The summer holidays are just around the corner, a time that brings elation to children but usually dread for most parents. With six whole weeks of the children being at home and complaining that they are bored it can be hard work keeping them entertained.
While there are lots of days out and holidays to be had not everyone can afford to take their children out several times a week to places or events that cost money. Entry fees alone can be £10 plus then add in the expense of food and drink and parents can be finding themselves out of pocket by the end of the first week.
Lucky for you we have put together a collection of ideas for free days out in Essex – less a small parking charge in some cases – for you to enjoy. You can stretch the costly days out over the six weeks to save your bank account taking a hit whilst still giving the kids plenty to do (and most importantly tire them out!)
There are some glorious parks in Essex, too many to mention here really, and most of them are huge with lots of activities and are surrounded by enough land for picnics and ball games.
Wat Tyler Park Country Park in Pitsea has 125 acres of country walks as well as a play area for the children and wildlife spotting. The park has the traditional facilities like swings as well as zip wires, a running wheel and big dizzy disc. There is also a miniature railway that runs close by and if you plan on spending the day there you can fill up on lunch in the cafe. You can learn about the history of Wat Tyler and the park and the village green is great for a picnic to keep costs down.
King George Playing Fields in Brentwood is another brilliant day out with paddling pools, gardens, a children’s park and of course playing fields. There is also a skate park, bowling green and crazy golf so definitely plenty to keep the little ones occupied! Again there is a cafe or you can pack your own lunch.
Other great parks worth visiting are:
Great Notley Country Park, Braintree
Weald Country Park, Brentwood
Promenade Park, Maldon
Of course if you want to stay closer to home you have the wonderful Harlow Town Park which has an adventure playground and won the Green Flag Award in 2016 as well as Parndon Nature Reserve where you can go exploring with a pond net or bug hunting kit.
Of course there are the famous beaches that we all know and love such as Southend on Sea, Clacton and Walton on the Naze with their fantastic amusements, candy floss, fish and chips and pleasure piers. (Of which Southends is the longest pleasure pier in the world).
If you fancy a bit of a different beach experience though you could try Frinton on sea which prides itself as a quiet family beach and remains largely uncommercialised. With a wide sandy beach perfect for building sand castles and a blue Flag award for cleanliness, Frinton beach is the ideal setting for a chilled family day out in the sun full of fun and games.
Other popular beaches to try include Brightlingsea Beach which is popular for yachting or Mersea sand and shell beach which has the remains of a world war two pillbox and Tudor Fort.
Keeping closer to home, why not venture to Epping Forest and Visitor Centre; it is 6000 acres of forest making it the largest public open space in London. It has snack facilities available or you can pack a picnic. There are also parking and toilet facilities.
Or, for a small entry fee (£1 for children over 5 and £2 for adults) you could spend the day at The Museum of Harlow where there are plenty of activities for kids such as their Young Historian Group or trails for all of the family to explore and enjoy. There is also a research centre and walled gardens.
Finally of course there is Pets Corner which is free and full of animal fun and learning for the family with exotic animals such as alpacas and reindeer.
The great thing about these places is because there are so many activities to do whether it is outdoor play or learning, it means you can go back several times over the holidays and not have the same day our twice.
Have a lovely summer!