Looking for ideas for fun days out in the East Midlands? You’ve come to the right place!
I grew up in the Midlands and have explored almost every corner of this diverse region. With its beautiful countryside, outdoor activities, historic towns and cities, and wealth of other attractions, it’s a seriously underrated part of the country.
In this post, I’ll share some of my favourite days out in the East Midlands. From hiking in the Peak District to discovering the medieval city of Lincoln, there’s a lot to see and do here.
Here’s all the information you need to make your East Midlands day out one to remember!
My Favourite 3 Days Out: Quick Summary
- Explore the Peak District National Park
- Family fun at Alton Towers (or an educational day out at Leicester’s Space Centre)
- Discover Lincoln, a beautiful historic city
10 Best Days Out in the East Midlands
Whether you’re looking for an exciting family outing, a romantic getaway, or a solo day out, I’m confident there’s something here that you’ll love.
See here for more hidden gems in the UK.
Exploring the Peak District National Park
I love the Peak District. It’s one of my favourite parts of England and I’ve been many times.
The Peak District National Park spreads across parts of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, and South Yorkshire. It’s an incredibly picturesque place and a perfect spot for hiking and enjoying the great outdoors.
Some of the most popular highlights of the park include:
- Chatsworth House: A grand stately home with a beautiful deer park
- Haddon Hall: Another stunning stately home to explore
- The scenery: It really is fantastic
- The Pennine Way: One of England’s most famous long-distance hiking trails. This iconic trail offers breathtaking views – it starts in Edale (in the Peak District) and finishes near the Scottish border
Also, don’t miss the Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath. This hilltop park is reachable by cable car and offers spectacular views of the Derwent Valley. You can explore the woodland trails and even take an underground tour in the natural caves.
On my most recent visit to the Peak District, I hiked up Mam Tor, one of the hills overlooking the village of Edale. This is a fairly easy hike, ideal for families. Edale also has a railway station, so it’s also a great day out for those without a car.
For a more challenging hike, try climbing Kinder Scout (the highest point in the East Midlands), via the “Jacob’s Ladder” route. This is also accessible on foot from Edale train station.
🤩 Coming from Manchester? Check out this guided day tour of Derbyshire and the Peak District!
Theme Park Family Fun
The East Midlands has several excellent theme parks.
My favourite one is Alton Towers, which I’ve been to several times. It’s the largest theme park in the UK and has a huge range of rides and other attractions, from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to gentle water rides and mini-golf courses.
The park also puts on live entertainment and is a great place for families looking for a fun day out or something special to do on the weekend.
Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock Bath is another exciting theme park that’s especially designed for young children.
There are plenty of rides and other attractions that your little ones will love. Highlights include the log flume, Silver Mine Ride, Dino Explorer Cars, and Buddy’s Pirate Adventure.
For even more family fun, head to Twinlakes, an amazing 100-acre theme park, farm, and water park in Melton Mowbray. With 10 themed zones, this park is ideal for kids of all ages.
Plus, don’t miss a visit to Bolsover Castle, where your children can dress up as cavaliers and build their own fantasy castles. You can also enjoy a family picnic with wonderful panoramic views over the Vale of Scarsdale.
Discover Nottingham Castle and Wollaton Hall
Nottingham is one of my favourite cities in the East Midlands. It’s a seriously underrated place and is home to many fantastic sights, including Nottingham Castle and the majestic Wollaton Hall.
Built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, Nottingham Castle has been an integral part of the city’s history for nearly 1,000 years. I used to love coming here as as a kid, it’s so atmospheric.
Wollaton Hall is an impressive Elizabethan mansion and park situated in the heart of Nottingham. It’s an amazing place to explore and even houses its own Natural History Museum.
You can easily spend a whole day here enjoying the 500-acre grounds, which are home to herds of wild deer and lots of other wildlife.
Leicester’s Space and Science Adventures
The National Space Centre in Leicester is a really fantastic day out in the East Midlands. It’s a must-see destination for anyone with an interest in space exploration.
I have strong memories of visiting the National Space Centre on a school trip. It’s really fascinating and inspirational place, with something for people of all ages.
The centre features a range of interactive exhibitions on the latest space technology, a planetarium offering weekly shows, and the iconic 42-metre-high Rocket Tower.
Inside, you can learn all about our solar system, including exhibits of real meteorites, model rockets, and spacecraft. There are also simulations of what it’s like to live and work in space.
Additionally, the centre hosts events and activities like stargazing evenings and family days throughout the year.
Above all else, the National Space Centre is a great place to have fun while learning about science and space exploration.
Uncovering Lincoln’s Rich Heritage
Lincoln’s rich and vibrant heritage includes the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral and the awe-inspiring medieval Lincoln Castle.
The gothic Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world for more than 200 years, and its architecture is still awe-inspiring today.
Built over 950 years ago, the 11th-century Gothic cathedral is renowned for its intricate masonry and impressive spire, which was once the tallest structure in the world.
The cathedral is home to numerous historical artifacts and rare books such as the Laud Psalter, one of Europe’s oldest medieval religious manuscripts.
Lincoln Cathedral also has magnificent stained glass windows, a grand organ with more than 5,000 pipes, and a collection of ancient murals.
Lincoln Castle has a long and storied history, dating back to 1068 when William the Conqueror ordered its construction.
The castle has been used as a fortress, prison, court of law, and even a royal mint. Today, it’s one of the best places to visit in the East Midlands.
Inside, you can visit recreations of medieval dungeons and torture chambers, or climb the battlements for great views of the surrounding area.
There’s an excellent audio-guided tour that takes you around the grounds of the castle. This is a great way to learn about the history of this fascinating place.
Lincoln Castle also houses one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta.
This historic charter from 1215 limited the powers of the English king and established certain legal rights. It’s often viewed as a foundation of modern democracy and the rule of law.
Outdoor Activities in the East Midlands
The East Midlands offers many exciting outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, rock climbing, sailing, and rafting.
Ashby de la Zouch is a great destination for outdoor activities, with plenty of options to choose from.
The nearby National Forest has an extensive network of trails and paths for walking, cycling, and mountain biking.
The Tissington Trail is another great spot for walking or cycling. It passes through several attractive villages such as Hartington, Parsley Hay, and Alsop, as well as lots of picturesque English countryside.
For those seeking some water-based fun, you can go rafting along the River Trent. Or, head over to Rutland Water for sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing, there are plenty of gardens to explore, such as Kedleston Hall Gardens, or Calke Abbey with its secret walled garden. Both offer tranquil places to soak in the sunshine while surrounded by beautiful floral displays.
The Ashby Canal is another great place for a peaceful walk, with loads of wildlife and plenty of places to stop for a picnic. You can even hire your own narrowboat and explore the area by water.
A Taste of Market Town Life
Immerse yourself in the allure of East Midlands’ market towns such as Bakewell and Tissington.
Bakewell is renowned for its famous Bakewell Pudding, a delicious treat that has become synonymous with the town. The pudding is a quintessentially English dessert that’s part-way between a cake and a pastry, made with jam and almond paste.
At the farmer’s market in Bakewell, you’ll find a variety of delicious homemade produce, local meats and cheeses, and other fresh local products, perfect for a taste of authentic market town life.
Tissington is another delightful market town in the East Midlands. With its cobbled streets, historic buildings and variety of shops and cafes, it’s an ideal place to spend an afternoon exploring.
Visit Tissington Hall and its beautiful gardens and lake, or enjoy a peaceful stroll around the main square and soak up the local atmosphere.
Wildlife Encounters and Nature Reserves
The East Midlands is home to several beautiful nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
One of the most well-known places in the region is Sherwood Forest (of Robin Hood fame), which is home to ancient oaks and centuries of history.
Here you can explore many different habitats, from ancient woodland trails to wetlands full of amphibians. It’s a real haven for wildlife and a perfect place for birdwatching. The last time I was there, I saw loads of deer too.
Another great spot for any nature lover is Rutland Water Nature Reserve, which covers over 1,200 hectares and includes a range of habitats from heathland and grassland to wetland areas.
There’s a huge range of wildfowl and other birds here, many of which are often seen along the shores of the lake.
Other great places for encounters with local wildlife are:
- Wolds Wildlife Park
- Baytree Owl & Wildlife Centre
- ARK Wildlife & Dinosaur Park
- White Post Farm
- Icarus Falconry
- Rutland Falconry & Owl Centre
Each of these destinations offers a unique experience and allows you to get up close and personal with a variety of fascinating animals. You’ll learn all about their behaviour and the environment in which they live.
Learn About England’s Industrial Past at Derwent Valley Mills
Embark on a journey through time and discover the industrial history of the East Midlands at the Derwent Valley Mills.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of a series of 18th-century industrial mill complexes. It was the birthplace of the modern factory system, which helped to revolutionize the production of textiles and other goods.
The mills are now preserved as a living reminder of Britain’s industrial heritage. Several of the old factories now host a range of educational activities and tours.
Today the site offers insight into how industry used to work, and how working conditions developed over time.
The UNESCO site includes the Cromford Mills, Richard Arkwright’s groundbreaking cotton mills that revolutionized the textile industry.
You can take a guided tour of the mill, which provides a unique insight into the history of these mills and their impact on the world. You’ll discover a collection of machinery, tools, and artifacts related to the development of industry right up until today.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past. This place is a must-visit for anyone interested in the region’s rich heritage and the birth of the Industrial Revolution.
Family-Friendly Museums and Galleries in the East Midlands
The East Midlands houses a diverse range of museums and galleries that cater to families and people of all ages.
Chatsworth House is a gorgeous stately home in Derbyshire. With immaculate grounds and lavish interior design, it’s a great place to come for a day out.
Inside the house, you can explore the grand interiors full of historic furnishings and paintings. There are also interactive displays, guided tours, and activities on offer for children.
The gardens are equally impressive, with water features, sculptures, and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
There’s a deer park and a little farm and adventure play area which the kids will love. The grounds of the estate also have a restaurant, a cafe, a shop, and even a garden centre.
Calke Abbey is a beautiful early-18th-century country house surrounded by 600 acres of parkland. The grounds are home to a range of interesting historical features, such as the walled kitchen garden, as well as a picturesque lake.
FAQs About Things to Do in the East Midlands
What can you do in the East Midlands?
In the East Midlands, you can explore historical landmarks and historical cities, and enjoy unspoiled nature. The region is known for its rich history, scenic landscapes, and cultural heritage.
Where can I take my 4-year-old in East Midlands?
There are many child-friendly places to visit in the East Midlands, including museums, adventure parks, and (of course) the great outdoors.
I can personally recommend Gulliver’s Kingdom and Twinlakes Park – both are fantastic for young kids.
What is the East Midlands accent?
The East Midlands accent is a distinct regional accent that combines elements of West Midlands, Yorkshire, and East Anglian accents.
Some of the features that define this accent include a more glottal pronounciation of “t”s at the end of words (e.g. “but” becoming “bu”) and a higher vowel sound on certain longer words (e.g. “coffee” becoming more like “cawfee”).
What is good about the East Midlands?
The East Midlands is a beautiful part of the country with lots to see and do. Explore its stunning countryside or discover vibrant cities like Nottingham and Lincoln.
Which is nicer Derby or Nottingham?
Both Derby and Nottingham have their own unique attractions and charm, it depends on your individual tastes and preferences. Personally, I prefer Nottingham as there’s more to see and do there.
What is the largest city in the East Midlands?
Leicester is the largest city in the East Midlands, with an estimated population of more than 300,000. This ancient city was first recognised by the Romans and later used as a strategic stronghold by the Danes.
Final Thoughts: East Midlands Days Out
The East Midlands has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to enjoy inspiring natural landscapes, explore historical cities, or immerse yourself in the region’s vibrant cultural scene, you can do all that and more.
I hope this post has been helpful and helps you plan a perfect day out in the East Midlands. Let me know how it goes!