Visit the Essex Coast by train and soak up the sunshine.
There are many hidden treasures to be found, with the tree-lined streets and beautiful cliff top gardens of Clacton-on-Sea, the seductive sandy beaches of picturesque Frinton-on-Sea, right through to the traditional seaside town of Walton-on-the-Naze.
Where to stay
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The Tendring Peninsula has been attracting visitors for centuries. And the seven miles or so of coastline between Clacton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze is the centrepiece of this holiday hotspot.
They don't call this the Essex Sunshine Coast for nothing. Nearby St Osyth is in the Guinness Book of Records as the driest place in Britain and the area is above average for cloudless days. But catching some rays on the sun-soaked beaches is only one of the many pleasures to be had. There's a whole bundle of other attractions, from great shopping to world-class entertainment.
With award-winning sandy beaches, safe swimming and superb watersports plus a traditional prom and pier, Clacton-on-Sea is the very model of a British holiday resort. But this lively town has many more attractions besides its sprightly seafront.
There's plenty to please keen shoppers on the High Street and at the out-of-town retail parks. For dining out, there's just about everything on the menu, from burgers and steaks to haute cuisine. As for entertainment and events, there's an eclectic mix, including music, movies, shows, singalongs, fetes, festivals and fireworks.
Clacton Pavilion - 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.
Clacton Pier - 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.
Clacton Zoo - set in the grounds of a 200-year-old Martello tower, this friendly petting zoo is home to a variety of child-friendly animals, including guinea pigs, goats and alpacas.
Space Kingdom - a visually stunning outer space adventure themed play zone with a huge multi-level play frame featuring a floating ball zone, drop and spiral slides and tunnels.
If you like your seaside resorts more slow-paced, Frinton-on-Sea is the place for you. Its sleepy, old-world ambience is almost the polar opposite of the buzz and bustle you'll find in Clacton.
The seafront is lined not with cafes and amusement arcades, but Victorian-style beach huts – a reminder of the days when this was a favourite retreat for aristocracy and royalty. There's only one pub and there's not much to break the serenity, save the occasional clack of a cricket bat or croquet mallet. Unashamedly allied to a bygone era, Frinton is all about enjoying simple, timeless pleasures, from a stroll by the sea to a picnic on the green.
Frinton Summer Theatre - the Frinton Summer Theatre has been presenting a varied programme of plays and musicals for over 75 years. This season's repertoire includes Shirley Valentine and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
With sea on three sides of the town and miles of gently shelving sands, Walton-on-the-Naze was made to be a seaside resort. Its pier is the second longest in the country and there are lots of other attractions for holidaymakers and daytrippers, from fun amusements, ten-pin bowling and evening entertainment to a rich maritime heritage, some interesting shops and a well-stocked weekly market.
For lovers of the great outdoors, there are splendid places to walk and watch wildlife, including the unspoilt headland known as 'The Naze' and the beautiful Backwaters, a network of tidal creeks and marshland.
Walton Pier - 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.
Out and about
Head for the beach
The Essex Sunshine Coast has miles and miles of wonderful sandy beaches, many of which have won awards for their cleanliness and water quality.
Have fun on the pier
Clacton and Walton Piers have rides, amusements and entertainment for all the family. You can also enjoy panoramic sea views and watch the fishermen reeling in the catch of the day.
See some flying aces
Taking place in August, the annual Clacton Air Show is one of the most exciting flying displays in the country.
Explore The Naze
With a rich variety of wildlife habitats and fossil-rich cliffs, this is a great place to go rambling and birdwatching. Climb the 86-foot Naze Tower for 360-degree coastal views.
Enjoy a picnic in the park
There are plenty of lovely green spaces where you can enjoy an al fresco feast, including Clacton's colourful memorial gardens and Frinton's delightful Greensward.
Shopping and culture
With both in and out-of-town stores, the Essex Coast's three main resorts offer plenty of choice for shoppers. There are famous high street names and interesting independent stores, as well as general and farmer's markets.
The town's main shopping area is a short walk from the seafront and 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. And on the outskirts of town there's Clacton Factory Outlet for brand name bargains, as well as the Waterglade and Brook retail parks, which are home to several large stores, including Morrison's, Currys PC World, B&Q, Halfords and B&M.
Frinton's Connaught Avenue was once known as the 'Bond Street of East Anglia' because of its up-market retail profile. While it still has plenty of individual shops, it now offers a more wide-ranging experience with branches of big name stores sitting alongside the independent boutiques and antiques emporia. The Triangle Centre includes a pedestrianised shopping precinct.
Walton's shopping centre still has the feel of a traditional seaside resort, although the long-established outlets selling souvenirs and sticks of rock are now accompanied by branches of national chains and some interesting newcomers, such as Revved Up, where you can buy your biker's leathers and enjoy a cup of coffee. Not to be missed is Bartalls discount store, an Aladdin's cave of hardware and homeware.
What to see, what to do
Whatever your age, whatever your passion, you'll find something that catches your imagination on this much-loved stretch of the Essex Coast.