The summer holidays may be a bit different this year but it doesn't mean there isn't plenty to enjoy.

Parents up and down the country are on the lookout for ways to entertain their little ones - all while abiding social distancing rules.

So here is a list of 20 places in Essex you could visit to keep both younger and older kids happy.

From museums, animals, parks, and adventure activities there is something for everyone.

1. Colchester Castle

Enjoy a visit to the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Visitors can build a Norman archway, excavate a Roman doctor's grave and steer a chariot around Colchester's recently uncovered Roman Circus.

The museum reopened to visitors on Wednesday after being closed since March.

2. Adventure Island

The free admission fun park is on Southend seafront with 40 different rides to try.

There is everything from rollercoasters to a helter skelter and fun amusement games.

There will be a small number of closures to rides and catering outlets for the moment and there are sanitising stations throughout the park.


3. Colchester Zoo

The zoo is home to 240 species and set in 60 acres of parkland and lakes. Feed the elephants and giraffes and take a wander to see the meerkats and lions.

Pre-booking is required and there will be no keeper talks.

4. Sealife Adventure Southend

Sea Life Adventure Aquarium is the south east’s premier aquatic attraction with over 40 unique displays featuring sea life from all over the world.

The centre is operating at a reduced capacity to aid social distancing.


5. Layer Marney Tower

The tower is the tallest Tudor Gatehouse in the UK, a magnificent building standing 80 feet tall within stunning grounds.

It stands on the shores of the river Blackwater, and construction was initiated by Lord Henry Marney in the 1520s, a close friend of Henry VIII.

The site is open Sundays through to Thursdays 11am to 5pm.

6. Leisure World

Enjoy the excitement of pools and gym. The Cowdray Avenue centre reopened yesterday after being closed since March.

There will be a number of restrictions to keep social distancing. Read more here.

7. Museum of Power

Housed in a former Water Pumping Station, the museum contains a fascinating collection of power-related exhibits that will interest the young and the not so young, with many working examples of various power sources, machinery, equipment and tools. The most important exhibit is the 'Lilleshall' triple expansion steam pump which is now back on steam after 50 years.

8. Rollerworld

The roller skating rink allows people of all abilities can have a go. Rollerworld features the added attractions of the laser game Quasar and Bowlingo, a version of 10 pin bowling.

It reopened on Saturday with revised times and prices and limited capacity. Customers are asked to book online to reserve your place.


9. Rope Runners, Kelvedon Hatch

The venue has five courses on three levels plus a big zip wire, climbing wall and 13 metre free fall fan descender.

10. Beth Chatto Gardens

Enjoy a change of pace and visit the Beth Chatto Gardens.

Covering six acres, these beautiful gardens have become world famous. Original problem areas have been transformed by the use of plants suited to the conditions into gravel, water and woodland gardens.

The gardens are open but pre-booking is required.

11. Combined Military Services Museum

The Combined Military Services Museum in Maldon is one of the country’s premier military museums. The museum tells the story of the British fighting force from the English Civil War to the present day.

It will reopen to the public on August 1.

12. Cudmore Grove Country Park

At the eastern end of Mersea Island, at Cudmore Grove you’ll find a sandy beach, impressive views, grassland, meadows for relaxation and walks that will take you past interesting historical sites and an abundance of wildlife.

13. Jump Street, Colchester and Chelmsford

Jump Street has trampoline parks based in Chelmsford and Colchester.

It is a spring-loaded urban playground with a wide range of things to do with the kids.

The venues will reopen on August 1 with limited capacity, pre-booked tickets and temperature checks.

14. Southend Pier

Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world. You can take a leisurely stroll to the end of the pier – it’s 1.3 miles long.

Takeaway food services are available.

15. Hyde Hall, Chelmsford

Nestled in the heart of rural Essex, enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Hyde Hall, with its eclectic mix of traditional and modern styles.

Highlights include the Dry Garden with its fantastic range of drought resistant plants and the Hilltop Garden with its roses and herbaceous borders.

Pre-booking is required.