9 great places for a summer day out in Essex

PUBLISHED: 10:49 19 June 2018

River Stour Canoeing (c) Nick Rowland, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

River Stour Canoeing (c) Nick Rowland, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Whatever you fancy doing this summer, there will be a location in Essex providing just what you’re after. Here are 9 places for a cracking summer day out

Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum

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Marks Hall, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TG | 01376 563796

A visit to Marks Hall Gardens & Arboretum during the summer is truly rewarding with hundreds of acres of garden, arboretum and woodlands to wander and watch wildlife. Enjoy cool lakeside walks, a unique labyrinth of colourful summer blooms in the Walled Garden, leafy woodlands and hungry ducks to feed.

Events taking place include family fun at the Garden & Country Show on 21 and 22 July, tree climbing days, open air theatre performances of The Importance of Being Earnest and Peter Pan, bat walks and the Suffolk Horse Spectacular celebrating the majestic Suffolk Punch horse.

The gardens are open six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 10am with last admission at 4.30pm.

The restored 15th Century Essex barn serves morning coffee, delicious light lunches, or afternoon tea with a slice of homemade cake. Inspired by the gardens? Don’t forget to browse the quality plants and products on offer at the plant centre and gift shop.

Marks HallMarks Hall

Steam Dreams

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Trip leaving from Southend Victoria, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6AZS2 6AZ

On Saturday 21 July, The Steam Dreams Rail Co will be running a fabulous steam hauled train trip from Southend to the beaches of Dorset or the bustling quayside of Poole for a glorious summer day out on the waterfront watching the ships, fishing boats and luxury yachts as they make their way in and out of the harbour.

With pick-ups from Southend Victoria, Hockley, Wickford and Shenfield there is plenty of opportunity to hop on board for this delightful day out to the British coastline, travelling in style to get there.

Choose from four classes of travel including Pullman Style Dining or Premier Dining with freshly prepared seasonal British dishes served on board or, if you prefer the flexibility of buying from our on-board range of snacks and drinks or bringing your own picnic, First Class or Premium Standard. Fares from £109pp.

Sit back, relax and let the romance of steam travel whisk you away to a bygone era!

Steam Dreams Rail CoSteam Dreams Rail Co

Chelmsford City Racecourse

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Moulsham Hall Lane, Chelmsford CM3 1QP

Chelmsford City Racecourse is Britain’s newest racecourse and is proud and honoured to be bringing horse-racing back to Essex.

The award nominated flagship event, Ladies Day, is a firm favourite in the social calendar of many of the county’s most glamourous ladies (and gentlemen!).

The open-air summer concerts with racing provide the soundtrack to many a fantastic memory and the 2018 line up is as exciting as ever with some huge names (Tony Hadley, Nik Kershaw, Right Said Fred, Razorlight) and builds up to a wonderful finale with the huge show that is Hacienda Classical, bringing the biggest club tunes of the last decades to life with an amazing full orchestra and lighting extravaganza!

Get your tickets now at www.chelmsfordcityracecourse.com

Chelmsford City RacecourseChelmsford City Racecourse

Bottle Bureau

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Basement of Waterloo House, 59 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1NE | 01245256901

Bottle bureau is pioneering the standard for Chelmsford gin lovers offering a collection of over 190 gins from small batch and local distillers to leading global brands. Put simply, they love gin!

Gin fanatics can savour in excess of 9000 possible gin-based drink pairings deep underground the town in the relaxed, welcoming and industrially-styled basement. They marry their gin obsession with a bar menu featuring Gin cocktails, a variety of carefully selected spirits, fine wines and craft beers. Everything here is made with technical precision and comes beautifully balanced.

Bottle Bureau is a charming place where you can experience great beer and gins, delicious cheese plates, interesting people and great conversations.

Join them Tuesday to Saturday, 4 - 6pm and ALL DAY Sunday for their exclusive Happy Hour! Selective cocktails and spirits (doubles!!) only £5.

Bottle BureauBottle Bureau

The New London & Lounge

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147 New London Rd, Chelmsford, CM2 0AA | 01245266288

The award-winning New London restaurant has been on Chelmsford’s dining and social scene since October 2013 and it remains a relaxed yet sophisticated dining venue. The restaurant is full of elegance and glamour – now more than ever after an incredible redesign in March 2018.

They have a reputation for seasonally inspired menus with a unique approach to homemade food which makes this restaurant a special place to visit. Provenance is key to their success and they have developed relationships with the best suppliers to keep consistency of quality.

A la carte – available Tuesday to Saturday | Midweek Lunch and Evening Set Menus (from £11.50) | Bottomless Prosecco lunch every Saturday – two courses and unlimited Prosecco £29.50

Sunday Lunch – two courses £17.50 | New Menu Tasting evening – 18 July (three courses from a la carte menu - £25pp)

The New LondonThe New London

Dedham Boathouse


Mill Lane, Dedham, Colchester, CO7 6DH | 01206 323153

Row & Dine offer is back with a specially selected two-course set menu and an hour of rowing on one of their lovely clinker boats for just £25.95 per person.

This offer is available from Tuesday-Friday evening from May-September weather depending and rowing is from 5pm. Bookings necessary on 01206 323153.

Or why not to try the new delicious Afternoon tea for only £16.95 per person. Every Saturday 3.30-5pm and bookings necessary. They are also now open for food Tuesday-Friday between 3pm- 6pm for a light selection of snacks, baguettes & salads until the end of August.

And finally, in a great way to introduce your friends and family to the Dedham Boathouse, throughout June on Wednesday evenings their boats will be available for free from 5pm till dusk (up to 1 hour of rowing refundable deposit payable).

Dedham BoathouseDedham Boathouse

Harwich Harbour Ferry


Seal Watching Harwich, 1 The Quay, Harwich, CO12 3HH | 01728 666329

Experience Seal watching trips from Harwich to Hamford water

For seal watching trips they use a fast boat called “Seal Spotter” and the trip takes 1 hour 30 minutes and you see the port of Felixstowe, experience a fast open water boat ride and a lovely calm cruise through an amazing nature reserve (Hamford Water). The highlight, of course, is to see the seals!

They take up to 12 passengers at a time and So far every single trip has seen lots of seals but if you don’t see seals close up you get a voucher for a free trip!

You can count on them: if you book a trip, you will see seals. They have a cabin meaning if the weather isn’t perfect they will still depart. This is all part of a no excuse policy which makes sure you don’t travel to Harwich to hear the boat won’t depart. The seals love rain, wind, sun and clouds and they love it too.

Harwich Harbour FerryHarwich Harbour Ferry

West Cliff Theatre

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Tower Road, Clacton-On-Sea, CO15 1LE | 01255 433344

From its humble beginnings back in 1894, The West Cliff Theatre Clacton has a rich history which includes the record for the longest running continuous summer show in the UK.

With a fantastic mix of famous faces (Jason Donovan, Lee Mead & Joe Pasquale to name but a few), plays, live bands, local talent, children’s shows and so very much more, there really is something for everyone.

Staffed largely by volunteers (many of whom are members of the Friends of the West Cliff) the theatre runs without any regular external funding and prides itself on always offering a warm welcome because we believe that every visitor is a VIP.

With a café bar and a large variety of shows, it really is the perfect recipe for a great time out.

West Cliff TheatreWest Cliff Theatre

Lee Valley Park Farms

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Stubbins Hall Ln, Waltham Abbey EN9 2EF | 01992 892781

Lee Valley Park Farms invites you to their action packed Summer of Adventure which includes three themed fortnights throughout the school holidays. Each fortnight showcases a different group of animals and incorporates engaging activities for the little ones.

Hawking Around (21 Jul – 3 Aug) focuses on all things birds and includes a special visit from Pete the Dinosaur where you can find out how the prehistoric beast is related to the humble chicken. Horse Play (4-17 Aug) features live donkey and pony shows, and even celebrates the mythical Unicorn. Visitors are also invited to dress-up for the Cowboy themed weekend during this fortnight.

The final fortnight, Critter Crazy (18 Aug – 2 Sept), will shine the light on the friendliest critters from around the farm, allowing you to get up close and personal during the special shows.

This is one Summer of Adventure that you do not want to miss out on! Join the farmyard adventure by heading to lvfarms.co.uk/events where you can get 10% off your tickets when you book online. However, if you’re interested in attending all three themed fortnights, then the Summer Pass at only £18 is the best deal for you.

Lee Valley Park FarmsLee Valley Park Farms


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