This weekend we were invited to try a Stay, Play and Explore short break in Leicestershire.
For just £149 (£159 during bank holiday weekends) a family of 2 adults and 2 children can visit any 3 out of 10 exciting attractions and enjoy overnight accommodation including breakfast at a choice of 4 star family friendly hotels and for larger families like ours you can buy an additional child ticket for £20.
The attractions included are National Space Centre, Conkers, Twycross Zoo, Twinlakes Theme Park, Stonehurst Family Farm, Swadlincote Ski Centre, Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Bosworth Water Park and King Richard III Visitor Centre.
The attraction e-tickets are available to download and print once booking of your short break has been completed and are valid from the day of your stay until the end of 2017, so if you run out of time you can come back and use them another time.
We were booked to stay at the Hilton in Leicester, which was the perfect base for exploring the surrounding county and the fabulous attractions it has to offer.
We set off early and made the 3 hour journey from Dorset to Leicester with our first destination of the weekend the National Space Centre.
With the UK’s largest planetarium, six interactive galleries, unique 2D Simulator Experience and the iconic 42m high Rocket Tower, a visit to the National Space Centre is an out of this world experience.
The highlight of our visit for me is the ‘We are Stars’ show in the Planetarium which helps you understand the how the universe was formed, but the whole centre is well thought out and the kids loved the fact it was interactive throughout and enjoyed getting stuck in to various activities, including sending Daddy into space in the Gagarin Experience.
Isaac also got to present the weather forecast in a special pod and both him and Eliza took part in some astronaut training. Using various aptitude tests, the results were recorded on a ticket that the kids had to input before they answered the questions or did the activity. Isaac was selected to be an Engineering Officer and Eliza a Food Hygiene Officer.
We spent just under 4 hours in the National Space Centre before heading to our next destination – Bolsover Castle, just over the border in Derbyshire.
Bolsover Castle offers a real ‘WOW’ moment when it comes in to view and you can see it was designed to entertain and impress and the views from the top don’t disappoint either.
We wandered through the lavish rooms of the Little Castle with the kids chuckling away at the many paintings of naked ladies and delighting in a ghost story or too.
It was the exploring the romantic ruined terrace range that offered the most fun though, as they played hide and seek in all the nooks and crannies.
Oh, and don’t miss the cheeky fountain, which was designed around the statue of Venus – goddess of love and pleasure – emerging from her bath in the Fountain Garden.
It was then time to head back to the hotel ready for day 2 and Twycross Zoo.
Twycross Zoo is a medium-sized zoo which has the largest collection of monkeys and apes in the Western World but more excitingly for us, it is also the home to a herd of elephants.
The zoo offers large pathways to run around, interesting keeper talks and around 500 animals to see, all with clear information signs that tell you interesting facts about them, including if they are under threat from extinction.
You could easily spend all day at Twycross Zoo as it also has a couple of play parks for the kids to play in, a splash park for when it is warmer and lots of green space where you can stop for a picnic or just a rest. The only pay extra activity we found was the chance to feed the Lorikeets which cost an extra £1 per pot.
Our final destination of the weekend was Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire.
Kenilworth Castle has been linked with some of the most important names in English history and was a favoured residence of the Lancastrian kings. Today, with its Elizabethan gardens, its impressive Norman ‘keep’ and John of Gaunt’s Great Hall, it is the largest castle ruin in England, perfect for exploring.
The castle is sat on top of a large hill, perfect for rolling down and the kids made the most of the dry and sunny weather by rolling from the top to the bottom as well as clambering up the dark spiral staircases to take in the view from the top.
We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend away, it was the perfect mix of fun and education. Leicester is the perfect base for exploring the Midlands and we still have a play, stay, explore ticket to use so hopefully will be back soon for some more fun!
Please note that Bolsover Castle and Kenilworth Castle are not included as part of the Stay Play Explore ticket, we used our English Heritage annual passes.