If you’re looking for a family-friendly city break, think about visiting Leicester City, England. There are many free things to do in Leicester as well as family days out in the surrounding areas. So, why not plan a trip to see the Leicester landmarks with your kids.
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Leicester Location Map
Leicester can be found in the East Midlands in England, Western Europe, on the River Soar, north of Birmingham and South of Nottingham, near the National Forest. Many of the Leicester tourist attractions are located in the city centre, allowing you to see the River Soar regularly.
How to Get to Leicester
There are several different ways you can travel to Leicester. Below are just some of the methods of transport for you and your family.
If you are travelling from abroad, you can fly to either East Midlands Airport or Birmingham Airport. From East Midlands Airport you can take a bus to Leicester, from Birmingham Airport you can take the train, or you could always hire a car to move around. Find cheap flights here >>
There are frequent trains to Leicester from London and Birmingham New Street stations. Get Your Train Tickets Here >>>
You can also travel to St Margaret’s Bus Station by bus or coach (National Express) to arrive in Leicester town centre.
There is also the ability to travel to Leicester by car, either your own or one that you have hired for your holiday. This option is possibly the best if you are travelling in the UK with kids as it gives you a bit more freedom to move around as and when you choose. Compare Hire car prices for your dates here >>>
Top 10 Things to do in Leicester with Kids
Leicester offers a lot of free attractions and activities for you to do with kids. Below are the top things to do in Leicester with your kids, including historical attractions, outdoor spaces and famous landmarks.
#1 Leicester Cathedral
Leicester Cathedral was built roughly 900 years ago by Normans as St Martins Church but has since undergone several renovations, one taking place currently. It became known as Leicester Cathedral in 1927 when they reinstated the Diocese of Leicester.
This is also home to the tomb of King Richard III.
If you are looking for something to do with the kids in Leicester, it is free to wander around the cathedral with a small donation box if you wish to contribute.
#2 King Richard III Visitor Centre
If you’re looking for an activity in Leicester that includes the history of the location, you can explore the King Richard III Visitor Centre. There is a charge for tickets, but a family ticket is available at a discounted price for two adults and two children.
Another perk of this attraction is that if you purchase a ticket, you can return at another point on your holiday to continue the experience on the same ticket!
The Visitor Centre also host events to appeal to kids and get them involved in histories, such as an archaeological event this July and a science club in August
#3 Abbey Park
If you are looking for outdoor activities in Leicester, Abbey Park is a lovely outdoor space located just a little way out of the city centre. It is not only home to a play area but also has a boating lake, lavender maze and sensory garden. If you are heading out with young children, there are also changing facilities available at the park.
#4 Leicester Museum and Art Gallery
Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, or New Walk Museum as it was known, is a family-friendly activity that hosts visiting exhibits and activities for kids. It is a great place to get your kids’ imaginations going, with exhibits on dinosaurs and outer space and different art styles.
#5 Highcross in Leicester City Centre
Highcross is the local shopping centre in Leicester city centre, so if you are looking for a location with different dining areas and something to keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours, this is the place to be. There is something here for all ages, from toy shops to adventure golf.
#6 Leicester Guildhall
If you want to go sightseeing in Leicester, Leicester Guildhall is not something you will want to miss. It is currently a place to see various performances but was originally built in 1390. It is a free attraction, although depending on what is going on at the time, there may be a charge to see specific acts performing and is also available for private hire if you are hosting a family event.
#7 National Space Museum
Leicester’s National Space Museum has won several awards over the years with its six galleries and the UK’s largest domed planetarium. It is a location that will enchant your kids, particularly if they are interested in outer space and astronauts. There are also various events occurring throughout the year, so it is an idea to look at what is on offer during your visit.
#8 Abbey Pumping Station
If you are looking for an interactive historical and scientific activity to do with your kids that is both indoor and outdoor, look no further than Abbey Pumping Station. This location walks you through Victorian England and offers a technology-themed outdoor children’s play area, making it one of the best activities in Leicester for kids.
#9 LCFC King Power Stadium
If your family are big football fans, there is the opportunity for you to visit LCFC’s King Power Stadium for a behind-the-scenes tour. A guide will lead your group around the stadium, taking you into areas such as the players’ lounge. You could also look into getting tickets for any games being played there at the time of your holiday.
#10 Social Climbing
Social Climbing is an ideal indoor activity in Leicester for kids. If your little ones are over five, they can get rid of excess energy by climbing the various rock walls available so long as an adult supervises them. The location also offers classes should you prefer to learn how to tackle the rock walls before using them.
Where to Stay in Leicester with Kids: Best Family Hotels
Below you will find three of the most popular family hotels for you to stay while exploring Leicester with your kids. All three hotels are located in Leicester city centre as that is where most of the places to visit in Leicester are, so you can avoid travelling too much while on your holiday.
Budget: Beautiful Victorian 2-Bedroom Flat
This Victorian flat is close to multiple restaurants and the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery. It has two bedrooms and a fully stocked and functioning kitchen, so if you are looking for a budget home away from home, this is a great location to book for your family.
Mid-Range: Belmont Hotel Leicester
The Belmont Hotel in Leicester is a Victorian townhouse located close to the train station, so it is a perfect option for those travelling to Leicester Railway station. It has free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee-making facilities available in each room and offers cribs upon request. It has the option for you to book an executive family room, which offers one double bed and two bunk beds, so the whole family can sleep in the same room.
Splashing Out: Eclectic & Stylish 2 Bedroom House with Hot Tub
This two-bedroom house is located near Abbey Park and is perfect for a family with young children who like to be outside. It has a kitchen if you choose to cook instead of eating out, a washing machine so that you can avoid overpacking in case of accidents and a patio with a BBQ for when you want to relax.
Where to Eat in Leicester with Kids
Leicester is probably most well known for its cheese, after all, Red Leicester has been produced in the county since the 17th Century, and there is also Stilton which is produced in Leicester. So if you are staying in the city, it is important that you try at least one of these cheeses before leaving.
If you are looking for somewhere to eat, or get food for a takeaway while in Leicester, here are four of the best locations:
The Dove Pub & Kitchen: If you are looking for typical British pub food, this is the location to get it. There is a wide range of options, so there is something to appease even the fussiest eater.
Gilly’s Sandwich Bar: Gilly’s Sandwich Bar is a friendly café offering British cuisine suitable for all three meals. It also has vegetarian options available.
Reece’s Kitchen: Reece’s kitchen is open from Thursday evening to Sunday and offers takeaway or delivery and a carvery over Sunday lunchtime. This is a great place for a family meal, whether you are sitting in or ordering a takeaway.
Gelato Village: Okay, so Gelato Village may not offer a main meal, however, from it’s reviews, it is easy to see that this café offers some of the best desserts and hot drinks around. If you are looking for a place to get a little treat at any point throughout the day with your kids, this is the place to go.
How to Spend 2 Days in Leicester with Children
Leicester sightseeing can get confusing, there is so much to do with your children that it can be hard to fit it all into two days. So below is a suggestion of how to spend your two days to make the most of your visit and see several of the top things to do in Leicester city centre.
Morning: In the morning, you can head to the Richard III Visitor Centre, where you will spend roughly an hour and a half looking around the exhibits before heading over the Leicester Cathedral to view the glorious bedrooms and visit the tomb of the King that you have just been learning about. It is easy to move between the two attractions as they are within walking distance of each other.
Afternoon: You can then head to Highcross for lunch and spend some time exploring the shops, while allowing your kids to expend any excess energy in Social Climbing or on the available adventure golf course.
Morning: On your second morning, you can spend several hours exploring the National Space Museum before heading to Abbey Park with a picnic.
Afternoon: Once your kids have had enough of the play areas and activities available at the park, you can spend the remainder of your afternoon at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery.
Places to Visit Near Leicester
If you are looking for attractions near Leicester with kids, there are many different tourist activities to choose from. Family days out near Leicester are just as fun and varied as family days out in the city itself, so if you have any spare time during your holiday, try exploring one of the three locations below.
Located in Desford, Leicestershire’s county, Tropical Birdland is described as a “nature lovers paradise”. There are so many places to explore at this attraction with a woodland walk, the opportunity to feed some exotic birds and a parrot path. If your kids love animals and want to get close to these birds, this is the place to take them.
When thinking about things to do near Leicester for kids, you will want something that allows them to be active and have fun. Therefore this theme park is the perfect day out for the whole family, whether it is raining or sunny. There are many rides and attractions outside, but there are also various indoor play areas for when the sun or rain gets to be a bit too much. It also hosts different events depending on the season you are visiting.
If you are looking for another nearby city to explore with your kids for the day, look at Nottingham. There are many different attractions, such as the City of Caves and the National Ice Centre.
Plan Your Trip to Leicester with Kids
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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.