Leicester, UK

Summer Holiday Fun: Top Ten Cheap Days Out in Leicestershire*

If, like me, you're waiting until September for your summer holiday this year, the months of July and August can seem like a drag. This is especially the case if you've poured your savings into your holiday fund and find yourself without any spare cash to keep you or your family entertained before your break. If you do end up experiencing money worries, there are always helpful debt solutions from Creditfix to turn to, but it needn't be this way. Leicestershire locals such as myself have a huge array of free or cheap days out at our fingertips, but to help those who are lacking in inspiration, I've put together a top ten list of great value destinations with some help from a few other local bloggers. Every attraction featured in this post comes in at under £30, so get ready to embrace the UK summer without harming your bank balance!

1) Wistow Maze, Leicester

The Wistow Maze is a late summer opening but according to Molly from Molly Day Dreams, it is definitely worth the wait. The Maze bills itself as being excellent exercise for the mind and the body. It challenges visitors to make their way through 8 acres of living maize and sunflower crops, seeking out 12 quiz boards as they go. As well as the main maze (which is shaped like an astronaut this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon), there is an Activity Funyard for younger people. This is complete with 6 minute mazes and a space hopper track. The maze opens on 20th July and is sure to be as popular as ever.

The Wistow Maze can be found at Kibworth Road, Leicester, LE8 0QF.
Prices: Adult (£6.95), Children 13 and under (£5.95), Family ticket (£24.00).
Parking: Free.

2) University of Leicester Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden is an oasis of calm located a 12 minute drive outside of Leicester city centre. I've visited many times in the past and almost always found it deserted. There are 16 acres to explore including an arboretum, rock gardens, a water garden, and glasshouses containing alpine, desert, and Mediterranean plants. The Gardens first opened in 1921 and their history is alluded to in the restored Edwardian formal garden. The Gardens also have a book-swap tucked away in a wooden shed, and they provide a lovely venue for taking photographs too. I've done plenty of outfit shoots in the grounds before, including for my winter wardrobe post.

The University of Leicester Botanic Garden can be found at Glebe Road, Leicester, LE2 2LD.
Prices: Free for all.
Parking: Free street parking available adjacent to the entrance.

3) Bradgate Park, Leicester

Bradgate Park was first enclosed as a deer park around 800 years ago and it still lives up to this heritage today. Wild deer still live in the park now! They are not troubled by the presence of human visitors and you will often find yourself sitting in quite close proximity to them if you take a rest on your walk. The Park also boasts the ruins of a 16th century house believed to be the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey! With 830 acres to explore, you'll need to visit Bradgate Park many times before you discover all of its secrets. Emily from Recipes and Reviews also recommends grabbing a slice of cake at the nearby Grey Lady Deli.

Bradgate Park is located on the edge of Charnwood Forest, 6 miles north-west of Leicester.
Prices: Free for all.
Parking: There are multiple car parks, so check the Bradgate Park website to find your most convenient option.
Monday – Friday (£3.00), Weekends and Bank Holidays (£4.00).

4) Stoneywell National Trust, Markfield

Anyone who knows me will be well aware of my love for the National Trust. I've been a member for years now and I always love exploring new properties. Leicestershire and the surrounding area have many to offer, including Calke Abbey and Wightwick Manor. Next on my NT bucket list, however, is Stoneywell. Stoneywell offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time and experience for themselves the Arts and Crafts movement of 1880-1920. Throughout July, Stoneywell are also inviting their younger visitors to take on a "50 Things" challenge, where they are encouraged to embark on 50 outdoorsy adventures before they turn 11 and ¾!

Stoneywell National Trust can be found at Whitcroft's Lane, Markfield, LE67 9QE.
Prices: Adult (£9.50), Child (£4.70), Family (£23.70). Free for National Trust members.
Parking: Small car park available on-site. 

5) New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester

Since the weather isn't always guaranteed to be delightful this summer, I am also suggesting three indoor adventures to keep everyone entertained. The first is New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, one of my personal Leicester highlights. The Museum has recently revamped its Ancient Egypt galleries with new mummy displays and it looks absolutely fantastic. There's a dressing up area for kids and well thought out child-height display cases, but the interpretations are still interesting and engaging if you're visiting as an adult. The Museum's summer exhibition, running from 8th June to 22nd September, will feature a portrait of King Richard III, the remains of whom were famously discovered in a car park in central Leicester. The painting is on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London and is not to be missed!

New Walk Museum & Art Gallery can be found at 53 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 7EA.
Prices: Free for all.
Parking: The museum is best reached on foot. The nearest car park is next to the train station, full details on the NCP website.

6) Treetop Adventure Golf, Leicester

The Treetop Adventure Golf course is a relatively new addition to Leicester, opening just last month. Already, it's gaining a great reputation as an entertainment venue; I've heard some very positive things about it. At Treetop, you can tee off on one of two 18-hole Amazon themed courses. There's the Tropical Trail, where you are serenaded by singing barbershop frogs on your journey, or you can choose the Ancient Explorer, where you'll make your way through the Cloud Village and a crumbling temple with a ghostly presence. The venue comes complete with a bar (and an extensive cocktail menu) so it's the perfect venue for a date.

Treetop Adventure Golf can be found at Highcross, 3 Shires Lane, Leicester, LE1 4AN. 
Prices: Adults (£9.00), Children 5 and under (£4), Family ticket (£29.50).
Parking: Prices start at £3.50 for up to 2 hours. Full details on the Highcross website.

7) Boost Trampoline Park, Leicester

If you're looking for some seriously high-octane fun, you can't go wrong at the Boost Trampoline Park. I visited with my sister a few months ago. As well as the obvious giant trampolines, you can also try out basketball hoops, a battle beam with foam pit, and interactive climbing walls. We booked a one-hour slot and found that to be sufficient to give all of the activities a try. There were plenty of younger kids enjoying the park at the same time as us but it definitely wasn't just for children. The only downside is the toilets: on the day of our visit, they obviously weren't being monitored very well and they were quite disgusting. While this might not be a regular thing, do take some hand sanitiser to be on the safe side!

Boost Trampoline Park can be found at 11 St George Street, Leicester, LE1 1QG. 
Prices: Off-peak (£5 per person), Peak (£10 per person).
Parking: Free on-site parking when you register at reception.

8) Gorse Hill City Farm, Leicester

Gorse Hill City Farm is working farm and community project dedicated to looking after a 100-strong family of animals, as well as providing a fun and educational experience for their visitors. The Farm comes highly recommended by Jamie and Tom from Daddy & Dad. Set within 20 acres of farmland, Gorse Hill's residents include sheep, donkeys, ponies, chickens, and fish. They also care for many rare breeds including Aylesbury ducks and Shetland cattle. Visiting is a really interactive and immersive experience, with everyone getting the chance to feed an animal with the Farm's special food, which is sold for just 50p a bag. The Farm is a registered charity and they do truly amazing work.

Gorse Hill City Farm can be found at Anstey Lane, Leicester, LE4 0FJ.
Prices: Adults (£3.00), Children 16 and under (£1.50), Children under 2 (free).
Parking: Parking available at the top of Anstey Lane.

9) Thornton Reservoir, Leicestershire

Megan from Megan Elizabeth Lifestyle loves visiting Thornton Reservoir for quality family time. The Reservoir is best known for fishing, bird watching, and for picturesque walks. The site is also brilliant for those with accessibility needs. There is a flat 2.5 mile track around the reservoir which is suitable for less mobile people and wheelchair users, and there is a woodland path also suitable for wheelchairs. Nobody will feel behind on this day out, even the family dog! Dogs are welcome at the Reservoir - fantastic for if you want to take your own pup along or whether you just want to meet plenty of others!

Thornton Reservoir can be found at Reservoir Road, Thornton, Leicestershire, LE67 1AR. 
Prices: Free for all.
Parking: Free.

10) Charnwood Forest Alpacas, Boundary

For the animal lovers out there, the East Midlands is full of treats. As well as Gorse Hill City Farm, Charnwood Forest Alpacas gives visitors the opportunity to meet some beautiful creatures in a safe and welfare-focused habitat. At Charnwood, visitors can stroll along a free farm paddock walk and see the alpacas out relaxing and playing in the fields. There's also the chance to meet the animals in the farmyard and feed them a few treats. If you have a little extra in your budget, you can also pay for a 90 minute alpaca walking experience at £35 a head. Definitely something to remember!

Charnwood Forest Alpacas can be found at Scamhazel Farm, Ashby Road, Boundary, DE11 7BA.
Prices: Free entry for all. Extras such as alpaca experiences can be purchased for an additional fee.
Parking: Free on-site parking. 

What are your favourite cheap or free attractions in your area? Let me know in the comments and I just might pay you a visit!

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