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Museum of Lincolnshire Life

30 Free Things to Do in Lincoln and Lincolnshire

The city of Lincoln is rich in history, culture, and natural landscapes — with lots of free things to do to help you enjoy it. We’ve put together a list of all the best places to visit in and around the city without breaking the bank.

1. Guildhall and Stonebow

An early 16th-century town building that has recently been awarded a VisitEngland Attraction Accolade for Best Told Story. The Guildhall and Stonebow forms an archway over the main High Street and is home to City Council meetings and the heritage of Lincoln’s local politics. It houses numerous pieces of regalia, including the sword of Richard II, Mayor’s Chains of Office and Mayor’s posy ring. Guided tours available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30am and 2pm.

2. Museum of Lincolnshire Life

The Museum of Lincolnshire Life is a family-friendly museum that celebrates the culture and social history of the people of Lincolnshire from the 1700s to the present day. Exhibits illustrate commercial, domestic, agricultural, industrial and community life.

3. Hartsholme Country Park

Covering more than 200 acres, Hartsholme Country Park is an oasis in the city, full of nature and wildlife— the perfect spot for a stroll or picnic. There is a small Visitor Centre, children’s play areas and a cafe, all located in a 4* rated touring park.

4. Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum displays the fascinating story of this historic establishment from its early days as a Royal Naval Air Service base to the current day. The experience includes interactive exhibits including a Jet Provost flight simulator and Vampire Nose Pod. The museum runs a programme of fascinating exhibitions exploring the wealth of aviation’s remarkable heritage as well as events suitable for all ages.

5. Whisby Nature Park

Whisby Nature Park is a beautiful landscape near Lincoln, full of wildlife, walks and trails. With over six miles of footpaths around Whisby’s famous ponds and lakes and the Natural World Centre, Whisby Nature Park is a great place for a family day out.

6. Bransby Horses Rescue & Welfare

One of the UK’s largest charities for equine welfare, Bransby Horses is a great day out for the whole family with award-winning facilities just 20 minutes by road from Lincoln.

The beautiful 600-acre site has endless walkways for visitors to explore and a café, gift shop, play park and picnic area. The Horse Sense Room provides a fun educational experience and guided tours take place regularly. Admission is free, although donations are gratefully received.

7. Cogglesford Watermill

Millers have produced flour on the site of Cogglesford Watermill for 1,000 years, and it is one of the few working mills that still exist today in Lincolnshire. Rather than the more common windmills that grind using the power of the wind, you can see the mill working using the power of the River Slea at Cogglesford, near Sleaford.

Pay a visit today to see the flour being ground in the same way it has been for 200 years, and you can even buy some to take home and bake with yourself.

8. Hill Holt Wood

Hill Holt Wood is a beautiful 34-acre woodland open daily ‘til sunset boasting a wide variety of wildlife and abundant wildflowers, with several well-marked walks around the site.

The Environmental Social Enterprise and registered charity is situated near Norton Disney, south of Lincoln.

The wood is open to the public from 8:30am ’til dark seven days a week. You can visit the wood at any time to explore the wildlife and drop into the Hive Café that opens on a Sunday for some warming tea and home-cooked food.

9. International Bomber Command Centre

The Bomber Command Memorial spire and walls are free to visit, with stunning views back over the city of Lincoln.

The IBCC, via its digital archive, delivers the most comprehensive coverage of Bomber Command in the world including the contribution and effect on over 60 nations. Free guided tours are available of the Spire Memorial and Peace Gardens daily every half hour.

An educational interpretation centre with full visitor facilities including a state of the art exhibition over three galleries telling the core themes of the project: Recognition, Remembrance and Reconciliation (admission charged). The exhibition includes the first-hand testimonies of those who survived.

10. Boultham Park

With acres of green space, wooded walks to enjoy, a lake, and a playground - with zip wire - Boultham Park is a great option for a free day out.

Also look out for the cafe in the park which raises funds for Linkage, a charity which provides support to people with learning disabilities.

11. Welbourn Forge

Welbourn Forge, half an hour’s drive south of historic Lincoln, has served the needs of farmers and tradesmen in the area for more than 100 years. Still a working forge on the first Saturday of the month and at special events, it now exhibits old photographs, displays and memorabilia along with a restored earth privy.

12. Harding House Gallery

The Lower Gallery showcases original work by Harding House members, plus a wide selection of contemporary work by approximately 40 other artists or makers from around the country. Exhibits feature ceramics, glass, watercolours, textiles, jewellery, metal sculpture, calligraphy, prints, abstract and landscape painting, plus a fine array of original greetings cards.

13. Lincoln Central Library

Lincoln Central Library is located in the city centre on the edge of the main shopping area within the Cultural Quarter. The Library hosts a range of activities and events throughout the year, provides public access to 40 computers and has a fab play area for little ones.

14. South & West Common

South Common is a large expanse of common land that connects the city of Lincoln with villages such as Bracebridge Heath and the land beyond. It is an area with great biodiversity, housing species such as the rare Devil’s Bit Scabious. Activities in this area include a playground, dog walking, horse riding and fairs.

West Common is an area that runs alongside Carholme Road, which heads west out of Lincoln. It is used for a variety of activities, such as golf, tennis and football. It used to be the site of Lincoln Racecourse and is now designated as a critical nature conservation area.

15. Mansions of the Future

Mansions of the Future is a public space that hosts talks, workshops, events and activities with an aim to improve cultural development in Lincoln. It acts as a venue for artist commissions and encourages local groups to ‘takeover’ the building and aims to build a stronger creative economy in Lincoln. Anyone can drop in to attend a talk or communal lunch or use the building as a safe space for artistic expression.

16. The Little Red Gallery

A charming gallery nestled away in the Bail, The Little Red Gallery showcases contemporary art and exhibitions. Whether you are a mature art connoisseur or a creative amateur, you can stop by for free to enjoy the pieces that are displayed.

17. Temple Gardens

Part of The Collection and Usher Gallery, Temple Gardens is a peaceful green space with rolling hills and contemporary sculptural art. Just north of the gardens is the Medieval Bishop’s Palace and the Cathedral, both stunning pieces of architecture to gaze upon whilst relaxing in the gardens.

18. Water Rail Way

Cycle or walk along this purpose build trail linking Lincoln and Boston lined with impressive structural art inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The 54km route begins in the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral, travels through wide fenland landscapes and winds up in Boston, home to St Botolph’s Church, or ‘The Stump’, which boasts the highest tower of any parish church in the country.

19. Witham Valley Country Park

Witham Valley Country Park is a group of parks, conservation areas and green spaces in and around Lincoln. These areas have a rich biodiversity, with many species of flora and fauna being found there. A must for anyone who enjoys walking, cycling and horse riding.

20. The Usher Gallery

The Usher Gallery is the art gallery housed within the Collection Museum. It displays its own permanent exhibitions alongside pieces on loan from national collections. Visit to see fine art, sculpture, decorative art and horology on display. New features such as a lift have now further increased accessibility, making the Usher Gallery available to everyone.

21. The Collection Museum

The Collection Museum is an archaeology museum and art gallery in the Cultural Quarter that celebrates Lincoln’s rich cultural history and heritage. There are various interactive displays, activities for kids, archaeological finds and a café. Also on-site is the Usher Gallery and Temple Gardens where you will find various forms of art displayed.

22. The National Centre for Craft and Design

The National Centre for Craft and Design in Sleaford is the largest venue in the UK dedicated to the promotion, exhibition and celebration of the arts. It has spaces for workshops, classes in craft and design, and galleries showcasing the work of artists from around the country.

23. Navigation House

Situated on Sleaford Wharf, this historic Grade II listed building is thought to be the only original canal company office of its kind still in existence. It has interactive exhibits suitable for all ages detailing the history of trade by canal and the development of the River Slea as an important trade route.

24. Lincoln Arboretum

This beautiful and historic garden dating back to 1870 boasts gardens, lakes, fountains, bridges, a victorian bandstand, children’s play area and cafe. It is situated in the Cultural Quarter where its peaceful gardens were designed by the celebrated Victorian gardener, Edward Milner.

25. Explore the grounds of Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle’s grounds are free to enter and explore on non-event days - perfect for a rest or a picnic in a unique location. Look out for the Castle Stories on plaques on the floor throughout that tell the stories of the people who have visited or even resided in the castle over the years.

​26. Sam Scorer Gallery

Located in the beautiful cathedral quarter of Lincoln, Sam Scorer Gallery is footsteps away from an array of cultural highlights and in the shadow of the magnificent Lincoln Castle. The Gallery Arts Trust is a registered charity, whose main objective is to operate a gallery for the display of innovative exhibitions of contemporary art, in order to promote the importance of the arts in the local and wider community of Lincoln.

​27. The digital Roman Trail

Between AD50-60 a legionary fortress was built by the Romans in Lincoln and the city became known as Lindum Colonia. The Lincoln Roman Trail will take you around the remains of the Roman city in the Cathedral Quarter and to The Collection where a display of more Roman artefacts can be found. There are also points of interest further south in the city to discover.

The trail is available online as an interactive smart-phone web app.

28. Steep Hill

Steep Hill is famous for its independent businesses - vintage boutiques, quaint tea rooms, chocolate & fudge parlours, and more. Take a leisurely stroll up the steep, cobbled street that has a 16.12º gradient and was voted Britain’s Great Street in 2012 by the Academy of Urbanism and named the fourth steepest street in England by the Ordnance Survey.

​29. Estate walks at Doddington Hall

There are a number of free walks around the Doddington Hall estate varying in both length and terrain including:

  • The Nature Walk, a walk through the woodland, parkland and the Doddington Gardens;
  • The Avenue Walk, a longer walk that goes through the parkland surrounding the Hall towards the pyramid;
  • The Fishpond Walk, a short walk that takes you through a meadow and around the Fishpond;
  • The Circular Walk, a longer walk around the Doddington parkland and adjoining public footpaths.

You can pick a walks leaflet up from the Farm Shop or download a copy.

30. Wyndham Park

Wyndham Park runs alongside the River Witham just to the north of Grantham town centre. The park offers a wide range of facilities for young and old and offers the perfect start point for your cycle adventure— just pop to Cliff Edge Cycle Hire onsite for a range of bikes available for hire, from tandems to children’s balance bikes (hire fee applies).

Follow the riverside route to National Trust property Belton House (free entry for National Trust members), check out its Deer park and extensive grounds with adventure play park.

The varied landscape makes it a fantastic cycling destination for all ages and abilities.

If your favourite free thing to do in Lincoln or Lincolnshire isn’t on this list, please let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below!

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