It’s kinda crazy that it takes a pandemic for you to discover some of the local gems that have been on your doorstep your whole life. With more time to kill, and without the commitment of travelling to London for university, Coronavirus has proven the perfect opportunity to discover some local places that I never thought of visiting or having the time to visit before.

Walton on the Naze / Frinton-on-sea

When I was a child, Sunday morning’s were spent swimming at Walton Swimming Pool, yet that’s all I remember of the seaside town. As for Frinton, the occasional trip over when my Dad used to go to a dentist over there, but apart from that, I haven’t ever spent time exploring or even visiting Walton or Frinton, despite the two little town’s being twenty minutes down the road.

For cute cafe’s, independent shops and plenty of ice cream and beaches to choose from, head to Frinton. A bit more upmarket than Walton, Frinton is basically one road of shops, and a lovely seafront full of beach huts! If you fancy a change of scenery, take the 2.5k walk to Walton Pier for some tacky rides and for Fish & Chips on the beach. If you want a longer walk, walk the sea path past Frinton’s Golf Course to Holland Haven. If you want to eat in Frinton, head to Bird & Bean for a light lunch and a coffee.

Another beautiful walk is Walton-on-the-Naze itself. Park in the designated carpark by the Naze Tower and walk the park. If you are lucky you may see some seals, otherwise it’s views of Harwich, but there is still plenty of wildlife too look out for.

Dedham Vale

The pretty little town is almost the perfect place for a date. Hire a row boat for an hour, and feel at bliss in the middle of the English Countryside. After, have a picnic by the river, or even a dip in the river if you are feeling brave amongst the rowers! There is also plenty of fields to have a wonder and explore, or simply head into the town centre for cute cafes or just another wonder.

Manningtree

Admittedly there isn’t much to do in Manningtree, and the walk to Mistley is short and once you hit Mistley there really isn’t much to do. However, pick up a take-away pizza from Lucca (amazing, amazing pizza), and grab a spot either on the tiny piece of beach, or on the grass by the river. You may make friends with the local swans, or take a trip to one of the pubs. Almost, the perfect place for a little wonder but mainly for food and a drink.

Clacton-on-Sea

Okay, Clacton Town Centre isn’t great. I would love to boast about independent shops and cafes, but most aren’t great to shout about. On the other hand, Clacton’s seafront is where you want to head, albeit still with a very limited choice of restaurants and bars, but with the Pier recently refurbished and the Pavilion, there is still plenty to do no matter your age. Two bowling allies, mini golf on the Pier, Martello, and Pavilion, and the beach. If you don’t want to sit on the beach, then take a stroll. Either walk to Holland, or walk the other way to Martello and back. Avoid walking to Jaywick is my only piece of advice.

COLCHESTER

Britain’s oldest recorded city, well it’s a town. Head to Castle Park for a picnic (M&S or homemade), or just simply for a wander or maybe a game of cricket (yes, people do play cricket kinda). There is a tiny little boating lake, with a few ducks, which makes you forget about how you are still in a bust town centre. If you aren’t fancying a picnic head to Sip & Tuck or any of the cute independent cafes dotted around town for brunch, lunch or dinner. Or head to Bill’s for brunch in the middle of the town centre. If shopping is your thing, then in North Essex the only real place to shop is Colchester with your typical high street retailers, or the more upmarket Fenwicks, as well as your independent boutiques. If you want to head out of town, then Wivenhoe is home of the University of Essex and the Wivenhoe Trail, with a few pubs and pub gardens to enjoy a drink (or two).

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