A Day Out in Historic Colchester
The historic town of Colchester lays claim to being the oldest recorded town in Britain and has certainly had a fascinating and colourful past that pre-dates recorded history. Colchester was actually first mentioned on coins minted by Tasciovanus in the period 20-10BC, during the Iron Age! At this time Colchester was known as Camulodunon, meaning 'Stronghold' and consisted of a series of earthwork defences, built from the 1st century BC onwards.
After the Roman Conquest of Britain in 43AD Colchester became home to the first permanent Roman legionary fortress ever built in Britain. Colchester has been a key military garrison base ever since the Roman era, right up to the present.
For the history buff, Colchester offers many opportunities to explore and experience the past. Colchester's rich heritage and history is well documented and clearly evident in the many buildings and structures that still stand today. Colchester is also a proud member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
Today Colchester is growing exponentially and has in recent history been labelled, the fastest growing town in England. Situated on the A12 corridor, Colchester is ideally situated with easy access to major roads and rail networks. The distance to London is 66 miles, Ipswich a mere 18.5 miles and Clacton-on-Sea only 19.4 miles. Colchester is a very attractive and happening place to live with a lively student population and is popular with young families looking for an exciting and convenient location to settle.
Homestead Lake Country Park is less than 14 miles from Colchester town centre, which makes the holiday lodge park an ideal base for regular excursions to Colchester and the surrounding boroughs. What makes Colchester such a unique and exciting place to visit is the shear number of tourist attractions and things to do, whether you're catering for the entire family or heading out on your own.
Listing every worthwhile attraction in Colchester is an impossible task, there are just so many things to do in Colchester and too many to list. Here are just a few of our favourite places to visit in Colchester:
Here's a great Caravan Dealer if you are looking for Touring Caravans for Sale near Colchester and Clacton.
Family Days Out in Colchester
There are many places to visit in Colchester suitable for the entire family but few family days out in Colchester are as universally entertaining, or able to capture the imagination of young minds quite like Colchester Zoo. Colchester Zoo has many awards to its credit, and is ranked 11th in the world and ranked in the top 2 zoos in the UK.
The Zoo actually started life as Stanway Hall Park Zoo on the 2nd of June 1963. During the life of the Zoo some of the animals became quite famous, appearing in films alongside Kirk Douglas and Norman wisdom. But the biggest star of all was a lion named Rajah, who appeared in many of the early Tarzan films with Gordon Scott.
Colchester Zoo occupies 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes and includes over 270 species of every kind of animal imaginable. As well as being wildly entertaining the experience is designed to be equally educational, so expect a few questions from young and inquisitive
We highly recommend you visit the Colchester Zoo website before travelling for opening times and prices.
Colchester Castle Park
There are few towns in Britain who can boast ownership of a Castle with the rich heritage and history of Colchester Castle. Colchester’s Keep is the biggest ever built in the United Kingdom and is the largest that remains in existence throughout Europe. At 152 x 112 feet it is one and a half times the size of the 'White Tower' at the Tower of London. The Castle now houses a wonderful museum containing a wealth of history. There is plenty for visitors young and old including interactive exhibits, making Colchester Castle Park a wonderful day out for the entire family.
Another thing that makes Colchester Castle Park unique is it's close proximity and easy accessibility from the town centre, with the Castle grounds accessed directly from the busy town High Street. You can be walking around shops and find yourself inside the castle in a matter of a few minutes.
The Castle Park grounds are extensive and house a number of attractions including Hollytrees Museum, comprehensive play areas,
Castle Park is definitely at the top of the unmissable places to visit in Colchester list moreover, it is considered one of the most impressive and important heritage sites in England and has a strict rule that says, “everything must be family friendly”. Hence, there are organised family events on a regular basis including costume parties, dressing up and re-enactments. A family can very easily spend an entire day at the park and want to come back for more, so be prepared.
I highly recommend you take a picnic with you, not because the foods bad... No! But because it's a whole lot of fun for the whole family and you won't have to break away from your day just to find something to eat. A picnic gives the kids time to play and the grown ups time to unwind and relax. I'd recommend older children take an outdoor game/s, as the extensive park play areas only caters for ages up to 12.
Colchester Sports & Leisure Facilities
Colchester Leisure World
Colchester Leisure World offers a wide range of sport and leisure activities for all ages and features a great swimming pool with slides that puts it on our things to do in Colchester list. Whether you fancy a swim, want to get involved in a specific sporting activity or just want to hit the gym, Colchester Leisure World is the place for fitness activities.
Colchester Leisure World offers a range of Group Fitness Classes that include swimming pool based activities and studio activities such as, Pilates, Strength & Stretch and Body Combat™(at the time of writing).
You don't have to join Colchester Leisure World to use the facilities as they also offer 'Pay as You Go' payments, which is ideal if you are only using facilities for the duration of your holiday at Homestead Lake Country Park.
You'll find plenty of lanes available and the Café at Colchester Tenpin Bowling serves tasty food and drinks in case you fancy a bite to eat.
Situated a short distance from the bottom of East Hill is Roller World and Quasar®. Rollerworld has been one of Europe's premier roller skating rinks for decades and remains a popular activity for all ages. While roller skating may not be an obvious pastime for most grown-ups, it offers a great way to keep fit and socialise with friends and family at the same time. Wednesday nights at Rollerworld are in fact reserved for over 18's. If your 81 however, you may want to sit this one out... it can be rough out there!
Why not book a lesson to get you started and if you don't have your own boots hire is available. If the kids are taking you along for the ride, relax in the Roller Café and let them wear themselves out, before heading back to Homestead Lake Country Park for some well deserved me time.
Colchester Mercury Theatre
The Mercury Theatre Colchester is the most active producing theatre in the East of England, and is well known for its original works that are presented under the title, `Made in Colchester` and includes an exceptional quality of home-grown work, made by the talented team of theatre-makers working behind the scenes in Colchester.
The Mercury Theatre also accepts touring shows, which makes for great variety and entertainment. Some of the notable Mercury Theatre productions include, 'We can always hand them back', `Friend or Foe', 'Macbeth' and 'The Butterfly Lion'.
Colchester Film Festival
No need to put on your reading spectacles, you're reading it right... Colchester really does host its very own Film Festival! Yes, Colchester boasts its very own international film festival that takes place annually in the town.
The Colchester Film festival gives audiences the chance to watch the best new feature and short films from some of the finest film makers across the globe, including World, European and UK premières. Running alongside the films is a programme of workshops and master classes from top film industry professionals. Previous guest speakers have included Academy Award and BAFTA winning producers, directors, writers and actors.
An important rule of this auspicious event is, there must be something for all tastes to enjoy, which is one of the reasons the Colchester Film Festival is so popular. Attendance is sure to provide great insight into the entire film making process.
The Minories Gallery
The Minories Galleries in Colchester is a professional contemporary art gallery run by Colchester School of Art. The site is also home to the School's Postgraduate programmes and is located adjacent to Firstsite, a visual arts organisation that aims to make contemporary art relevant to everyone.
Firstsite Visual Arts
Firstsite was founded in 1994 and is an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary arts in Colchester. In 2003 Firstsite moved home from the Minories Galleries into a brand new purpose built contemporary building and has since become a national leader in commissioning new art, providing innovative learning opportunities, and supporting the professional development of local and regional artists.
Firstsite exhibitions present a wealth of contemporary visual art practice. The annual programme combines solo and group exhibitions from artists working locally, nationally and internationally, and includes existing and commissioned works. Visit the Firstsite website for an up to date list of exhibitions.
Shopping in Colchester
Colchester town centre is a great place to shop, whether you're looking for a new outfit for a fancy night out, or merely want to window shop while picking up groceries for your holiday at Homestead Lake Country Park.
Colchester shopping is reasonably spread out but there are some locations worth paying particular attention to, where there is a good concentration of quality shops and department stores, cafés and restaurants. These include but are not limited to; Lion Walk Shopping Centre, Culver Square and St Johns Walk.
Baccus Fashion for Men
For high fashion clothing that will make you stand out from the crowd, long-time established men's clothing retailer Baccus comes highly recommended.
Tollgate Shopping Park
If you're looking for an out of town shopping centre extravaganza, packed full of big brand names, restaurants, fast food dining and an abundance of free parking slots, the only place to go is the Tollgate Shopping Centre. Situated in Tollgate West in Stanway, just off the A12 motorway and only 20 minutes by car from Homestead Lake Country Park.
If you want to go up market and don't mind the hour or so drive, Lakeside Shopping Centre in Grays Essex is a great day out shopping. Stores include big brand names and lesser known retailers such as Aldo, All Saints, Boss, Jones Bootmaker, Kurt Geiger, L'Occitane and Leslie Davis Jewellery.
Places to Eat in Colchester
Colchester is a cosmopolitan town with international tastes and eclectic culinary influences, which makes it a great place to dine out. Sure Colchester has the usual fast food eateries, cafes and pub restaurants you'd expect to see in any bustling town, but scratch a little deeper and you will find Colchester is a mecca of fine dining, using the finest wholesome ingredients.
Whether you're looking for a romantic setting or a lively restaurant to take the whole family to, Colchester has a menu to suit every taste, budget and setting.
The Siege House Bar and Brasserie
History buffs might like to sit down inside popular 15th Century 'The Siege House Bar and Brasserie'. As the name suggests, The Old Siege House Building was witness to the Siege of Colchester in 1648, during the reign of Charles the 1st. Evidence of the battle can still be seen today in the form of Musket shot holes in the timber frame of the west side and south front of the building.
Banquet 1408 Restaurant
For families who like Chinese food the 'Banquet 1408 Restaurant' comes highly recommended. Banquet 1408 Restaurant has built a fantastic reputation and the Trip Advisor website includes some excellent reviews. Banquet 1408 is quite a large restaurant and has lots of regular customers thanks to the good food it serves and the high level of customer service it provides. Be sure to check out those reviews!
Memoirs Restaurant and Cocktail Bar
Enjoy a romantic meal for two right in the heart of Colchester town centre at Memoirs Restaurant and Cocktail Bar. This fabulous restaurant is tucked behind the High Street inside a Grade 1 Listed building that once was 'The Old Library' in the Colchester Town Hall complex. The vaulted ceilings, period architecture and ornate artwork create perfect surroundings for a romantic dining experience.
A la carte menu prices are very reasonable and food is beautifully presented; order cocktails or select your favourite wine and relax and have a great time.
Travelling from Homestead Lake Country Park to Colchester
Travelling by car from Homestead Lake Country Park is of course the quickest and most convenient method of getting to Colchester, but did you know that Weeley village has its very own train station? The station is just a few minutes walk from Homestead Lake Country Park and the journey to Colchester takes just 19 minutes. Alternatively you can travel by bus, departing from Weeley Post Office, a journey that takes approximately 35 minutes.
If you're thinking about buying a holiday lodge from Homestead Lake Country Park, I hope this article will give you an idea of the fantastic location the park enjoys and a taste of what the surrounding area has to offer.