Summer holidays: 32 things to do with kids
••• FARMS & ANIMAL PARKS •••
Windmill Farm Park, Kibworth Harcourt
Enjoy a fay out with the family at this new-ish farm park. Kids can visit the animal areas, take part in outdoor play, enjoy the pedal tractors, new sandpit woodland trails and more. As expected they are restricting the number of visitors and have launched a new online pre-booking system.
Paradise Found Educational Farm, Sapcote
The farm is open, the animals can be visited and fed. Soft play area is closed but the cafe is open for cake and tea . Pre-booking not required but a track and trace system is in place. The website does not have up-to-date info so please refer to their Facebook page or call 01455 270652 / 07747 845668.
Stonehurst Farm, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire
This family-run farm is a real pleasure to visit. For obvious reasons they are allowing a reduced number of visitors and you MUST pre-book tickets. Explore the little farm, meet some of the little animals and a new “adventure trail” play area. Some attractions are not open including tractor rides and visiting part of the Motor museum. When you’re done grab something to take away from the little farm cafe. Visitors entrance will be at the “Ice cream kiosk” which will be signposted. Farm toilets are also open.
A small 18-acre working farm in the market town of Oakham, they’re open 7 days a week from 10am. Until the children return to school, they’re operating a one-way system with plenty of hand sanitizer about. The play area is also open now. No booking system in place as they are able to monitor and manage it.
Manor Farm, Loughborough
Enjoy a day of animal and owl watching, with two outdoor play areas which are open and a nature trail which takes you through the lakeside and woodlands. There are picnic benches available throughout the site and Antlers Bistro will be open for takeaway and table service (booking recommended). Every paying child who visits this summer will receive a pass to return free of charge before Monday 31 Aug 2020. Tickets must be pre-booked and visitors are limited. Under 2’s free. Other activities are suspended.
Whetstone Pastures, Whetstone
Kids can enjoy a morning or afternoon of picking a variety of fruit including strawberries £4.80kg, blackcurrants £3.75kg and raspberries £7.50kg. Open Tues-Sun. Tearoom and barn are not open and there is maximum group size of 5 people with 3 kids max. Payment contactless preferred.
Twycross Zoo, Atherstone
Expect a different experience if you plan to visit Twycross Zoo. Firstly, bookings will have to be made online and in advance with time slots so when you arrive, expect to see lots of extra safety measures in place including a one-way system. Once here, you can see the chimpanzees, giraffes, tigers, penguins, flamingos, rhinos and more. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll soon also be able to watch watch and listen to rangers giving live animal talks.
Tropical Bird, Desford
Ofter overlooked for the larger sites and attraction, this 6.5-acre sanctuary houses over 250 feathery residents, every square inch has been devoted to giving a home to some of the most alluring and captivating species from around the world. Pre-booking essential. Play area and cafe closed. Picnics welcome.
••• GET ACTIVE •••
Paddle this way for a champagne picnic on the River Soar or a twilight paddle to get your fix of fun before the sunsets. Let’s Get Lost Leicester are offering mini adventures on Leicestershire’s waterways from 27 June where groups of 6 can hire out kayaks or up to a group of 5 with a tour guide. Bookings can be done online.
••• OUTDOOR THEME PARKS and PLAY AREAS •••
Visit Conkers, Moira Nr. Ashby-de-la-Zouch
An award-winning attraction at the heart of the National Forest. This outdoor park has a mix of both indoor and outdoor experiences and there’s currently an 80% ticket discount! With woodland and trails to explore, lakes, ponds and play areas, there’s so much to see, do and explore outdoor but the fun doesn’t stop there. Visit the Waterside & Discovery Centres with the 4D Cinema. NB Indoor play area warren tunnels and the ropes course are closed. Pre-booking essential.
Battle Royale, Cattows Farm
Fans of Fortnite and Warzone can take part in a real-life Battle Royale. Choose your favourite weapon, gather your squad and prepare for battle as this popular outdoor lazer tag experience, is heading to Cattows Farm during the month of August. There will be two themed arenas and kids can participate in a choice of 3 games and there will be Covid guidance and safety in places. Food and drink will also be available, suitable for kids 6+ and tickets cost £17.50. Grab your slot here.
TwinLakes, Melton Mowbray
This local theme park is a great day out for the entire family. Set in over 100 acres of Leicestershire there’s tonnes of rides for the kids to go wild o. Attractions include a a mini railway, a labyrinth, a bird centre, roller coaster ‘Rum Runner’, and lots more fun stuff to keep the kids busy. The water rides and some outdoor attractions are not yet open. Pre-booking essential.
National Space Centre, Leicester
They’re planning to open back up on 8 August so you’ll still have plenty of time to visit before school starts. Expect lots of fun events planned as I’m sure they’ve missed you as much as you’ve missed them.
••• PARKS, GARDENS & HERITAGE SITES •••
Rockingham Gardens, Market Harborough
The glorious gardens are now open to visit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 10.30 – 4.30pm. Tickets must be pre-booked in advance obvs and refreshments will be available from the Takeout Tea Room. There are some 18 acres of gardens largely following the foot print of the medieval castle. The vast 400 year old “Elephant Hedge” bisects the formal 17th century terraced gardens. Wild Garden includes many trees and shrubs including the remarkable Handkerchief Tree.
Foxton Locks, Market Harborough
Foxton Locks is open and has been pretty much throughout lockdown. The car parks and toilets are open as are both cafes on-site but the museum and pub, Foxton Locks Inn are closed. The locks are home to two amazing feats of engineering in the heart of Leicestershire inc the longest and steepest staircase locks in the UK – a magnificent, if slightly weird, piece of Victorian engineering. If you didn’t know, now you do! Grab a spot and enjoy a picnic while here.
It’s hard to find a more beautiful spot than Bradgate Park. It’s now open again so you can cycle past the ruins of the former home of Lady Jane Grey or watch the herds of deer roam the historic parkland. Parking charges apply.
An opportunity to explore the historic site where King Richard III died in battle. Walk the 2km Battlefield Trail with panoramic views over the landscape and audio and visual information about the battle and fab network of footpaths. Entrance to the Country Park is free but there is a £2.50 parking charge.
As a remnant of the Charnwood Forest Oak Woods, Swithland consists principally of mature oak, birch, alder and lime, which support a rich variety of butterflies, moths and birds. There’s a good network of waymarked footpaths and riding tracks extend throughout the wood and link directly to Bradgate Park.
Great place to stretch your legs and you can also run and cycle here. Families visiting the park can enjoy picnics and King Lear’s Lake.
Even though the castle is closed, the gardens are now open to enjoy at the weekend and kids get in free. The Japanese Woodland features over 250 specimen camellias to admire along with tree magnolias, specimen hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons, snake-bark and Japanese maples, and various bamboos. There’s also the Duchess and Formal Garden, where the roses were planted by Emma, the current Duchess of Rutland.
This country park sits within the National Forest and amazingly is situated on the site of a former open cast mine. Today you can see the River Sence and three major lakes here all of which attract a wide variety of wildfowl. Large areas of the site are planted with Corsican pine, larch and poplars. Meadows and open glades in the woodland also provide habitats for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects and butterflies.
Gorgeous gardens to enjoy here – parts of the original 1802 gardens remain, but much of the 15 acres of mixed woodland and garden areas was laid out much later. There’s trails leading through shaded trees as well as a myriad of paths lead through the woodland garden, abundance of flowering shrubs and ornamental trees. £5 entry and kids free.
Market Bosworth Country Park, Bosworth
With its gorgeous open grassland, this park is perfect for family activities (bring your own ball) plus there’s lots of paths for walking and jogging and a designated area for picnics. Enjoy the splashes of colour from the wild flower area. For seasoned walkers, enjoy the path south to the village of Sutton Cheney, walk the towpath of the Ashby canal or ride on the Battlefield line railway which terminates at Shenton station. Parking £2.50.
Welland Park, Market Harborough
Another luscious local green park to enjoy with tonnes of facilities inc a skate park, tennis courts, table tennis zone and more. While all the facilities may not be open, you can still admire the rose and sensory gardens. Public toilets are open and there are two car parks both with a 4-hour waiting limit – plenty of time to laze around in the open grassy spaces enjoy picnics should you like.
••• FLICKS •••
Adventure Drive-in, Peterborough (Aug 21-23), Birmingham (July 23-26) and Nottingham (Aug 4-9)
Three days of classic and new flicks. Bring your own food and drink and don’t forget the popcorn! On-site toilets available handy if you need to stretch your legs. Catch Back to the Future, Dirty Dancing, Joker and even Lion King for the kiddies in Peterborough and over in Notts you can see Labyrinth, Cool Runnings, The Never Evening Story and more.
The Fleckney Group, Market Harborough
Leicestershire drive-in takes place in Market Harborough Showground later this summer. Films will be show between 21- 23 Aug and include Joker, Toy Story, Grease and more and tickets will be priced at £35 per car for up to 4 occupants and £40 for 5 or more occupants. More info can be found here.
••• WALKING & CYCLING •••
Set on a former coal mining site that has been totally transformed by new plantings and exciting trails for you to enjoy. Walkers and cyclists will be pleased to know the the trails are now open and there’s a range for beginner to intermediate appetites. NB the cafe, horse loop and play area are closed.
Burrough Hill Country Park, Melton Mowbray
One of the most striking and historic features in the landscape of eastern Leicestershire, this park includes the well-preserved Iron Age hill fort which comes with great views if you can manage to climb the 210m (690f). If you still want to stretch your legs, extend your walk and visit the lovely Melton Country Park where there are a number of nice footpaths to follow around the pretty lakes.
Woodhouse Eaves and Beacon Hill
A six mile walk with some steep hills that can take up to 5 hours. See walk here. This walk takes in some of the best views in Leicestershire. Pass by craggy rocks, up through Beacon Hill where you can spot wooden sculptures and don’t miss the view from Bucks Hills.
Hambleton Peninsula, Rutland
A moderate, mostly flat with a couple of hills. A four mile route taking five hours. View walk here. Good for leisurely walkers and dogs. and even though Rutland may be the smallest county in England, you definitely don’t disappoint. This beautiful circular walk follows the edge of Hambleton Peninsula – a bit of land protruding into Rutland Water.
Rutland Water Rutland
Enjoy an almost-flat, mostly traffic-free trail with the kids around this beautiful man made reservoir. Start near Rutland Cycling on the north shore of the water and head anticlockwise. You’ll pass Rutland Water and also head into Normanton. There’s plenty of opportunity for a snack or two en route including a stop at the Horse and Jockey pub in Manton which also has outdoor seating.