Planning a visit to Leeds? There’s so much to see and do in the local area that we’ve made things easy for you by compiling a list of 20 of the top attractions in the area. With everything from vast parks to interesting galleries, exciting architecture to niche museums, there’s something for everyone in Leeds and Yorkshire if you follow the below guide.
One of three of the Royal Armouries museums is located by the waterfront in Leeds, showcasing an impressive collection of arms and armour. Free to enter, the museum provides in-depth information about the objects on display alongside showcasing a popular rotation of educational talks.
If you’re craving green space, head to one of the largest city parks in Europe to spend an afternoon walking the dog or simply sunbathing on one of the many lawns. Roundhay Park is a popular spot all year round with a variety of lakes, meadows and forests to walk around and explore.
Henry Moore Institute
Art lovers will relish the opportunity to explore this extensive collection of the sculpture works of Henry Moore with over 15,000 objects including drawings and textiles on display. The gallery also features a variety of temporary exhibitions from other artists, and it hosts regular evening events, talks and discussions.
Located just a short distance out of the city centre, Kirkstall Abbey is beautifully preserved, offering visitors an opportunity to walk through the ruins. The abbey is located beside the River Aire, making it the perfect starting point for a relaxing stroll by the water.
Visitors to Harewood House will be pleasantly surprised by the array of attractions on offer. Not only can the house and gardens be admired, but there is also a farm experience and a series of interesting events including theatrical performances and costume exhibitions. Visitors can even visit the resident Humboldt penguins at feeding time!
Another impressive country house close to the city centre, Temple Newsam may not have penguins, but its grounds are particularly lovely to walk around. Time your visit for spring to coincide with meeting the new born lambs and piglets at Home Farm.
Leeds Art Gallery
Part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, tie in a visit to the Henry Moore Institute with a walk around Leeds Art Gallery. The gallery is currently undergoing repairs to the roof and will reopen in October this year, when visitors will be treated to a series of interesting exhibits.
Leeds City Museum
Recently refurbished, Leeds City Museum showcases six gallery spaces displaying a variety of exhibits including the iconic Leeds tiger. Pay special attention to the Ancient Worlds gallery where a vast variety of archaeological artefacts including mosaics, mummies and ancient tombs are on display.
Chevin Forest Park
Enjoy a little fresh air with an invigorating walk around Chevin Forest Park, a short drive from Leeds overlooking the town of Otley. The walk shows off the best of Yorkshire’s natural scenery, taking in dramatic views, rocky outcrops and moorlands scattered with beautiful purple heather.
Leeds Industrial Museum
Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills is the perfect place to explore the industrial heritage of the city. The exhibits tell the story of the history of manufacturing in Leeds concentrating predominantly on the clothing and textile industries and the many mills in the area.
One of the most impressive Catholic Cathedrals in the whole of the UK, Leeds Cathedral is a vital attraction for anyone with an interest in religious structures. The dramatic Gothic Revival building may only be small in size but this is more than made up for with its impressive interior.
Tropical World Leeds
Nestled inside Roundhay Park, Tropical World offers the UK’s largest collection of tropical plants outside of London. Expect a large collection of tropical plants, lush indoor exotic gardens and an impressive array of wildlife including giant catfish, colourful butterflies and even baby meerkats.
Emmerdale Studio Experience
Soap fans will relish this opportunity to step behind the scenes of one of the nation’s best loved TV programmes. The interactive experience allows visitors to have a go at lighting or editing before taking them through a guided tour of the sets of the former ITV studios that includes the homes of your favourite characters and even the Woolpack bar.
RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Located just outside Harrogate, flower lovers and keen gardeners will enjoy a visit to these beautifully presented gardens. Based around gardens that reflect the natural landscapes, the gardens include a kitchen garden rife for foraging, wildflower meadows and a stunning streamside garden walk.
Thackray Medical Museum
Anyone with an interest in medicine or who enjoys niche interest museums will find the Thackray Medical Museum thoroughly entertaining. The highlight of the museum tells the story of the discovery of modern medicine, showcasing surgery before anaesthesia znd the progression of pain relief.
Visit Lotherton Hall, just outside Aberford to take a walk around the nearby deer park, visit the Edwardian country house or to admire the scenic bird garden. Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal events, jazz festivals, ceramic workshops and birds of prey demonstrations.
Golden Acre Park
Another large park within the boundaries of Leeds, Golden Acre Park is perfect for a day out with the kids. Take a circular walk around the lake, explore the two nature reserves nearby and allow your children time to enjoy the playground before stopping for refreshments at the tearooms.
Spofforth Castle is considered by many to be the site where the Magna Carta was drawn up, making it one of the most important ruins in the country. Visitors can explore the ruins of the castle and its grounds, learning more about the history of the site and the Percy family who occupied it.
Located between Leeds and Wetherby, Bramham Park is the site of the iconic Leeds Festival which occurs every August bank holiday weekend. If you don’t hold tickets to the festival, visit during the rest of the year to explore the 18th Century manor house and its sprawling grounds.
Close to Bramham Park, Stockeld Park is another country house estate open to the public. Offering a variety of exciting seasonal attractions, there’s plenty here to keep children entertained all year round with adventure playgrounds and boating activities in abundance. Keep your eyes peeled for special activities around Easter, Halloween and Christmas.
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