The top free attractions in Essex


When it comes to entertaining your family at the weekend, the cost of going out can soon add up. Once you’ve factored in entrance tickets, food and travel, a day out can sometimes work out to be pricey – but this need not be the case in Essex.

The county is home to some top attractions for all of the family – and best of all, many of them don’t cost a single penny! I’m always on the lookout for free things to see and do so, if you’ve recently moved into a family newbuild home in Essex and need some inspiration, below is my list of some of the best places to visit.

Clacton Pier

Clacton Pier is a fantastic family attraction that is fascinating to explore. Not only is it packed with an array of amusements, but the pier is also historic. Since opening in 1871, it has changed with the times to keep up with what visitors want.

Simply strolling along here is a fun way to spend an hour, although if you want to go on the rides, you can pay a small amount to do so. Cups and saucers, a mini wheel, safari train and wild mouse coaster are just a handful of the rides here, with the majority suitable for little ones.

The pier is also home to the Seaquarium and Boardwalk Bar and Club, and there are different events throughout the year such as firework displays.

Hatfield Forest

One of my favourite things about Essex is how green it is, making it perfect if you and your family like to get out and about and enjoy the great outdoors. Hatfield Forest is one such place, with lots of fantastic walking trails to follow. Pack a picnic and find a spot to nestle down in when it’s time to rest your feet and reenergise.

There are lots of picnic tables dotted around the lake, and you will notice people fishing from the shore. If you’re interested in coarse fishing, there are opportunities to have a go at it when visiting Hatfield Forest.

Chelmsford Cathedral

While Chelmsford Cathedral is free to look around, it’s suggested you provide a £3 donation to help with the upkeep of this beautiful building. I’d always advise dropping a couple of pounds into the box when visiting these kinds of places, as they tend to rely on kind members of the public to help them with the maintenance.

It might be the second smallest cathedral in the whole of the country, but the stunning French limestone floor, Westmorland slate altar, font and cathedra and colourful glass windows all provide the wow factor.

Colchester Roman wall

Everyone loves a Roman wall, whether it’s to simply look at or take a stroll along. The one in Colchester is the longest and oldest in Britain, and was built in AD60 following the Boudican rebellion.

Next to the Balkerne Gate, which is the original central entrance to Colchester, there is what remains of a Roman guardroom.  One of the best ways to see everything the attraction has to offer is to walk around it, which is a lovely family activity to take part in if the weather is on your side.

Do you live in Essex? If so, what are your favourite free family attractions in the county? Leave a list of the best ones below to help inspire others to explore Essex on a budget.


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