Things to do in York with Kids in 2020 – There really is so much to do for kids in York. It’s a lovely family friendly place and there are lots of attractions for children in both York City Centre and on the outskirts. We have a young family ourselves and have tried all of these places! Also have a look at our other ‘Top Things to do in York‘ post and if you are planning a couple of days out in York, have a look at our review of the York Pass.
York Castle Museum
The Castle Museum is in the centre of York, opposite Clifford’s Tower. Inside there are lots of different exhibits, some more interesting that others for kids. My children particularly liked the Victorian street, and my son enjoyed looking around the old prison cells. There is also an exhibit of children’s toys through the ages too that they spent time looking at.
National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum is free to visit and a great place to take the kids on a rainy day. There are lots of trains for them to explore and during the school holidays they run special sessions for children.
From, the website: “Get up close to the game-changing Stephenson’s Rocket, which shaped the future of the railway in 1829. Meet the ordinary people who, fascinated by innovations like Rocket, turned their kitchens into makeshift workshops and crafted extraordinary hissing, steaming machines entirely from scratch. Discover their beautifully intricate homemade creations—including some of the oldest of their kind—and learn how their small-scale experiments pushed the boundaries of engineering, influencing the course of the Industrial Revolution.”
There are two parts to the Treasurer’s House, the main house itself and the gardens. The Garden’s are often open to the public and are free. When we visited in the summer there were giant lawn games for the kids to play which kept them entertained. Inside you can explore the quirky house. They have a children’s trail for the kids to follow to keep them amused from room to room too. It’s a National Trust property so free for NT members.
York Dungeon is great theatrical (though gory!) fun. Definitely one for the older kids this one, there were some younger kids on the tour I did and they didn’t look comfortable. You are the best judge of what will be ok for your own kids, but I would say over 10’s would be better. It’s a memorable day out though and the actors are brilliant!
Challenge Yourself with an Escape Room
Here is a fun idea to try something different with older kids (generally aged 8 and above). York has several escape room companies now and each one has several different themed rooms you can try, from the fun sounding Ministry of Wizards to the spooky sounding Boneyard Cemetery.
Have a look at our list of Escape Rooms in York.
York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, and towers above all the rest of the buildings in York. It can be seen on the horizon for miles around. It is a stunning building to visit. You can also explore its undercroft or climb the high central tower for some magnificent views. Plus, your entrance ticket is valid from a full year from your first visit. “York Minster is the second-largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe and clearly charts the development of English Gothic architecture from Early English through to the Perpendicular Period. The present building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472.”
Jorvik Viking Centre
The Jorvik Viking Centre was recently completely refurbished and is a fab place to take the kids. It’s educational and entertaining. You enter the attraction into a large room with a glass floor where you can see the foundations of a real Viking house. There are interactive exhibits here to look at before embarking on a ride back in time to see the sights and smells of Viking York!
Family Friendly Treasure Hunt
We recently took a Treasure Hunt around York. There are lots of different ones to choose from but we chose the Quirks and Snickets from Secret.city. It’s £25 per ‘team’ so great for a group. This one is done via Text Message, Telegram or Whatsapp and clues are sent direct to your phone. You can register up to 5 devices, but of course if you don’t all have a phone, someone can read the clue out for you! You move around the city finding clues and only once you have entered the answer onto your phone will you be sent the next clue. It was great fun and this particular route began in St Helen’s Square and took us through the Museum Gardens and around The Minster. There are other paper based versions by different companies too.
Open Top Bus Tour with Kids
There are a few different open top hop on hop off buses in York. Although York is quite a small city and most places are within walk-able distance, it’s still quite a good way of seeing everything quickly if you are short of time. There is an on board commentary that tells you all about York as you drive around. It’s a nice, relaxed family friendly tour.
Ten Pin Bowling
We have two ten pin bowling alleys in York. Ten Pin has been in place for many years whilst Hollywood Bowl opened in the summer of 2020. As well as bowling both have a cafe and arcade.
See our review of Hollywood Bowl here.
Puttstars Mini Golf
Puttstars Mini Golf opened in the summer of 2020 and the first time York has had a mini-golf of this size. It’s very modern with great technological scoring and cool holes to play. There are three 9 hole courses, an arcade and cafe bar.
See our review of Puttstars here.
York’s Chocolate Story
York’s Chocolate Story can be found in the centre of York and is ideal for kids. It’s a modern attraction with lots of interactive activities and high tech ways of telling the story of the chocolate factories in York. The kids will enjoy tasting chocolate on the way round and will love being able to make their own chocolate bars at the end of the tour.
Things to do in York with kids – outside of the City Centre
Piglets Adventure Farm Park
Piglets Adventure Farm Park is a brilliant place to take younger children and we spent many a happy day here when the kids were younger. There is lots going on like tractor rides, bouncy pillows, play equipment and sand pits, as well as the chance to pet the animals. They also have fab entertainment on during school holidays, pumpkin picking and sleigh rides.
Energi Trampoline Park
York has a fab trampoline park which is a great place to take the kids to burn off some Energi! It’s on the outskirts of York so parking is easier and there is a cafe above so that you can sit and watch them with a coffee and cake!
Beningbrough Hall is around a 15 mile drive from York. It’s a magnificent country house and gardens run by the National Trust. There is lots to do within the house itself, and gorgeous grounds to explore. There is a very fine adventure playground for the kids, gift shop and cafes.