First things first. Expectations. I love the Essex coast and its seaside towns. I really do. But for those that haven’t visited before, our coastline can’t be compared to say Devon or Cornwall. Much of the coast is mud flats and salt marshes. Clacton does have a sandy beach…but it’s also a bit stoney too! There have recently been several renovations, so money is being spent to improve the town and make it more attractive! So here are some of my favourite things to do in Clacton!
Things To Do In Clacton
🗺No.1 North Sea, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 1QX
Clacton Pier first opened to the public back in the 1870’s! It’s one of the areas that recently had a big renovation. A couple of the seaside towns have been making efforts to be more ‘year round’, rather than just a summer destination.
The inside section of the pier now houses:
an indoor soft play area
an indoor/outdoor adventure golf course
a large arcade with a bowling alley
These attractions are open year round, however the opening hours do vary depending on the day and the time of the year. They are also a great option for a rainy day activity!
The outside area has various rides (including a looping rollercoaster and a log flume) and a two storey go-kart track. Some of the rides are thrill rides but there are a lot for younger kids too. At the end of the pier is a sea-fishing area.
Entrance to the pier is free, however attractions have individual ‘prices’. Most things require purchasing a Fun Pass. The Fun Pass card costs £1 and to go on the rides each person needs their own card. They are reloadable, so once you have bought one, keep hold of it for return visits. You can either buy a ‘package’ or load on a custom amount. For example the log flume is 3 token and each token costs £1. I only went on the log flume so it cost me £4 in total as I didn’t have a card. The cards can be used at several locations, including the Seaquarium.
Jurassic Pier replaced the Seaquarium on Clacton Pier, opening on 27th May 2023. It has a walk through area with animatronic dinosaurs and a 4D cinema experience. Entrance is £7.50 per person.
Pavilion Fun Park
🗺Marine Parade E, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 1PT
Just like the pier, the Pavilion Fun Park has had some renovations too! It sits on the hill that overlooks Clacton Pier. This area has more kids fairground rides, a bowling alley/arcade, an adventure golf course and now a water park. The water park is similar to a splash pad in the way that it’s aimed more at younger children. It’s a shallow paddling pool with a couple of dump buckets and little water slides.
There’s also a 150 year anniversary observation wheel located in the Pavilion Fun Park! It costs £4 per person and you get 2 rotations per ride. The views from the top are cool as you can see the pier and along both directions of the coast! (The wheel closer to the pier costs £3 per person for £10 for 2 adults and 2 children).
Upside Down House
🗺Marine Parade E, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 1PT
2022 saw the addition of Essex’s second Upside Down House, this time along Clacton seafront (the other is at Lakeside)! The Upside Down House is described as an ‘inverted photo experience’. For £4 per person (under 3’s are free), you can wander through the 2 storey upside down house and take crazy photos that make it look like you are standing on the ceiling etc. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year, but on Saturday and Sundays it is open between 10am until 8pm. It is very disorientating and did make me feel a little sick though!
Of course if you’re heading to the seaside, you’re probably after the beach! As mentioned above, Clacton Beach is sandy but a bit stoney in places! The beach closest to the pier obviously gets the busiest. But it’s then nearest to the public toilets, shops that sell beach toys and places to eat (takeaways, warm donuts, ice creams and other treats) etc. The further away from the pier, the beaches empty out more! Check out this post if you want to hire a beach hut in the nearby Holland-On-Sea: Have A Staycation: Beach Hut Hire Holland On Sea, Essex
Less than a mile from Clacton Pier (15 minute walk) you’ll come across Martello Tower E. Just follow the seawall away from the pier, with the sea on your left.
This tower dates back to the early 1800’s. It was one of 29 towers built along the East coast in Essex and Suffolk during the Napoleonic War. Their purpose was for lookout and defence in the event of a French invasion.
When the war finished it was turned into a house and eventually became a water tower for the Clacton Butlin’s Holiday Park. The history of Butlin’s could be a whole other story on it’s own! Butlin’s Clacton was the 2nd Bultin’s site in the country to be built. It made Clacton a hugely popular seaside town for people living in London.
It opened up in 1937 as an amusement park, before becoming a holiday park in 1938. Shortly after it closed during WWII, when it was used as an army base Once the war was over, it reopened its doors again as a holiday park. For many years it was very successful, bringing lots of business to Clacton.
Due to numerous changing travel trends, Butlin’s decided to close the Clacton resort in 1983. Instead, focusing their time and money on more up-to-date, modern resorts.
Martello Tower E now stands empty. Out of the 29 towers, only 6 remain, the others were demolished.
There’s a high route or a low route that you could potentially take to Martello Tower E. The seawall is the lower path that goes alongside the beach. Higher up is the Seafront Gardens!
The Seafront Gardens consists of several different themed gardens. There’s a Memorial Garden dedicated to those that fought in the war, various flower gardens, a sensory garden, to name a few.
You’ll find lots of benches scattered throughout, making it a lovely area to sit back, relax and watch the world go by. For those that want to get in some exercise, there’s the Clacton Seafront and Gardens Walk. This is a 1870m (just over 1 mile) walking route around the gardens. It takes around 20 – 30 minutes to complete at a leisurely pace. Signs tell you how many metres you’ve done and how many are left to go!
Tricky Escape (Escape Room)
🗺175 Old Rd, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 3AU
Tricky Escape has received SO many great ratings! I visited when it had only been open a couple of weeks. At the time they only had 1 room open! The Clacton location now has 3 rooms and they’ve opened a second escape room in Harwich.
For those that may not know what an escape room is, groups of 2 or more people are ‘trapped’ in a room. You have 60 minutes to solve puzzles and clues to get out.
The Magic & Mystery room is veryyyy ‘Harry Potter’ themed, without being affiliated with Harry Potter (copyright reasons!). I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and thought it was brilliant. And we escaped within the 60 minutes, so even better!
See a Show at the Princes Theatre or West Cliff Theatre
Would it even be a British seaside town if it didn’t have a theatre with lookalike singers or a pantomime? I saw the comedian ‘Joe Pasquale’ in Clacton a few years back (he’s in Clacton again in 2020!). Seeing a show is a nice way to round up a day out.
Curve Wake Park
🗺Mill Dam Lake, Mill Street, St Osyth CO16 8EW
Somethings that’s on my ‘to visit list’ is the Curve Wake Park! It’s located in St Osyth, a 10 minute drive from the seafront. I love wakeboarding, I used to go every week at Gosfield Lake (Essex).
Cable wakeboarding is so much easier than being towed behind a boat, making it great for beginners. Wakeboarding is a water sport that’s a cross between water skiing and snowboarding. It has more than wakeboarding though, including: kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, tubing and an inflatable aqua park.
🚗How To Get To Clacton🚆
If driving to Clacton-on-Sea, there are a couple of large car parks located in the town. The High Street Car Park (Carnarvon Rd, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 6QF) and the Wellesley Road Car Park (23 Wellesley Rd, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 3PW) are a couple of the best options. They are pay and display and cost £6 to park all day.
Alternatively, Clacton has its own train station with direct trains to London and other locations in Essex. The station is around a 15 minute walk from the seafront and is a good option if you don’t want to worry about finding a place to park on a busy day!
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