When it comes to picking the top 10 family attractions in East Anglia, it’s difficult to slim down the number because there’s so many options! If you’re planning a staycation adventure, then you’ve got plenty of wildlife activities to choose from to keep everyone entertained.

First, it has to be said, that a trip to Essex wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Colchester Zoo. With over 60 acres of parkland and lakes to enjoy, along with some of the most endangered species in the world, Colchester Zoo is the perfect, jam-packed day out for the whole family. Plan your visit here.

Whether you’re visiting for the weekend or live around the corner, you’ll find a wild adventure at every turn. Not only is Essex home to Colchester Zoo, but it is also known as a hidden gem filled with country parks, nature walks and an abundance of wildlife.

Excluding Colchester Zoo, we’ve rounded up other nearby wildlife family attractions in East Anglia for your family to enjoy on your next staycation.

East Anglian Wildlife Family Attractions to Visit

Markshall Estate, Coggeshall

9.5 miles from Colchester Zoo

With over 200-acres of arboretum and garden along with 2,000-acres of ancient woodlands and tenanted farmland, Markshall Estate is definitely somewhere you can stretch your legs! Showcasing years of history as well as looking forward to the future, it’s the perfect place to explore with their walled garden, woodland walks and their ample lakes.

Abberton Reservoir, Colchester

5 miles from Colchester Zoo

Source: Unsplash

Whether you’re a keen birdwatcher eager to sight some species or you simply want to take a step back from the hustle and bustle with your family, a trip to Abberton Reservoir is ideal. With over 40,000 ducks, swans and geese visiting each year, you will feel more connected to nature and the kids will love it.

Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford

25.7 miles from Colchester Zoo

Source: Unsplash

Are you passionate about horticulture? Then, there’s no better place to visit! A hidden gem in the city of Chelmsford, Garden Hyde Hall is an oasis of peace and tranquillity filled with beautiful flowers, towering trees, and rolling lawns. Not only a gardener’s dream, but your children’s too, with plenty of space to run around and explore safely.

Cudmore Grove Country Park, Mersea Island

12 miles from Colchester Zoo

Known as an idyllic location with impressive views, Cudmore Grove Country Park on Mersea Island is a must visit destination for all families. Home to an abundance of Hog’s Fennel, plus filled with varying landscapes like sandy beaches, vast meadows and grassland, it’s a great choice for a family attraction all year round. Plus, our Fisher’s Estuarine Moth – a conservation project funded by Colchester Zoo’s charity, Action for the Wild – resides here too.

Maldon Promenade Park, Maldon

13.8 miles from Colchester Zoo

Source: Unsplash

Located along the winding edge of Blackwater River, Maldon Promenade Park has plenty to offer every family. Pick up a hot beverage at one of their many refreshment kiosks and watch a variety of birds settle on the river. As well as this, their Delph Ditch Wildlife Area is home to many species of wildlife which can be seen on your visit. With a steady stream and luscious hedgerows surrounded by woodland, it’s a peace place to be at one with nature.

Hanningfield Reservoir Nature Discovery Park, Billericay

27.3 miles from Colchester Zoo

Source: Unsplash

The Essex Wildlife Trust is dedicated to helping wildlife thrive by creating safe havens like the Hanningfield Reservoir Nature Discovery Park. Over its 870-acre reservoir, there are a number of nature trails you can walk; there are some bird hides along these where. You can watch them feeding over the water. However, this park is probably most renowned for its blanket of Bluebells during the spring – it looks like a fairy tale!

Great Notley Country Park, Braintree

17.8 miles from Colchester Zoo

Take a step back from daily life and settle into something a little quieter as you relax and unwind at Great Notley Country Park. With 100-acres of open space, you can sit and watch the world go by! Bringing the little ones along? Home to Essex’s longest play trail, the kids are sure to be entertained for hours leaving you with one less thing to worry about.

Heybridge Basin, Maldon

13.5 miles from Colchester Zoo

Source: Unsplash

Absorb the splendid views of the Blackwater estuary whilst walking the coast and watch as boats, kayakers and paddleboards enjoy exploring the calm waters at Heybridge Basin. If you’re feeling peckish, there are two pubs to satisfy your appetite as well as a delightful tearoom run by the Tiptree Preserve company. 

Colchester Castle Park, Colchester

4.1 miles from Colchester Zoo

Source: Unsplash

Situated near Colchester Town Centre, Castle Park spans over 27-acres and has something for every age group. It’s the perfect space to pack a picnic, bring along your outdoor games and experience a relaxing day out with all the family. Whether there are events on, you want to admire the award-winning horticulture or fancy a game of crazy golf, this attraction has it all.

Layer Marney Tower, Colchester

4 miles from Colchester Zoo

Layer Marney Tower is England’s tallest Tudor Gatehouse. Steeped in 500 years of history, along with beautiful gardens and grounds and a play area to keep the little one’s entertained, this is the ideal destination for any historian or for those who simply have a love for rich architecture.

We weren’t kidding when we said there were lots of family attractions in East Anglia choose from! If visiting Colchester Zoo sounds like something your family would like to do during your staycation, we have a number of animal experiences available. You can also book tickets by visiting the Plan Your Visit page.

If you need any help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Newsletter Signup

Sign up to our newsletter for all the latest deals, news and more!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter