After what can only be described as a bit of a washout last week and being half way (yes half way!!) through the holidays, I decided to draft a list of local places you can visit to jazz up your summer holidays and hopefully make it easier to entertain your little ones. I’m lucky enough to live bordering quite a few counties, so I’m able to visit Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Rutland all within a 20 minute car journey. I’ve sectioned them by county and have tried to include information from my own visits, although there are some I have not yet visited!
Ferry Meadows – Ham Lane, Peterborough, PE2 5UU. Parking – £1.50 for the first hour, 50p per half an hour after that. Ferry Meadows country park is a great place to blow away the cobwebs. There are plenty of play park areas, a sand pit, and a small water park area. There is also a train ride (surcharge applies) and plenty of grass to run around, play football or have a picnic in. Lakeside offers an array of light bites, coffees, drinks and ice cream; and the Visitor Centre has activities on offer for children throughout the summer holidays.
Peterborough Museum – Priestgate, Peterborough, PE1 1LF. Free admission. There are three floors of interesting artefacts and information at Peterborough Museum, including a fantastic area on the history of Peterborough. My two loved pottering around when we have visited before when we needed to kill a few hours. There is also a lovely coffee shop on site.
Sacrewell Farm – Thornhaugh, Peterborough, PE8 6HJ. Admission prices: Adult £7, Child (2-13) £10, Under 2 FREE. Sacrewell Farm is just off both the A1 and A47 but is packed with exciting things to do. There are lots of animals to visit and some you can pet, and a newly restored Mill. The main attraction for me is the ‘Playbarn’, a huge barn filled with soft play. It is fantastic with 3 distinct areas, there are plenty of picnic tables inside the play barn as well as toilets and a cafe which is open during most of the summer holidays. Best to arrive early to avoid crowding in the play barn and to get a table for lunch!
Hill Farm P.Y.O. – Oundle Road, Chesterton, Peterborough, PE7 3UA. Admission prices: FREE. Hill Farm is one of our local ‘Pick Your Own’ farms. Although the strawberry crop has now finished, their summer fruiting raspberries are ready. A great bit of fun for the kids, and there’s a cafe and play area on site too! Please check their website or Facebook page before travelling as they update the levels of crop available and you wouldn’t want to be disappointed when you turn up.
Hamerton Zoo – Hamerton, Sawtry, Cambs, PE28 5RE. Admission prices: Adult £14.99, Child (3-12) £9.99, Under 3 FREE. Although technically in Huntingdonshire, I thought Hamerton Zoo was a worthy addition. A small, yet perfectly formed zoo with many exciting animals such as tigers, and cheetahs, as well as monkeys, meerkats, lots of birds and a small farmyard. There is a wonderful play park and a cafe on site, although I have found the cafe to get very busy and always take my own picnic. There are plenty of tables to sit at and high chairs available as well as plenty of green space to sit and eat.
Flag Fen – The Droveway, Northey Road, Peterborough , PE6 7QJ. Admission prices: Adults £6, Child £4. There are twelve acres of history and archaeology at Flag Fen and lots of activities to entertain your little ones. During the summer holidays, the ‘Big Dig’ tent is open to children as well as a play area for younger ones. There is also a cafe on site for that all important caffeine hit!
Van Hage Garden Centre, Peterborough One Retail Park– Van Hage, Peterborough, PE1 4YZ. Admission: FREE. Throughout the summer holidays, there is an outdoor beach and a Gruffly inspired soft play kid zone (under 5′ only) at Van Hage Garden Centre. There are also plenty of shops for Mummy to peruse. Van Hage has a lovely cafe with a great array of snacks, lunches and drinks and at reasonable prices too.
Nene Valley Railway – NVR, Wansford Station, Stibbington, PE8 6LR. Admission prices: Adult £16, Child £8.00, Under 3 FREE. Nene Valley Railway is the home of Thomas the Tank in Peterborough. A trip to NVR wouldn’t be complete without a ride on Thomas. You can take a trip to Ferry Meadows (see above) as well as look around the Station at all the steam engines. There is a cafe on site which stocks a range of lunches, snacks, drinks and ice creams.
Big Sky – Wainman Road, Peterborough, PE2 7BU. Admission prices: Adults £1.75, Child (4-12) £7.95, Under 4’s £5.95, Under 1’s £3.00. Big Sky is Peterborough’s Soft play centre. Although I love soft play, I am still yet to visit hear, however, I have head GREAT things. As well as traditional soft play, there is also a climbing wall, rides, cars and trampolines. It is split into 0-3 and 4-11 areas as well as the rides. On site, there is free parking and a cafe which offers coffees, cakes and other delights. There are plenty of seats to rest whilst your children run around!
Bretton Water Park – Flaxland, Peterborough. Admission: FREE. Although I have never been (little H is somewhat wary of water), this place looks awesome. I have friends who have visited who say it is great. A big play area with soft playground floor with lots of fountains. Non toilet trained children must be wearing a swim nappy, if you forget, you can purchase one from the attendant. When researching information online, there is little about Bretton Water Park, I couldn’t even find an address!! However, once you have turned on Flaxland in Bretton and gone past the Aldi, it is signposted. Worth a look for sure, although you would need a sunny day!
Crazy Golf at Dobbies – Phorpes Way, Cygnet Park, Hampton, PE7 8NY. Admission prices: Adults £4.50, child £3.50. As far as I am aware, Crazy Golf at Dobbies is relatively new (I could be wrong!). I love a trip to Dobbies especially if it includes a coffee and cake from their delicious cafe! We are yet to take ours to play crazy golf (I think L might be a bit young at 22 months, and I fairly certain someone would end up being hit with a golf club!), but the course looks great fun, and the pricing isn’t too bad. A trip into Dobbies is always fun especially to have a look at the fish and small animals in the pet zone.
Bounce – Wedgwood Way, Peterborough, PE3 8AY. Admission prices: Adults and 5y+ £9.99, Child 3-4y £4.99 per hour, each hour after £4.99. (Please note, these are online prices, £2 surcharge for walk in prices), you must also purchase Bounce grip socks for £1.99 if this is your first visit. ‘Bounce‘ looks super fun, but I am yet to take H and L, although I am adamant they will have an amazing time (if their jumping on my bed is anything to go by), but I am petrified of a broken bone (silly I know!). Friends who have visited (both young and more mature) have had a whale of a time, and I am sure this would be fantastic on a wet and miserable August day!
West Lodge Rural Centre – Back Lane, Desborough, NN14 2SH. Admission prices: Adult £7.45, Child £7.45, Under 2’s FREE (cheaper if you pre-book online). Hidden away off the Main Street is West Lodge Rural Centre, but boy is it packed with things to see and do. Each day there are time lots for small animal petting, pony rides, tractor rides, lamb/kid feeding, piglet racing and much much more. There is an amazing playground with a ‘castle’ as my son calls it. As it is a working farm, there are plenty of animals to see including goats (animal feed is just 30p a bag!), pigs, chickens, geese and ducks, cows, and ponies. Around the farm, there is an area for den building, a big sand pit and a fantastic play area. There are picnic tables in abundance as well as a cafe on site which has a delicious lunches, cakes and a great selection of drinks. New in October 2017 was an indoor Adventure Barn which is AMAZING! Words don’t do it justice, but do read my previous review here. Well worth a visit!
Top Lodge, Fineshade Woods – Fineshade, Corby, NN17 3BB. Admission prices: FREE, parking £3 for 4 hours or £5 for 12 hours. Just a stones throw from where we live, we are lucky enough to be able to walk to Fineshade Woods. There are plenty of trails and tracks throughout the woods which are perfect for cycling or just pushing the pushchair. Beside the cafe (which sells a great range of sandwiches, panini’s, cakes and drinks) there is a play area perfect for toddlers, however, there is a more adventurous play area a short walk away. Finished Woods is also the home of the Gruffalo trail, activity packs are just £3.
Kings Cliffe Underground Centre – Church Walk, Kings Cliffe, PE8 6XD. Admission prices: £2. I am fortunate enough to live close by, so I get to use the Underground quite a bit. There is so much going on for children and young families. There is something on everyday of the week. My favourite sessions are Tiddler’s Cafe and Play (£2): lots of toys for children and tea/coffee for Mums and Dads (Monday and Wednesday), and Messy Play on Thursdays is fabulous too. Search the underground centre on Facebook.
Barnwell Country Park – Barnwell Road, Oundle. Admission prices: FREE, Parking £3 for 12 hours. Barnwell offers a variety of things and my two always have a lovely day when we visit. There is a great, large, and open play area including a sand pit, little houses and zip wire/ pulley; and new for Summer 2018 a water play area. There are plenty of walks around the various lakes, with lots of birds to look out for. I am yet to see a Kingfisher although I don’t think I have the patience to sit and watch! After your walk, you can sit down on one of the many picnic tables and have a picnic, or the Kingfisher Cafe offers a great range of snacks, lunches and drinks. After your picnic, the Visitor Centre is open throughout the summer which has interesting facts to learn and often craft paper and pencils for your budding Picasso’s.
Lyveden New Bield – Nr Oundle, PE8 5AT. Admission prices: £6.40, Under 18’s and NT members FREE. One of my best most recent purchases has been a National Trust Membership. I have been to Lyveden New Bield once before to run a 10k would you believe, but I only recently visited with my children this Summer. We went during the May half term on a gorgeous sunny day when they had various activities for the children. We did pond dipping and wandered around the house. Lyveden is an incomplete Elizabethan house. Throughout August, there is ‘Wild Wednesdays’ (see their website for more details). No trip to Lyveden is complete without sampling one of their delicious cream teas for me and a chocolate brownie for the children. Well worth a visit!!
Cheeky Monkees – Curie Courtyard, Cockerell Road, Corby, NN17 5DU. Admission prices: £5.50, Under 1’s FREE. Cheeky Monkees is Corby’s answer to a soft play barn. The centre is split into four sections: Babies area, Under 3’s area, Play frame and Sports area. Having these sections are great and helps keep all age groups occupied. The baby area is great as it is all padded and has various toys to keep your little ones entertained. The play frame should keep even the most active soft play go-ers amused. There is also a cafe on site which sells a variety of lunches, drinks and snacks.
Savoy Cinema – Parkland Gateway, George Street, Corby, NN17 1QG. Admission prices: Adult £7.95, Child £5.95. The Savoy Cinema is lovely and clean inside, and the seats are comfortable with cup holders. One of my favourite features of this cinema is they do ‘couples’ chairs, two seats in one so you can sit and snuggle with your other half or your children. This is perfect for young ones to sit and snuggle with their parents as I know most children don’t love that the chairs fold up! Another great thing about the Savoy is the ‘Kid’s Club’ screenings. These are £1.95 for all children AND accompanying adults, perfect if its your child’s first visit to the cinema. Check the website for screenings.
East Carlton Country Park – Church Lane, East Carlton, Market Harborough, LE16 8YA. Admission: FREE. A stone’s throw from the pool is East Carlton Country Park. This is a great park for a run around and play. The parking is free, there is a cafe, fantastic playground, lots of walks and green space, and a duck pond to feed the ducks. A lovely venue for a walk, picnic and play.
Sywell Country Park – Washbrook Lane, Ecton, Northampton, NN6 0QX. Admission: FREE, Parking £3 for 4 hours or £5 for 12 hours. Similar to Barnwell with its walks, lakes and play areas. If you don’t mind travelling a little further, its worth a trip and then there’s always Beckworth Emporium for afternoon tea afterwards (its on my bucket list!!).
Swimming @ Corby International Pool – Parkland Gateway, George Street, Corby, NN17 1QG. Admission prices: Adults £4.40, Child £2.60, Under 5 FREE. Corby International Pool is by far one of the best swimming pools I’ve been to especially for children. There is a small 20m learner pool, as well as a 50m eight lane traditional pool, diving boards and the best bit is the fun splash pirate themed pool complete with slide and pirate ship. The changing facilities are unisex and include big family changing rooms with changing tables in, FAB! Corby pool offers fantastic Mum friendly facilities including a creche. The creche is £3.10 for an hour, I have used the facility for both of my children and they have enjoyed their time in there. One of their most useful features is ‘Swing and Bring’: this is the opportunity to have 60 minutes of Mummy time whilst your children play in the creche, they will then bring your children down to the pool for some fun. Check out their webpage for more details and the full swimming timetable.
Lodge Park Sports Centre – Shetland Way, Corby, NN17 2SG. Admission prices: various. Lodge Park is a big sports centre in Corby. Lots of the activities run alongside the activities on offer at the pool. I have taken H to a gymnastics session when L was little and it was fabulous, he loved it! Over the summer break, they are running similar sessions: “Soft Play Sessions’, these run on Thursdays 10am-12pm. They are designed for children from crawling – 6 years and are £3 per child or £5 per family. A wet Thursday is all you need!
Wicksteed Park -Admission prices: £6 to park all day; Adult £15, Child £18, Mini-me (0.9-1.0m tall) £15. Wicksteed Park is basically a theme park. Lots of rides, play areas, water play and good old family fun. Be aware, that to go on some rides you have to purchase and use ‘tokens’ as well. They start at £22 for 20 tokens.
Oundle Library – Glapthorn Rad, Oundle, PE8 4JA. Admission prices: FREE. Bundle library has updated its children’s section of late, and it is really fab. There are some tables set up with a few toys and the book supply is great. If me and the kids are at a loose end, we often drive over for an hour or so and take out a few books. But the next treat is a real child pleaser. Just next door (although not part of the library) is ‘The Hub’ at Fletton House. This place does DELICIOUS cake and really good cakes and sandwiches. If you’re lucky enough, there’s a little spot in the corner with some toys, sofas and books which are great for entertaining the little ones whilst you sip your coffee and if you’re like me….stuff as much cake in my mouth before the kids notice!!
Stanwick Lakes – Rockingham Forest Trust, Stannic Lakes, Stanwick, NN9 6GY. Admission prices: FREE; however car park charges apply. Stanwick Lakes is a wonderful attraction virtually on our doorstep in Northamptonshire. There is a fantastic adventure playground to keep your little ones entertained which does include some water play so be prepared and take puddle suits or spare clothes/shoes. In addition to the fantastic playground, there is also loads of events going on throughout the summer, but do check their website as booking may be essential and age limits may apply.
The Yard – Unit 2, West Street, Stamford, PE9 2PL. Admission prices: Adult free, Child (2-7) £4.50, Under 2’s £3, Under 6 months FREE. The Yard is Stamford’s answer to soft play. It is a really well thought out space with plenty of space to sit and drink coffee, and a fantastic set up for the children which isn’t too big that they get lost. The drinks and cake here are delicious too. The one downside of the Yard is the parking or lack of. If you’re prepared to park elsewhere and walk, then this is perfect.
Burghley House Gardens – Burghley House, Stamford, PE9 3JY. Admission prices: Adult £12 Child (3+) £8. Although you can wander around Burghley Park for free, it is well worth a trip into the Gardens at least once this summer particularly if we get a sunny day (we can wish!). Burghley are repeating last years epic deal, they will automatically convert your ticket to an annual pass, so you can re-visit for free anytime (during opening periods, check their website for details) for 365 days after purchasing your ticket. In the gardens, you will find: sculptures, lovely walks, a lake, picnic spots, and the real draw is the ‘Gardens of Surprise’ which are lots of lovely water fountains and cool water features. My two have grown to like it, but it is always a stressful visit for me as they always seem to run in opposite directions! I don’t like to go without the back-up of another set of eyes! It is a really lovely day out especially if the weather is nice and a promise of an ice-cream at the end!
My Artful Splodger – West Street, Stamford, PE9 2PS. Admission prices: £7 per session. A relatively new thing (I think), My Artful Splodger looks like it would be really good fun, and best bit: NO CLEARING UP at the end for you! There are lots of different themes and activities on offer, including: play doh, shaving foam, crafts, water and much more. All the children will be given a drink and a biscuit and the parents get that all important tea or coffee! Booking is essential so have a look at their Facebook page for more details.
Swimming @ Stamford Leisure Pool – Drift Road, Stamford, PE9 1UZ. Admission prices: Adult £4.90, Child £3.25, Under 5’s £0.80. Stamford Leisure Pool is the council run pool in Stamford. There is a large pool, small splash pool, wave machine and slide. Changing facilities are clean and adequate. Check out their website for the swim timetable.
Belton House – Belton House, Grantham, NG32 2LS. Admission prices: Adult £15, Child £9.60, Under 5’s and NT members: FREE. Belton House is AMAZING! After visiting Belton once with my sister and her children, I immediately signed myself and my husband up to be members. The Adventure playground here is fabulous, relatively new, but superbly designed! Their is a small cafe and toilets on site at the cafe, a mega plus for potty training toddlers! There is so much on offer at the playground, that on my first visit we didn’t manage to see it all. For a small charge, you can ride on the miniature train which H loves. As with Lyveden, there are some fun activities on offer on Wednesdays in their ‘Wild Wednesday’s’. Towards the house, the gardens are well worth a look round or for a sit down and/or picnic. In the courtyard, there is the Ride Play Cafe, a smaller indoor playground, perfect if its a little chilly. At weekends and during school holidays, the Discovery Centre is open which offers craft activities and on special holidays (Easter/Christmas) there are usually some extra special activities. I could go on, but we love it. Definitely worth a trip.
Stamford Children’s Centre – Green Lane, Stamford, PE9 1HE. Admission: free although there may be charges for some activities. Similar to a library, Stamford Children’s Centre offer a vast timetable of activities throughout the week. I am yet to visit (our holiday schedule seems to getting busy!), but Wednesday’s keep appealing to me as they have their ‘Story Box’ hour from 10-11am which involves reading a story and having a play related to the story. We love a bedtime story in our house, and some of the featured stories (follow them on Facebook) have been some of our firm favourites.
Grimsthorpe Castle and Gardens – Grimsthorpe Estate, Bourne, PE10 0LY. Admission prices: Adult £6, Child (5-18) £2.50, Under 5’s FREE. I’ve never been to Grimsthorpe Castle, but stumbled across it whilst doing some research for this post. It looks a bit like a combination of Burghley and Belton House. There are toilets and a cafe on site, as well as cycle hire. A big plus for young families is the adventure playground which includes the usual suspects: zip wire, slides, swings, climbing towers, etc etc. Check the opening times before going as Grimsthorpe is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.
Bowthorpe Park Farm – Manthorpe, Bourne, PE10 0JG. Admission prices: Adult £4.50, Child £3.50, TWO and UNDER: FREE. Bowthorpe is on my list, as it seems really good value for money. Although not open all the time (just weekends). Bowthorpe is famous for its Oak Tree which is thought to be over 1000 years old; but if an old tree doesn’t float your boat, then you’ll be able to see various animals and have a wander around the grounds.
Woolsthorpe Manor – Water Lane, Grantham, NG33 5PD. Admission prices: Adult £3.59, Child £2.50. Woolsthorpe Manor is on my list of places to visit. As you’ve already seen, we love a National Trust place! For those of you who don’t know, Woolsthorpe Manor is the childhood home of Sir Isaac Newton (yes, the one who discovered gravity), in fact, that very apple tree is in the gardens. During the summer holidays, there are workshops on Wednesdays. At the manor, there is a ‘science centre’ which looks great and very interactive for young and inquisitive minds. Naturally, like all NT properties, it wouldn’t be complete without a delicious cafe, and this one looks to be famous for its soup and science! Looks like it would be a great trip!
RUTLAND and LEICESTERSHIRE:
Bugtopia – Sykes Lane, Empingham, LE15 8QL. Admission prices: Adult £7.50, Child £6.50, Under 2’s FREE. Great for a rainy day, I took H a while ago now when Lwas still quite little. I was able to wheel the pushchair round with ease which was a plus. There’s an inside section before going ‘out’ into the rainforest section. There’s some really cool dragons and other creatures in enclosures, but the exciting bit is seeing the butterflies and other insects flying around free. The staff here are very knowledgable and most approachable for any questions. The only downside is there isn’t anywhere to have a picnic/packed lunch inside, but there are plenty of picnic tables at the play area just across the car park.
Rutland Water Beach -Sykes Lane, Empingham, LE15 8QL. Admission prices: free, but car parking charges apply. Rutland Water has a lot to offer and the man made beach they introduced a few years back has been a fantastic addition. My two love the beach, but I can’t face the 1.5hrs trip to Norfolk for the day by myself, so this is ideal as its only down the road. Take a picnic and your bucket and spade and enjoy the sun! For those of you who have older children, you may be interested in the Rutland Aqua Park, or if you fancy an afternoon child free! A crazy floating obstacle course, I definitely want to have a go, but need to get organised and book it!
Oakham Castle – Castle Grounds, Market Place, Oakham, LE15 6DR. Admission prices: FREE. Set in the beautiful market town of Oakham, Oakham Castle is a lovely way to occupy the children for a couple of hours. They are very family friendly here with lots of things to entertain your little ones with a dressing up box for all your budding knights, colouring books, stories, quizzes and trails. Most days, there is even self service tea and coffee! Oakham also has plenty of lovely cafes for that all important sugar fix, did I mention I love cake!
Rutland Farm Park – Uppingham Road, Oakham, LE15 6JD. Admission: Adult £6, Child (3-12) £5.00 and Under 3 FREE. Recently re-opened (September 2017), Rutland Farm Park is a great attraction, offering good value for money. Theres a large variety of animals to see including the usual suspects as well as alpacas and llamas, but there is also a tea room on site which offers a good range of food including afternoon tea.
National Space Centre – Exploration Drve, Leicester, LE4 5NS. Admission prices: Adult £14.00, Child £11.00, Under 5’s FREE. This is on my bucket list for the summer holidays! The National Space Centre looks great. There is lots of activities going on over the summer, and tonnes of interactive things to look at for inquisitive minds.
Twin Lakes – Melton Spinney Road, Melton Mowbray, LE14 4SB. Admission prices: Adult £19.99, Child (108cm+) £19.99, Child (95cm-108cm) £9.99, Under 95cm FREE. Similar to Wicksteed, just another county, Twin Lakes in Melton Mowbray looks to be a fantastic day out, particularly if you have an older child. If the website is anything to go by, then it looks like psychedelic fun, which, lets face it, every child adores! Take a peek at their website for more details.
Twycross Zoo – Burton Road, Atherstone, CV9 3PX. Admission prices: Adult £16.80, Child (3-18) £12.48, Under 3’s FREE. Although technically in Warwickshire, Twycross Zoo is worth a look. There is a large range of animals to look at as well the traditional smaller animals, but also on site is a soft play centre, complete with cafe! The soft play centre is £4.50, but free if you have paid to go into the zoo. Use their website to book tickets and have a look at what’s on offer.
Mini Monsters – Long Row Business Park, Long Row, Oakham, LE15 6LN. Admission prices: Adults FREE, Child (2-7yrs) £4.95, Under 2’s £2.95, Under 6 months FREE. Mini Monsters is Oakham’s answer to soft play. Friends who have been say it is clean and good fun the cafe provides a variety of delicious snacks and worth a trip
THANK YOU for taking the time to read such a lengthy post. I have enjoyed researching all the places on my doorstep, and I hope you get some enjoyment and inspiration from reading it.
Disclaimer: please check prices on individual websites before you travel.