Well connected to the capital yet much more than a London commuter town, the city of Chelmsford offers a bustling foodie scene, shopping hub and varied nightlife of sleek bars, live music and jam-packed theatre programmes. Nestled in the heart of the Essex countryside and along the River Can, it’s the perfect base to explore the delights of the great English outdoors, without straying from the home comforts of restaurants and entertainment on your doorstep from our Chelmsford hotels. It has been an excellent location for shopping ever since the market of 1199 formed the origins of the modern city, with department stores and small boutiques side by side. The music festival scene brings the city alive every summer, welcoming superstars to the likes of Beyoncé at the local Hylands Park. There’s something for you, your family and friends to enjoy at all times of year within this historic city, so if you’re wondering what to do in Chelmsford, our handy guide is here to help.
Things to do in Chelmsford
The city’s centre is home to charming historic streets, Chelmsford Cathedral and many parks and green spaces. The surrounding countryside also has a lot to offer, with stately homes and beautiful gardens, including Hylands Park estate, which hosts famous music festivals.
Chelmsford is a great shopping hub just outside London, with plenty of big shops as well as boutique stores within the compact centre. Two Chelmsford shopping centres offer great city centre shopping for when the skies open, as well as plenty of bars and restaurants.
Places to eat
From high-end Asian delights to afternoon teas and authentic street food, the choice for places to eat in Chelmsford is endless. A large selection of restaurants in the city centre includes all of the best chains, as well as quirky independents, all within walking distance of bars, theatres and everything to entertain you.
Chelmsford boasts a varied nightlife, with music nights, modern bars and the largest club in Essex – there’s something for everyone. Catch the sun’s rays by sampling the city’s variety of beer gardens, try some cocktails over dinner, then keep on dancing once the sun goes down.
Get the kids interested in history with interactive displays at Chelmsford’s museums, giving them the chance to dress up or even lock their parents in a Victorian jail cell! The city also offers a variety of galleries, and has an impressive range of music, festivals and events across the year, celebrating everything from the biggest names in music to the tastiest food.
Chelmsford’s theatres attract a huge range of top-notch acts to its three stages, from classic toe-tapping musicals and a variety of plays, to big names in comedy. They’re all surrounded by an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars within the city centre, perfect for wining and dining before (and after!) the performance.
A visit to a historic English city wouldn’t be complete without sampling its selection of pubs, from the alehouses with impressive drinks selections, to the best places for a Sunday roast. Enjoy a knees-up in a traditional cosy setting, whether it’s within the city centre or after a long walk in the Essex countryside.
Chelmsford boasts excellent links to London – up to six trains an hour can have you whizzing directly to London Liverpool Street station. It’s also only half an hour from Stansted Airport, with flights to a variety of international destinations. This well-connected hub is the perfect base from which to explore both city and rolling countryside.