Places to visit in Essex

Places to visit in Essex

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Staycations are on the up and up, and in recent times the county of Essex has become an absolute hotbed of holidays. This is in no small part thanks to the county’s selection of beaches, some achieving Blue Flag status, and many more winning ‘Seaside Awards’, giving visitors an array of options for a day at the seaside.

Essex is culturally rich, being home to the oldest town in the UK, a wealth of historical sites and several National Trust properties and parks. The rural stretches of the county are full of beauty spots, offering walkers miles of unspoiled countryside with riverside trails, rolling hills, and ancient woodland to take in. There are dozens of well-signposted routes around the county making it a walker’s paradise.

The county also offers a lot in the way of family activities. In addition to the world-famous Colchester Zoo, there are arcades, piers, trampoline parks and go-karting tracks alongside many other amusements. It’s almost impossible to spend a day in this eastern county without finding something fun for the whole family to enjoy. This list of Haven-approved places to visit in Essex will give you a starting point to help plan your trip.

Clacton-on-Sea

Clacton-on-Sea

Seaside resorts don’t get much more iconic than Clacton-on-Sea, the largest town on the Essex Sunshine Coast. There’s also a familiar old-time vibe about the town which likely comes the 1950s and ‘60s when this was the beachside place to be seen. However, where other British resort towns have faded away, Clacton has managed to keep up with the times, the pier is still now just as entertaining and lively as it was half a century ago.

Clacton-on-Sea boasts an array of shops, restaurants, attractions, and leisure facilities throughout the town to satisfy visitors of all ages. You can also jump on a bike and try one of the many cycle routes around Clacton that encompass a variety of distances, from a short 8-mile ride around the Martello Tower to a 20-mile epic that takes in the rural charms of Great Bentley further inland. With Orchards Holiday Village just a 15-minute drive away, there’s no reason not to experience the seaside fun at Clacton-on-Sea, one of the best places to visit in Essex. For even more to do in the town, check out our list of things to do in Clacton-on-Sea.

Brightlingsea

Brightlingsea

If you’re staying with Haven at Orchards Holiday Village and fancy exploring the local area, there can be no better option than the maritime town of Brightlingsea, right on your doorstep. Brightlingsea is a pleasant little location on the Colne estuary, between Colchester and Clacton. It is a popular yachting destination with excellent sailing and water sport facilities as well as an attractive harbour.

The promenade of Brightlingsea is a highlight, stretching along the west coast of the town, it features a tranquil bathing area, backed by rows of colourful beach huts. The promenade ends with the impressive Batemans Tower, a curious octagonal, block-built folly, believed to have been originally built as a lighthouse.

Alongside 13th-century timbered buildings, Brightlingsea’s centre has a convenient souvenir shopping space and is a pleasant area to wander in due to its floral decorations, which, along with Springmead Gardens, ensures that Brightlingsea is a regular winner of ‘Britain in Bloom’ competitions. A small boating lake and outdoor swimming pool can also be found to the west of the harbour, ideal for when the sea is too cold to swim. A regular foot ferry takes you from Brightlingsea Harbour to Mersea Island, a unique island to explore and a massive recommendation of ours!

Find out more in our round-up of things to do in Brightlingsea.

St Osyth

St Osyth

St Osyth is a hidden gem and one of the best places to visit in Essex, so it’s just as well that it’s a mere stone’s throw from us at Orchards Holiday Village. A two-mile walk takes you to the heart of this quaint Essex village. Your arrival is marked by Curve Water Sports, a brilliant aqua activity that’s based on the lovely Mill Dam Lake. 

As you head into the village centre, there are 116 listed buildings and structures to explore, and a couple of relaxing pubs to enjoy a drink or two with the loved ones. Historic walls run alongside the main thoroughfare, and behind these you’ll find St Osyth Museum, offering a brilliant insight into this historic corner of Essex.

See more stuff that makes this village special on our things to do in St Osyth article.

Colchester

Colchester

Colchester, formerly known as ‘Camulodunum’, is the oldest town in the UK and was a former capital of Roman Britain. Its rich history dates back over two millennia and is ripe for discovering on one of the city’s self-guided trails that help bring Colchester’s fascinating heritage to life. But it's not all about the past here. Modern Colchester is also a thriving town with first class attractions such as the cultural Colchester Castle and family-friendly Colchester Zoo.

The latter is home to many rare and endangered species, including primates, big cats and birds of all shapes and sizes as well as many invertebrates and fish species; it is a sure fire hit with curious minds and animal lovers. If you are looking for unique heritage, family attractions, picturesque villages, and quintessentially English countryside surroundings, then Colchester is the town for you. See what else makes this Essex town great in things to do in Colchester.

Discover breaks in Essex

Orchards self catering holidays

Orchards Holiday Village, Essex

4 nights from £49

Walton-on-the-Naze

Walton-on-the-Naze

Walton-on-the-Naze is a wonderful way to spend a day away from the action at Orchards Holiday Village. Standing close to the northern limit of Essex’s coastline, the town combines classic seaside features with natural beauty to make it once of the best places to visit in Essex.

Explore the glorious 19th-century pier, walk along the lovely beach and head north to Naze Tower to complete a brilliant family day out. For a bit of indulgence, pick from one of the many quality fish and chip shops. See more delights on things to do in Walton-on-the-Naze.

Frinton-on-Sea

Frinton-on-Sea

Places to visit in Essex don’t come much more peaceful than Frinton. A sprawling space with plenty of greenery, the town never gets too busy, meaning you can turn up whatever time you want and enjoy the things to do. Frinton is quite literally a breath of fresh air, and perfect for a stroll along the coast with loads of convenient places to park when you drive the 30-minute journey from Orchards Holiday Village.

If you’re here in the warmer months, check out the Frinton Summer Theatre. The venue has hosted many a famous name over the years, with Sir Ian McKellen bringing a one-man production to the stage here in 2019.

Southend-on-Sea

Southend-on-Sea

Southend-on-Sea might be a bit of an outlier in this article, but we promise the relatively long journey from Orchards Holiday Village is worth it. A household name, Southend has been welcoming visitors from far and wide for decades, and proudly hosts the longest pier in the world! A handy train takes you from one to the other, so you don’t have to worry if you’re feeling lazy.

There are awesome amusements on the seafront, as well as a raft of rides and places to eat and drink. All in all, Southend-on-Sea has all the ingredients for a brilliant day out, making it a place with some of the best things to do in Essex.

Harwich

Harwich

Located on a peninsula at the entrance to the estuaries of the Rivers Stroud and Orwell, Harwich is a busy port town with a rich maritime history. This legacy is thanks to former residents such as the famous seafarers Martin Frobisher, Sir Francis Drake, as well as the fact that it was the launching site of The Mayflower in 1620, the ship that famously transported a group of English families, known today as the Pilgrims or the Founding Fathers, to the New World.

The older part of Harwich was built in the 1200s and is protected due to its collection of unique cantilevered and flat-fronted houses. Not only does Harwich entice visitors with stunning history and heritage, but it also boasts a wonderful selection of restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs, as well as the Electric Palace Cinema from 1911, the oldest unchanged cinema in Britain which still has its original silent screen. The tranquil seaside at Dovercourt Bay features an award-winning Blue Flag beach while the Marine Parade links the town to a range of seafront facilities and unspoilt beauty making it one of the best places to visit in Essex.

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Important information

Pre-owned holiday homes from £14,995 Holiday home price is based on a pre-owned holiday home and includes siting, connections and standard accessories.  

Price excludes 2024 site fees, running costs and add-ons requested at point of sale. Subject to status and availability.  

As at 12 July 2024, price is available at Blue Dolphin, Combe Haven, Caister, Cleethorpes Beach, Craig Tara, Golden Sands, Greenacres, Haggerston Castle, Skegness, The Orchards, Quay West and Wild Duck only until the stock has been sold. Haven reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time.

Images are shown for representational purposes. Access to holiday home is subject to park opening times.

Park cannot be used as a permanent residence. Haven Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 01968698) and is a FCA appointed representative of Bourne Leisure Limited (t/a Haven). Bourne Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 04011660) and is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Services Register No. 312847) as a credit broker and insurance distributor. Registered office: One Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL. We may receive commission from the finance provider if you enter into an agreement with them. 

New holiday homes from £29,995 – reduced from £33,995 

Holiday home price is for a new 3-bedroom Willerby Ellerton Extra holiday and includes siting, connections and standard accessories. 

From 12 July 2024 the holiday home price is reduced from £37,995 to £29,995 until 31 August 2024 at which point it will revert to £33,995. At Far Grange the holiday home price point is reduced from £33,995 and will revert to this price on 31 August 2024. 

The holiday home price excludes 2024 site fees, running costs and add-ons requested at point of sale. Subject to status and availability.    

As at 12 July 2024 this price is available at – Blue Dolphin, Caister-on-Sea, Cleethorpes Beach, Come Haven, Craig Tara, Far Grange, Greenacres, Haggerston Castle, The Orchards, Quay West, and Wild Duck 

Haven reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time. Images are shown for representational purposes. Access to holiday home is subject to park opening times.   

Park cannot be used as a permanent residence. Haven Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 01968698) and is a FCA appointed representative of Bourne Leisure Limited (t/a Haven).  Bourne Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 04011660) and is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Services Register No. 312847) as a credit broker and insurance distributor. Registered office: One Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL. We may receive commission from the finance provider if you enter into an agreement with them.   

Free 2024 site fees when you buy a Haven holiday home

Offer is applicable to new customer purchases made through Haven from 19 April 2024, completing by 31 December 2024.

Offer excludes part-exchanges or private sales. Available on new & pre-owned holiday homes at the following selected parks only: Kent Coast, Burnham-on-Sea, Cleethorpes Beach, Craig Tara, Far Grange, Golden Sands, Haggerston Castle, Hopton, Orchards, Skegness and Wild Duck.

A credit equivalent to the value of your site fees due during the 2024 season will be applied to your account balance on completion of your purchase for use against your running costs e.g. utilities, after-sale add-ons e.g storage boxes or site fees. It cannot be applied to your purchase or refunded in cash.

Subject to availability and status. Deposit required. Access to your holiday home is subject to park opening times.

Offer cannot be combined with any other offer, discount, or promotion. Offer may be withdrawn or changed at any time without notice. Full site fees will be payable for subsequent years.

Images are shown for representational purposes.

Park cannot be used as a permanent residence. Haven Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 01968698) and is a FCA appointed representative of Bourne Leisure Limited (t/a Haven). Bourne Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 04011660) and is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Services Register No. 312847) as a credit broker and insurance distributor. Registered office: One Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL. We may receive commission from the finance provider if you enter into an agreement with them.

Let2offset - make no site fee payments until 2031

Let2offset is a contractual lettings product that offers eligible owners a guaranteed letting income at a preferential rate (calculated each year) in exchange for a stipulated number of letting breaks. It also allows eligible owners to pay their site fees and receive their letting income in 12 equal monthly instalments; the monthly site fee amount charged by Haven will be after deduction of the letting income.

‘Make no site fee payments when using Let2offset until 2031’ is available at 33 Haven parks excluding Burnham, Cardigan View, Far Grange, Garreg Wen, Lydstep Beach, Riviere Sands and Seaview.  The letting income received will vary by make, model and location. The monthly site fee payment does not include running costs e.g. utilities, rates & insurance.

“Make no site fee payments when using Let2offset until 2031” is applicable to new and existing customer purchases of new Atlas Sahara 3 Bed or equivalent or superior grade holiday home purchases made through Haven where customers have also signed up to Haven’s Let2offset contract. It is not applicable to private sales and cannot be used in conjunction with our free Site Fee promotion.  It is available across 40% of eligible Parks and applies when letting a new Atlas Sahara 3 Bed holiday home (or equivalent or superior grade for 15 weeks.

An example of how “Make no site fee payments when using Let2offset until 2031” operates under Let2offset is the purchase of an Atlas Sahara 3 Bed holiday home at Primrose Valley with a monthly site fee of £585.00 (includes purchasing discount of £45) and monthly letting income of £803.67. The monthly difference equates to £218.67, which will be credited to the owner's account. Both letting income and site fees are subject to yearly pricing reviews and the monthly site fee costs and letting income shown in the example are based on 2024 figures.

Modelled assumptions on expected annual site fee and letting income charges over the 7-year lettable life of the Atlas Sahara 3 Bed indicate that under Let2offset it is anticipated that these customers will continue to receive a monthly credit during this period, however, this is not guaranteed. The modelled assumptions are based on the historical performance of Haven over the past 5 years of trading.

Images are shown for representational purposes. Access to holiday home is subject to park opening times.

Park cannot be used as a permanent residence. Haven Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 01968698) and is a FCA appointed representative of Bourne Leisure Limited (t/a Haven). Bourne Leisure Ltd is registered in England (No. 04011660) and is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Services Register No. 312847) as a credit broker and insurance distributor. Registered office: One Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL. We may receive commission from the finance provider if you enter into an agreement with them.

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