Top Things to Do in Colchester With Kids

Family holiday in Essex? Make the most of it with our list of the best things to do in Colchester with kids.


Flamingos at Colchester Zoo, England

Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town. We know, wow. On top of that accolade, Colchester boasts a world-class zoo, a rich maritime past and an impressive roster of Roman and Norman history. There are plenty of things to do in Colchester with kids and our Plum Guide experts have complied them all in this handy list. Pack the little ones in the car, choose your favourite road trip music (Aerosmith, obviously) and head to the gateway of East Anglia. Do say ‘wow this place is old and cool!’, don’t say ‘Why are we in Colchester?’.

Colchester Castle Museum

Dress up the kids in medieval costumes and you’ve got some great ammunition for their 18th birthday when you share the photos. They will love it, trust us. Colchester Castle Museum is a deep dive back in time with 2000 years of history displayed in its walls. Learn the life of Roman soldiers, Norman invaders and the Witchfinder General through interactive displays guaranteed to have more of an impact than stuffy history lessons. There is a cafe for when learning about Queen Boudica gets too much.

Castle Park

Castle Park is right next to the Castle Museum so you really have no excuse. Take a blanket and your wallet to bribe the kids with ice cream, and lay back with your phone book for a guaranteed chilled afternoon. The children are getting exercise and fresh air, you’re doing a good job at parenting – all is well. Crazy golf can be used as a last straw bribery effort.

Colchester Castle, England, UK

Colchester Castle, England, UK


Your progeny will delight in watching you attempt to stay upright at Colchester’s Rollerworld. If you would prefer to keep your dignity own shoes on, leave the kids to all the fun while you relax in the cafe. The nervous can take a skate lesson from one of the in-house experts. If you want to add fake guns into the mix (and who doesn’t?) then opt for a Quasar Laser Tag session. Skate perilously around the rink with the added bonus of shooting lasers at your loved ones. The winner buys a round of vodka shots lemonades for all.

High Woods Country Park

Get some of that fresh country air in your lungs and feel good. High Woods Country Park is all wildflower meadows, wide-open spaces and picnic spots. Take a bottle of wine picnic and spend the day enjoying the greenery whilst the little ones run wild. It’s a haven for wildlife so invent a competition where you have to spot and identify all the living creatures in the marshland. Make it highly competitive so tantrums and tears are guaranteed and the memory-making family day out is ruined.

Colchester Zoo

Enjoy a classic day out with the offspring and stare at loads of animals in cages! We jest. Kind of. It is strictly true, but the animals at Colchester Zoo live in naturalistic surroundings and are very well looked after. It’s also voted one of the best zoos in the world. Lions, tigers, elephants and chimpanzees, the great and good of the animal kingdom are here. Get involved in feeding time, interactive talks or book ahead to get up close and personal with a friendly animal. The zoo earns its animal welfare stripes by prioritising endangered species and hosting conservation talks.

Bengali Tiger at Colchester Zoo, England

Bengali Tiger at Colchester Zoo, England

Gnome Magic Garden

One of the more unique things to do in Colchester with kids is a visit to the Gnome Magic Garden. Wander through gardens and get freaked out delight in the large collection of gnomes. There are over 800 of the wee guys dotted around the two and a half acres of grassland. Play hide and seek with the little ones and see how many you can spy. Refreshments are available in the tearoom when the gnome spotting gets tiresome. There are many things to do and places to visit in Essex and this one might be up there with the most unusual.

Mercury Theatre

Broaden those horizons with culture. It is your duty to your padawans after all. Mercury Theatre, the cultural epicentre of Colchester, hosts various plays throughout the year. Enjoy the international performances to the distinctly more local with the ‘Made in Colchester’ series. The kids will love the annual pantomimes and performances. If your child is a budding Oscar-winner there is a youth theatre group as well as one-off workshops for kids.

Blue Owl Pottery Cafe

For when the clouds are grey and you’re entirely sick of carrying your progeny around the streets, pay over the odds for a mug that they will paint terribly and you will have to use until they are 18. Blue Owl has a selection of pottery from plates you can’t eat off and cups that aren’t quite right in your hand. Perfect.

East Anglian Railway Museum

If diesel locomotives are your bag, then a day at the East Anglian Railway Museum will be like all your Christmases have come at once. With less gravy. The Victorian Goods Shed is dripping in memorabilia, trains are fully restored and the tracks are complete with working signal boxes. Every so often the railway hosts ‘Kids Run The Railway’ days (snappy) and let the little ones work as train guards for the day and operate the gates and signal boxes. Perfect for any budding Fat Controllers.

West Mersea Beach

Small people love the seaside, so visiting West Mersea Beach should definitely take the top spot on your list of things to do in Colchester with kids. It's a good old fashioned example of the Great British Seaside. Find holiday parks and beach huts lining the shore and restaurants and cafes touting fresh fish and vinegar drenched chips. Spend the day digging a hole in the sand, decorate castles with seaweed and paddle in the waves. Make those memories people! It will be lovely. Plum Guide experts even picked Mersea Island one of the best things to do in the whole of England, so you know it is going to be good.

Beach Huts at West Mersea | Image by oatsy40 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Beach Huts at West Mersea | Image by oatsy40 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There you go. A big lovely list of fun things to do in Colchester with kids. Whilst you’re in the area you may as well explore other places in Essex and make a trip of it in a glorious Plum Guide Colchester approved home. Please send a postcard of your Colchester holiday to PG Towers, WeLoveColchester Street, England, PG1 1PG.

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