Visitors to Yorkshire are in for a treat. The area offers a wide variety of fun indoor and outdoor attractions for all ages to ensure you need never have a dull moment. The area is full of history dating back to the Iron Age and history buffs can look forward to a busy itinerary including visits to the Jorvik Viking Center, Peveril Castle, Scarborough Castle and Ripley Castle, to name but a few of the extraordinary historical sites. Nature lovers and birders should not miss visiting Bempton Cliffs Seabird Center while art and architecture enthusiasts can head to York Minster, Kirkstall Abbey and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. In addition, there are some excellent museums to visit on rainy days – try the National Coal Mining Museum, the National Railway Museum and the York Castle Museum. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Blue John Cavern, Castleton
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Nestled in the heart of Yorkshire’s beautiful Peak District, the Blue John Cavern in Castleton is widely believed to be the finest cavern system in Western Europe which is open to the public. Visiting the cavern is a must for anyone who is interested in gemology as this system of caverns is the only place in the world where you can find Britain’s famous Blue John gemstone. This precious stone was originally found on site by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. Today visitors can join a fascinating guided tour of the caverns to see some brilliant stalactites and stalagmites, huge water-formed caverns and brilliantly colored veins of Blue John. You can buy your own piece of this unique stone at the on-site gift shop and café.
Blue John Cavern, Mam Tor, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 8WA, Phone: +44-14-33-62-06-42
2.Creswell Crags, Worksop
© Creswell Crags
Straddling the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the Creswell Crags is an extraordinary limestone gorge which dates back to the Ice Age. There is so much to see and do at the crags that you will need to set aside at least a full day to explore the area. For a start, there are nine caves to be explored, all of which have been excavated and proved to have been home to prehistoric man, who left a wealth of ice-age tools, art and other relics (much of which are on display in the Museum). You can take a guided cave tour (the best way to learn about this significant site) or enjoy some time exploring the many walking/hiking trails.
Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Center, Crags Rd, Welback, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, UK S80 3LH, Phone: +44-19-09-72-03-78
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3.Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Halifax
© Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
You’ll be the most popular parents in town when you take your under elevens to have hours of educational fun at the Eureka! Children’s Museum in Halifax. You and your children can look forward to exploring six themed zones where children (and adults) are encouraged to get hands – on. There are literally hundreds of fun and educational interactive exhibits which are designed to get young minds working. Without even noticing that they are learning, your children will have loads of fun learning about the fascinating world around them and their place in it. If you visit during school holidays you will find even more to do as special temporary events are added to the regular line-up.
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Discovery Td, Halifax HX1 2NE, UK, Phone: +44-14-22-33-00-69
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4.Jorvik Viking Centre, York
© Jorvik Viking Centre
Easily one of the best attractions you will find anywhere in the country, the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must-see activity for any visitor to the area. Here you and your family can learn all about the fearless Vikings who came to settle in Britain thousands of years ago. At the heart of your visit is the chance to step back in time as you board a ride in a “time capsule” which will take you deep into the history of York and the Vikings. You will experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of the Viking Age and learn all about the fascinating archaeological finds that were unearthed during the Coppergate Dig on this very site.
Jorvik Viking Center, 19 Coppergate, York, YO1 9WT, Phone: +44-019-04-61-55-05
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5.Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Keighley
Step back in time to the great days of the steam railway as you spend a nostalgic and fun-filled family day out on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. An old steam locomotive pulls passenger carriages through the pretty Worth Valley, stopping along the way to visit five villages. Be sure to arrive early to explore the historic Keighley Station which remains much the same as it was decades ago. As you travel from one pretty village to the next you can enjoy snacks, tea and coffee as well as real draft ale at the Real Ale Buffet Car. There are several annual special events on the train – check their website for dates and details.
The Railroad Station, Station Rd, Keighley BD22 8NJ, UK, Phone: +44-15-35-64-52-14
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6.Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds
Visitors who enjoy history and architecture should not miss the chance to visit the ruins of the Kirkstall Abbey, located north-west of Leeds city center. The abbey, which was established over 800 years ago, is one of the most-complete remaining examples of a Cistercian abbey in the country, and is surrounded by very attractive grounds which are worth a visit in their own right. You can learn all about the history of the abbey at the Visitor’s Center and you are welcome to bring along a picnic to enjoy alongside the river. You can combine your abbey visit with a visit to the Abbey House Museum located directly across the road.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH, Phone: +44-11-33-78-40-79
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7.National Coal Mining Museum for England
© National Coal Mining Museum for England
Ranked among the top attractions in Yorkshire, the National Coal Mining Museum for England encompasses 45 acres close to Wakefield and Huddersfield. The fascinating museum and grounds offers free entry (but welcomes donations) which means you can spend a great family day here without stretching your budget. Besides going on the very popular underground mine tour, there are no fewer than 14 galleries and buildings to be explored. Former miners bring the underground tour to life, telling many tales of the trials and tribulations of being a coal miner through the ages. Other on-site activities include meeting the pit ponies, chatting to a blacksmith and exploring the extensive grounds and the children’s playground.
National Coal Mining Museum of England, Caphouse Colliery, New Rd, Overton, Wakefield, WF4 4RH, Phone: +44-19-24-84-88-06
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8.National Railway Museum, York
Another of Yorkshire’s “free to visit” family attractions, the National Railway Museum in York is both interesting and educational. The museum has an excellent permanent collection of locomotives and all things railway related. The star exhibits include the fastest ever steam engine Mallard, the elegant Duchess of Hamilton, a replica of the original Rocket engine and the only bullet train you can find outside Japan. In addition, the museum is home to over a million other railway objects and hosts regular temporary railway exhibits. Younger children will love riding the miniature railway and older children can take advantage of regular school-holiday educational programs.
National Railway Museum, Leeman Rd, York, YO26 4XJ, UK, Phone: +44-33-30-16-10-10
9.Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge
Brimham Rocks is a National Trust property showcasing a bizarre other-worldly landscape of amazing giant rock shapes which have been carved out by wind and water exposure over millions of years. The rocks are a wonderful area to explore on foot offering a fun family day out surrounded by nature. As you make your way through the landscape at your own pace you are encouraged to seek out various well-known rock shapes including the eagle, the turtle, the dancing bear and the gorilla. There are various scenic walks and other adventure activities include bouldering, roped climbing, weaseling and abseiling. You can buy a picnic at the kiosk and enjoy the facilities for the day.
Brimham Rocks, N. Moor Rd, Summerbridge, HG2 4 DW, UK, Phone: +44-14-23-78-06-88
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10.Clumber Park, Worksop
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Covering more than 3,800 acres of parkland, heath and woods, Clumber Park is a National Trust property and a great place to spend a family for a day out. The park was once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle and although the stately residence was demolished many years ago you can still explore the Walled Kitchen Garden and see the Gothic chapel. There are plenty of pretty walking trails to explore and the park offers regular events including yoga, guided garden walks (with an estate gardener), a weekly cycling group and even a dog-walking group. When hunger strikes you can head to the Clumber Café or the Garden Tea House.
Clumber Park, Worksop, S80 3AZ, UK, Phone: +44-19-09-54-49-17
11.Peak Cavern, Castleton
Nestled in the heart of the Peak District, the Peak Cavern (aka The Devil’s Arse) dares you to step inside the largest natural cave entrance in the United Kingdom, adjacent to an impressive limestone gorge. No ordinary cave, the entrance to this cavern is home to an entire ancient village which used to be home to rope weavers for the local lead mining industry. The cavern itself is pretty spectacular and its highlights are showcased by an excellent fibre-optic lighting system. You can join a guided tour of the entire cavern system and see a demonstration of rope making. If you are planning to visit Speedwell Cave, the site of the old lead mine, you can buy a combined ticket for both caves.
Peak Cavern, Peak Cavern Rd, Hope Valley, S33 8WS, UK, Phone: +44-14-33-62-02-85
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12.Peveril Castle, Castleton
Standing guard over the village of Castleton since the 11th century, Peveril Castle is an imposing ruin and a must-visit attraction for history buffs. Here you can see one of the oldest Norman fortresses in England, boasting a keep which was built by Henry II in 1176. It would be a good idea to start your tour of the property at the Visitor’s Center where you can learn a bit of background information. It is quite a steep walk up to the castle but you will be rewarded for your efforts by superb views out over the Hope Valley. You can combine your visit to the castle with a tour of the Peak Cavern, which lies at the base of the hill.
Peveril Castle, Market Place, Castleton, Hope Valley S33 8WQ, UK, Phone: +44-37-03-33-11-81
13.Ripley Castle, Harrowgate
Peacefully nestled into the countryside about three miles from Harrowgate, historic Ripley Castle is surrounded by beautiful parklands, ancient trees and a multitude of wildlife. You can visit the beautiful deer park and grounds all year round (free of charge in winter) but the castle itself is only open to the public from April to October, when regular guided tours are offered. The castle grounds offer varied activities such as canoeing and kayaking on the ornamental lake, archery and raft-building. The Boar’s Head offers delicious locally sourced farm-fresh foods and you can spend a night in one of their delightful boutique suites to perfectly round off your visit.
Ripley Castle, Harrogate, HG3 3AY, UK, Phone: +44-14-23-77-01-52
14.Bempton Cliffs Seabird Center, Bridlington
The Bempton Cliffs Reserve is located along the beautiful Yorkshire Coastline, where it protects about 5km of sea cliffs which form the backdrop to one of the UK’s most outstanding wildlife spectacles. Each year between March and October a remarkable selection of seabirds arrive in the reserve to nest and mate. If you visit during the summer you can expect to see nearly half a million birds occupying the cliffs, including species like puffins, gannets, razorbills, herring gulls and many more. Although summer is the prime time to visit you can experience excellent birding here for most of the year and enjoy excellent bracing cliff walks all year round. Other activities include guides walks and seabird cruises.
RSPB Bempton Cliffs Seabird Center, Cliff Lane, Bridlington, YO15 1JF, UK, Phone: +44-12-62-42-22-12
15.Scarborough Castle, Scarborough
Oh what tales of guts and glory these walls could tell! Although there is not a great deal left of Scarborough Castle today, what does remain is definitely deserving of a place on your to-do list. Built by Henry II and King John, this once mighty castle has been an integral part of Britain’s defense system during many important battles. You can explore the remains of the castle and the extensive (mainly intact) castle wall with the aid of an audio guide to offer fascinating insight into the past, all the way back to the 12th century. You are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy on the 16-acre site or you can pop into the Master Gunner’s House for fantastic views and delicious food.
Scarborough Castle, Castle Rd, Scarborough, YO11 1HY, UK, Phone: +44-37-03-33-11-81
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16.Sewerby Hall and Gardens, Bridlington
Occupying a dramatic cliff-top location, Sewerby Hall and Gardens is a great option for a family day out in Yorkshire. The stately Manor House was constructed between 1714 and 1720 and is surrounded by a stunning 50 acres of formal gardens and parkland. Due to the many alterations and additions to the home during its 300 year history, a tour of the house is of special interest to anyone interested in architecture through the ages. Guided house tours are offered including the chance for the children to take part in interactive fun in the Servant’s Life and Nursery Exhibits. There is also a small zoo on site where children can see many species of small animals and birds. The cliff walk should not be missed.
Sewerby Hall and Gardens, Church Lane, Sewerby, Bridlington, YO15 1EA, UK, Phone: +44-12-62-67-37-69
17.Sherwood Forest, Mansfield
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If you have always loved the myths and legends surrounding Robin Hood you owe it to yourself to include Sherwood Forest in your Yorkshire itinerary. Here you can walk in the footsteps of this mythical hero who robbed the rich to help the poor. A few of the key points to see in the forest include the Major Oak, an enormous 1000-year old tree boasting a 10mt truck circumference. Other must-see highlights include the parish church of Edwinstowe (where Robin married Maid Marion) and the statue of Robin and Marion outside Edwinstowe Library. Children will love the regular guided walks led by costumed guides and the chance to dress up and have fun – details from the Visitor’s Center.
Sherwood Forest, Edwinstowe, Mansfield NG21 9RN, UK, Phone: +44-16-23-67-73-21
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18.The Shambles, York
Do not be deceived by the name; The Shambles is by no means shambolic and is instead one of the most famous streets in the city of York, lined by beautiful period buildings. The name derives from the street’s past as a center for butchers and meat merchants – a shamble was the name of a stool or bench used to display meat to the customers. Today the lovingly preserved buildings are home to a variety of eateries and specialty shops and the street attracts many visitors who come to enjoy the unique atmosphere and to see the interesting Tudor architecture. The street is located close to several other York attractions include the Jorvic Viking Center and York’s Chocolate Story.
The Shambles, York, UK
19.York Castle Museum, York
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If you are looking for something interesting to do on a rainy day, the York Castle Museum has something for everyone. Here you can step back in time as you stroll through Kirkgate, a recreated cobbled Victorian Street complete with school room and police cell, which offers a fascinating insight into Victorian life in York. Numerous other interesting and educational exhibits explore the First World War, the Shaping of the Body (by means of fashion expressions like corsets and the like) and The Sixties Exhibition, to name but a few. The museum offers regular children’s activities and special activities for handicapped children – see their website for dates and details.
York Castle Museum, Tower St, York, YO1 9RY, UK, Phone: +44-19-04-68-76-87
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20.York Minster, York
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Standing tall and proud since the 7th century, York Minster has long been at the heart of Christianity in northern England and is undisputedly one of the most superb cathedrals in the world. Every aspect of the church’s architecture was designed to glorify God and you will be able to admire magnificent stone crafting and beautiful medieval stained glass windows. Even younger visitors should have a great visit to the Minster where they are encouraged to get hands-on using Little Explorer Backpacks to help them explore all the interesting nooks and crannies. No visit is complete without having a look at the Undercroft Museum, climbing to the top of the 72mt tower and visiting the shop.
York Minster, Deangate, York YO1 7HH, UK
21.Yorkshire Museum, York
The Yorkshire Museum is another brilliant family attraction located right in the heart of the walled medieval city of York. Here you can spend a few hours learning about the history of York, the medieval capital of northern England. The museum has an excellent permanent collection of treasures from days gone by and the current exhibitions include Roman York, Yorkshire’s Jurassic World, Medieval York and an amazing collection of relics from the Star Carr Mesolithic site. The museum also features special fun learning activities for under 5’s on Thursday mornings and a variety of fun children’s activities during school holidays.
Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, Museum St, York YO1 7FR, UK, Phone: +44-19-04-68-76-87
22.York’s Chocolate Story, York
A favorite attraction for young and old alike, York’s Chocolate Story is a very special place to spend a little time learning all about your favorite treat in all its many and varied forms. Here you can join a guided tour which will enlighten you about just how York became the chocolate capital of England. You will learn all about the origins of chocolate from bean to bar and how three enterprising families created iconic chocolate brands like Rowntree’s and Terry. You will also have a chance to make your own chocolate and see a demonstration by the experts. Tasting the fruits of their labor is the cherry on the top of your tour.
York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York Yo1 7LD, UK, Phone: +44-19-04-52-77-65
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23.Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
Encompassing 500 acres of beautiful outdoor landscape, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a must-see destination for both nature lovers and art enthusiasts. The park has a core collection of commissioned and donated sculptures as well as a contingent of temporary sculptures to admire – at any time you can expect to come across around 80 works of art. Families are encouraged to visit with their children who are free to run around and enjoy the outdoor environment – bring along a picnic and make a day of it. There is also an indoor gallery featuring a variety of art and a couple of food outlets. Anyone is welcome to visit and there is no entrance fee. Check the website for current exhibitions.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, WE4 4LG, UK, Phone: +44-19-24-83-26-31
24.Yorkshire Trike Tours, Masham
Without a doubt, a Yorkshire Trike Tour is one of the most novel and unique ways to enjoy the legendary Yorkshire Dales. On a Trike Tour you and your partner or friend get to enjoy a chauffeur-driving guided tour on a remarkable three-wheeled motorbike called a Boom Bike. The company offers a variety of tours which take between two and six hours and will leave you with indelible memories of Yorkshire. The Boom Bike looks a little like a Harley Davidson but with three seats and passengers comforts like back rests, in-helmet commentary and wet-weather clothing (should the need arise).
Yorkshire Trike Tours, 3 Masham HG4 4BP, UK, Phone: +44-11-25-58-50-55
25.Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster
A visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (home of the Yorkshire Wildlife Foundation) ranks up with the very best wildlife experiences on offer in the United Kingdom. Here you can get up close to a wonderful variety of wildlife from all around the planet as you walk through their carefully-replicated natural habitats. The wildlife park is dedicated to teaching visitors about the enormous diversity of wildlife and why we should be concerned about their welfare. Species of animals which you can see in the park include lion (rescued from neglect in Romania), tigers, brown and polar bears, wallaby, lemurs, meerkat and many more. Your entrance fee is used by the charity to assist threatened and endangered animals all over the world.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Warning Tongue Lane, Old Cantley, Doncaster DN4 6TB, Phone: +44-13-02-53-50-57
25 Best Things to Do in Yorkshire
- Blue John Cavern, Castleton, Photo: Sue Burton/stock.adobe.com
- Creswell Crags, Worksop, Photo: Creswell Crags
- Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Halifax, Photo: Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
- Jorvik Viking Centre, York, Photo: Jorvik Viking Centre
- Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Keighley, Photo: danheighton/stock.adobe.com
- Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, Photo: glenned/stock.adobe.com
- National Coal Mining Museum for England, Photo: National Coal Mining Museum for England
- National Railway Museum, York, Photo: Phil/stock.adobe.com
- Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge, Photo: samULvisuals/stock.adobe.com
- Clumber Park, Worksop, Photo: Jeanette Teare/stock.adobe.com
- Peak Cavern, Castleton, Photo: paolofusacchia/stock.adobe.com
- Peveril Castle, Castleton, Photo: jeremyabaxter/stock.adobe.com
- Ripley Castle, Harrowgate, Photo: jeremyabaxter/stock.adobe.com
- Bempton Cliffs Seabird Center, Bridlington, Photo: Paul/stock.adobe.com
- Scarborough Castle, Scarborough, Photo: Craig/stock.adobe.com
- Sewerby Hall and Gardens, Bridlington, Photo: lizboynton/stock.adobe.com
- Sherwood Forest, Mansfield, Photo: Chee-Onn Leong/stock.adobe.com
- The Shambles, York, Photo: vichie81/stock.adobe.com
- York Castle Museum, York, Photo: Stripped Pixel/stock.adobe.com
- York Minster, York, Photo: pierre thomainEyeEm/stock.adobe.com
- Yorkshire Museum, York, Photo: chrisdorney/stock.adobe.com
- York’s Chocolate Story, York, Photo: nerudol/stock.adobe.com
- Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, Photo: Zhiying/stock.adobe.com
- Yorkshire Trike Tours, Masham, Photo: 103tnn/stock.adobe.com
- Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster, Photo: Lauren/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Speedfighter/stock.adobe.com
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