Lions and tigers are on their way back to Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire with the imminent opening of their new Kuno exhibit, but in the meantime there was plenty to entertain my kids. My eight-year-old, convinced he was a monkey in a previous life, was in raptures in the zoo's extensive World Primate Centre, the sealions kept my four-year-old entranced for ages, while the meerkats and their mad antics had my oldest son howling with laughter. For me, the highlight was the Uda Walawe Sri Lankan themed walkway affording great views over the reassuringly spacious elephant enclosure before linking up with the peaceful bird-filled waterways and aviaries.
Twycross is one of five major Leicestershire attractions covered by the county's Stay Play Explore package. Remarkably good value, this offer costs just £109 for a family of four for access to three of the five attractions plus a night's stay, including breakfast, at a family-friendly hotel with a swimming pool. If you're in the area for a couple of days with kids, it makes absolutely no sense not to take advantage of it.
Of the four hotels linked with the deal, we opted for the Leicester Marriott, which has a number of family rooms with two double beds (plus space for an extra bed if necessary). The boys loved it – mostly for the smallish but good swimming pool but also for the Kidsine menu with its dishes named after some of their favourite TV shows or movies, including Jedi, Homer Simpson and Wallace and Gromit. The hotel isn't central, but its location not far off the M1 means it's also a very useful Midlands stopoff for those making long journeys up or down the country.
As well as Twycross, we visited the Conkers woodlands-themed attraction within the Leicestershire section of the National Forest, and the National Space Centre. The other two attractions covered by the package are Snibston, an indoor and outdoor science and technology discovery centre on a former collliery,and Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park, which has an interactive exhibition where you can learn all about medieval surgery and shoot a virtual longbow, among other things – both attractions are on our list to vist next time we are in the area.