Learn all about the local war effort at North Weald Airfield Museum. See tropical, coldwater, marine fish and reptiles at Tisbury’s Aquatic Centre. Go bigger and meet the deer at Bedford’s Park Nature Discovery Centre, a 250-acre site with views over London and Kent.
Catch a live show at Brookside Theatre. Take things up a notch or two at Nuclear High Ropes, Essex’s biggest high-ropes course with three levels, six courses, over 70 aerial obstacles and a 40-metre zipwire finish. Or ride the miniature trams and locomotives at Lodge Farm Park.
Meet meerkats, goats, chinchillas, otters, owls and rabbits at Old McDonald’s Farm, and stick around for the rides and the chocolate cake in the farm café. Let off steam on the King George Field Playground in Romford. Or head to Leigh-on-Sea for fresh seafood from the cockle sheds, swimming, windsurfing, sailing and long beach walks.
Lose a few hours at Golf Kingdom, with seven unique ways to play golf, including the Moby adventure course, the fun course and the foot golf. Paint your own pots at Let’s Go Potty. Or learn all about alpacas at London Alpacas, get up close, feed them and even pick up their poo.
Climb the walls at the small but mighty bouldering gym, Romford Rock and Boulder. Play the pretty parkland course at Romford Golf Club, used in qualifying for the British Open. Blast clay at the Essex Shooting Ground in Fyfield. Or paddleboard, powerboat,
sail or quad-bike with Essex Outdoors.
Take a tour of lovely local homes and gardens at Valentine Mansions and Gardens, Charlton House, Capel Manor Garden, and Hylands House and Park. Uncover the history of Barking and Dagenham through a 20,000-object collection at Valence House Museum, or more local history at Havering Museum.
Blow the Sunday-morning cobwebs away on a walk around 76-hectare Eastendbrook Country Park, and fish the lake. Feed the ducks in Epping Forest or find the best cycling tracks there with Epping Forest MTB. Watch out for muntjac deer. Or walk the Gruffalo Trail Loop from Herongate.
Rev things up at Brentwood Karting, the South East’s widest and most accessible outdoor go-karting race track, with speeds of up to 45mph. Try assault-rifle shooting, crossbows and axe-throwing at Target Sports World. Refuel with a tasting session at Billericay Brewing Company, a microbrewery and craft-beer shop.
Hens and stags are always looking for entertainment and The Hatch comes with most of it built-in, set against a backdrop of extravagant elegance. Let’s start by losing an afternoon in the indoor pool, followed by an evening in the hot tub and sauna. Follow up with pool in the games room fuelled by cocktails and dreams from the built-in bar.
Keep your fitness and stamina up in the fully equipped gym and then collapse in the leather-seated, red-carpeted cinema room with Netflix delivered over the superfast broadband. Wander the four acres of parkland before supper and stay out late on the covered terrace. Sashay down for breakfast on the spectacular staircase.
Get yourself pampered with massages, facials, threading and lashes at The Retreat. Call up Mario for an in-house cocktail-making class. Head to Braintree’s Sports and Health Club for zorb football. Make your mates smart at Mayhem Paintball. Or enjoy petrol-powered action at Wild Tracks on the quads, karts and motocross bikes.
Try indoor and outdoor archery at Essex Outdoors, or kayaking, wakeboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding at Curve Watersports. Slow the pace with afternoon tea at Jardins in Braintree. And head out for the night to Tomo’s Tavern or to throw shapes at Club Eden. Or figure out how they did it at McFriday Night Magicians.