We love the Essex tourist board’s new promotional video busting the stereotypes about the inhabitants of this often maligned county.

It ties in beautifully with the release of Sarah Perry’s new book, Essex Girls, which not only rebuffs the stereotypes about the county’s white-stiletto-wearing loudmouths, but celebrates them too.

And it made us think about the times we had visited the county and why it makes such a fabulous holiday destination – and it was too good not to share.

1. Essex: England’s longest county coastline?

We were blow away when to discover that Essex has some 350 miles of coastline.

By some estimates, it could even beat Cornwall for the title having the longest coastline of any English county (turns out measuring coastlines is highly contentious!).

When you look at a map, it makes sense: there are so many estuaries, inlets and wiggly shores to explore; and that is the fun of it really, not point scoring.

Some of the best places on the Essex coast for visitors include Maldon (home to the famous flaky salt beloved by chefs worldwide) as well as Walton.

And of course, no fan of a classic British seaside town should miss the delights of Southend-on-Sea (which holds the record for the world’s longest pleasure pier!).

There are plenty of opportunities to arrange boat trips along Essex’s coast, including in an original Thames Barge at Maldon and seal-watching in Harwich.

2. A picture-perfect landscape

Fine, it is not the Lake District, but the gentle joys of the Essex countryside has been lauded by poets, novelists and, most famously, painted by John Constable, considered one of Britain’s greatest landscape artists.

Other artists associated with the region include Thomas Gainsborough, John Nash and Alfred Munnings.

Head to the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which straddles the Essex-Suffolk border, for some of the most picturesque scenery.

Expect to find quaint thatched cottages, wooden footbridges, ancient hedgerows and pastures, interwoven with footpaths and waterways with walks galore and the possibility for boat and kayak trips. And don’t forget your sketchbook.

3. Foodie heaven

Britain’s food revival has been well documented and you can find wonderful small-scale producers reviving our appreciation of our heritage across the nation.

Essex’s offerings include: Tiptree jams and preserves, which has several tearooms around the county; the Maldon Sea Company; and the ridiculously talented Galvin Brothers (the only brothers in the world to both hold Michelin Stars) have a pub-restaurant in their home county: the Galvin Green Man.

And for anyone who likes a tipple, there is specialty alcohol to be found all over Essex.

For spirits and liquors, try the English Spirit Distillery; microbreweries include the Billericay Brewing Company and Brentwood Brewing; and the county is fast becoming a oenophile destination, with a host of winemakers, such as the West Street Vineyard, New Hall Vineyard, Tuffon Hall Vineyard, and Crouch Ridge Vineyard, to name just a few.

If you like oysters with your wine, the curious Mersea Island, cut off from the mainland at high tide, is a great place to explore.

The tourist board has even produced a map, Mersea Island oyster beds and vineyard tours, for the dedicated.

4. Loads for kids to do

While many of the genteel delights of Essex are best appreciated by adults (especially those related to alcohol!), the county is simply packed with stuff for kids.

There is Colchester Zoo, the Sealife Aquarium in Southend and Mountfitchet Castle– the reconstruction of a Norman-age castle and village is guaranteed to get their imaginations running riot.

Get teens excited by all the extreme sports and outdoor activities on offer.

From the Lee Valley White Water Centre to the Olympic mountain biking trails at Hadleigh Park, there is loads to do outdoors.

Meanwhile, Jump Street is the largest activity park in the UK, with 300+ trampolines, as well as indoor climbing walls and soft play.

5. Proximity to London

Even on the most rural of holidays, sometimes it is nice to shake things up by doing a day trip to a nearby town.

Well, Essex boasts London as its neighbour! So you can easily factor in “popping” to London in under an hour from many of Essex’s stations to shop and sightsee.

You can even get the Tube to a few Essex towns such as Epping.

And speaking of Epping, a holiday in Essex could easily mean visiting a number of sights that Londoners often claim as their own, such as Epping Forest and the Lee Valley.

The history, transport links and environment of the two counties are so intertwined that it is easy to tick off a couple of London-based attractions or activities off your to-do list while on your Essex vacation.

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