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40 Free or Low Cost days out and activities - Autumn Edition


While it's tempting to stay indoors during the cooler months, there are plenty of exciting and budget-friendly activities to enjoy near Southend. So whether it's indoors or outdoors, artsy and craftsy or Halloween themed, we've compiled a list of 40 free or low-cost things to do in Autumn near Southend.

As well as the below, don't forget to check out our 'What's on' Calendar for lots of events throughout Autumn. We have handpicked a few of the free events below but there are many more on our calendar and more being added regularly.

Remember that although the events or activities may be free, there may be parking costs to consider.


🍁 1. Visit Scott's Pumpkin Barn - FREE A must for this season and a great way to spend a morning without spending too much money! Also check out our list of Pumpkin Patches within one hour of Southend if you fancy something different.

🍁 2. The Green Barn Farm Shop - £5.50 (10% off when you book online) to take part in their very own Pumpkin hunt over October half term!

🍁 3. Visit a garden centre - FREE - With Christmas and Halloween displays, why not have a browse and make the most of the photo opportunities! The younger ones will love looking at the lights and displays too.

🍁 4. Beachcombing - FREE Exploring the beach is fun all year-round. Autumn brings interesting seashells and marine treasures to the shore so wrap up and go and find some souvenirs.

🍁 5. Southend Halloween Parade - FREE Saturday 28th October, the FREE Halloween parade takes place on Southend seafront.

🍁 6. Belfairs Woods - FREE What's not to love about Belfairs Woods...and they also have a pumpkin trail for £3 to take part in over half term.

🍁 7. Walk Southend Pier (and Monster hunt) - £2.50 adults, £1.50 children - Open all year round! You can join in the monster hunt for an extra £2pp over October Half term or pick up a Wildlife Watch Leaflet from the Visitor Information Centre for just £1 and tick off what you see on the way

🍁 8. Activities at Hadleigh Hub - FREE - Throughout half term, Hadleigh hub have 3 events during the week - Autumn Wreath Craft, A Scavenger hunt and Fir Cone Crafts!

🍁 9. Just Ride Southend - £2.50 donation per rider, carers and parents of children riding are free and welcome to ride. Open until December but check the Facebook page for selected opening days and times!

🍁 10. The Bean Machine - £3 to take part in their Halloween trail, finding clues to spell out a spooky word and then win a prize! Perfect place to have a cuppa and let the kids burn off steam is a safe space.

🍁11. Family fun day at The Royals - FREE - The Royals are hosting a day of fun on 21st October with characters from TV and film popping up throughout the day

🍁12. Maldon Promenade Zoo - The Zoo are reaching out to those looking for affordable days out and offering the chance to visit for just £3 per person and under's 2's being free. From 11th September - 20th October only.

🍁13. Southend Fireworks - FREE - Every Saturday at 8.00pm from 30th September you can watch the fireworks on the seafront for free! Parking after 6pm is free along the seafront so it doesn't have to cost a penny!

🍁14. Southend Family Centre Halloween activities - FREE - The family centre's have free Halloween themed sessions for under 5's running over half term! Click for details of the timetable.

🍁15. Scavenger hunt at Essex Parks - FREE - Click on the link to download the Autumn Scavenger hunt from Explore Essex and visit one of the many country parks.

🍁16. Visit Essex Parks for Monster Mysteries Trail - FREE - There are six parks in Essex taking part and it's completely free. You can join in at Weald Park, Thorndon Park, Danbury Country Park, Cudmore Grove, Belhus Wood and Great Notley.

🍁17. Classic Cars on the beach - FREE - Last event of the year on 15th Oct 9am-4pm. A display of classic cars on City Beach

🍁18. Visit Local Cafes with play areas - Explore local cafes and enjoy hot chocolate, tea, or a sweet treat with your kids. You can find our directory of local cafes here or our tried and tested article of cafes with play areas and activities!

🍁19. The Bread and Cheese pub Halloween outdoor cinema - FREE ENTRY - Friday 13th October showing Beetlejuice and Friday 20th October Hocus Pocus. Outdoor showings on the BIG SCREEN in the garden 7pm start. Themed food and drinks available all night so you just pay for what you eat or drink

🍁20. Hockley Woods - FREE - Perfect for enjoying the changing seasons. As well as the woods, you have the large play area and sand pits for before or after your walk! Perfect for enjoying the changing seasons.

🍁21. Visit a library - FREE - Southend Libraries are celebrating 10 years of the forum this month with their 'festival of learning'. Events include Dinosaur Story Time and craft, Family yoga, create your own fire breathing dragon, superhero fingers puppets and mask, Put that light out and The Fantasmagorical Poetry Quest

🍁22. Visit Hadleigh Castle - FREE - A perfect spot for the kids to let off steam.

🍁23. Fruit Picking at Hilltop Farm, Benfleet -  Just because Summer is over, it doesn't mean you can't go fruit picking! Apples are now in season! Pick your own fruits from this lovely local farm. Check their Facebook before you visit for updated opening times and whether fruit is ripe and ready!

🍁24. Leigh Community Centre - The community centre have a number of events on over half term including Spooky slime making workshops for £5 per child!

🍁25. Visit Two Tree Island Nature Reserve - FREE - Two Tree Island is an ideal location for bug spotting and bird watching! Grab the kids a cheap bug hunting kit or make them a scavenger hunt and see what they can find!

🍁26. Big up Southend Craft Markets - FREE - Taking place on the last Saturday of the month in The Victoria Shopping Centre, Big Up Southend is not only a craft market but an open mic event with lots of children's craft activities available. This month is a Halloween special with free face-painting for children!

🍁27. Hadleigh Farm Rare Breeds Centre - Adults £5.50, Child 3-16 £4.50, Under 3's FREE. Animal feed is available to purchase on arrival for 40p per bag or 3 bags for £1.00. With animals, a play area and sand pit, you can certainly get a few hours of entertainment at the most local farm. Make sure to take a picnic as there is no cafe or refreshments on site!

🍁28. Go Geocaching - FREE - A modern-day treasure hunt! Download the app and take kids of all ages on a real life treasure hunt around Southend 

🍁29. Visit a museum - FREE Most museums are free or ask for a small donation. You can also find events such as A Journey into space at Southend Planetarium for £7pp , Fright at the Museum at Prittlewell Priory for £5 per child and Exploring the moon Halloween special at Southend Central Museum for £8pp.

🍁30.Hadleigh bike park - FREE - With bike tracks for all ages, play areas and walking trails, you can easily spend a full day at Hadleigh Park.

🍁31. Soft Play - You might not love soft play, but I can guarantee you will be thankful for it at least one through the Autumn/Winter months. Here's our directory of local soft plays 

🍁32. Go Swimming at one of Fusion Leisure Centres which can be a fantastic way to keep kids active during the colder months. Prices are usually reasonable.

🍁33. Take in the views on top of Rayleigh Windmill - FREE - Open until Sunday 29th October = The grade II listed buildings is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and you can explore the windmill, join in the virtual tour and climb to the top with free entry. There will also be children's activities including the chance to try their hand at milling flour. 

🍁34. Make use of any annual membership you have at Sealife Adventure. Over half of the attraction is indoors so a perfect raining day activity!

🍁35.Hyland's Estate - FREE - Spend the day at Hyland's in their award winning castle themed adventure playground and with 574 acres of parkland, there's lots of space for walks/picnics and ball games.

🍁36. Follow a character trail such as The Gruffalo Trail - FREE - Other trails include The Stick Man at Weald Country Park, The Wind in the Willows at Hanningfield Reservoir, Peter Rabbit Trail at Langdon Hills Nature Reserve, Zog Trail at Thames Chase

🍁37. Feed the ducks at Southchurch Park - FREE - Remember bread is harmful to ducks so you could always take along some oats or cereal or pay £1 to buy some food from the eco-friendly duck feeder that was installed last year.

🍁38. Hanningfield Reservoir - FREE - Hanningfield have a number of events taking place across the summer including Woodland Story time with the Gruffalo. Or you could grab a map and follow the Wind in the Willows trail.  At the Discovery Nature Centre, there is a cafe on site and a good sized play area near the car park.

🍁39.Maldon Promenade - FREE - The Promenade has everything you could want for a day out whether or not you choose to spend any money. With an impressive play area, sand pits, crabbing pool, skateboard park and BMX track. You can also visit Maldon Petting Zoo or the Adventure Golf. 

🍁40.Stubbers Adventure Centre - For the admission entry fee of £3 adults and £4 children (FREE for under 5's), you get access to Adventure play areas with a young adventurers area and a bigger play area for the older ones, woodland discovery trail and sand play and paddle beach. All other activities have extra charges however you can certainly get away with not paying for activities with the amount of activities already included in the entry fee.

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