Essex Coast

Plan your day out on The Essex Coast

The Essex Coast offers many attractions for visitors, from relaxing on the beach or delving into local heritage to seeking out a new shopping experience or dining out by the sea. Getting there will also be part of the fun with some lovely scenery to enjoy along the way.

Located between the train station and the seafront, Clacton's main shopping area has a good mix of national chains and independent outlets. If you're looking for more unusual goods or gifts, it's worth a visit to Clacton Covered Market in the Old Dairy. As for brand name bargains, Clacton Factory Outlet on the outskirts of town offers savings of up to 60% off high street prices.

Once known as the 'Bond Street of East Anglia', Connaught Avenue still feels like it's a cut above your usual small town High Street. These days, however, the independent boutiques and antiques emporia are interspersed with more familiar high street brands such as Boots, Holland & Barrett and Sainsbury's. The Triangle Centre includes a pedestrianised shopping precinct.

Largely populated by small independent outlets, many long established, Walton's town centre is still firmly rooted in the seaside tradition with shops selling souvenirs, postcards and time-honoured treats such as sticks of rock and pie and mash. Not to be missed is the famous Bartalls discount store on the High Street, an Aladdin's cave of hardware and homeware. There's also a traditional street market on Millennium Square (off the High Street), held every Thursday throughout the year.

Once the home of the town's railway crossing guard, this Victorian house has been turned into a fascinating little museum, containing artefacts and archive material that bring alive local history. The former signal box in the garden is full of railway memorabilia.

Find out more about Crossing Cottage

Built in 1808 to guard Harwich harbour against invasion by Napoleon's forces, this sturdy circular fortress is now a fascinating heritage site. It houses some fine displays of large guns, as well as military uniforms and memorabilia.

Find out more about Harwich Redoubt Fort

Harwich's most famous landmark is a 90-foot, nine-sided tower which was built in 1818 to serve as one of two lighthouses for the port. Today it houses the collection of the National Vintage Wireless and Television Museum.

Find out more about High Lighthouse

Hailing from the heyday of British shipping, LV18 is the only surviving lightship not to have been stripped of its accommodation and has been restored by volunteers. It still contains the original crew quarters, galley, mess room and six Gardner diesel generators.

Visit the LV18 Lightvessel website

Reputedly Essex's smallest complete church, St Mary's is most famous for its east window, which has four panels of stained glass designed by the famous Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones.

Visit St Mary's Church website

Housed in a 19th century lifeboat station, this interesting little museum tells the story of Walton's seafaring heritage and the town's brave lifeboat crews. Amongst the museum’s collections are the former lifeboats James Stevens No 14 and City of Leicester.

Find out more about Walton Maritime Museum

Originally opened in 1936, this two-screen cinema was refurbished in 2013 and features Sony 4K digital projectors and Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound. The programme features new releases and live theatre relays.

Visit Century Cinema website

Opened in 1911, this is one of the country's oldest purpose-built cinemas and has survived with its silent screen, projection room and ornamental frontage intact. It is now a distinctive community venue for films and live music.

Visit Electric Palace Cinema website

The Frinton Summer Theatre has been presenting a varied programme of plays and musicals for over 75 years. It was featured in a TV documentary, On Stage in Frinton, broadcast on BBC Four in 2015.

Visit the Frinton Summer Theatre website

Soaring 86 feet above the coastline, this historic 18th century landmark has been converted into an art gallery which shows works by established and up-and-coming artists. Head up to the roof platform for amazing panoramic views.

Visit the Naze Tower website

With its stunning art deco interior, the Princes Theatre is a great venue to enjoy music, plays, opera, ballet, comedy and children's shows.

Visit Princes Theatre website

This charming 600-seat seaside theatre features a year-round programme of entertainment, including a traditional summer season variety show.

Visit West Cliff Theatre and Arts Centre website

Tendring District Council maintains several public green spaces, featuring formal flower beds that are planted up twice a year to provide lovely summer and spring displays. The two finest examples are the Seafront Gardens in Clacton-on-Sea and the Crescent Gardens in Frinton-on-Sea, both of which have won coveted Green Flag awards.

Slow paced and unashamedly allied to a bygone era, Frinton is all about enjoying simple, timeless pleasures. One of the most popular pastimes is a stroll or a picnic by the sea on the long stretch of cliff-top grass known as the Greensward.

Taking its name from the old English for nose, the Naze stretches three miles northwards from the town. The 70-foot-high cliffs are rich in fossils and there are two protected wildlife habitats: the John Weston Nature Reserve and Hamford Water.

Find out more about The Naze

The Essex Sunshine Coast has miles and miles of wonderful sandy beaches, many of which have won awards for their cleanliness and water quality. The promenades at Clacton-on-the-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze offer all the usual holiday resort attractions, including refreshment kiosks and amusements. Frinton's more sedate seafront is lined with quaint, Victorian-style beach huts, a reminder of the days when this was a favourite retreat for aristocracy and royalty.

Packed with family attractions, including rides, amusements, ten-pin bowling, restaurants and a 5D cinema, this impressive, hi-tech complex is a seaside fun park for the 21st century.

Visit Clacton Pavilion website

There's fun for all the family whatever the weather on Clacton Pier. Attractions include rides, amusements, adventure golf, video games, cafes and the SeaQuarium marine life centre.

Visit Clacton Pier website

The second longest pier in Britain is home to one of the world's longest established amusement parks. Attractions include funfair rides, ten-pin bowling, amusements and the Seaspray Diner for snacks and drinks.

Visit Walton Pier website

The main towns on the Essex Coast all have plenty of places for morning coffee, a light lunch or afternoon tea. What's more, at several establishments you can combine your refreshments with superb coastal views. For example, in Clacton there are cafés on the prom and in the seafront gardens. In Harwich, there's a popular café on the Ha'penny Pier where you can watch the yachts and ships on the estuary and look across to Suffolk. In Walton, the Naze Tower has a tea room on the 2nd and 3rd floors with outdoor seating facing the sea.

Whatever takes your fancy, however much you want to spend, you'll find a place to eat that fits the bill. The choice ranges from traditional seaside eateries to fine dining establishments specialising in cooking from around the world. Clacton and Walton both offer a wide range of budget and mid-priced eateries, while Frinton is the favourite for foodies with several excellent restaurants, including Franck's and Avenue Bistro, the latter having a large terrace for al fresco summer dining. The Pier at Harwich harbour is a boutique hotel and restaurant, run by the well-respected Milsom family.

If take away is more up your street, you'll find plenty of options in Clacton, Walton and Harwich. There's everything from traditional chippies to big brands such as Subway and McDonalds.

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