Whether you’re looking for days out with the kids, activities for rainy days or entertainment for the whole family – the city of York doesn’t disappoint. Fun, child-friendly options range from the National Railway Museum and Jorvik Viking Centre to nature escapes close to the centre. Our local insiders tell us what you can do in York that will keep even young ones amused.
The Japanese bullet train, the world’s fastest steam train and Stephenson’s Rocket, an early steam train, can all be seen at the National Railway Museum in York. With great interactive experiences throughout, it’s fun for everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re a train enthusiast. Learn about more than 200 years of railway history as you climb aboard some of the trains on display. You can even enjoy lunch in the converted carriages. Try not to spend the whole day shouting “All aboard!” Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
The Jorvik Viking Centre stinks. No, it actually does – because some of the exhibits are scented to really immerse visitors into York’s fascinating Viking past. Take the ride experience, browse the open archaeological digs with 1,000-year-old artefacts on display, and wander down a typical Viking street. Big kids will love this as much as the little ones – and the vivid recreations and storytelling used throughout make it a unique and enjoyable day out for the whole family. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
The York Castle Museum houses more than 400 years of the city’s history for you to explore, set out in life-size recreations. Delve into its rich stories as you walk down a Victorian street, ponder the Jacobean way of life in its dining rooms and relive the glory days of the Swinging Sixties. Alongside permanent exhibitions, there is also an annual display that explores more contemporary themes. It’s easy on the pocket as kids get free entry with a paying adult. Recommended by local insider Charlie Bush
The scent of chocolate wafts through the streets of York as the city has long been home to the great and good of the chocolate world, with both Terry’s and Rowntree’s factories here. York Cocoa House is the place to visit if you’re a fan to learn about the processes and tasty history of chocolate, indulge in the café or book a workshop with the experts. From truffles, fancy fondant creams and caramels to full-day workshops mastering the perfect bar, the challenge will be to not eat your creations straightaway. Recommended by local insider David Taylor
The Northwood Trail is a family day out with a difference – this wild woodland is home to England’s Fairy Sanctuary, where you can wander the pram-friendly trail and spot the miniature, beautifully crafted shelters dotted throughout the trees. Everything here is created sustainably with nature in mind, and the family behind the scenes have created a magical place for adults as well as children. At the end of the trail, you’ll come to the Fairy Museum, filled with folklore and a themed café. Check the website before you head off with your wings on, as they also do some spectacular themed events. Recommended by local insider David Taylor
Little ones play hide and seek in the undergrowth, climb trees, build dens and wander freely in this nature reserve. It’s fairly small, so it’s easy for children to walk the circular trail through the woodlands. Spring heralds snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils making a splash of colour through the rich undertones of the forest. A few hours out of the city can do a world of good and Moorlands Nature Reserve offers peace and respite surrounded by wildlife. Recommended by local insider David Taylor
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