31 January 2020
Whether you decide to wait for the next half-term holiday or want to make the most of a free weekend, there’s nothing quite like packing the car up and heading off somewhere new and exciting for an adventure with the family.
Luckily, Yorkshire is filled with family-friendly activities, so you’ll always find something out of the ordinary to do.
Take a look at some of our favourite Yorkshire family days out and start planning your next weekend break or half-term getaway to Yorkshire.
Family days out in the Yorkshire Dales
The Forbidden Corner
There’s something rather magical about The Forbidden Corner in Middleham and nothing is quite what it seems within its strange world of hidden rooms, mystery passageways and secret gardens. Surprises lurk around every corner and you never know quite what to expect next at this popular Yorkshire attraction that was originally built as a private folly.
It’s best not to know much before your visit and you won’t be given a map on entry; you’ll simply a list of items to seek out throughout the attraction.
Need to know: Pre-booking is essential to visit The Forbidden Corner and it’s open from April to November. Dogs will have to sit this one out as The Forbidden Corner isn’t dog friendly.
Admission costs: £13 for adults, £11 for children or £46 for a family ticket (two adults and two children)
Where to stay: Little Windor is a two-bedroom cottage in Middleham.
Bolton Castle near Leyburn is one of the UK’s best preserved medieval fortresses and there’s lots of history to uncover as you explore the ancient remains and historic rooms. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in the castle during the 16th century after her escape from Scotland and you can explore the rooms where she would have been held.
A highlight of Bolton Castle is the stunning Wensleydale setting which has gorgeous views over the surrounding countryside. The grounds and gardens feature a maze, vineyard and herb garden to explore and there are regular archery demonstrations and bird of prey displays to amaze and delight the kids.
Need to know: Bolton Castle is open daily from the 15th February to 1st November. Dogs are not permitted in either the castle or gardens.
Admission costs: £9 for adults, £7.50 for children or £35 for a family ticket to the castle, gardens and grounds. Tickets to the garden only are available for £4.50.
Where to stay: The Setts, a four-bedroom holiday home that’s between Bolton Castle and Leyburn.
Sometimes the best things in life are free and Aysgarth Falls is one of Yorkshire’s natural wonders that won’t cost you a penny to visit – unless, of course, you choose to spend money at the waterfall’s nearby cafe and gift shop.
There are three sets of falls to discover at Aysgarth with the Upper Falls (which featured in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) the most dramatic. Children will enjoy a nature trail through the surrounding woodland before splashing about in the water and there are lots of dog-friendly walking trails too.
Need to know: There is a visitor centre with car parking available at Aysgarth Falls which is open daily from April to October and during weekends in the winter months.
Admission costs: There is no charge to visit Aysgarth Falls but there is an honesty box for donations.
Where to stay: Riversong, a two-bedroom stone cottage that looks out over the falls.
Thorp Perrow Arboretum
There’s something for everyone at Thorp Perrow Arboretum, from gentle walking routes amongst myriad trees to a thrilling adventure playground where little ones can let off some steam.
The 100 acres of grounds are set close to the market town of Bedale and you can discover a huge variety of shrubs and trees through seasonal family-friendly trails.
One of the most popular parts of Thorp Perrow Arboretum is the Bird of Prey and Mammal Centre with wallabies, meerkats and pygmy goats plus regular flying displays showcasing hawks, falcons and owls.
Need to know: Thorp Perrow Arboretum is open daily throughout the year and dogs on leads are welcome at the attraction.
Admission costs: £9.95 for adults, £6.40 for children over four, free for children under four, and £30.95 for a family ticket.
Where to stay: Kingfisher, a three-bedroom holiday cottage near Bedale.
Ryedale Folk Museum
The Ryedale Folk Museum has an idyllic setting in Hutton-le-Hole, which is one of Yorkshire’s prettiest villages with sheep merrily grazing next to a lovely stream.
It’s the perfect spot for a spring or summer picnic before exploring the Rydale Folk Museum’s 6-acre site. There are 20 historic buildings to visit which represent different periods of Yorkshire life with everything from an Iron Age roundhouse to a Victorian photography studio and a traditional village chemist shop.
Children will get the chance to dress up, feed the on-site animals and learn what life would have been like in a range of different eras.
Need to know: Ryedale Folk Museum is open daily from 15th February to 15th November and is a dog-friendly Yorkshire attraction.
Admission costs: £8.75 for adults, £7 for children over four, free for children under four, and £28 for a family ticket.
Where to stay: Maheshwar, this three-bedroom holiday cottage is just 2 miles from Hutton-le-Hole.
NYMR Steam Train
There’s something rather special about travelling on a traditional NYMR heritage steam train and it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular North York Moors scenery as it travels from countryside to the coast.
Any fans of Thomas the Tank Engine will relish the chance to hop aboard a real-life steam train complete with all the sights and sounds you would expect.
Harry Potter fans can hop off at Goathland Station which was used to represent Hogsmeade in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, while Pickering Station features Peter’s Railway Young Engineer’s Centre with interactive exhibits for children.
Need to know: NYMR trains travel between Pickering and Whitby and can also be boarded at Grosmont, Goathland and Levisham. Dogs are welcome on the trains.
Admission costs: A peak adult fare between Pickering and Whitby is £33, a child’s fare is £16 and a family ticket is £68.
Where to stay: 125 Pickering is a two-bedroom holiday cottage in Pickering.
With more than 8,000 acres of woodland to explore, Dalby Forest makes the perfect playground for a family day out. You can swing through the forest in a Go Ape treetop course, take a Segway tour amongst the trees or play a ball game at Addlestone Field.
The perfect starting point for a day out at Dalby Forest is the eco-friendly Visitor Centre where you can pick up maps and leaflets for a variety of walking and cycling trails including the interactive Shaun the Sheep trail which is ideal for younger children.
Other activities to try include a Gruffalo orienteering course and the grandfather oak adventure playground. A James and the Giant Peach ‘My Forest Adventure’ kit is also available with foldout binoculars and ‘forest finds’ cards to help children spot some of the nature surrounding them in Dalby Forest.
Need to know: Dalby Forest is dog friendly and open every day throughout the year except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Admission costs: If arriving on foot, there is no charge for visiting Dalby Forest, however there are daily car park charges of £9 between March and October (or £5 after 4pm) and £5 between November and February.
Where to stay: Gateways is a three-bedroom holiday cottage near Dalby Forest.
From toddlers to teens, children of all ages will love a visit to Flamingo Land. Older children can spend the day seeking thrills on vertical drop rides and looping roller coasters while younger kids will enjoy exploring Dino-Stone Park and driving around on the Little Monsters Wacky Races.
Toddlers have their own section of Flamingo Land in the shape of the CBeebies-inspired Peter Rabbit Adventure and everyone can see animals ranging from alpacas to salamanders in the theme park’s award-winning zoo.
Need to know: The theme park at Flamingo Land is open daily from 28th March to 1st November and tickets for zoo-only days are available during the winter months. Dogs are welcome in most parts of Flamingo Land but are not permitted within the zoo.
Admission costs: The cost of an online advance standard admission ticket is £36 for adults and children over four years old. Children under three go free and a family ticket is £115.
Delve into the dark history of York with a visit to one of the scariest parts of town - the terrifying York Dungeon. You’ll meet a cast of characters from York’s gruesome past in 11 live-actor shows and there are plenty of surprises as you are led down to the depths of the dungeon.
Try not to scream too loudly as you come across an accused witch, the executioner of Micklegate Bar, some York city ghosts and Guy Fawkes.
Need to know: York Dungeon isn’t recommended for children under the age of 8 and is not dog-friendly. It’s open daily throughout the year and the experience will last around 75 minutes.
Admission costs: Standard entry tickets to York Dungeon are £13.95 per adult and £11.95 per child when booked online. Sunday saver tickets are £11.95 per adult and £9.95 per child.
Where to stay: Orchard Villa, a spacious family cottage on the outskirts of York.
One for the school summer holidays, York Maze is known for its giant maize maze that covers the size of eight football pitches and changes theme each year. Previous incarnations of the maze have included tributes to the Lion King, Roald Dahl, and Star Wars.
You’ll find lots here to keep little ones occupied including a magical Maze of Illusions, a Jurassic maze that’s filled with prehistoric dinosaurs and a House of Cornfusion fun house. There are also giant tractor rides, stage shows, obstacle courses and climbing frames - more than enough to tire out even the most energetic children.
Need to know: York Maze is open from July to September and dogs on leads are welcome at the site. Some of the rides and attractions involve water so it’s worth bringing along a change of clothes and a towel.
Admission costs: Advance tickets are £15 per adult, £14 per child and £55 for a family of four.
Channel your family’s inner Viking with a visit to Jorvik Viking Centre. This popular York attraction first opened its doors in the 1980s but has been completely revamped over the last couple of years. State-of-the-art ‘time capsules’ transport visitors back in time to Jorvik’s recreated Viking settlement that’s filled with the sights and smells of the iron age.
The museum is housed around the original Coppergate dig that first unearthed Viking artefacts in the heart of the city. You can see and touch many of these treasures and regular interactive storytelling sessions help to bring the Vikings back to life.
Need to know: Jorvik is open daily throughout the year except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You should allow at least an hour for your visit and dogs are not permitted within Jorvik.
Admission costs: £12 for adults, £8.50 for children and £35 for a family ticket. Free admission for 12 months is included in the price of all tickets.
Where to stay: Dashwood, a pretty brick cottage just outside of York.
York chocolate story
York has a fantastic heritage of making chocolate (treats like KitKat, Smarties and Aero were all developed in York) and you’ll find lots of chocolate shops within the city. York Chocolate Story is dedicated to all things chocolate and has an exhibition, shop and café on-site.
You’ll learn some of the history of York’s love affair with chocolate, discover the secrets of how it is made and can then sample some of the delicious products.
Need to know: York Chocolate Story is open daily from 10am, tours take place regularly throughout the day and you should allow 90 minutes for your visit.
Admission costs: £12.95 for adults, £10.95 for children over 4, free for children under 4, and £41.95 for a family ticket.
Where to stay: Orchard Villa is a three-bedroom cottage that’s located in a pretty village near York.
Mother Shipton’s Cave
This mystical Knaresborough attraction was the birthplace of famous Yorkshire prophetess, Mother Shipton. The cave’s famous petrifying well turns everyday objects to stone and has been a popular visitor attraction since 1630.
Mother Shipton’s Cave is set in beautiful parkland with scenic picnic areas and an adventure playground. Look out for children’s trails and special events during the school holidays with live actors, entertainment and themed activities.
Need to know: Mother Shipton’s Cave is open from 1st April to 1st November and dogs are welcome in all areas of the park except for the adventure playground.
Admission costs: £10 for adults, £8 for children over three, free for children under three, £30 for a family ticket.
Where to stay: Bramley Cottage is a country cottage for up to four people near Knaresborough.
Set in the grounds of a Grade I-listed country house, Stockeld Park has a host of family-friendly activities and an enchanted forest that’s hidden amongst the estate’s acres of ancient woodland.
Children can ice skate on an outdoor ring, discover fairies in the forest and climb up a pirate ship in the park’s adventure playground. There are slides, swings, mazes and it’s up to you whether to bring along a picnic or enjoy refreshments in the on-site cafe.
Most of the activities are outdoors but if the weather is rainy, there’s an indoor play centre too.
Need to know: Stockeld Park is open during school holidays throughout the year, including half terms, Easter, summer and Christmas. Dogs are not permitted at Stockeld Park.
Admission costs: A day pass ticket excluding ice skating is £10.50 and a ticket including ice skating is £15.50. Skate-only tickets are also available for £10.
Where to stay: The Copse is a spacious four-bedroom holiday home near Harrogate.
How Stean Gorge
How Stean Gorge is a deep limestone ravine that has been part of the Nidderdale landscape since the Ice Age when it was carved out by the waterflow of the River Nidd.
The spectacular gorge is the perfect setting for an outdoor adventure with caves to explore, tunnels to travel through and trails to walk. There are also a range of organised activities available to try including rock climbing, abseiling, canyoning and canoeing.
If you just fancy a walk along the gorge, you can choose from an easier access upper pathway or a more challenging waterside trail.
Need to know: There are uneven paths at How Stean Gorge so all visitors accessing the gorge need a basic fitness level and small children must always be supervised. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at How Stean Gorge.
Admission costs: The cost to walk along the trail and through the gorge is £7 per adult and £5 per child and a map and hard hat will be provided.
Where to stay: Low Ray Cottage
With over 30 rides to choose from, Lightwater Valley is one of Yorkshire’s leading theme parks and a top pick for a child-friendly day out. Highlights for older children (and for those with strong stomachs) include the Black Pearl Pirate Ship which does a full rotation through the air and The Ultimate which is the longest rollercoaster in Europe.
Younger members of the family can enjoy a more sedate tractor ride around the park’s Eagle Creek Farm and their own miniature rollercoaster in the form of Lightwater Valley’s Little Dipper.
There are also adventure playgrounds, jumping pillows, sand pits and a special soft play area for toddlers.
Need to know: Lightwater Valley is open during February half term and the Easter holidays. It is also open during weekends in May, June, September and October and every day during July and August. Dogs are not permitted at Lightwater Valley.
Admission costs: Online advance tickets are £19 per adult and £13 for children over four. Admission is free for children under four.
Where to stay: Skell Gardens Cottage is a delightful property close by
Alpamare in Scarborough’s popular North Bay is one of Yorkshire’s largest water parks with state-of-the-art slides, an enormous wave pool to keep kids happy and an Alpine-style spa and wellness centre for some grown-up relaxation.
The four large slides at Alpamare range from the traditional Black Run to the Snow Storm which is best tackled as a family in a four-man tube. After the thrill of whooshing down the slides, you can catch your breath in the tropically heated outdoor garden which includes whirlpools, recliners and an infinity pool with views across the bay.
Need to know: Alpamare is open daily and children under the age of 11 must be accompanied by an adult.
Admission costs: £21 for adults, £17 for children over six, free entry for children under six. Additional costs apply for the on-site wellness spa.
Where to stay: Wykewood is a two-bedroom holiday cottage with a hot tub that’s just a few miles from Scarborough.
Also located in Scarborough’s North Bay is the pretty Peasholm Park, which is an ideal choice for a warm summer’s day. Alongside tree trails and ornamental Japanese gardens, there’s a boating lake where you can take to the water in a brightly coloured rowing boat or a dragon-style pedalo. You can also hone your golf skills on a pitch-and-putt green or enjoy some free entertainment on the park’s bandstand.
It’s well worth catching a North Bay Railway heritage steam train from Peasholm Park to nearby Scalby Mills where you’ll find the Scarborough Sealife Centre.
Need to know: Peasholm Park is open throughout the year, but boat hire and golf is only available during peak season. Dogs on leads are welcome throughout the park.
Admission costs: Entrance to Peasholm Park is free. Boat hire charges start at £3.
Where to stay: Foxglove Cottage is a three-bedroom cottage in a North York Moors village that’s a short drive from Scarborough.
There’s always lots to see and do at Whitby, from taking a boat trip on a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour ship to enjoying a round of crazy golf on the nine-hole Arnold Palmer Putting Course.
You can’t beat getting fish and chips on the harbour, heading to one of the penny arcades then following in the footsteps of Dracula with a walk up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey. The dog-friendly beaches are good for fossil hunting and you may even spot some precious Whitby Jet as you search for hidden treasures that can date back to the Jurassic period.
Need to know: Whitby is easily accessible by road, train or local bus and during the peak summer months there are park and ride schemes in operation.
Where to stay: Crag Cottage is a three-storey cottage near Whitby that sleeps up to eight people.
Sewerby Hall and Gardens
A large stately home near the seaside town of Bridlington, Sewerby Hall and Gardens has a range of family activities including giant garden games, footgolf, orienteering trails and a putting green. Within the Grade I-listed house, there’s a collection of Edwardian toys and the chance for children to play dress-up and experience 1900s life above or below stairs.
The grounds are also home to Sewerby Zoo with penguins, parrots, monkeys and llamas amongst the birds and animals that can be seen during a visit.
Need to know: The house is open on weekends only from September to March (except for half term when it is open every day). From March onwards, Sewerby Hall and Gardens is open daily and dogs on leads are welcome within the grounds.
Admission costs: A day ticket is £8.50 for adults and £6.30 for children during peak summer months. Tickets are cheaper during off-peak periods and annual passes are also available.
Where to stay: North View is a three-bedroom holiday cottage in the nearby coastal town of Flamborough.
A giant adventure play area in the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds, William’s Den includes zip wires, tyre swings, climbing frames and den making for children up to the age of 12.
There’s a special play area for toddlers and a giant indoor play barn that’s made from responsibly sourced wood, meaning that William’s Den can be enjoyed even when the weather is rainy.
Need to know: William’s Den is open throughout the year, but dogs are not permitted on the site.
Admission costs: £5.50 per adult, £7.50 per child and £3 for toddlers.
Where to stay: Hedera Lodge is a three bed Yorkshire Wolds cottage near William’s Den.
The Deep in Hull is one of the UK’s biggest and best aquariums with sharks, turtles, penguins, tropical fish and stingray amongst the 5,000 creatures that live there.
Highlights of The Deep include a glass lift which replicates the experience of travelling under the sea and an underwater tunnel where you can watch fish swimming above your head. There’s also daily diving demonstrations and the chance to watch the penguins being fed.
Need to know: The Deep is open daily from 10.00am - 6.00pm. Dogs are not permitted in The Deep.
Admission costs: Advance tickets are £12.60 per adult and £9.90 per child over three. Entrance is free for children under three.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Go on safari in South Yorkshire with a visit to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster. Special walkthrough enclosures allow you to get close up to a range of wild animals and there are regular ranger talks where you can learn more about them.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is home to a number of endangered species including Amur leopards and Amur tigers as well as rescued lions and an internationally recognised polar bear reserve.
Need to know: Yorkshire Wildlife Park is open daily from 10am though hours do vary depending on the season. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Admission costs: £16.50 per adult, £14.50 for children over three and free for children under three.
Where to stay: River Cottage, a two-bedroom cottage in Howden.
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum has been specially created for children up to the age of 11 with a range of interactive exhibits designed to spark imaginations and make learning fun.
Kids can explore a child-sized town, discover what life in the desert is like, get creative in a painting workshop, and find out more about the human body. There are more than 400 exhibits in total including digital games and displays at this educational Halifax museum.
Need to know: Eureka is closed on Mondays during term time but is open every day during school holidays.
Admission costs: £13.95 for adults, £13.95 for children over three and £5.95 for one- and two-year-olds. The cost of admission includes an annual pass for 12 months of unlimited visits.
Where to stay: White Willow Lodge is a luxury lodge near Ilkley.
Plan a family-friendly getaway to Yorkshire
If you have been inspired to visit Yorkshire during the next school holiday, you’ll find a wide range of family-friendly holiday cottages that make the perfect base for a fun-filled getaway. The only thing you need to decide now is which part of Yorkshire to visit first.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.