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The very best issues to do in York with children

The very best issues to do in York with children


York is well certainly one of my favorite cities – a lot historical past packed in, a good looking place to stroll round, and an entire string of issues to do in York with children.

Brightly coloured sign spelling out York with a view of York Minster behind - my tips on the best things to do in York with kids

I keep in mind my very own childhood visits fondly, together with the Jorvik Viking Centre and Nationwide Railway museum, and couldn’t wait to take my daughter again, for an opportunity to find Vikings, chocolate and loads of Harry Potter magic.

With impartial cafes and eating places, plus avenue meals dotted in every single place, a welcoming vibe and distinctive really feel (when a number of metropolis breaks begin to blur into one), each time I go to, I vow to come back again once more and as usually as I can.

For concepts of extra issues to do in Yorkshire with children, try my prime picks

Jorvik Viking Centre

Certainly one of my most vivid recollections from my very own childhood journeys to York is visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre – particularly the smells!

Certainly one of York’s predominant points of interest, it had an overhaul simply a few years in the past, so it’s much more convincing, whereas all the very best bits are nonetheless there.

Try my Jorvik Viking Centre overview for extra of our favorite components of a go to

Viking with bow at the Jorvik Viking Centre - one of the unmissable things to do with kids in York

Hopping onto the little experience (at the moment social distancing means every group will get their very own carriage), we have been transported again to Viking Jorvik, cruising round by the settlement to see how life would have been lived.

It’s all very cleverly performed, utilizing info uncovered on the varied digs across the metropolis, proper all the way down to modelling among the inhabitants on skeletons which have been unearthed.

After the experience itself, you possibly can wander by the shows, with extra artefacts discovered right here, in addition to chatting to employees – wearing Viking-style clothes – who may be doing something from needlework for making a coin.

It’s an important one to mix with a go to to Dig (learn on!), to let children strive their hand at excavating York’s Viking historical past, as soon as they’ve seen what was really uncovered.

Jorvik Viking Centre can also be included within the York Metropolis Go

Jorvik Dig: An archaeological journey

For those who’ve ever fancied being an archaeologist, then the hands-on actions at Dig: An Archaeological Journey, a sister attraction to Jorvik Viking Centre, are unmissable.

After a brief introduction on what archaeologists really do, taking a look at varied finds from throughout town (together with the world’s largest fossilised poo…), you get to strive your personal hand at digging in replicas of among the actual dig websites round York, masking Roman and Viking, medieval and Victorian intervals, all in artificial ‘soil’.

Inside minutes, my nine-year-old was hooked, squeaking ‘wow wow wow wow’ as she uncovered among the totally different finds.

I can’t consider a greater strategy to get children engaged with York’s historical past. There’s slightly museum to go searching at Jorvik Dig too, with extra of the particular artefacts – we spent round 90 minutes there.

Dig can also be included within the York Metropolis Go – try my overview of a go to to Jorvik Dig

My daughter digs in the synthetic soil of Jorvik Dig, perfect for kids to learn about archaeology - one of the most unusual things to do in York with kids

Nationwide Railway Museum

Dwelling to Stephenson’s Rocket, the unique locomotive which began the prepare age, in addition to well-known names like The Flying Scotsman and a Japanese bullet prepare, a go to to the Nationwide Railway Museum is is nice for teenagers, particularly youthful kids.

In addition to having the ability to get shut to those legendary locomotives within the large museum shed, you possibly can see inside royal carriages and check out a simulator expertise, placing you (just about) on the footplate of The Mallard, the world’s quickest steam prepare.

There are additionally play areas, and a miniature railway to take pleasure in – you possibly can even hop onto a highway prepare from York Minster to take you to the museum in true prepare model.

There’s no cost for tickets (although you do must prebook), so it’s ultimate in the event you’re searching for free days out in York with children.

York Fortress Museum

There’s an entire mixture of every thing from basic toys to a recreated Victorian avenue, interval rooms and interactive enjoyable on the York Fortress Museum – ultimate in the event you’d favor some extra trendy historical past to Vikings and Romans, to assist end York’s story.

The style exhibition Shaping The Physique was one stand-out favorite, tracing the event of clothes over the centuries, with some actually quirky artefacts on show, in addition to exhibiting the methods society has modified (hurrah for no wigs, corsets and extremely flammable attire).

Probably the most memorable components is the Victorian avenue, peering into previous store home windows, discovering extra ‘genuine’ smells – and it’s all embellished with authentic gadgets too.

The location was additionally as soon as a jail, the place Dick Turpin was held earlier than his execution, with some movies bringing to life tales of individuals linked to the jail, from the final lady burned in Yorkshire by to these meting out ‘justice’.

Amongst newer historical past, there’s a really shifting part on the First World Warfare and a distinctly vibrant and upbeat room on the 60s. Nice for a wet day in York with children, however regardless of the climate, you might spend hours right here.

Try my overview of a day trip at York Fortress Museum with children

My daughter stands on the recreated Victorian Street in the York Castle Museum - one of my top things to do in York with kids

Clifford’s Tower

Little or no stays of William the Conqueror’s authentic Norman citadel in York, however you possibly can nonetheless climb the mound to see Clifford’s Tower.

The English Heritage website, as soon as a jail and a royal mint, additionally performed an key half in one of many darker chapters of York’s historical past: within the 12 century, town’s Jewish neighborhood barricaded themselves inside to flee from a mob, however all of them, round 150 folks have been killed.

The Tower reopened after a multimillion pound renovation challenge, which remodeled the historic website with a brand new inside to let guests see components they haven’t been capable of attain for hundreds of years (together with a medieval bathroom!) and with interactive displays sharing new tales to convey its historical past to life.

Clifford’s Tower can also be included within the York Metropolis Go

The Yorkshire Museum

For teenagers who love historical past, there are some fascinating displays on the Yorkshire Museum – throughout our go to, there was an opportunity to see every thing from a show on Richard III to Yorkshire’s Jurassic World, taking you again 150 million years, plus medieval and Roman York.

The truth is, there’s an entire mixture of fascinating finds: something from a fifteenth century gold ring to an extinct Nice Auk, the oldest Sauropodomorph fossil within the UK, a Roman hairpiece, a Viking sword and a meteorite that’s 4,500 billion years previous.

One other nice choice for a wet day with children in York, it’s a treasure trove of a group, with one thing to fascinate just about all ages and pursuits – an important choice for the entire household.

Historic buildings along the Shambles in York - one of the best places to visit in York with kids who love Harry Potter

The Shambles

This picturesque slim avenue was as soon as lined with butchers, whose gear gave the Shambles its identify: much more nice to stroll down nowadays, it’s one strategy to step into medieval York as you discover.

It’s additionally one of many busiest locations within the metropolis for vacationers, many flocking right here for its Harry Potter hyperlinks – an inspiration for the design of Diagon Alley, you’ll now discover magical retailers galore.

The Store Which Should Not be Named – the place my daughter acquired a pygmy Puff (I mentioned no to a Nimbus 2000 at £250…) – is among the finest, however you’ll additionally discover the Potions Cauldron (beneath) alongside right here too.

Get there early or go to out of season to skip the worst of the crowds – and preserve your eyes open for different little alleys, snickets and ginnels, as they’re identified, together with Woman Peckett’s Yard, not far-off on Fossgate, which is far quieter…

For concepts of extra issues to do in York for Harry Potter followers, try this put up, together with the North York Moors railway

The Wizard Tour of York, showing the wizard guide with frog outside one of the magical shops in the city - one of the best things to do in York with kids who love all things magical

The Wizard Stroll of York

Set off seeking magical creatures, led by the streets of York by your wizard information, on York’s solely tour particularly designed for youngsters – named the Greatest Tour of York within the Little Vikings Awards for Youngsters, voted for by households.

The multi award-winning Wizard Stroll of York tour is ideal for followers of Harry Potter though you don’t have to be an knowledgeable on the wizarding world to take pleasure in it.

Beginning and ending on the Shambles, mentioned to be one of many inspirations for Diagon Alley, the tour lasts round an hour and is aimed toward children aged 5-10, though it’s enjoyable for witches and wizards of all ages.

You may even add on a particular wand package as a fascinating memento, with a handcrafted wood wand and directions for seven tips to study at house. Runs most Saturdays and chosen different days, together with common excursions throughout faculty holidays.

My daughter points to the road sign for Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate in York

Spot York’s most well-known avenue signal

One of many shortest streets in York can also be certainly one of its most well-known – however then when you have got a reputation like Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate, you’re at all times going to face out!

My daughter didn’t altogether imagine that it existed till she noticed it along with her personal eyes…

There are numerous explanations given for the identify, though the plaque on the wall close by insists it derives from the which means ‘What a avenue!’.

As a bonus, it’s a great place to find York’s uncommon naming, a relic of its Viking previous: a avenue is named a gate, whereas the previous gates within the metropolis partitions are referred to as a bar.

Potions Cauldron

If you wish to offset the historical past, there’s loads of magic to find within the metropolis as effectively.

On the Potions Cauldron, you possibly can e-book in for a really enjoyable potions expertise, selecting from components like unicorn essence and basilisk blood, or a lion-heart potion (fruity!) to encourage braveness.

With a gently effervescent cauldron and temper lighting, plus a witch or wizard that can assist you whip up your personal concoctions, it beats stopping at a restaurant fingers down (and at lower than a fiver per head, not rather more to pay).

The Potions Cauldron at 9 3/4 Shambles - finding the best places in York for Harry Potter fans

The Gap in Wand

The sister location to the Potions Cauldron, The Gap in Wand wizarding golf is one other very enjoyable choice in case your children love magic (or simply fancy some loopy golf!)

It’s all indoor, so makes one other nice choice for York within the rain with children, and also you go away with a prize relying in your ability degree – serpent, basilisk, unicorn or wizard.

We emerged with some Basilisk Blood after finishing the critically difficult course of 9 holes. Alongside the best way, there’s a riddle to unravel, and a quest to trace down the gargoyle Grobblenook.

Throw in quirky decorations, together with dusty skulls, cauldrons, books and a ‘secret’ tunnel on the finish (plus an alternate for anybody who doesn’t fancy crawling by) – and even an opportunity to have a photograph taken in your broomstick towards a inexperienced display, leading to a shot of you flying over York.

A Very Magical Journey

Set off on a quest to trace down stolen dragon eggs with a knight of Camelot – Sir Brightheart – and his squire Godric, on A Very Magical Journey (certainly one of a number of quests happening all year long)

We turned fairly a number of heads as we strolled by the streets behind Sir Brightheart, in full knightly garb, carrying his flag to the Museum Gardens the place we tracked down our eggs on this unforgettable mini journey.

Alongside the best way, the smaller questers have been in matches of giggles because the hapless Godric discovered himself doing a rain dance in addition to getting repeatedly squirted with water.

To complete our personal knightly coaching, we ended by assembly Merlin for some potion making and discovering tips on how to blow up a balloon utilizing magic (and probably a little bit of science) – plus snacks and a drink.

York Minster

No journey to York is full with out visiting the attractive York Minster – whereas it’s one I’d in all probability skip with toddlers, there may be lots for teenagers to find inside as effectively.

A lot actually, that we didn’t depart sufficient time to see all of it!

Together with the spectacular structure and the minster’s superb stained glass home windows, there are statues of the early Kings of England (with very memorable carved hair!)

Plus you possibly can enterprise down into the Crypt to see among the stays of Roman Eboracum, in addition to the tomb of town’s saint (and a few eye-catchingly grotesque carvings).

And, in addition to some non permanent exhibitions – there was one on St Cuthbert after we visited, handily earlier than our journey to Lindisfarne – there’s a much bigger show on town’s historical past, with extra on York’s Roman previous, in addition to info on the work wanted to stop the Minster’s collapse.

For those who’re visiting the close by Treasurer’s Home, a Nationwide Belief website, there’s a home mouse path to maintain little ones entertained whereas older children benefit from the tour

York Minster can also be included within the York Metropolis Go

Van Gogh expertise

The immersive Van Gogh expertise is a tremendous strategy to convey artwork to life for teenagers, as you get to step contained in the work utilizing the most recent expertise.

Set inside St Mary’s Church, the occasion makes use of sound and light-weight to create digital projections to convey Van Gogh’s life again to life, discovering extra in regards to the man behind the Sunflowers and Starry Night time, in addition to a VR expertise that can assist you journey by eight well-known works.

Tickets can at the moment be booked to March 2024 – there’s free entry for below threes, and also you’re suggested to permit round an hour to discover.

The Van Gogh Expertise can also be included within the York Metropolis Go

Barley Corridor

It’s unimaginable to suppose that solely about 40 years in the past, this medieval townhouse was hidden by a derelict workplace block – found within the Nineteen Eighties, now you can step again in time to discover inside.

Embellished to take a look at it might have performed in round 1483, Barley Corridor – as soon as house to the Priors of Nostell and a Lord Mayor of York – has had its excessive ceilings and timber frames restored, in addition to probably the one horn window in England.

In addition to this style of fifteenth century life, there are common exhibitions – throughout our go to, a Magic & Thriller exhibition, taking a look at science, faith and magic in medieval society, and the way these overlapped, however you may as well anticipate shows themed round Shakespeare and Christmas in York.

Barley Corridor can also be included within the York Metropolis Go

Exterior of Barley Hall in York - one of the many historic attractions to visit with kids in York

York Dungeon

Like the opposite Dungeon experiences across the UK, the York Dungeon is one for teenagers (and older tweens) than extra simply scared youthful children, as you journey by 9 reside reveals with actors telling the story of York’s darkest historical past.

Assume plague, ghosts, bloodthirsty Vikings and Man Fawkes, to not point out the torturer of York Fortress.

Anticipate grotesque tales, sudden frights and spine-tingling tales as you tiptoe by 2,000 years of terrifying tales.

The York Dungeons are additionally included within the York Metropolis Go

York Cocoa Works

York was as soon as often known as the chocolate metropolis – and whereas most of the huge names whose factories as soon as scented the air have left, there’s nonetheless loads of probability to find the sweeter aspect to York.

Our favorite was a go to to York Cocoa Home, house to York Cocoa Works. In addition to maybe the very best sizzling chocolate I’ve ever tasted, you possibly can take excursions which embody a tasting and loads of chocolate trivia.

With massively educated and enthusiastic guides, yow will discover out every thing about how the squares of chocolate in entrance of you have been created, by way of rocks in sacks of cacao beans to how geography influences the style.

Even higher there are chocolate lollipop making experiences so you possibly can concoct your personal deal with, in addition to the prospect to make an entire bar and even chocolate masterclasses for older kids who love getting within the kitchen.

York’s Chocolate Story

For those who can’t have an excessive amount of chocolate, and chocolate historical past, York Chocolate Story tells you extra in regards to the historical past of town’s most well-known chocolate-making households.

And in addition to the massive names who got here up with the Chocolate Orange and Equipment Kats, you possibly can watch an indication from chocolatiers, in addition to studying how specialists style it, and in regards to the origins of chocolate.

There are additionally chocolate making experiences to be tried right here if you wish to hone your chocolate lolly-making expertise.

You too can purchase tickets with free cancellation and a small low cost utilizing my hyperlink and code MUMMYTRAVELS6 by way of tiqets.

Have a candy deal with

You don’t must go far to discover a candy deal with in York – fairly aside from chocolate galore, it’s one metropolis the place you’ll discover a tempting cafe round virtually each nook.

Betty’s is among the most well-known, though you possibly can decide up a Fats Rascal scone from one of many metropolis’s two retailers, in addition to reserving in for afternoon tea.

For those who don’t fancy braving the queues, we additionally cherished Brew and Brownie close to Museum Gardens, with flavours like Oreo, Crunchie and Kinder Bueno.

Or head to Roberto Genuine Italian Gelato close to Monk Bar, for critically good ice cream (and large scoops!), in addition to the enjoyable The Full Moo ice cream boat on the riverside, not removed from Lendal Bridge over the river Ouse.

View to Lendal Bridge and The Full Moo ice cream boat during a family holidayh in York

Museum Gardens

There are few lovelier locations on a sunny day than York’s Museum Gardens – house to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, with its hovering arches, it’s additionally a registered botanical backyard.

As you wander, you possibly can see indicators mentioning bee-friendly crops, in addition to discovering the little York Observatory within the grounds, a Roman column and the 14th century Hospitium.

An ideal place for a picnic, or simply an opportunity to sit back out with an ice cream.

View of part of the ruins of St Mary's Abbey in York in the Museum Gardens - a great place for a picnic in York with kids

Comply with the Little Vikings path

The Little Vikings ‘I Spy’ strolling path is an ideal strategy to get your bearings and uncover a few of York’s quirky particulars alongside the best way.

With 22 unexpectedly strange issues to identify as you stroll, you uncover every thing from Man Fawkes’ birthplace to slightly satan, alongside the best way.

Scattered alongside a dozen streets, it’s to not overwhelming for little legs; there’s a free map to select up from the Vacationer Data Centre or you possibly can obtain it prematurely.

However you continue to must preserve your eyes peeled – it’s a helpful information to begin you off, nevertheless it gained’t give away the precise location.

Supreme to maintain youthful children engaged as you discover in addition to a good way to find corners of town you may not in any other case go to, and an important choice in the event you’re searching for free issues to do in York.

Stroll the partitions

The longest surviving city partitions in England, York’s medieval metropolis partitions stretch for round two miles, though you may as well select to stroll a small part.

In addition to imagining what life might need been like for these guarding the historic metropolis partitions, you get some fabulous views together with again to York Minster, in addition to over the daffodils on the wall’s ramparts in Spring.

For a straightforward stroll with children, head to Bootham Bar and stroll to Monk Bar, for the expertise of heading up by one of many previous gates – they’re open from round 8am to nightfall, climate allowing, and it’s free.

The brand new Metropolis Partitions expertise in Micklegate Bar replaces the Henry VII expertise. The Richard III expertise in Monk Bar has now closed.

Metropolis Cruises York cruise

Comply with within the footsteps of the Vikings by heading out onto the River Ouse and seeing York from the water on a York boat tour from Metropolis Cruises.

There are two totally different beginning factors – Lendal Bridge or King’s Staith – however the tour itself follows the identical route, cruising previous York metropolis centre to the north, then venturing all the way down to the Millennium Bridge within the south, passing below bridges and recognizing landmarks alongside the best way.

The boat tour has reside commentary and you may sit out on the highest deck in good climate, or shelter indoors to observe by the home windows if it’s dangerous – plus there’s a small bar on board for drinks.

A relaxed strategy to sightsee, we found some quirky information, and regardless of timing our personal cruise for a distinctly wet summer time’s day, it was nonetheless a beautiful expertise.

The York Metropolis Cruises journey can also be included within the York Metropolis Go

People stroll along the River Ouse on a sunny day with one of the City Cruises boats on the river - one of my top things to do in York with kids

Self-drive cruise

For those who favor to be the captain of your personal boat, you possibly can rent one of many little self-Drive Crimson Boats and head out onto the Ouse for an hour in your personal personal craft.

With life vests for teenagers, and directions on security and river guidelines earlier than you set off, the hour-long rent session is designed to allow you to enterprise alongside the entire metropolis – you possibly can’t transcend Clifton Bridge or the Millennium Bridge, or moor as much as disembark.

There are shorter half-hour rent classes in the event you simply need a fast style of York from the water too. Boats are employed from King’s Staith.

Metropolis Sightseeing bus tour

At all times a good way to get your bearings – or to see town with out tiring out smaller legs – York’s Metropolis Sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour takes you all the way down to Clifford’s Tower, previous among the previous partitions, and out to the station (helpful in the event you’re arriving by prepare).

York is a really walkable metropolis, so it’s one you might simply discover on foot, however there’s a recorded commentary and in the event you’ve purchased the York Metropolis Go, it’s included.

Issues to do close to York with children

Whereas there are many family-friendly York points of interest to maintain you within the metropolis itself, there are many simple concepts for a day journey as effectively.

Fortress Howard

This spectacular historic home has been named England’s finest stately house by Lonely Planet, and has cropped up in so many TV reveals and movies, you’ll in all probability really feel it earlier than you arrive – round half an hour north of York, it’s simple to mix with a metropolis break too.

For those who’re visiting with younger kids who aren’t going to understand the historic interiors of Fortress Howard, you might nonetheless spend all day exploring the grounds – there’s a landtrain to take you to a play space by the lakeside, and a improbable out of doors play space to find, in addition to wandering by the woods and walled backyard.

For extra journey, the brand new treetop journey contains rope bridges, nests, slides, nets and climbing gear galore over the Nice Lake, in addition to taking boats out on the water.

The 18th century home, house to the Earls of Carlisle, is effectively price exploring as effectively, with its spectacular ornament and opulent furnishings, to not point out the artwork assortment and grandiose chapel too.

Beningbrough Corridor

Round 20 minutes from York itself, Beningbrough Corridor makes an important day trip with children, with all the standard household pleasant points of interest of a Nationwide Belief property.

The Georgian mansion is briefly closed as a part of a multi-million pound challenge (anticipated to reopen in summer time 2023) – beforehand, it was embellished as it might have been when the Corridor’s first inhabitants lived there, with dressing up and video games for teenagers to play whereas exploring, together with some art-themed interactive enjoyable.

However the grounds and gardens are nonetheless open, together with the journey playground within the wilderness, walled gardens and formal gardens plus household trails to comply with.

Two baby piglets with black spots asleep in the straw - a day out at Piglet's Adventure Farm is a great option if you're visiting York with kids

Piglets Journey Farm

Good in the event you’re visiting York with children who love animals, Piglets Journey Farm is barely round a 20-minute drive from town centre. And there’s excess of simply piglets.

Comply with the farmyard path to satisfy animals galore (and watch some pig racing), plus every thing from tractor rides to mini golf to bouncy pillows, together with an important indoor play barn and even a mini seaside at this enjoyable journey farm park.

Or you possibly can comply with the Fairy Story Path by the woodland, get behind the controls of a wood digger, stroke bunnies and brush Kune Kune pigs – plus there’s even ice cream to strive.

Be careful for all the additional actions happening 12 months spherical at Piglets Journey Farm too, particularly throughout faculty holidays. You may go pumpkin selecting in autumn, and revel in some festive enjoyable round Christmas, together with sleigh rides, in addition to lambing in spring and the maize maze in summer time.

Northwood Path & Fairy Sanctuary

Add some magic to your day trip, as you let children reconnect with nature on the Northwood Path and Fairy Sanctuary, tucked away inside hundred acres of woodland round 20 minutes from York.

The enchanting woodland path is stuffed with fairy treasures discovered through the years. You’ll cross by fairy doorways on bushes, mushroom fairy rings, and even a fairy hamlet with tree homes related by bridges and walkways. 

On the finish of the stroll, kids can benefit from the pure playground, with sandpits, a mud kitchen, tire swings, and den constructing provides.

Don’t miss the fairy museum too, the place you possibly can find out about fairy folklore and see artefacts together with fairy furnishings and tiny attire made out of foliage and feathers.

For an additional nice family-friendly metropolis break in Yorkshire, try my prime issues to do in Leeds with children in addition to extra family-friendly locations and issues to do in Yorkshire with children


The best things to do in York with kids - from Vikings and chocolate to Harry Potter, the best museums and historic attractions, walking tours, boat tour, beautiful York Minster and more. Perfect for a family holiday in York.

Disclosure: This put up incorporates some paid promotion and affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee. Some actions have been free for overview however all opinions are my very own.

Wizard Stroll of York picture courtesy of the tour, all different photographs copyright MummyTravels




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