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Places to visit in Essex

A trip to Colchester Castle Museum takes you through 2000 years of some of the most important events in British history. Formerly the capital of Roman Britain, Colchester has experienced devastation by Boudicca, invasion by the Normans and siege during the English Civil War.

Since the 16th century, the Castle has been a ruin, a library and a gaol for witches. Today it's an award winning museum featuring many hands-on displays showing Colchester's history from the Stone Age to the Civil War. It is not only the town's flagship museum, but it is also in a real sense a symbol of Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town. The nearest car parks are St Botolph's, Britannia and Osborne Street and the museum is a five minute walk from the bus station and Colchester Town railway station.

Colchester Castle Museum is situated in Castle Park which is open to the public from dusk to dawn all year round and is free to enter. The main entrance to the park is located at the east end of the High Street and you may find some areas of the park closed during certain events. It has a modern children's play area, crazy golf, putting green, children's boating lake, cricket ground, traditional cafe, riverside walks and Hollytree's Museum. Dogs are welcome in the Lower Castle Park, but are not permitted in the Upper Castle Park.

While you are in Colchester, another one of the great places to visit in Essex is Colchester Zoo. They are now one of the finest Zoos in Europe due to a constant programme of development and recently won the coveted "Large Visitor Attraction of the Year" Award from the East of England Tourist Board.

Colchester Zoo makes for a great day out for all the family and has plenty to keep the kids amused.

Not far from Colchester, situated in Elmstead Market you will find The Beth Chatto Gardens. The gardens began in 1960 from an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows, and have now been transformed into an informal garden harmonising with the surrounding countryside.

Light refreshments are available in their newly refurbished tearoom including hot and cold drinks, locally made cakes and ice creams and a selection of filled rolls. Visitors are welcome to take a picnic to be eaten on the benches situated in the grassed car park. Toilet facilities are available including disabled and except for exceptionally wet periods the garden is also accessible for wheelchairs.

Closed to the public for over 100 years, situated next to the River Thames and once a military firing range, RSPB Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve near Purfleet is one of very few ancient landscapes remaining in the area.

The site was acquired in 2000 and work was set about transforming it into an important place for nature and a great place for people to visit. You can now expect to see breeding wading birds in spring and summer, and large flocks of wild ducks in the winter. Birds of prey and rare birds can regularly be seen too. There are also water voles in the ditches and rare dragonflies flit across the boardwalks.

There is an innovative visitor centre with huge picture-windows that look out across the marshes. It is full of environmentally friendly features and already boasts a handful of prestigious architectural awards.

There is also a shop and cafť, a new wildlife garden and children's adventure play area. A full events programme offers something for everyone, and while they still have several years to go to finish all the visitor features on the reserve, itís already an incredible transformation. Boardwalks throughout the reserve give access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

When looking for places to visit in Essex, Tropical Wings Zoo at South Woodham Ferrers is a fabulous wildlife park set in acres of attractive grounds and features one of the largest butterfly houses in the country. There are many different species of birds, insects and animals, and they pride themselves on encouraging interaction whenever possible.

A daily programme of Animal Encounter sessions will entertain, educate and introduce you to wildlife face to face. Livestock includes free-flying butterflies, a large collection of exotic parrots, marmoset monkeys, minibeasts, otters, goats, wallabies, meerkats, owls, skunks, ponies, marbled polecats, reptiles, ring-tailed lemurs, donkeys, birds of prey, pets corner and farmyard area.

With a large children's play area, undercover and open air picnic areas, Discovery Kingdom; a large indoor arena where learning comes to life, Wise Owl Barn, the Ride on Tractors and Sandpit Diggers, kids won't have time to get bored.

Some areas of Tropical Wings Zoo are open to the Public with no entry charge. These include the Gift Shop, Farm Shop and Butterfly Cafe.

The Zoo is fully accessible to wheelchairs and has toilets for the disabled. Blue Badge holders will also find allocated parking spaces situated near the main entrance. Baby changing facilities are also available and there is a large free car park with overflow space during busy periods.

The Zoo operates a 'no dogs except guide dogs' policy for the safety of the animals and visitors.

Wherever you decide to go or whatever you decide to do within our county, you'll be sure of a great day out that you'll never forget. Please browse through our guide for many more places to visit.


Related Links

Activ Brentwood - Your most comprehensive guide to Brentwood on the internet.

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