The most effective issues to do in York with youngsters

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

Brightly coloured sign spelling out York with a view of York Minster behind

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 road meals dotted in every single place, a welcoming vibe and distinctive really feel (when a variety of metropolis breaks begin to blur into one), each time I go to, I vow to return again once more and as usually as I can.

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

Jorvik Viking Centre

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

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

Try my Jorvik Viking Centre evaluate for extra of our favorite elements 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 trip (presently 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 right down to modelling a number of the inhabitants on skeletons which have been unearthed.

After the trip itself, you may 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 a fantastic one to mix with a go to to Dig (learn on!), to let youngsters 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 Move

Jorvik Dig: An archaeological journey

In the event you’ve ever fancied being an archaeologist, then Dig: An Archaeological Journey, a sister attraction to Jorvik Viking Centre, is 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 individual hand at digging in replicas of a number of 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 a number of the totally different finds.

I can’t consider a greater strategy to get youngsters engaged with York’s historical past. There’s just a little 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 Move – try my evaluate 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

House 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 youths, particularly youthful youngsters.

In addition to with the ability to get shut to those legendary locomotives within the large museum shed, you may see inside royal carriages and take a look at a simulator expertise, placing you (just about) on the footplate of The Mallard, the world’s quickest steam locomotive.

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

There’s no cost for tickets (although you do have to prebook), so it’s very best if you happen to’re on the lookout for free days out in York with youngsters.

York Fort Museum

There’s an entire mixture of every thing from traditional toys to a recreated Victorian road, interval rooms and interactive enjoyable on the York Fort Museum – very best if you happen to’d choose some extra fashionable 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 clothes).

Some of the memorable elements is the Victorian road, peering into outdated store home windows, discovering extra ‘genuine’ smells – and it’s all embellished with authentic objects too.

The positioning 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 girl burned in Yorkshire by to these meting out ‘justice’.

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

Try my evaluate of a day trip at York Fort Museum with youngsters

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 fortress in York, however you may nonetheless climb the mound to see Clifford’s Tower.

The English Heritage web site, 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 venture, which reworked the historic web site with a brand new inside to let guests see elements they haven’t been capable of attain for hundreds of years (together with a medieval bathroom!) and with new tales bringing its historical past to life.

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

The Yorkshire Museum

For youths who love historical past, there are some fascinating reveals 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.

Actually, 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 outdated.

One other nice possibility for a wet day with youngsters in York, it’s a treasure trove of a group, with one thing to fascinate just about all ages and pursuits.

Historic buildings along the Shambles in York - finding the best places in York for Harry Potter fans

The Shambles

This picturesque slim road was as soon as lined with butchers, whose gear gave the Shambles its identify: much more nice to stroll down today, 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 stated 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 hold your eyes open for different little alleys, snickets and ginnels, as they’re recognized, together with Girl Peckett’s Yard, not distant on Fossgate, which is way quieter…

For concepts of extra issues to do in York for Harry Potter followers, try this put up

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

Spot York’s most well-known road signal

One of many shortest streets in York can also be one in every 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 together 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 road!’.

As a bonus, it’s a superb place to find York’s uncommon naming, a relic of its Viking previous: a road known as a gate, whereas the outdated 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 nicely.

On the Potions Cauldron, you may e book in for a really enjoyable potions expertise, selecting from substances 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 will help you whip up your individual 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 possibility in case your youngsters love magic (or simply fancy some loopy golf!)

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

We emerged with some Basilisk Blood after finishing the critically tough course of 9 holes. Alongside the way in which, there’s a riddle to resolve, 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 another for anybody who doesn’t fancy crawling by) – and even an opportunity to have a photograph taken in your broomstick in opposition to a inexperienced display screen, 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 (one in every of a number of quests going down 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 way in which, the smaller questers have been in suits 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 blow up a balloon utilizing magic (and presumably 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 youths to find inside as nicely.

A lot in reality, that we didn’t go away 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 may enterprise down into the Crypt to see a number of 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 momentary 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.

York Minster can also be included within the York Metropolis Move

Van Gogh expertise

The immersive Van Gogh expertise is an incredible strategy to convey artwork to life for youths, as you get to step contained in the work utilizing the newest 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 Evening, in addition to a VR expertise that will help you journey by eight well-known works.

Tickets can presently be booked to December 2022 – underneath threes go to free, and also you’re suggested to permit round an hour to discover.

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

Barley Corridor

It’s extremely to assume 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 will have performed in round 1483, Barley Corridor – as soon as dwelling to the Priors of Nostell and a Lord Mayor of York – has had its excessive ceilings and timber frames restored, in addition to presumably 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 can even anticipate shows themed round Shakespeare and Christmas in York.

Barley Corridor can also be included within the York Metropolis Move

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 youngsters, as you journey by 9 stay reveals with actors telling the story of York’s darkest historical past.

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

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

The York Dungeon can also be included within the York Metropolis Move

York Cocoa Works

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

Our favorite was a go to to York Cocoa Home, dwelling to York Cocoa Works. In addition to maybe one of the best sizzling chocolate I’ve ever tasted, you may take excursions which embrace a tasting and loads of chocolate trivia.

With vastly educated and enthusiastic guides, you’ll find 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 may concoct your individual deal with, in addition to the prospect to make an entire bar and even chocolate masterclasses for older youngsters who love getting within the kitchen.

York’s Chocolate Story

In the event you can’t have an excessive amount of chocolate, and chocolate historical past, York’s 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 large names who got here up with the Chocolate Orange and Package Kats, you may watch an illustration from chocolatiers, in addition to studying how consultants 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 abilities.

You may also purchase tickets with free cancellation on 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 may choose up a Fats Rascal scone from one of many metropolis’s two retailers, in addition to reserving in for afternoon tea.

In the event you don’t fancy braving the queues, we additionally beloved 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 massive 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 – dwelling to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, with its hovering arches, it’s additionally a registered botanical backyard.

As you wander, you may see indicators declaring 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 relax 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

Observe 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 way in which.

With 22 unexpectedly extraordinary issues to identify as you stroll, you uncover every thing from Man Fawkes’ birthplace to just a little satan, alongside the way in which.

Scattered alongside a dozen streets, there’s a free map to select up from the Vacationer Info Centre or you may obtain it upfront.

However you continue to have to hold your eyes peeled – it’s a useful information to begin you off, nevertheless it received’t give away the precise location.

Ideally suited to maintain youthful youngsters engaged as you discover in addition to a good way to find corners of town you won’t in any other case go to, and a fantastic possibility if you happen to’re on the lookout 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 can even select to stroll a small part.

In addition to imagining what life may need been like for these guarding the 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 youngsters, head to Bootham Bar and stroll to Monk Bar, for the expertise of heading up by one of many outdated 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 is closed however has been operating digital occasions, with plans to open to occasional excursions through the summer time months.

Metropolis Cruises York cruise

Observe 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 town centre to the north, then venturing right down to the Millennium Bridge within the south, passing underneath bridges and recognizing landmarks alongside the way in which.

The boat tour has stay 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 details, 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 Move

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

In the event you choose to be the captain of your individual boat, you may rent one of many little self-Drive Crimson Boats and head out onto the Ouse for an hour in your individual personal craft.

With life vests for youths, 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 may’t transcend Clifton Bridge or the Millennium Bridge, or moor as much as disembark.

There are shorter half-hour rent classes if you happen to 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 right down to Clifford’s Tower, previous a number of the outdated partitions, and out to the station (useful if you happen to’re arriving by prepare).

York is a really walkable metropolis, so it’s one you can simply discover on foot, however there’s a recorded commentary and if you happen to’ve purchased the York Metropolis Move, it’s included.

Issues to do close to York with youngsters

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

Fort Howard

This spectacular historic home has been named England’s finest stately dwelling 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 straightforward to mix with a metropolis break too.

In the event you’re visiting with youthful youngsters who aren’t going to understand the historic interiors of Fort Howard, you can nonetheless spend all day exploring the grounds – there’s a landtrain to take you to a play space by the lakeside, and an journey playground to find, in addition to wandering by the woods and walled backyard.

For extra journey, the brand new treetop journey consists of 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, dwelling to the Earls of Carlisle, is nicely value exploring as nicely, 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 a fantastic day trip with youngsters, with all the same old household pleasant points of interest of a Nationwide Belief property.

The Georgian mansion is briefly closed as a part of a multi-million pound venture (anticipated to reopen in summer time 2023) – beforehand, it was embellished as it will have been when the Corridor’s first inhabitants lived there, with dressing up and video games for youths 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 observe.

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

Excellent if you happen to’re visiting York with youngsters who love animals, Piglets Journey Farm is just round a 20-minute drive from town centre. And there’s way over simply piglets.

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

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

Be careful for all the additional actions going down yr spherical at Piglets Journey Farm too, particularly throughout college 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 youngsters 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 over time. You’ll move by fairy doorways on bushes, mushroom fairy rings, and even a fairy hamlet with tree homes linked by bridges and walkways. 

On the finish of the stroll, youngsters 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 may study fairy folklore and see artefacts together with fairy furnishings and tiny clothes created from foliage and feathers.

For one more nice family-friendly metropolis break in Yorkshire, try my prime issues to do in Leeds with youngsters in addition to extra concepts for issues to do in Yorkshire with youngsters


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 accommodates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I’ll obtain a small fee. Some actions have been free for evaluate however all opinions are my very own.

Photographs copyright MummyTravels



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