The Best Places To Go With Tweens and Teenagers in Essex

There are lots of great places to go in Essex with children, but what about when your family gets a bit older? It can be hard to tempt teenagers away from a computer screen or hanging out with their friends. To persuade them it's probably going to need to be somewhere more exciting than a walk in the park. While teens and tweens might be too old for many of the attractions, soft plays and adventure playgrounds in Essex there is luckily a great selection of places they will enjoy whether they want to get active or prefer gaming. Here are some of the best places to go in Essex with teens and tweens.

4 girls in coveralls and helmets ready to go Go Karting in Essex
There are lots of places to go in Essex that will interest teens and tweens

Where To Go With Teenagers In Essex

Activities in this post are suitable for tweens to teenagers, so children aged 8 to 18. Most are suitable for the whole family to do together (as long at the youngest child is 8 plus) or for teenagers to do with friends. From knife throwing to escape rooms, kayaking to gaming cafes, this post has something for everyone. 

I have divided activities into 3 categories to make it easier to navigate, but as some centres offer many activities it's worth having a look at the whole post to find places your older children will love to go.

You can skip straight to the following sections:

  • Super Active - these activities are going to build up a sweat.
  • Slightly Active - these activities will get you moving, but are less strenuous.
  • Brainio Active - these activities are more of a mental workout than a physical one.

Super Active

Wild Forest and Nuclear High Ropes  

Parsonage Farm, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, Essex CM15 0LA 

Wild Forest obstacle and activity centre is a great place to visit with older children. During the holidays and some weekends they have sessions targeted at different age groups from challenging obstacle courses where they are guaranteed to get muddy to axe throwing! Ok so for children 11 plus they don't get to throw axes, but the angel knives are still really cool. 

At neighbouring Nuclear High Ropes children can try:

  • The biggest High Ropes course in Essex (min age 6 and 120cm), 6-8s must be accompanied on the course by an adult, 8 plus must be observed at all times, but this can be from the ground. There are 6 courses to try.
  • Zip Trek with 13 zip wires through the trees. Suitable for age 8 upwards, 8 and 9 year olds must be accompanied by a participating adult, 10 to 16 year olds can be supervised from the ground.
  • Air rifle shooting at targets for age 14 upwards.

Essex Outdoors

There are 4 Essex Outdoors Centres in Essex offering slightly different activities for families and children age 8 and up.
Bradwell Waterside Road, Bradwell Waterside, Southminster, Essex, CM0 7QY.
The Bradwell centre offers sailing, yachting and water sport activities on the River Blackwater Estuary. They offer experience days and holiday clubs.
Danbury, Essex Outdoors Danbury, Well Lane, Danbury, CM3 4AB
In school holidays there are some day drop off sessions for children age 8 to 16 where they can experience: archery, bush craft, mountain biking, aerial trekking, obstacle course, vertical challenge, low ropes, bridge build, zip wire, climbing wall, mountain biking, caving & BMX. 
Harlow, Burnt Mill Lane, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2QS
The Harlow Centre has climbing activities in the form of High Ropes Hexagon, outdoor Climbing Wall Adventure and The Lock Climbing Wall, Essex's largest indoor climbing centre. The holiday activities at the site include: archery, climbing, high ropes, stand up paddleboards.
Mersea, Rewsalls Lane, Colchester CO5 8SX
Mersea offer drop off days in school holidays which can include: high ropes, climbing and zip wire, to water sports including canoeing and stand up paddleboarding, to archery, mountain biking and bushcraft.

(If you want to join them on the family activities and are worried about fitting into their wetsuits then check out this guide to plus size wetsuits for women).

Stubbers Adventure Centre, Ockendon Road, Upminster, Essex, RM14 2TY

Stubbers Adventure Centre offers a huge range of activities including:

  • 4x4 Off Road driving - age 9+
  • Air Rifle Shooting - age 9+
  • Archery - age 9+ (and 5+ if adult participating too)
  • Axe throwing - age 9+
  • Kata Kanu (twin canoes) - age 9+ (or 5+ with accompanying adult)
  • Kayaking  - age 9+ (or 5+ with accompanying adult)
  • They also offer drop off day camps during the holidays with separate groups and activities for 9 to 11 and 12 to 16 year olds.

Ninja Warrior Chelmsford, The Meadows Retail Park, Chelmsford CM2 6JX

Suitable for age 5 upwards, but if under 8 an adult has to accompany them on the course (with a paid ticket). It features "a mix of adrenalin-fuelled TV show style courses and inflatable runs inspired by the family favourite programme".  There is both a fixed and inflatable obstacle course that will help teens work up a sweat.

More than Just Trampolining

There are lots of trampoline parks in Essex which are far more than the traditional rectangular trampoline. Particularly worth checking out is:

Air Hop Trampoline Park in Chelmsford and Colchester which has trampolining, Essex's largest climbing wall area and the UK’s first Home Run AR Baseball Cages. 

Oxygen Active Play in Romford and Rayleigh. Read about our review visit to the Romford branch here. 

Click here for a full list of trampoline parks in Essex.

Aqua Parks

While it is definitely a seasonal activity and best enjoyed on a hot summers day, there are a number of aqua parks around Essex where you can wear your teenager out on the outdoor inflatable courses floating on lakes. 

Aqua Splash has sites in Chigwell and Sawbridgeworth
Redricks Lane, Sawbridgeworth CM21 ORL
Luxborough Lake, Luxborough Lane, Chigwell, IG7 5DF
Both have inflatable courses in the lake and prebooking is required.  Children must be 6 or older and under 12s must be directly supervised at all times. 

Aqua Park, Lakeside

Aqua Park at Lakeside has 40 inflatables. It is suitable for children aged 6 plus (and over 1.2m). You also need to be able to swim 25m unaided to take part. Children age 6 and 7 need an adult on the aqua park with them, 8 to 15 year olds can be supervised from shore (if very water confident).

Curve Aqua Park, Mill Street, St Osyth, CO16 8EW 

Curve claims to be Essex's biggest inflatable wipe out obstacle course. Children must be 1.1m tall and at least 6 years old to go on it. Children under the age of 8, must be accompanied by an adult who is 18 or older. Anyone who goes on the aqua park must be able to swim 25 metres while wearing a life jacket.

Colchester Leisure World

Water parks are great fun for all ages. Colchester Leisure World is currently the best Essex has to offer when it comes to swimming pools with slides. There are flumes, a crazy river, wave machine, shipwreck water cannons and castaway spa pool bubbles. It's lots of fun, but it has had some criticism recently for being badly managed and not very clean. You can find where else to go swimming in this post and some of them have indoor inflatable sessions at weekends. Read more about the Colchester Swimming Pool here.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a fun activity all year round and with inside rinks it doesn't matter what the weather is like. There are permanent ice rinks in Chelmsford and Romford which both have public skate sessions:
Riverside Chelmsford, Riverside Leisure Centre, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1FG
Sapphire Ice & Leisure, 24 Western Road, Romford, RM1 3JT. 

Nearby Lee Valley Ice Rink has 2 brand new rinks (Lea Bridge Rd, London E10 7QL). 

Find out which other seasonal and permanent ice rinks are nearby in this post.


If they can get a group of friends together paintball is a great activity, although there is the risk of bruises especially if someone shoots at close range (I can personally testify this is painful, but also considered poor form). 

Options for paintballing in Essex include:

Delta Force Paintball for age 8 plus in Upminster (Aveley Road, Upminster, RM14 2TN). 
Mayhem Paintball (Pryors Farm, Patch Park, Abridge, Essex RM4 1AA) offer low impact and traditional paintball for age 12 upwards with a minimum of 6 people needed for a session. 
Splatoon are based in Wickford (Dollymans Farm, Doublegate Lane, Rawreth, Wickford SS11 8UD) and suitable for age 8 plus. It is bookable via a number of sites, but Splatoon appear to be the actual owners.
Gunsmoke Paintball Colchester (Maldon Road, Layer Marney, Colchester, Essex CO5 9FH) offer sessions for children (8 to 11) and 12 plus.

Laser Tag

A similar concept to paintball, but without any actual contact and less chance of injury, laser tag (or laser quest) appeals to many competitive teens and tweens. You can find out where to play laser tag in Essex here.

Slightly Active

(Also check out activities like axe throwing, air rifle shooting and archery in the Super Active Section).

Immersive Gamebox 

Lakeside Shopping Centre, The Quay, Thurrock, Essex, RM20 2ZP
Instead of getting your teens away from screens this venue supersizes them, but makes it fun for the whole family. There are lots of different games available. You basically go into a room with friends or family where the walls are screens and play a computer game together. 

Top Golf

Abridge Road, Chigwell, Essex, IG7 6BX
More than just practicing your golf swing, you hit a microchipped ball from one of their 50 bays to take part in various games. Under 12s are Juniors and are a reduced price.


Bowling (and the unavoidable arcades that seem to always be positioned next to them) are popular with teens and tweens. They are a good activity for a group of friends as you can leave them to it and sit in the bar area with a hot drink if you want to supervise. Many locations no longer have shoe hire so make sure they wear flat shoes with non marking soles. You can find out where to go bowling in Essex in this post.

Climbing Walls

Climbing requires strength more than cardio fitness and my children who are lighter than me find it easier to race up climbing walls than I do. This post has a list of indoor climbing walls in Essex and the Harlow location has an outdoor area too. Alternatively you can climb the artificial boulders for free at Fairlop Waters. They are located near the water sport end of the lake and the boulders are open for anyone to attempt to climb with different levels of challenge. Unlike climbing walls or clip and climb, bouldering doesn't involve the use of ropes etc, you just need decent shoes that will allow you to grip on to the grooves.

Southend Adventure Island

We might not have a proper theme park in Essex, but Adventure Island in Southend is a good alternative. Buy a wristband and you can go on as many rides as you want all day. There are plenty of thrill rides for teens and adults including: 
Axis - a swinging and rotating pendulum suitable for age 10 upwards (and over 130cm)
Rage - a rollercoaster with twists, loops and upside down sections.
Sky drop - get gradually lifted up before dropping 21 metres
Wristbands cost £30 on the day, or you can buy in advance to to save money (cheaper on the website but many places like our school PTA sell them for significantly less). If you are planning on supervising and not going on any rides you don't need a wristband and it's free entry and if you change your mind you can pay for individual rides. 

Clacton Pier

Clacton has less rides than Southend, but it's still a fun place to go. With a waltzer, dodgems, rollercoaster and more. You can get a "Big Day Out Band" for £30.00 (or £20.00 online in advance) which includes unlimited rides, 1 Jurassic pier entry, a game of mini golf, 1 wheel experience and 5 video game credits. 

Go Karting

Essex has two indoor Go Karting locations managed by Team Sport in Basildon, (Unit 3 Festival Business Park Festival Way Basildon Essex SS14 3WB) and Harlow (Unit E, 26 River Way, Harlow, Essex CM20 2DP).

There are also outdoor Go Karting centres locally:

Brentwood Karting, Warley Gap, Brentwood, CM13 3DP. It claims to have the widest and fastest track in the South East.
Lakeside Karting, A1306 Arterial Road, RM19 1EA. It claims to be the largest and fastest track in Essex (Brentwood and Lakeside are both the same company). It also have a children's track for younger siblings.
Rye House Kart Raceway, Rye Road, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire EN11 0EH. Just outside Essex this is where Lewis Hamilton started his racing career. They have various offerings from age 3 upwards, but the Junior karting sessions are on the main track with speeds of up to 40mph (minimum height 133cm, age 8 to 16).

Brainio-Active (More of a mental workout than a physical one)

Escape Rooms

Escape Rooms are generally more about looking for clues and working things out, but some of them are more physical than others. There are lots of Escape Rooms in Essex, but the ones that seem to offer the best options for teenagers are:

Escape Basildon (1 Market Pavement, Basildon, Essex SS14 1DD). Allows children 8 plus, and groups of children 10 plus in the room without an adult. 
Keep Escaping located inside Hedingham Castle (Castle Hedingham, Halstead CO9 3DJ). Game suitable for 10 years upwards, although younger family members welcome if part of the group. 
The Panic Room Harlow (1-5 Harvey Centre Approach, Harlow, Essex CM20 1HF) Most of their experiences are suitable for age 8 or 10 plus. If there are any children under 12 then an adult must be in the room too. 
Clue HQ Brentwood  (Kelvedon Hall Lane, Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, CM14 5TL). Over 7s welcome, but under 16s must be accompanied by a paying and playing adult
Keylock Games Wickford  (14-16 The Broadway, Wickford SS11 7AA). They believe Escape Rooms are for all ages and have family friendly games. 

Young Driver Lessons

Children age 10 plus can learn to drive in a real car with Young Driver. Whether you decide to have a one off session or book a bundle of lessons they will have a great time, but you might want to think about hiding your car keys. Lessons are available on selected dates at Lakeside (Thurrock), North Weald (Epping), Chelmer Valley Park and Ride (Chelmsford) and Colchester United FC Stadium (Colchester).


Ok in some ways it is just a big TV you have to pay to watch, but a trip to the cinema is still worth a visit every so often. It gets teens off their phones, keeps them quiet and allows them to fully focus on one thing for an hour or two. Check this post out for a guide to cinemas in Essex. 

Gaming Cafes

These board game cafes and retailers are a great place to play new games and meet people with similar interests. They often run events so check their websites and social media for updates.
The Board Game Hut, 10-12 Clarence Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1BD
Dice & A Slice, 37 Queen Street, Colchester, CO1 2PQ
Geek Retreat have two. locations in Essex:
48 Cunard Square, Townfield Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AQ - Facebook
Ground floor, Harvey Centre, Harlow CM20 1XR - Facebook
Check their Facebook pages for events including D&D, Pokemon and board games. 

I would love to know if you find this list helpful or if you know of anywhere else that you recommend. Comment below or message me.
All information accurate at time of publishing as best as I can tell, contact the companies directly for further information. 

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