courtyard Caf� serves great coffees and teas, snacks and light lunches while a large orchard offers space for children to play.How much does it cost? Admission is freeFind out more...www.debden-antiques.co.uk

15 Mountfitchet Castle and The House on the Hill Toy Museum Where? Stansted Mountfitchet CM24 8SPWhen should I go? Open daily 10am to 5pm Why visit? Stansted Mountfitchet is home to two unique visitor attractions. Mountfitchet Castle is an 11th century motte and bailey castle reconstructed on its original 12-acre historic site where the visitor can wander back in time and witness Norman life. Adjacent to the castle is the largest toy museum in the world, The House on the Hill Toy Museum, with more than 70,000 toys on display plus The History of Rock 'n' Roll exhibition.How much does it cost? Adults �8.50, children �6.50, senior citizens �8Find out more...www.mountfitchetcastle.com

16 Barleylands Where? Barleylands Road, Billericay CM11 2UD When should I go? Open daily, 10am to 5pm until October Why visit? Barleylands Farm is home to more than 60 unique craft studios and a wonderful educational farm, but in 2009 it also offers a brand new indoor adventure play centre. Families can feed and learn about the animals, go for a ride on the tractor or the train, visit the pottery barn and glass blowers or relax with a cup of tea in the Hive Caf�.How much does it cost? Adults �7, concessions �6Find out more...www.barleylands.co.uk

17 Marsh Farm Where? South Woodham FerrersWhen should I go? Open daily until August, 10am to 5pm Why visit? Marsh Farm Country Park is a demonstration of a commercial working farm where visitors can interact with farm animals, ride a trailer into the country park or cuddle with pets in the pet barn. This year Marsh Farm is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new play area and events programme.How much does it cost? Adults �6.25, child (three to 16) �3.75Find out more...www.marshfarmcountrypark.co.uk

18 Maldon District Where? To the east of Chelmsford When should I go? The Burnham Week sailing regatta is a highlight in August Why visit? The Maldon District is the perfect location to unwind as you discover its timeless charm, natural beauty and hidden heritage. Explore the market town of Maldon with a stroll along the Hythe Quay and a picnic at Promenade Park or why not visit Burnham on Crouch to take a boat trip to see the seals or just watch the boats sail by. How much does it cost? Explore for freeFind out more...www.visitmaldondistrict.co.uk

19 The Museum of Power Where? Langford near Maldon When should I go? Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am Why visit? Housed in a former pumping station, The Museum of Power features a giant steam pumping engine, an Edwardian workshop, historic exhibits and child-friendly interactive displays. Set within attractive wooded grounds, the museum provides a complete family day out and a miniature steam railway operates on the first Sunday of each month. How much does it cost? Adults �3.50, children aged six to 16 �2, concessions �3 Find out more...www.museumofpower.org.uk

20 Old Macdonald's Farm Where? Weald Road, Brentwood CM14 5AYWhen should I go? Open daily 10am to 5pmWhy visit? Winners of the East of England Tourist Board Award for Excellence 2008, Old Macdonald's Farm offers a great value family day out. A mix of farmyard favourites and exotic animals wait to greet guests and the entry fee includes access to all rides and slides including a rollercoaster, indoor and outdoor play areas and adventure walks.How much does it cost? Adults �10.50, children �9.50, senior citizens �8.50Find out more...www.omdfarm.co.uk

21 Leisure World Where? Cowdray Avenue, Colchester CO1 1YHWhen should I go? Open seven days a week, from 6am midweek Why visit? Colchester Leisure World offers a wide range of health and fitness activities for all ages and abilities providing a healthy day out the whole family will enjoy. Take your pick from the Activa Gym, swimming, racket sports, indoor and outdoor football, health and beauty treatments or a relaxing spa at Aqua Springs, or choose from the varied events programme at Charter Hall. How much does it cost? Prices for specific activities are available on requestFind out more...www.colchesterleisureworld.co.uk

22 Redwings Centre Where? Off the B181 in Broadley Common EN9 2DHWhen should I go? Open daily from 9.30am to 5pm Why visit? Encounter some very friendly horses, ponies, donkeys and mules as part of a great day out before visiting the caf�, gift shop and information centre. There are also plenty of activities and horse care demonstrations - perfect for equestrian enthusiasts. How much does it cost? Entry is freeFind out more...www.redwings.co.uk

23 The Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa Where? Keepers Lane, Leavenheath, Colchester CO6 4PZ When should I go? Whenever you need a break Why visit? Escape from it all in Constable Country at The Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa. Set in 300 acres of stunning countryside and benefiting from a �5 million expansion and refurbishment, it is the ideal place for an idyllic getaway. Visitors can play the hotel's two golf courses or relax with a spa treatment. How much does it cost? Rooms from �34.50 pppn including bed and breakfast or a Spa Day from �59.Find out more...www.stokebynaylandclub.co.uk

24 Colchester Castle Where? Castle Park, Colchester High Street When should I go? Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Sunday, 11am to 5pm Why visit? A visit to Colchester Castle Museum takes you through 2,000 years of history. Once capital of Roman Britain, Colchester has experienced devastation by Boudica, invasion by the Normans and siege during the English Civil War. The castle itself is the largest keep ever built by the Normans and was constructed on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius. Today it is an award-winning museum.How much does it cost? Adults �5.50, concessions �3.50Find out more...www.colchestermuseums.org.uk

25 Prested Hall Where? Feering, Colchester CO5 9EEWhen should I go? For a special family occasion Why visit? Prested Hall is the perfect setting for a family picnic with a difference. Surrounded by 75 acres of beautiful countryside, you are able to choose your setting and simply settle down for the afternoon while everything is arranged for you in the finest detail. You can even go for a Champagne picnic which includes your very own butler.How much does it cost? From �12.95pp for a family picnicFind out more...www.prested.co.uk

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