Not without its critics (as always), Hull was UK City of Culture in 2017, and what an amazing year it was. Those that doubted that Kingston-upon-Hull, to give it its full name, would not be able to pull anything off to justify the title were proven wrong. Frequently. So here are 10 Things to do in Hull with Kids.
Firstly where is Hull?
For those that are unsure where Hull is – and experience shows me that there are plenty of people who are – it is in East Yorkshire, on the Humber estuary, at the opposite end of the M62 to Liverpool. It’s a maritime city with a rich heritage and plenty of culture to go around. It’s held the title of crappest city, and suffered immensely during post-industrialisation. It’s seen its share of tragedy and turmoil, and it’s come out the other end that little bit stronger, and it’s glorious.
The UK City of Culture year provided residents and visitors alike with plenty of entertainment and education. Investment has seen a massive improvement in the city centre in particular. There are new pedestrian areas, and the whole city just feels that bit more ready for visitors. While City of Culture hasn’t left us with much more to do in particular, the truth is that there’s always been lots to offer – you just need to know where to look!
In no particular order
The Deep is the world’s only ‘Submarium’ – which is basically us naming what is a very good aquarium and dubiously claiming a world’s first. It’s bigger and better than your average Sealife centre. There are penguins, and a good collection of sharks and sawfish. The glass-sided lift is the signature attraction. It really is the best aquarium I’ve ever visited, and is perfect way to mark and celebrate Hull’s relationship with the sea.
The Ferens Art Gallery
Recently renovated in time for hosting the 2017 Turner Prize, the Ferens has an impressive collection of art both from home and abroad. It is in a beautiful building on Queen Victoria Square, and it’s entirely free to all visitors. Permanent exhibitions include work from David Hockney, Lorenzetti, and Canaletto. There is also a children’s gallery perfect for younger visitors to learn more about art.
The Maritime Museum
Another museum acknowledging Hull’s turbulent relationship with the sea is The Maritime Museum. Opposite Ferens Art Gallery on Queen Victoria Square, the museum houses artefacts from the city’s whaling and shipping history, including a full sized whale skeleton and a stuffed polar bear. If you’re a fan of boats or maritime history, this place is great, if not a little grim in places for younger people.
Rock Up Hull
One of only three Rock Ups in the UK, the new Rock Up Hull in St Stephens is very good. It’s a climbing centre which is bright and built for smaller limbs. My children love it! There is also a small soft play area for tots, and a café bar for us grown ups. St Stephen’s shopping centre houses stores such as H&M, The Body Shop, and TK Maxx. No reason you can’t drop your child off and then have a little ‘me time’ for an hour or so, no?
The Streetlife Museum
The museums quarter on Hull’s High Street is home to three museums – the best of which for smaller people being the Streetlife Museum. It’s a two-storey collection of trams, bicycles and general street life paraphernalia. You can sit on the trams and look inside a real railway signal box. You can peer inside ye olde shop windows, and explore cobbled streets. It really is very good, and again, totally free.
The Hull and East Riding Museum
Right next door to the Streetlife Museum is the Hull and East Riding Museum. This is a complete history of the local area told through dioramas and real life artefacts found in the local area. There are displays on Saxons, and Vikings, and Romans. There are real mosaics, and the museum is home to the Hasholme Logboat, a preserved (mostly) iron-age boat found some 30 miles away towards York. Again, totally FREE!
The Seven Seas Fish Trail
The (almost) world-famous fish trail starts from Hull City Hall on Queen Victoria Square and takes you around the old town, across to the marina and trendy Fruit Market area, back up the River Hull to the museums quarter, and then back to where you started. You visit the pub where old Hullensians plotted to lock the King out of the city (an act which started the English Civil War), the newly renamed Hull Minster, and the beautiful marina and pier. Such history! The children won’t appreciate any of this at all, but they will have a lot of fun finding fish art in the pavements and buildings and checking them off their list. Make sure you collect a map from the tourist information centre, or print one off before you go.
Visit during October and you may catch Hull Fair. On Walton Street, a couple of miles west of the city centre, the fair has been stopping in Hull for over 700 years. It is famed to be the biggest travelling funfair in Europe and it really is massive. There are hundreds of rides, sideshows, and food carts, and it’s a plethora of lights and noise. It’s best visited in the early evening with children. Later it can get very busy, particularly at the weekend, and very cold – it is October on the Yorkshire coast after all! Free to enter – just pay for your rides and food.
East Park, West Park, and Pearson Park
Hull has a good collection of Victorian parks. My stomping ground growing up was East Park with its boating lake, splash boat, and animal education centre. Smaller and also good for children, Pearson Park has a tropical animal house and duck pond, as well as the requisite monuments and ornamental gardens. West Park is good too, if I have to admit it. Again, all totally free apart from the hire charges for the attractions and the obligatory ice-cream.
The Humber Bridge
Actually not in Hull, but just outside officially in the town of Hessle, The Humber Bridge is possibly the most iconic of Hull’s structures. It opened in the 1970s to link East Yorkshire with North Lincolnshire, which is handy, you know if you want to go to Grimsby or Scunny. It’s an architectural masterpiece and brilliant for a bracing walk across to Barton and then back again. You can park at the visitor centre car park, and also visit Humber Bridge Country Park down below for a nature walk and a picnic. Cycles welcome.
So, there you have it – 10 Things to do in Hull with Kids. There are many more, but you’ll find out what if you make the effort to come. Please do – it’s not as rubbish as it’s believed to be!
by Joanne of www.kidsdaysoutreviews.co.uk