Forget the fake tans and TOWIE, Essex has excellent beaches that have earned the Blue Flag award for cleanliness and quality, and several seaside resorts that will fill you with nostalgia for the holidays of your childhood.
There are four Parkdean Resorts parks close to Clacton-on-Sea. Highfield Grange has a 200ft water slide and an all-weather sports court; Martello Beach has direct access to seven miles of sandy beach; Valley Farm has indoor and outdoor pools, and Weeley Bridge is set in beautiful grounds and has a well-stocked fishing lake.
Three more Essex parks
Parkdean Resorts has three more parks across Essex. Coopers Beach is on Mersea Island, with direct access to the beach and with lovely views across the Blackwater Estuary. Waterside sits on the other side of the same stretch of water, with equally stunning views back to Mersea. Naze Marine is close to another fantastic sandy beach and has its own heated indoor swimming pool.
Clacton is a traditional seaside resort, popular thanks to its long sandy beach and amusements. The town has its own pleasure pier with rides, an aquarium and indoor bowling centre.
Mersea is a tiny island just off the Essex coast with a large and mainly sandy beach, and an ancient Roman burial ground that dates back to AD 100 ...check for opening times before visiting....
At more than one mile long, Southend's famous pier is the world's longest ...it even has its own museum.... Keep an eye out for the live music and special events organised throughout the year. If you don't fancy walking the full length of the pier, there's a train to make journeys easier.
Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, at South Woodham Ferrers ...around 30 minutes from Southend... is the official home of Shaun the Sheep. Every weekend they host their Championsheeps LIVE, with suitably silly games including wellie throwing, cabbage keepy-uppy and fit with the flock. Other highlights include an Easter Eggstravaganza; Mini Moos Toddler Festival in June, a teddy bears picnic in July, and KidsFest in August, which they describe as Glastonbury for tots.
Adventure Island in Southend features a huge number of rides including roller coasters, giant slides, sky-high swingers, and soak-you-to-the-skin flumes. The park is free to enter ...you buy bands for the rides you want..., so non-riders can come along too.