10 Things to do in York with Kids
We recently published a post on the joys of train travel with Virgin Rail. As a result of that article we were asked if it is really possible to go away for the weekend with your family, by train, and not have to utilise any other of form of transport – the answer is, absolutely! Sitting in the middle of London and Edinburgh, via a 2 hour train journey (Virgin) we present beautiful York!
It is possible to arrive in York and not have walk for more than mile between attractions all weekend. There are extensive hotels, B&B’s and apartments to rent in the city centre, all within an easy walk of the train station. If you stay centrally, within a mile/20 minutes walk of your accommodation, you can enjoy the following activities:
Situated just behind the train station this wonderful national museum is a must! Firstly, it’s free. Secondly, it is enormous. It’s easy to can fill many any hour here (especially handy if it’s raining) exploring the majestic steam trains, electric trains, modern trains, a Japanese bullet train, the royal carriages, indoor picnic area, outside playpark, indoor soft play and the many interactive activities dotted around……you get the idea, lots to do! I would not describe myself as a train enthusiast at all, however a trip to the National Railway Museum is always as fun for the adults as it is the children.
Today marks 20 years since we first read about Platform 9¾ and the famous Hogwarts Express in JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.’ Here’s a celebratory throwback to when the the Olton Hall no. 5972 was here at the National Railway Museum. • #HarryPotter20 #HarryPotter #HogwartsExpress #Pottermore
Walk the Walls
Central York is surrounded by an almost complete medieval wall. You can walk on top of the wall (about 2 miles, not buggy friendly, slippery in the rain) and circle the city, for free. Your raised position takes in some wonderful views and gives access to the unseen rear of some of York’s most splendid gardens and houses. There are some lovely little coffee shops dotted along the walls should all the exertion demand tea and cake! There are numerous guided walking tours of the Walls and other areas of York (I particularly recommend the tour of the famous snickelways!), many are free, a quick Google search will turn up numerous options.
The Minster towers over the centre of York. It is quite simply the most magnificent building just to take a stroll around outside. The lovely gardens and the surrounding Minster buildings are often used in historical dramatisations on television and film. It is very easy to spend a couple of hours in the Minster, it is vast. There is so much to explore and children are given an activity to book to assist in that exploration.
A Ghost Tour!
York has a long and bloody past, and was once known as the city of asylums. It’s therefore no surprise to learn that there are many ghost stories emanating from the snickleways and church yards. All good fun, the evening tours are run my experienced and talented story tellers. There are many choose from, but we’ve detailed 2 of the most popular. Not for the under 10’s.
The ground floor of the museum takes the form of a Victorian shopping street. All the shops are fully stocked with their wares, there are usually character actors dotted around too. Other exhibitions on higher floors include WWI, a prison, fashion and chocolate. The Victorian street is however always the favourite of our children. Allow a couple of hours for a visit and bare in mind that you will need to use a baby sling (which are loaned for free) rather than a pushchair).
An interactive children’s archology museum. There is quite a bit of standing around for the adults (allow about an hour inside), however the children love it! The earth they are digging in is not real, so no need to worry about filthy trousers.
— The JORVIK Group (@TheJorvikGroup) October 25, 2017
Set in the grounds of the old Abbey, on the river side, and housing The Hospitium (www.yorkmuseumgardens.org.uk/about/the-hospitium), Yorkshire Museum (www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk) and York Observatory (www.yorkmuseumgardens.org.uk/about/york-observatory) and adjoining York Art Gallery (www.yorkartgallery.org.uk) and Kings Manor (www.yorkshire.com/view/attractions/york/kings-manor-125585). The Gardens are busy all year round. The Abbey ruins make the best climbing frames! There are plenty of squirrels and birds, all very tame, running around and entertaining the children. The Gardens also join up to the gardens of the Art Gallery which are slightly more formal and contain an edible garden. A very popular spot for a picnic in the summer or a stroll in the winter, hot chocolate in hand (try Mannions or Brew and Brownie, just over the road from the main entrance).
The Theatre Royal, The Grand Opera House, The Barbican, City Screen Picture House
During the school holidays all 3 of the theatres usually have children’s production on and City Screen Cinema has special children’s showing every day. The Theatre Royal often offers a children’s activity before one of the shows. City Screen also has a Kid’s Club every Saturday morning, with a half hour craft activity prior to the film then only £2 a ticket for the film.
A museum of chocolate, what’s not to like?! From the Inca’s spiced coca drink right through to today’s many chocolatey delights, the museum is an interactive tour of various rooms detailing the history of chocolate and York’s involvement in the story. Every room includes something to taste, much to the delight of the children. At the end of the tour children are given a chance to make their own chocolate lolly to take home and Much (or more likely, within 2 minutes of leaving the building!).
………………..and there’s more!
There is a lot more to do if you still need ideas:
- Treasurer’s House (National Trust)
- Cliffords Tower (English Heritage)
- Merchant Adventures Hall (make sure to grab a bite to eat in the excellent Café No 8!)
- York Art Gallery
- Jorvik Centre
- York Dungeons
- City Cruises (cruise the river on a guided tour, or hire your own boat)
- Hire a bike (Cycle Heaven have a centre at the train station)
York is a small city, cram packed with excellent places for families to stay, eat and have fun. No car or long treks necessary – enjoy!
and you can also read another locals guide to York here.