The summer holidays are upon us and us parents have at least six weeks to keep the kids entertained. Used to busy days during term time and activities that test their little minds, it’s no wonder they seem to get bored so easily when they’re at home for long periods of time. Modern technology is great for keeping them occupied for a while but nobody wants their child glued to a screen 24/7.
We’re incredibly lucky in Yorkshire to have so many wonderful museums and attractions that are perfect for family days out. Unfortunately, many of these can be costly, especially for larger families, and with six whole weeks to fill, many of us are on the hunt for child-friendly activities that won’t break the bank.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do in Yorkshire and our list features attractions that will suit a whole range of budgets. We’ve got everything from sandy beaches and park playgrounds to stately homes and wildlife parks. So, whether you live in Yorkshire and fancy a day out or you’re planning a holiday to God’s Own Country and need to fill your intinerary, you’re bound to find some great ideas on here.
National Railway Museum
Part of the Science Media Museum Group, National Railway Museum in York is completely free to enter. Full of fascinating displays and plenty of to see and do, this museum dedicated to the world’s achievements in locomotive engineering, is perfect for a free, family day out. In addition to their educational displays and exhibits, they also have regular storytelling shows for over 6’s and a great little play area for the under 5’s
Address: Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ
Jorvik Viking Centre
York’s top visitor attraction was built upon the site of a genuine Viking village, the remains of which were discovered during an excavation in 1976. The museum is bursting with astonishing Viking artefacts uncovered during the excavation and offers a wonderful insight into the history of this remarkable city.
Jorvik Viking Centre has welcomed over 18 million visitors in the past 30 years and undergone some extradordinary improvements in recent years. With interactive displays and an immersive ride through a recreation of Viking-age York, it educates and entertains people of all ages.
Address: Coppergate Shopping Centre,19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT
Salts Mill, Saltaire
The mid-19th-century industrial town of Saltaire became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. Its main attraction, Salts Mil, is a fascinating building filled with independent shops, quirky eateries, art galleries and interesting exhibitions about the history of the mill and the town.
It’s free to enter and there’s much to see so it’s definately worthy of a place on your summer holiday itinery. The huge collection of works by David Hockney displayed at Salts Mill is worth visiting for alone.
Address: Victoria Road, Saltaire BD18 3LA
Yorkshire’s most popular seaside resort has not one, but two excellent beaches. South Bay beach is the main beach with its bustling seafront and various family-friendly attractions lining its Victorian promenade. North Bay beach is the quieter of the two and has a more rural feel – perfect for a relaxed afternoon paddling in the sea and building sandcastles.
All children love a trip to the seaside and a day spent on either of Scarborough’s beaches is bound to leave them with treasured memories of a great summer.
Valley Gardens, Harrogate
The 17-acre English Heritage grade II listed garden in Harrogate is by far one of the most beautiful places to visit in this Victorian spa town. With its historic Sun Pavillion and colourful floral displays, it’s the ideal setting for a family picnic.
There’s also plenty here to keep the kids entertained. There’s a skate park, children’s playground, tennis, pitch & putt, crazy golf and even a paddling pool during the summer holidays. If you don’t want to pack your own refreshments, the Magnesia Well cafe serves drinks, snacks and light bites.
Address: Valley Drive, Harrogate HG1 2SZ
Aireville Park, Skipton
Aireville Park in Skipton has recently been revamped to include an excellent wooden play area suitable for children of all ages. There are climbing frames, swings, rope bridges, slides and even a fun zip wire to keep them amused for hours.
The park itself is very pretty with acres of lush green parkland perfect for picnics and ball games and there’s a skate park for the bigger kids to show off their skills. In this area you’ll also find a 14-hole pitch and putt course and Craven Leisure Centre which houses a great swimming pool and excellent cafe.
Ilkley Riverside Gardens
The picturesque Riverside Gardens in Ilkley offer beautiful scenic walks, children’s play equipment and waterside fun on the bank of the River Wharfe. Head to the Visitor Information Centre and you can also obtain a fishing licence to make your day even more relaxing and enjoyable.
The children’s play equipment here is great and they even have a sandpit which is always a hit with the little ones. Parking here is free but it does fill up quickly during the school holidays.
Address: 33 Bridge Ln, Ilkley LS29 9EU
Cannon Hall Farm
Situated in Cawthorne near Barnsley, Cannon Hall Farm is one of Yorkshire’s best farm parks for children. With numerous animals to see and pet including goats, sheep, shetland ponies, llamas and pigs, it’s a wonderful day out for young children. Cannon Hall Farm is home to one of the biggest and best indoor play areas in the North of England but it also has an excellent outdoor adventure playground.
Food wise, you’ll be surprised to learn that this farm park has not only a great cafe serving home-cooked treats, but TWO excellent restaurants onsite. One of them is adjoining the indoor play area so mum and dad can enjoy something to eat whilst the kids let off steam.
Address: Cawthorne, Barnsley S75 4AT
Cliffe Castle Museum
Originally the home of a Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer, Cliffe Castle was completed in the year 1880. Following it’s completion, owner, Henry Issac Butterfield and his family hosted many glittering social events for their wealthy acquaintainces. The castle changed ownership during the 1950’s, after which the building and was transformed into a free museum and the gardens into a public park.
Today, the house offers a wonderful insight into the lives of the Victorian middle and upper classes with its beautifully decorated interiors, 19th century furniture and stunning paintings. There are also a number of excellent natural history displays. As well as the eductaional aspects to this museum, the gardens provide a great area for the kids to let off some steam. There’s plenty of open space for them to run around and lots of play equipment for climbing and clambering over.
Address: Spring Gardens, Keighley BD20 6LQ
Science and Media Museum
The Science and Media Museum in Bradford city centre explores the science and culture of sound and image technologies via fascinating collections and interactive displays. Free to enter, the museum has a whole range of learning activities on offer to educate children and adults about the impact tecnological advancements in media have had on our lives.
There are quite a few exhibits to explore here so you can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon at the museum. The Science and Media Museum also houses an IMAX cinema so once you have finished exploring, it’s worth parting with a few quid to enjoy an immersive film experience!
Address: Little Horton Lane, Bradford, BD1 1NQ
The Forbidden Corner
The Forbidden Corner near Leyburn offers a unique and magical day out for the whole family. Originally built as a private folly, it is now a labrinyth of tunnels and chambers with fairytale surprises housed in a stunning four-acre garden.
A strange yet wonderful place that will ignite even the youngest of imaginations, The Forbidden Corner is a treasure trove of statues, secret corners and hidden wonders all waiting to be discovered by little eyes. Once you’ve finished creating your very own fairytales, sit back and enjoy a coffee in the Corner Cafe before treating yourselves to an unusual souvenir in their very special gift shop. Certainly a day that they will remember for years to come.
Address: Tupgill Park Estate, Middleham, Leyburn DL8 4TJ
The Royal Armouries in Leeds houses arms and armour from all around the world, across 5 floors of glittering displays. Marvel at the opulently decorated armour of a young Henry VIII and view the magnificent elephant armour comprising 600 metal plates and 12,000 mail links.
The Royal Armouries put on various events, exhibitions and live tournaments throughout the year so there’s always something going on to excite inquisitive young minds. Entry to the museum is free but there may be a charge for some of the seasonal activities and events. A great day out for people of all ages.
Address: Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
This open air gallery near Wakefield showcases works by both national and international artists and includes one of the largest open air collections of Henry Moore’s bronzes in Europe. Set in 500 acres of historic parkland, there’s plenty of space for the kids to run freely whilst discovering new and interesting pieces of art.
Families are free to wander around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at their leisure and with the park being so vast in area, you can easily spend a whole day enjoying lakeside walks and exploring the woodland. Entry to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is free but there is a charge for parking.
Address: West Bretton, Wakeﬁeld WF4 4LG
National Coal Mining Museum
Based at the site of Caphouse Cillery near Wakefield, The National Coal Mining Museum offers a fun and educational day out for the whole family. Descend 145 metres underground to discover what working life was like for Yorkshire miners and explore the exhibitions that cover 3 of the 4 floors at this excellent 45-acre museum.
There are lots of interactive displays for children at the National Coal Mining Museum so not much chance of them getting bored. There’s also a fun train ride, an adventure playground, art and craft activities, a soft play area for under 5’s and some beautiful ponies to visit.
Address: Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, Wakefield WF4 4RH
Roundhay Park, Leeds
Roundhay Park in Leeds is one of the largest parks in Europe and one of the largest urban parks in the world. Covering 700 acres of parkland, lakes and woodland, visitors flock here all year round.
The various gardens at Roundhay are worth visting for alone but there’s much more to see and do here. Fshing lakes, tennis courts, a skate park, bowling green and a children’s playground are all open to the public so you won’t be short for things to do. Roundhay Park is the ideal location for a family picnic but there is also a cafe and a restaurant serving food and drink throughout the day. If you’re willing to spend a little money, then Tropical World is always a big hit with the kids. Here, you can view an extensive collection of tropical plants, walk among various species of butterfly and meet a selection of wonderful birds and animals.
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
By far one of the UK’s most popular days out for kids, Eureka in Halifax is a museum dedicated to the importance of learning through play. This place is jam packed with interactive displays and role-play areas to help children learn about the world of grown-ups through fun, hands-on activities.
With six exciting zones to explore, plenty of outdoor space to run around and lots of family-friendly facilities, it’s no wonder that people flock from all over the UK to introduce their children’s imaginations to the fantastic interactive displays here. There is much to see and do so not much chance of them getting bored. It’s well worth the admission fee and what’s more, once you have visited, you can return for free with their annual pass programme.
Address: Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE
Probably one of the most beautiful and most Instagrammable locations in the Yorkshire countryside, Malham Cove is definitely worth a visit. Enjoy scenic walks of varying lengths and enjoy spectacular views of the stunning Yorkshire Dales.
There isn’t much here in the way of children’s entertainment but it’s the perfect place for making your own. Lots of open space, plenty of family photo opportunties, rare wildlife encounters and some truly perfect picnic spots. If you feel the need for refreshments after all that walking, there’s a cafe and a couple of pubs in the vicinity which all serve great quality food.
Newby Hall and Gardens
This 18th-century country house near Ripon is a Grade I listed Adam House, originally built in the 1680’s by Sir Christopher Wren. The house itself boasts extraordinarily stunning interiors with delightful examples of 19th century decor and furniture, fit for the finest ladies in gentlemen in Victorian society.
Once you have marveled at the splendor of Newby Hall, there are still plenty of things to do during your visit here. The gardens are stunning and certainly worth exploring to fully appreciate the grandeur of this magnificent English home. There’s also a Dollshouse exhibition that little girls will just adore, a delightful miniature railway which will take you around the beautiful grounds and a superb adventure playground complete with pedalos.
Address: Newby Hall, Ripon HG4 5AE
This amazing collection of balancing rock formations is managed by The National Trust and is one of the most visited sites in North Yorkshire. Open all year round from 8 am until dusk, Brimham Rocks is ideal for big adventurers and little explorers.
There are hours of fun to be had at this natural playground. Enjoy a famly picnic with a view before setting off on one of the free children’s trails or a digitally-led Geochaching adventure. At the visitor centre, you can also pick up Explorer Backpacks which are filled with fun activities and interesting information about this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Address: Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4DW
The Endeavour Experience
The Endeavour Experience is one of Whitby’s newest attractions and it has been a huge hit with both locals and tourists. The full-scale repilca of Captain Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour tells the story of Cook’s career from his time studying as an apprentice in Whitby to his voyages of discovery that made him one of the world’s greatest ever explorers.
Climb aboard and take the Captain’s wheel on the top deck before learning what life was like at sea for Cook and his crew. If you fancy a spot to eat, the ship’s onboard restaurant serves food throughout the day and evening and has had rave reviews since opening. The staff onboard are also super friendly and really add to the fun atmosphere.
Address: Endeavour Wharf, Whitby, YO21 1DN
Yorkshire Wildlife Park
The UK’s No.1 walkthrough wildlife adventure is right here in Yorkshire. Located just outside of Doncaster, Yorkshire Wildlife Park is home to some of the world’s most amazing animals, including lions, tigers, black rhino and the only polar bears in England.
There are over 400 animals to see here, covering 70 different species and, as it’s a walkthrough exerience, you can get up close and personal with some of the most magnificent animals on the planet. At Yorkshire Wildlife Park, there are a number of play areas for children so you can let your own little animals run around for a bit. They can swing around in the Monkey Playhouse, brave the 20ft slide in the Zoom Super Slide Barn and clamber or climb over various equiment at the three outdoor play areas scattered around the park.
Address: Branton, Doncaster DN4 6TB
With it’s bustling port, historical abbey and wonderful array of independent shops lining its pretty cobbled streets, Whitby is one of Yorkshire’s most popular tourist destinations.
There is plenty to see here and exploring won’t cost you a penny but the best free thing to do in Whitby has to be an afternoon on the beach. Miles of golden sand line this picturesque part of Yorkshire’s Jurassic coastline and its geographical history make it great for exploring. Build sandcastles, watch the day boats and fishing boats sail by, hunt for fossils and search rock pools before heading to one of Whitby’s many fish & chip takeaways for a traditional seaside treat.
Roberts Park, Saltaire
Roberts Park in Saltaire is a 14-acre urban park which initially opened in 1871 and was landscaped by William Gay of Bradford.
There’s plenty of space for ball games and picnics plus a beautiful bandstand where local events often take place. For kids, there’s an excellent playground and a skate park where they can burn off some of that youthful energy before you all enjoy a leisurely family stroll along the river. It’s certainly one of the prettier urban parks and it’s recently been revamped so the children’s play area is fantastic.
One of the Treasure Houses of England, Harewood House was built during the 18th century and houses some magnifcent art collections. The house itself is an accredited museum and will educate both children and adults alike about times gone by. With its stunning galleries, opulent music room, atmospheric Old Kitchen and 100-acre gardens, the splendor of Harewood really has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Once you’ve seen all there is to see indoors, there’s a fantastic adventure playground outside and a wonderful farm experience offering hands-on encounters with all kinds of animals. A truly marvellous Yorkshire day out in the most idyllic of locations!
Address: Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG
York’s Chocolate Story
York’s Chocolate Story is a fully guided interactive tour through the history of chocolate-making in York. Once home to some of the greatest confectioners in the country, York boasts some delicious links to the chocolate industry and some of the biggest brand names in the UK.
Journey through 3,000 years of history to learn about the origins of chocolate and discover the stories behind York’s iconic chocolate brands – Rowntree’s, Craven’s and Terry’s. If you’re a fan of this indulgent sweet treat then you’ll love York’s Chocolate Story. You can even make your very own chocolate lollipop to take home and devour.
Address: King’s Square, York YO1 7LD
Bradford’s Bolling Hall provided a home for Bradford families for more than five hundred years and it is now a free museum bursting with character.
Part of the building is medieval in origin but Bolling Hall really is a blend of different architectural styles. It played an integral part during the Civil War when it supported the Royalist cause and provided a stronghold for local families. As far as free museums go, this one is probably one of the most atmospheric in Yorkshire. The rooms have all been beautifully furnished and decorated to represent different periods in the house’s history. There’s even talk of some ghostly characters inhabiting the building!
Address: Bowling Hall Rd, Bradford BD4 7LP
In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales near the historic market town of Skipton, lies the beautiful estate of the Duke of Devonshire. With 80 miles of footpaths winding through the 30,000 acres of Yorkshire countryside, it is excellent for family walks.
The priory ruins are full of history and character and provide the perfect backdrop for a family photograph. On warmer days, enjoy a paddle in the river, attempt to cross the popular stepping stone path or simply enjoy the lush green open spaces with a game of cricket or football. There are plenty of places in the area to grab some refreshments too but we recommend tucking into an award-winning Yorkshire Dales Ice-Cream!
The Piece Hall, Halifax
Grade I listed Piece Hall in Halifax first opened in 1779 as a Cloth Hall. Built soley for the purpose of trading pieces of cloth produced on a handloom, it is one of Britain’s most outstanding examples of Georgian architecture.
Nowadays, this magnificent building is home to various shops and eateries and hosts a number of excellent concerts, workshops and exhibitions throughout the year. Travel back in time to Georgian England when you stroll down grand hallways, explore historic rooms and take part in family-friendly activities. On set days, you’ll find even actors playing the roles of past residents and employees to really bring Piece Hall back to life.
Address: Blackledge, Halifax HX1 1RE
Bradford Industrial Museum
Yet another excellent free museum in Bradford! Built in 1875 as a small spinning mill, Moorside Mills now houses Bradford Industrial Museum. Dedicated to the city’s industrial past, the museum features permanent displays of textile machinery, steam power, engineering, printing machinery and motor vehicles.
You can also see the elegant Moorside House which was home to Mill owner, John Moore, before viewing the terraced houses of the mill workers which are furnished to reflect three different periods.
Address: 235 Moorside Rd, Bradford BD2 3HP
Leeds Corn Exchange
If you have a keen interest in history, architecture or independent shopping, the iconic Leeds Corn Exchange is well worth a visit. A building which is now synonymous with Leeds as a destination, it’s had various purposes over the years. Starting out life as a key hub of business in a rapidly expanding Leeds City Centre, it gives an insight into the city of yesteryear, and the wonderful architecture comes from the mind of perhaps the most influential architect in Leeds history – Cuthbert Brodrick. You might recognise the name, as there’s now a Wetherspoon’s named after him found in Millenium Square. It might also interest you to know that he was also the architect behind the design of the town hall building, too.
Now one of the cultural hubs of Leeds, The Corn Exchange exhibits an array of exceptional independent businesses, which includes crafters and one of the best Falafel hotspots in the region. From time to time, there are events hosted within its walls, and they always promise to be a little out of the ordinary, so if you’re a fan of something a little different, checking their schedule of events is highly recommended.
Address: Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR
Stump Cross Caverns
Located between Wharfedale and Nidderdale in North Yorkshire, this limestone cave system offers a fascinating day out and fun exploration for little adventurers. Just three miles away from Pateley Bridge, Stump Cross Caverns can be explored at your leisure, providing the perfect opportunity to teach your little ones about the geographical landscape of the local area. To make it a little more interesting for children, they’ve introduced a Fairy Door Hunt which costs just £2 and includes a guaranteed prize.
If you’re hoping for something to eat or drink after all that exploring then the restaurant there serves all kinds of home-cooked delights.
Address: Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge, Harrogate HG3 5JL
With over 3,500 fish, beautiful marine life and an abundance of family-friendly activities on offer, The Deep in Hull is one of the UK’s biggest and best aquariums. There are a number of different areas to see and explore including a 2.5 million litre saltwater tank which houses some of the most amazing sea creatures like sharks, rays and turtles.
Here, you will discover which creatures inhabit the waters around the globe and learn how we can change our behaviour to ensure their survival. See magnificent sharks, dazzling jellyfish, colourful corals and proud penguins on this immersive journey into the depths of the world’s oceans.
Address: Tower St, Hull HU1 4DP
As with all our articles of this nature, we will be adding to the list over time. If you would like to make a recommendation or discuss advertising opportunities, please email email@example.com