Places to visit - in the centre of town, Colchester castle is a must.  There are exhibits covering the history of Colchester (which, in the oldest town in Britain is quite considerable).  For kids there are a number of hands-on exhibits, plus they have story tellers and exhibitions during school holidays.  Next door and with free entry is the Hollytrees museum, which has exhibits relating to social history and toys.  These buildings are set into the rather lovely Castle Park, which also has a childrens play  area and small boating lake.  Across the road in a disused church is Colchester Natural History museum.

Opposite the castle you will find the Minories, a wonderful building which houses changing art exhibitions. The walled garden is a glorious oasis and extension to an excellent cafe.  Very close-by, is a fantastic new building: Firstsite.  This is a visual arts facility, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly as a new social space for everyone.  The 'Golden Banana', as it's affectionately known locally,  houses Firstsite's vibrant programme of changing exhibitions, workshops, films, lectures and community events. Firstsite's cafe, with outdoor terrace, is also well worth a visit.

 Other cultural amenities include the excellent Mercury Theatre and the lively St Mary's Arts Centre, which hosts music, comedy and dance events. For the best in amateur theatre (and a host of other entertainment) there is also the Headgate Theatre.

Don't miss Colchester Zoo, one of the best zoos in the UK.  It is a bus ride away from the town.

And of course if you're in town on a Saturday during the football season don't forget to visit Colchester United, the local football team, which since 2008 have played at the new Weston Homes Community Stadium housed to the North of the town just off the A12.