Muddy-approved attractions in Leicestershire
From the big-beast tourist destinations to our cool insider alternatives, read on for our pick of must-sees in the county.
Headliner: Bradgate Park, Swithland
Ahhh this much-loved park has it all – a whopping 830 acres of countryside within the city, a wild and rugged landscape with dramatic rocky outcrops and gnarled old oak trees, wild deer roaming around, pretty rivers sand shallow waterfalls, a play area, cafe and more. Don’t miss the ruins of the ancient brick-built country houses.
In-the-know intel: Watermead Country Park, Thurmaston
A great place to go for a bike ride, walk and picnic. It’s peaceful and pretty with great lake views, wildflower meadows, a thriving nature reserve and woodland walks where you can scramble around with the kids/dog/on your own and feel at one with nature. Other activities such as windsurfing, sailing and model boating can be enjoyed in the park through local clubs. All-day parking costs £2.50
Headliner – Stonehurst Farm, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire
This family-run farm is a real pleasure to visit. Explore the little farm, meet some of the little animals and a new “adventure trail” play area plus swing in the straw barn, hold baby animals, explore our nature trail and see what you can catch while pond dipping. When you’re done grab something to take away from the little farm café.
In-the-know intel: Windmill Park Farm, Kibworth
Barely open a year, this family farm park offers tonnes to do with the kids including the chance to see a variety of farm animals, a huge indoor play area, which has been designed to be as interactive as possible and there’s a dedicated under 2’s area. If that wasn’t enough there’s even a play windmill on site and an outdoor play area.
Headliner – National Space Centre, Leicester
One for all you boffins obsessed with all things space and science, the city’s much-loved space centre is the place to explore the UK’s largest domed planetarium, crammed full of space suits, rockets, satellites and meteorites. The rocket tower is also pretty impressive – home to two rockets and real moon rock.
In-the-know intel: Bosworth Heritage Centre
An interactive exhibition telling the story of the Battle of Bosworth, there are guided or self-led walks around the site to learn how King Richard III lost his life, crown and the throne of England to Henry Tudor. You can discover how archaeologists found the location of the battle and see some of the unique objects that were once lost. There are also a tonne of events that take place throughout the year.
Headliner – Ragdale, Melton Mowbray
Ooh, so where to start? The Thermal Spa at this award-winning spa is basically an indoor playground for adults. It features 12 luxurious and unique heat and water experiences. Plus, there’s also five other pool including a rooftop all set within 13-acres of glorious Leicestershire countryside. Once inside, you’ll probably find it hard to leave the serene, rural Victorian country house – so don’t; book one of the bedrooms and made a weekend of it! Read my review here.
In-the-know intel: Sketchley Grange Hotel and Spa, Hinckley
Overshadowed by the likes of Ragdale, the spa here is a great place to relax and unwind on a budget. You can spend the weekend here too or choose from a day spa package from as little as £35 per person. There’s also an indoor swimming pool, a sauna, steam room and gym.
Headliner: Market Bosworth Water Park
You may well find the shimmering waters hard to resist, but if you don’t fancy taking a dip you can stay safe and dry on the sandy banks here. Kids can have hours of fun whether its splashing around in the water, hiring a pedalo for the family, drying off and playing in the wooden pirate ship outdoors or in the golf park. Stay in one of the water lodges and make a staycation of it.
In-the-know intel: Hood Park Lido, Ashby
This fantastic outdoor facility – and the only one in the county – is the perfect place to enjoy the cooling water or relax by the poolside, it’s ideal for everyone, especially children and families and dare I say, can also be hired for private pool parties and other events. Meanwhile Melton Mowbray’s theme park, TwinLakes even has a tiny beach.
Headliner – St John’s House, Mountsorrel
Opened by John Duffin four years ago, John’s House is actually, well, John’s house. The characterful 16th century thatched building in the village of Mountsorrel is where John grew up and it has been cleverly transformed into a rustic, cosy restaurant. The restaurant gained a Michelin star within one year of opening and has managed to hang on to it ever since – pretty impressive I’d say and the only restaurant in the county to hold a star. Trouble is, tables are hard to come by. Book as far in advance as you can or try lunch which is a bargain at £26 for 2 courses or £30 for 3 course. Read my full review here.
In the know intel: Muddy’s top recommendations
We may not have any more Michelin stars but we have a great indie restaurant scene. From the likes of The Royal Oak in Long Whatton awarded an AA rosette four years on the trot and run by two brothers to Fourwards at Ashfields over in Earl Shilton run by husband and wife team, Adam and Stacey, we’ve still got plenty of fab places to enjoy a good dish or two.
Headliner – Leicester Museum and Art Museum, Leicester
Located on the historic and pretty New Walk road, you can enjoy art, history and science, for free and browse a range of exciting temporary exhibitions and permanent galleries dedicated to dinosaurs, ancient Egypt and the natural world. Right now you can catch Brick City – an exhibition dedicated to the world’s famous colourful LEGO brick.
In-the-know Intel: Mountsorrel Heritage Museum
This cutesy little museum is spread over two floors and you can find a history of the area. The railway operates a limited service by the Great Central Railway. There’s also a small garden railway, a jungle gym train outdoors for the kids plus, den building, an owl house and spooky woods for the kids to explore. There’s also Abbey Pumping Station and The Canal Museum at The BoilerHouse in Foxton, Market Harbs.
Headliner – Twycross Zoo, Atherstone
Who doesn’t love a good zoo? Explore the 100 acre, open-air zoo and discover over 500 animals of 125 different species inc zebras, monkeys, lemurs, chimpanzees and more. Let your little ones take the wheel of their own Safari Car as they take a trip around Explorer Zone, they can also enjoy the outdoor play area or indoor soft play.
In-the-know Intel: 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. Explore the parrot pathway, outdoor play areas and don’t miss those noisy but adorable goats.
Headliner: Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre
What’s your crack? Climbing, canoeing, kayaking? Book an outdoor course for you and your mates or the family. Learn something completely new or polish up your skills while embracing the Great Outdoors. There’s even a mahhosive outdoor climbing frame or a climbing club you can join. Plus paddle boarding, yoga, archery and more during the summer.
In-the-know Intel: Let’s Get Lost Leicester
Try a ‘Paddle to the Pub’ tour or a ‘Picnic and Bubble’ one with your besties. If you have the kids in tow, keep it simple and explore some of Leicestershire’s pretty waterways along the River Soar. Experience how to navigate and travel along the river while exploring its natural beauty.
Headliner: Rockingham Castle, Market Harborough
A former royal castle and hunting lodge built by William the Conqueror. The castle has dramatic views over the Welland Valley and on a good day you can see across five counties. The gardens are a must if you’re visiting and include the vast 400 year old “Elephant Hedge” bisects and the formal 17th century terraced gardens. Wild Garden includes many trees and shrubs including the remarkable Handkerchief Tree.
In-the-know- Intel: Ashby Castle, Ashby de la Zouch
What began as as a manor house in the 12th century turned into a beautiful castle. Owned once by Lord Hastings, learn more about the castle’s colourful history and climb the Hastings Tower to enjoy the views from the top. Don’t miss the underground passage between the tower and the kitchen. Open Weds- Sun. Adult £6.90, children 5-17 yrs £4.10, family £17.90.