Looking for a way to entertain the kids over the school holidays?

Well lucky for you, Essex is home to a whole host of family-friendly places to take them on an adventure and keep them occupied while they're off school.

The county is fortunate enough to boast a number of fabulous farms and animal parks they may enjoy heading to for the day, and to make your decision easier we've compiled together a list of the best the area has to offer.

Here are the top spots in Essex based on visitor ranking, according to and described by Tripadvisor.

Imperial Bird of Prey Academy, Billericay


All photos from Tripadvisor

Based at Barleylands Farm & Craft Village, this wildlife hotspot is open to the public 362 days of the year.

Here, you can enjoy daily flying displays in the purpose built flying arena.

Meanwhile the team offer a wide range of experience days, which are both fun and educational, catering for all ages and abilities.

Staff aim to make their visitors experience both personal and enjoyable, giving guests plenty of hands on time with the birds of prey.

In addition, Barleylands Farm & Craft Village offers both indoor and outdoor activities for children, craft shops and tearooms - something for all the family.

Old MacDonald's Farm, Brentwood


This farm boasts over 30 different species of animals, including meerkats, pigs, wallabies, rabbits, ponies, cows, sheep, horses, reindeer, alpacas and donkey. 

And if that wasn't enough, the farm is packed with family rides and amusements galore to keep the little ones happy.

Just some of the fun includes the Doggy Dog roller coaster, tractor rides, giant slides, sand pits, the crazy barn, pony adventure rides and more.

To top it off, the site features two indoor soft play areas along with lots of outdoor play areas to keep the kids entertained.

Pets Corner, Harlow


With donkey, reptiles, fish, rabbits and ducks to name just a few, a visit to Pets Corner surely won't disappoint.

The farm - based at Town Park, Edinburgh Way - features a range of domesticated animals along with some exotic creatures.

It is free entry with a donation box and a gift shop at the site, where money contributes towards the running of the farm.

Hastys Adventure Farm, Clacton


Based on West Road, this farm has proved a moo-sive hit with the kids.

With a variety of animals living at the site, families can stop by to see cows, goats, pigs, sheep and more during their visit.

While guests can also head out to find the butterflies located all around the farm on their new Butterfly Trail.

Perfect for children aged 3-11 years, a trip to the family-run business must be booked in advance.

Barleylands Farm Park, Billericay


Widely popular in south Essex, Barleylands is well known for their farmyard friends both big and small.

Guests can watch the fantastic birds of prey displays held at the site, meet the reptiles, run wild in the indoor play or jump aboard the tractor and trailer ride.

The farm park is also home to an indoor animal barn, as well as an indoor sand pit, ball blasting arena and indoor play barn, packed with soft play adventures.

While other top farms in the list also include:

  • Boydells Dairy Farm, Braintree
  • Marsh Farm, South Woodham Ferrers
  • Hadleigh Farm - Rare Breeds Centre
  • Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park, Waltham Abbey

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