Looking for something to do this weekend?

Then how about enjoying some of Essex's rural gems.

Whether you want to take a stroll, snap some beautiful flowers or go on a picturesque bike ride there is plenty to choose from.

So here are a few ideas.

Walk in Constable's footsteps

Characterised by open spaces and big ever changing skies the Essex countryside is perfect for a stroll or a leisurely picnic.

The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley embraces one of the county's most cherished landscapes.

Picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows, ancient woodlands and a wide variety of local wildlife combine to create what many describe as the traditional English lowland landscape.

The area has a rich history and has been the inspiration to many writers and artists.

Be inspired by the glorious gardens of Essex

Step back in time at historic gems like Bridge End and Easton Lodge, lovingly restored to their former glory.

Drink in the vistas at Audley End with its ‘Capability’ Brown vision of temples and lakes. Reflect awhile at Beth Chatto’s water garden with its huge gunnera towering above a hundred shades of emerald.

Breathe in the heady scents at RHS Hyde Hall and get carried away to distant shores. Bring a picnic and enjoy the views.

Then there is also Marks Hall, Cressing Temple, Gibberd Garden and Green Island Gardens to enjoy.

All the flowers are beautiful at this time of year with spring in full swing.

Take a cycle in the countryside

Visit Essex had devised cycling routes across the county to showcase the best views and sights.

From taking in medieval markets and mazes between Saffron Walden and Thaxted to picture perfect villages around Coggeshall, Finchingfield and the Hedinghams there is plenty to explore.

And you could also visit Hadleigh Park - the home of London 2012 Olympic cycling.

Country parks

Essex County Council runs country parks across the whole county.

So why not take a wander at Cudmore Grove in Mersea, Great Notley Park, Danbury Country Park or Belhus Woods Country Park.

There is also Marsh Farm Country Park, Thorndon Country Park and Weald Country Park.

Explore the county's incredible vineyards and breweries

The county is becoming renowned for its incredible wines and ales.

So why not enjoy a visit to the place they are made.

There are plenty to choose from including Billericay Brewery, Mersea Island Vineyard, West Street Vineyard or New Hall Vineyard.