25 Great Days Out across Yorkshire
One of the most popular attractions in Yorkshire, award-winning Flamingo Land gives you different two days out, because it’s not just a theme park, it’s a zoo too. With record-breaking rides including the stomach churning Mumbo Jumbo with its 112° vertical drop, and the swinging, rotating Flip Flop ride (not for the fainthearted), or the more family-friendly Zooom roller coaster and River Ride, there’s plenty of choice depending on how brave you are all feeling, and for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground there’s always the zoo. Meet a Creature as the Chief Education Officer brings out a host of creepy crawlies, snakes or frogs for you to see up close, and don’t miss the cute red panda, the entertaining ostrich and the stunning Sumatran tiger.
Malton, YO17 6XY
Fun and educational, JORVIK Viking Centre is one of the most popular attractions in the UK. With reconstructed Viking streets, you can actually see what York would have been like 1,000 years ago. Reopened in 2017 after devastating floods, the centre has an updated ride experience and state-of-the-art galleries showcasing their unique collection of 1,000-year-old artefacts, and plenty of interactive displays to tell you all about what they found on their five-year dig on Coppergate. Jorvik’s extraordinary Coppergate DIG experience is tucked away beneath the well-trodden streets of York, and has four replica excavation pits where the kids can dig for themselves, discovering a host of treasures based on real artefacts that act as clues, learning about how the Vikings lived and died, and the legacy they left behind.
Coppergate, York YO1 9WT
Scare the family silly at York Dungeon. This 75-minute adventure takes you through the city’s gory past, with actors and special effects bringing 2,000 years of history to life with fun facts, making for an exciting family trip – especially for those that love the slightly seamier side of history. With nine different shows covering everything from the Vikings to Guy Fawkes and everyone’s favourite highwayman Dick Turpin, and the opportunity to add on a Walking Tour combining the city’s dark past with a tour of its most infamous landmarks, this is a great way to while away a good part of the day.
12 Clifford Street, York YO1 9RD
If you’re looking for a quintessential seaside experience, look no further than Saltburn-by-the-Sea. This picture-perfect town retains all of its Victorian charm, and strolling through the streets it seems little has changed since the 19th century. Thankfully, the shops and restaurants are thoroughly up to date, but you can still enjoy the unspoilt views of curving golden sands and rugged cliffs – accompanied by a bag of chips or an ice cream. Don’t miss the Saltburn Cliff Tramway, the oldest water-balanced funicular still in operation in the country taking visitors up and down the cliff face, Saltburn’s 600-foot long Victorian pier (the last surviving pier on the North East coast), and the wide beach which is popular with surfers and annually hosts one of the UK’s biggest surf competitions. Want to learn to surf yourself? Saltburn Surf School is the only surf school on our coast approved by Surfing Great Britain. Away from the beach, take a trip on the Saltburn Miniature Railway. Feel free to hop off at the grassy picnic and play area to make a day of it. If you stay on until the end of the line you can walk over the bridge to the Italian gardens and Victorian tearoom, or just enjoy the tranquil journey back towards town.
Saltburn-by-the-Sea TS12 1HA
This collection of weird and wonderful rock formations, on a site of special scientific interest, makes for a great family day out. The rocks, sculpted by the movement of entire continents and hundreds of thousands of years of ice, rain and wind, now resemble creatures so look out for some familiar shapes, with the Dancing Bear, the Eagle and the Gorilla among them. The more nimble can crawl through the Smartie Tube, and balance on the Rocking Stones. Some of the most iconic rock formations can be seen just a 10-minute walk from the car park, but we suggest you bring a picnic and let the kids roam the site whilst you take in the breathing views of the surrounding countryside. Brimham Rocks is home to three rare species of heather, and with 70 bird boxes on the site, keep an eye out for spotted flycatchers, treecreepers and owls.
Summerbridge, Harrogate HG3 4DW
Sewerby Hall, Gardens & Zoo
Restored to its Edwardian glory, this Grade-I listed house is well worth exploring before you head out into the walled garden, pleasure garden, picnic areas and the zoo. The Georgian core of the house was built 1714–1720 by John Graeme, with later additions in 1808, the 1830s, 40s, and 90s; Sewerby is a tour through architectural history. A total restoration in 2014 saw the hall re-presented as an Edwardian Country house, circa 1910. The rooms are furnished with impressive pieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as other important collections. Don’t miss the Amy Johnson collection where you can see memorabilia of Hull-born aviatrix Amy, who was invited to open the Hall to the public in 1936. Outside there are 50 acres of gardens and woodland and at the zoo you’ll encounter animals from various countries including Taiwanese sika deer, Cameroon sheep and a colony of humboldt penguins.
Church Lane, Sewerby, Bridlington YO15 1ED
The vast collection of train-related artefacts here includes 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals, 11,000 posters, 2,300 prints and drawings, 1,000 paintings and 1.75 million photographs – as well as railway uniforms and costumes, equipment, documents and records. Sound like a lot to get through? Make the most of the free, timed and guided routes around the museum, which will allow you to take in exhibits including the George Cross medal awarded to train driver Wallace Oakes for staying aboard a burning locomotive to prevent a serious accident, and a section of the original Britannia Bridge.
Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ
Founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks, this beautifully-preserved Cistercian abbey was disbanded by King Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries. In the 18th century, the surrounding woods and valleys were turned into the Georgian water gardens of Studley Royal, flanked by a deer park which is now home to more than 500 deer. The estate is also home to Fountains Mill, built by the monks in the 12th century, and a modern play area with a mini wooden abbey, a woodland house, swings, scramble nets and a gigantic zip wire – there are plenty of perfect spots to stop, relax and refuel, so be sure to pack a picnic.
Fountains, Ripon HG4 3DY
Making the most of the high and low tides at Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington and Flamborough, enjoy the Yorkshire coastline with adrenaline-fuelled activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, as well as coasteering and dinghy sailing, with expert tuition available to help you stay safe as you take to the water.
Filey YO14 9QR
A real family favourite, The Forbidden Corner is a weird and wonderful place, with a labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers, strange and unnerving statues, surprising follies and more than a few dead ends. The temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle, a huge pyramid made of translucent glass, paths and passages that lead nowhere – at every turn there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid. Originally designed as a private garden and folly, this is a day out with a difference which will keep everyone entertained, and the Corner Café will keep everyone fuelled up throughout the day.
The Tupgill Park Estate, Coverham, Middleham DL8 4TJ
Built by John Nevill, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, this medieval castle sits in 200 acres of deer park and gardens. The castle itself has a fascinating history, originally built as a palace fortress, it was home to Cecily Nevill, mother of two kings of England, and it played a prominent part in the Rising of the North and was a Parliamentary stronghold during the Civil War. Inside is a mix of Medieval, Regency and Victorian interiors where you’ll find important art and furniture dating from the 17th through to the 20th century. Don’t miss the spectacular 1840s Octagon Drawing Room, the historic Baron’s Hall, and the kitchen, built in 1360 and still presented very much as it would have been in medieval times. The castle’s coach house and stables were designed by renowned architect John Carr in the late 1700s and are well worth a visit to find the unique collection of coaches and travelling chariots, and the livery worn by the coachmen of Raby. The castle grounds include five acres of traditional 18th century walled garden with a fig house, rose garden and plenty of ornamental features worth finding. Youngsters will love the Woodland Adventure Playground whist the more energetic can hire bikes to explore more of the vast grounds, keeping an eye on the herds of grazing red and fallow deer.
Staindrop, County Durham DL2 3AH
Renowned as one of the most comprehensive and immersive World War II museums, award-winning Eden Camp is built on a real POW camp with 29 huts full of gritty history, plus a ‘Dig for Victory’ garden and a military garage. Visitors can explore the sights, sounds and smells of the war in incredible detail, from the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party to the Blitz, women at war, the Home Front and post-WWII conflicts. On your way round the museum you’ll find a useful Operation Overview box on the museum’s new display boards, highlighting key information for a summary of the most salient points. A new exhibition, Letters from Betty, (27th–30th August 2021) follows a sailor’s perspective on life at sea during the war, and gives a touching insight into his growing relationship with Betty. It’s a fusion of history and modern storytelling revealing the thoughts, hopes, humour and expectations of individuals in war time Britain, and is a poignant reminder that even in the darkest times, hope prevails.
Malton YO17 6RT
With glacial valleys to the south and an upland plateau to the north, the varied landscape makes this a brilliant day out for active families. Dalby Forest has miles and miles of cycles routes, snaking across 8,000 acres, so you can easily explore it on two wheels. Try the Explorer Ride (14 miles), the Green Cycle Route (six miles) which circles the high plateau around Adderstone, or have a crack at the Green Ellerburn Family Cycle Route, an easy, two-mile trail that’s great for kids who are just learning to ride their bike. There are alternative trails for serious mountain bikers, and Dixon’s Hollow Bike Park, a 4X skills course, with dirt jumps and pump track. You’ll also find an adventure playground and the famous Gruffalo Spotters Trail here, an eco-friendly visitor centre and a café. Whether walking, running or cycling, Dalby Forest is home to an abundance of internationally-important wildlife species, and is also a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site, where you can experience the magic of seeing the Milky Way with the naked eye should you stay late enough.
North Yorkshire YO18 7LT
A great place for everyone to learn through play, the kids can explore how photography was invented in the Kodak Gallery, ignite their curiosity in the Wonderlab with its mind-bending exhibits, and play their way through the enthralling history of video gaming which will take them through the timeline from 1952, through the arcade games of the 80s, to today’s most popular groundbreaking games, with the opportunity to play some of the well-known ones. Live experiments and extraordinary experiences will feed their curiosity. Find the answers to the many questions posed by the ever-changing world around you, and discover how the basics of light and sound form the building blocks of the technology and media so important to our everyday lives. A great day out for all the family, the museum is free but must be booked in advance, and be sure to book your time slots for the permanent displays.
Bradford BD1 1NQ
This instantly recognisable limestone amphitheatre is a cliff formation made of limestone with a vertical sheer face, popular with abseilers and climbers, and more than 260 feet high. Famous long before its limestone pavement made an appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it has featured in many TV programmes over time, and has attracted visitors for centuries. Formed by an ice-age river, you can climb the steps up the steep side of the cove, which are part of the Pennine Way, to admire the breathtaking view from the top of the cove out over the Yorkshire Dales National Park stretching far below. A more gentle climb to the same spot is via Janet’s Foss, a tranquil, wooded spot with a stunning waterfall where Gordale Beck drops over a limestone outcrop into a deep pool below (traditionally used for sheep dipping), looking out for the lucky penny tree stumps which are home to hundreds of coins, old and new, on the way. (Janet was the Queen of the fairies and lived in a cave behind the falls). From there, carry on to the steeply-sided Gordale Scar, before heading over open fields to the top of the cove. Don’t miss a detour to Malham Tarn too. A natural hollow in the boulder clay, this glacial lake is one of only eight upland, alkaline lakes in Europe, and the highest in the UK. It’s a dramatic, open area of limestone pavement and grassland, high peaks and rocky outcrops, and is internationally important for the variety of flowers and other wildlife you can find here.
Malham, North Yorkshire
With more than 400 animals and 70 different species, this is your chance to get right up close to a whole host of exotic animals. Take a walk on the wild side as you wander around the park meeting amazing animals including lions, polar bears, tigers, giraffes, meerkats and zebras. It’s one of Yorkshire’s best family days out with a full programme of ranger talks (restarting 21st June 2021) and a chance to learn about the vital work the park does with charities to help the conservation of the many endangered species found in the wild (and in the Park). Book a special Meet The Animal experience to get face to face – choose from Meerkats, Lemurs and Wallabys – and feed your favourites (helped by a ranger of course).
Brockholes Lane, Branton, Doncaster DN3 3NH
There’s a lot to pack in to a day out in beautiful Wensleydale. First stop is Bolton Castle, one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England. Soak up the history (all 600 years) on a castle tour, explore the maze, enjoy the daily displays of falconry in the castle’s grounds and look out for the special events, such as an Audience with Mary Queen of Scots, which take place over the summer. For keen history buffs, or anyone interested in farming, don’t miss the Dales Countryside Museum in nearby Hawes. Housed in a Victorian railway station there’s a programme of activities and exhibitions which depict the changes to farming life in the Dales over time and an opportunity to try some traditional crafts at the Creation Station. Hawes is also home to the famous Wensleydale Creamery where you can watch Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese being made. End the day at Aysgarth Falls, made famous by Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, (although the falls have attracted tourists for over 200 years) and which were visited by Wordsworth and sketched by Turner. There are lots of easy walks beside the three-stepped waterfalls and through the woods, which tumble down to the river’s edge.
The Deep operates as an education and conservation charity, and in recent years has become an international player in marine conservation working to make an impact in the protection of our oceans. It is also one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world – home to 5,000 animals including magnificent sharks and rays. The dramatic building, which overlooks the Humber estuary, was designed by world class architects, Sir Terry Farrell and Partners, with different zones for different animals, from shallow tropical lagoons to the darkest depths of the coldest oceans. Spend the day with these sea creatures, travelling from oceans past and into the future, finding 5,000 different species amongst 50 different displays.
Tower Street, Hull HU1 4DP
It’s a little city that’s got a lot going on. The fourth smallest city in England, there’s a trio of award-winning museums and a Gothic cathedral, a bustling market place and small streets and snickets where you’ll find a brilliantly eclectic mix of independent shops and cosy cafés. The 7th century cathedral, with its Saxon crypt, dominates the landscape. Ripon Cathedral dates back to 672 when St Wilfrid, Abbot of Ripon’s monastery, took the bold step of building a stone basilica with a crypt, bringing a style of building he had admired in Rome to the Kingdom of Northumbria. The crypt survives to this day and lays claim to being the oldest structure of any English church. Above ground, the current building was completed in 1180 and was as ornate as possible to promote pilgrimages to St Wilfrid’s crypt. The cathedral’s stunning interior is famous for its carved choir stalls and misericords, which date from between 1489 and 1494, and the characters, in the dress of the time, depict moralistic scenes, mythological creatures and some biblical episodes. The misericords apparently inspired many of the characters in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, as Carroll himself was known to spend hours looking at the cathedral’s carvings when visiting his father, who was Canon here in the 1850s. Ripon’s three museums, the Workhouse Museum & Garden, where the grim atmosphere of the workhouse has been carefully maintained to give visitors and idea of what life in a Victorian workhouse would have been like, the Prison & Police Museum with its whitewashed cells, barred windows and fascinating look at the history of policing in Yorkshire, and the Courthouse Museum, virtually unchanged since it was built in the 1830s, are all well worth a visit. Ripon’s canal was built by engineer John Smith to connect Ripon to the navigable section of the River Ure, and thence to York and Hull. It opened in 1773 with moderate success, but the canal banks are still a popular place for walkers, as are the river banks of Ripon’s three rivers; the Skell, the Laver and the Ure, which all converge to leave the city as one, heading on to Boroughbridge. There are lots of great walks in and around Ripon. The Sanctuary Way, starting at the cathedral’s door, is a marked trail around the city that traces the original boundary of the area of sanctuary granted to Ripon in 937. Choose from three versions of the route with lengths that vary between four and 10 miles. Information boards along the way share some of the fascinating facts and history of the city, and the full circuit takes in Ripon’s rural boundary, crossing rivers, farmland and a nature reserve. There is a well-mapped walk between Ripon and Fountains Abbey and Studely Royal Park which takes in the Valley of the Seven Bridges, an impressive gorge with seven quaint stone bridges. If you are around for the day, don’t miss Newby Hall, just a few miles away, with probably the finest collection of Roman statuary in private hands in Britain. Kids will love Giles Brandreth’s Teddy Bear Collection in the Bear House, the miniature railway, the adventure playground and the Dollhouse Collection, one of the finest collections of dollhouses and miniatures in the world, whilst the award-winning gardens might be more appealing to parents!
For kids what greater pleasure is there than the temptation of stepping stones – fraught with the possibility of a good soaking should you miss your step. At Bolton Abbey there are 60 stretching across the River Wharfe just made for lots of family fun (just remember to take a towel!). Part of the expansive Bolton Abbey Estate, on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the ruined abbey was founded in the 12th century, but there’s plenty of space here to run free and explore too. Don’t miss the walking trails along the river bank and through Strid Wood where you’ll find a lucky money tree, and if it’s hot, the river is safe for paddling.
Skipton BD23 6EX
As one of the original seaside resorts, Scarborough is a town of two halves, with the very different North and South Bays split by a dramatic headland. There are lots of thing to do here if donkey rides and digging in the sand become a bit boring. Sea Life Scarborough, located on North Bay, offers a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits where you can see seals, otters, adorable penguins and even sharks. But our highlight has to be the new Rainforest Adventure where, if you’re brave enough, you’ll see lizards and critters and come scarily close to the Green Tree Pythons. Sitting proudly on the prominent headland between the town’s North and South Bays, Scarborough Castle offers panoramic views from its battlement platforms. Its iconic 12th-century great tower is the centrepiece of a royal castle, which was begun by Henry II, and you can walk around the ruin learning more about the castle’s vital role in the Middle Ages and the civil war. One of the oldest purpose-built museums still in use in the UK, Scarborough’s Rotunda is filled with fossils found on Yorkshire’s coast as well as objects from Star Carr and the skeleton and coffin of a Bronze Age man. This 19th century, Grade-II listed museum is a real treasure trove to explore. Also in the town, one of the most-loved features of the famous South Cliff Gardens, the Italian Gardens, were created in the early 20th century by Scarborough landscape designer Harry W Smith. The work took more than 40 years to complete and today they feature formal planting, seating and a fishpond overseen by the Roman god, Mercury – and don’t miss Scarborough’s much-loved Stephen Joseph Theatre, where there are plenty of workshops to get involved in as well as the theatre and cinema. Back on the beach, the family-centric South Bay is the busiest as its waters are sheltered by the headland and it is nearer to the town centre and all its amusements (and ice cream). Quieter North Bay has a chalet-lined promenade, sweeping past Alpamare Waterpark to the Sea Life Centre. But away from all the hustle and bustle are Cornelian Bay, great for rock pooling, and the much quieter Cayton Bay to the south (between Scarborough and Filey). Backed by cliffs and woodland which spills down to the beach, this large sweeping bay is a great for a family day out. Pack a picnic for a day on the sand, although there is a little café/beach shack here, half way up the dunes, selling drinks and ice cream.
Contrary to popular opinion Hull is not dull – arts and culture received a massive boost in Hull during its successful year as the UK City of Culture and the spotlight has since turned to the port’s rich maritime heritage. The Yorkshire Maritime City project involves the refurbishment and preservation of four historic sites – Hull Maritime Museum, Dock Office Chambers, North End Shipyard and Queens Gardens – and two historic ships – The Arctic Corsair and Spurn Lightship. When complete, it will tell the story of Hull’s remarkable journey as a global powerhouse for trade and cultural exchange, highlighting the city’s connections to the rest of the world through its role as a major port. For now, if you’re visiting the city with children, The Deep (see above) will undoubtedly be top of your must-see list (make sure you leave plenty of time – the kids will want to say hello to each and every one of its aquatic residents). The Hands on History Museum, located in the old grammar school where celebrated anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce studied, offers an interesting glimpse into the story of Hull and its people. Visitors get to experience what life was like in Victorian times, see replicas of King Tutankhamen’s treasures and get within a bandage’s breadth of a genuine 2,600-year-old mummy. For even more information about Hull’s most famous son, visit the Wilberforce House Museum, which also has galleries of West African culture. As a bonus, both museums are free. Don’t miss the Ferens Art Gallery which has one of the finest regional art collections in the country, including European Old Masters and one of the most complete overviews of the development of British portraiture too. With so much to see, there are special Hull trails to guide you through the city, highlighting the fun facts and strange tales which are part of the port’s history, and of course if walking is your thing then you can cross the famous Humber Bridge on foot.
Altitude High Ropes Adventure Course
Get the kids to burn off all that excess energy at this hair-raising adventure course which will see you taking on 34 different obstacles. Test your skills on the rope bridges and balance beams, scramble up the climbing wall and under the scramble nets, before taking a 30-foot leap of faith. Be sure to arrive on time for your safety briefing before your pre-booked session. (Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult).
iceSheffield, 23 Coleridge Road, Sheffield S9 5DA
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a massive 500 acres of (dog-friendly) outdoor space with intriguing exhibitions of modern art, which currently includes four major (and massive) sculptures by Damien Hirst (until July 2022), and Breaking The Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945, a fascinating look at post-war sculpture with a diverse range of work all by women (until 5th September 2021). There’s always lots on offer here, including events for families letting you get involved in the art itself, a great shop and a café for a quick refuel.
West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG
Renowned as perhaps Yorkshire’s spookiest town, mainly because of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Whitby and its skyline are dominated by the ruins of St Hilda’s Abbey, ironically voted Britain’s most romantic place. But ghosts and vampires aside, it’s a great destination for a family day out. Whitby town is divided into two halves (joined by the iconic swing bridge) by the River Esk which runs from the moors along Eskdale through to the North Sea. Consequently the old port town with its winding, cobbled streets is clustered on the east side of the harbour beneath the cliffs, with the newer Victorian seaside resort lying on the West Cliff. The harbour itself is very much a mix of both the old and the new; home to a combination of traditional fishing boats, modern trawlers and other pleasure craft. An early start is advisable if you’re spending a day in Whitby. Even Dracula would brave the morning sunshine if it meant seeing all the sights, especially Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience. Top of the must-see list is the Abbey which, frankly, is difficult to miss. A £1.6 million transformation project at Whitby Abbey means visitors can now explore 3,000 years of history in a new permanent exhibition with dramatic displays of unique objects and a free interactive experience – The Ammonite Quest. Legend has it that the headland at Whitby was once infested by snakes until a nun called Hild, who wanted to build a monastery, threw the slithering interlopers off the cliff, miraculously turning them to stone as they fell. Today, these ‘snakestones’ are better known as ammonites, which can easily be found in and along the cliffs. In the town, don’t miss Captain Cook Memorial Museum in the 17th century house where young James lodged as an apprentice; Whitby Museum in Pannett Park, which provides a lovely lunchtime picnic spot; and The Endeavour Experience, a full-scale replica of Cook’s ship which you can explore. After all that effort – including the 199 steps up to the Abbey – you’ll probably be ready for a refuel. Trenchers was voted the UK’s Best Fish & Chip Restaurant 2019, so grab yours and sit harbour-side watching the bobbing boats. You can catch a boat from here for a quick trip round the bay, or book a coastal cruise, past Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar’s seal colony where you can spot all sorts of wildlife (even whales sometimes!). Two- and three-hour fishing trips are also available from the harbour which is a fun way to split up the day (if the sea stays calm). A stone’s throw from Whitby is the tiny village of Sandsend with its long stretch of safe, sandy beach which is perfect for watersports, and when the tide is out there are plenty of rock pools to explore at the bottom of the cliffs.