Discover the exciting blend of education and entertainment York has to offer for families.
From delving into the city’s Viking history at the JORVIK Viking Centre, to a sweet exploration of York’s Chocolate Story, and a thrilling adventure at York Maze, this city satiates the curiosity of little explorers.
Experience time travel at the National Railway Museum, York Castle Museum, or the magical Shambles.
Table of Contents
Points To Note
- York offers a range of exciting activities for families with children.
- The city has plenty of attractions suitable for all ages.
- The Visit York Pass offers discounts on over 25 attractions and is the only ticket families need to explore the city.
- Popular family-friendly attractions in York include JORVIK Viking Centre, York’s Chocolate Story, York Castle Museum, and the National Railway Museum.
Events In York
Below can see some of the current events in York.
Date & Time:June 5th, 2025 8:00pm
Date & Time:March 26th, 2024 7:30pm
Date & Time:March 22nd, 2024 8:00pm
Date & Time:March 29th, 2024 8:00pm
Date & Time:March 11th, 2024 8:00pm
Exploring the JORVIK Viking Centre
The JORVIK Viking Centre, a popular tourist attraction in York, offers a unique and engaging experience for families, immersing them in the city’s rich Viking history. This world-renowned centre is remarkable for its ability to vividly recreate the Viking era, making it a top pick for a York family day trip.
Its multi-sensory rides transport visitors back to the Viking-Age city of Jorvik, truly one of the fun things to do in York. The centre’s archaeological treasures and artefacts further enrich this historical journey.
Workshops and interactive displays, designed to appeal to all age groups, ensure a fun, educational experience. Offering a blend of history, education, and entertainment, the JORVIK Viking Centre is a must-visit destination on your York itinerary.
LockedIN Escape Room Adventure
Situated in the heart of York, LockedIN Escape Room provides a thrilling and interactive adventure for families seeking a unique and fun-filled experience. This adventure playground is a fantastic choice for a city break, particularly during school holidays. The escape rooms, designed to challenge and engage, offer a variety of themes to choose from.
- The Detective Office: Solve a mysterious crime in this time-bound challenge.
- The Secret Lab: Uncover hidden secrets in a scientist’s lab.
- The Magic Emporium: Discover magical items and escape before time runs out.
Visiting York and experiencing the LockedIN Escape Room Adventure is great fun, offering an immersive experience that goes beyond the traditional attractions. The adventure tests problem-solving skills, encourages teamwork, and guarantees laughter, making it an exciting highlight of any family trip to York.
Uncovering York’s Chocolate Story
Delving into the city’s rich confectionery history, York’s Chocolate Story offers an engaging and educational experience for families visiting York. Nestled in the heart of the city, this interactive museum takes visitors on a journey through York’s famous chocolate-making heritage.
The experience is an ideal activity for a rainy day, captivating the younger kids with hands-on chocolate making while simultaneously teaching them about the city’s historical link to confectionery. The tour ends with a visit to the York Cocoa Works, where the tradition of chocolate-making continues to this day.
LocationActivitySuitable forYork’s Chocolate StoryInteractive MuseumAll agesYork Cocoa WorksChocolate makingYounger kidsCity CentreHistorical TourAll ages
The Lord Mayor of York himself has praised the chocolate story for its educational and engaging approach, making it a must-visit for families.
Journey Through York Castle Museum
Continuing the exploration of family-friendly activities in York, one must not overlook the York Castle Museum, a treasure trove of history and fascination for both kids and adults. The museum provides a unique opportunity to walk through York’s history, with exhibits that span four centuries.
The museum’s centerpiece, a meticulously reconstructed Victorian street named Kirkgate, allows visitors to experience the sights and sounds of a bygone era.
Nestled within the museum gardens, the medieval townhouse provides a peek into the domestic life of the period.
The museum’s Prison Cells exhibit offers a somber yet fascinating exploration of the justice system during the 18th century.
In a nutshell, the York Castle Museum presents an engaging and interactive dive into York’s past.
Visiting the National Railway Museum
Exploration of the National Railway Museum offers an educational journey through the history of rail travel, delighting families with its interactive displays and impressive collection of locomotives. Visitors have the opportunity to marvel at the historic Stephenson’s Rocket, a key highlight of the museum’s collection, and delve into the evolution of rail technology.
Children, especially the younger ones, will be thrilled by the miniature railway that provides a unique and immersive rail experience. They can also engage with the museum’s interactive exhibits, making their visit both enjoyable and informative.
The National Railway Museum ensures every visit is memorable, and even if it’s not your first time, each experience feels fresh and exciting, making it a must-visit on your next family trip to York.
Shopping at The Shop That Must Not Be Named
After an engaging journey through the National Railway Museum, a visit to The Shop That Must Not Be Named offers a magical shopping experience for Harry Potter enthusiasts of all ages. Nestled in the heart of the city centre, this enchanting store is a go-to destination for all things related to the iconic wizarding world.
- Harry Potter Memorabilia: From wands to wizard robes, this shop is a treasure trove of Harry Potter merchandise, sure to captivate ‘little vikings’ and adults alike.
- York Minster Proximity: Its location near the magnificent York Minster adds to the magic, offering a delightful blend of history and fantasy.
- Yorkshire Museum Connection: The shop’s robust selection of historical books makes it a great supplement to a visit at the nearby Yorkshire Museum, further enriching your family’s exploration of York.
Experiencing York Theatre Royal
Following an enchanting shopping experience at The Shop That Must Not Be Named, a visit to the York Theatre Royal presents a delightful opportunity for families to immerse themselves in the rich theatrical tradition of the city. This historic venue, nestled within the city walls, has been a cornerstone of York’s cultural scene since 1744.
The theatre’s dynamic programming, which ranges from classic Shakespearean dramas to innovative contemporary performances, reflects York’s vibrant past and recent history. With echoes of world wars and tales of York dungeon, the performances bring to life the beautiful city’s complex narrative.
Engaging and educational, the shows at York Theatre Royal promise to captivate both adults and children, making it a must-visit attraction for families exploring York.
Discovering The York Ghost Merchants
One engaging destination for families in York is The York Ghost Merchants, a unique souvenir shop located on the historic Shambles street. This quaint shop offers an assortment of ghostly souvenirs that are sure to intrigue children and adults alike.
It provides a spooky detour, offering a thrilling experience that complements the historic excursions.
Barley Hall, another historic site, is just around the corner, making it easy to incorporate these distinctive attractions into a day’s itinerary.
As one of the free things to do in York, wandering the Shambles and visiting The York Ghost Merchants is a budget-friendly option, leaving room to explore the nearby York Museum Gardens.
Learning at The Yorkshire Museum
Another treasure trove of learning and exploration for families in York is The Yorkshire Museum.
This renowned institution, nestled in North Yorkshire, offers an array of exhibits that make learning interactive and fun. Children can delve into the rich tapestry of the region’s past, from its Jurassic roots to its Roman and Viking heritage.
The museum’s play areas are designed to ignite curiosity and foster a love for history. The Yorkshire Museum ranks highly on the list of things to do in York with kids, as it encourages learning through hands-on exploration.
A visit here promises an educational adventure that’s both engaging and enjoyable for all family members.
Marveling at York Minster
Continuing the family’s historical journey, York Minster’s breathtaking architecture and rich history offer an unforgettable experience for both adults and children. Recognized as one of the great cathedrals of the world, York Minster invites visitors to explore its intricate stonework, stained glass windows, and imposing towers.
For older kids with a taste for adventure, the Central Tower climb offers stunning panoramic views of the city.
Younger visitors may enjoy a round of mini golf at the nearby Rowntree park, or a thrilling day at a local theme park.
The nearby Web Adventure Park offers interactive exhibits and play zones that will keep kids entertained all day.
From its ancient origins to its role in today’s community, York Minster provides an enriching and educational day out for the whole family.
Getting Lost in York Maze
After exploring the historical depths of York Minster, the next thrilling adventure for families lies within the vast expanse of York Maze. This giant maize maze, redesigned annually, offers a fun-filled day out with plenty of activities to engage children of all ages. During the October half term, the maze transforms into a pumpkin picking paradise, perfect for Halloween.
York MazeActivitiesGetting lost in York maze, pumpkin pickingSeasonOpen in summer and October half termExtrasFree map provided on entry
Getting lost in York Maze becomes a delightful journey of discovery, with surprises at every turn. The free map provided ensures that families can navigate their way through the labyrinth with ease, adding an extra layer of excitement to the day. With a variety of seasonal events, York Maze guarantees an unforgettable experience.
Diving Into History at York Dungeon
Delving into the city’s formidable past, a visit to York Dungeon provides an interactive and theatrical journey through York’s dark history that is both educational and thrilling for older children. This immersive experience allows children to witness the city’s history, from Roman times to the Viking invasion.
Castle Howard: A visit to this historic site provides a captivating glimpse into the past. With its exquisite gardens and magnificent interiors, it’s a must-visit national trust property.
Beningbrough Hall: This Georgian mansion, surrounded by lush gardens, offers a wealth of historical insight and an array of activities for children.
York Dungeon: A quintessential part of diving into history at York Dungeon, it offers live shows, exciting rides, and a chance to explore York’s grim past.
These attractions provide an enriching and fun-filled day out for families.
Walking Along York City Walls
Why not immerse your family in York’s rich history by taking a leisurely walk along the well-preserved York City Walls? This adventure promises a unique perspective of the city, often unavailable to the casual tourist. As you amble along, the children can breathe in the fresh air and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
After your walk, consider a trip to the Piglets Adventure Farm. Here, you can delight in the excitement of pig racing or embark on fun-filled tractor rides. The farm also offers an invigorating climbing wall that challenges kids while ensuring their safety.
A day spent exploring the York City Walls and the Piglets Adventure Farm will undoubtedly leave your family with unforgettable memories.
Cruising With York Boat
Continuing the day’s adventure, a family cruise with York Boat provides an exceptional opportunity to explore the city from the tranquil waters of the River Ouse. This unique perspective offers an insight into York’s rich history, and the engaging commentary on board is both educational and entertaining.
The option of hiring your own boat allows for a more personalised experience. You can steer your way past iconic landmarks at your own pace, creating unforgettable memories.
The company also provides activities for children on land. These include sand pits for building castles, sleigh rides during the festive season, and bouncy pillows for added fun.
York Boat ensures a memorable day out for the whole family, combining historical exploration with fun-filled activities.
Viewing the Yorkshire Air Museum
After enjoying a scenic cruise on the River Ouse, families can next embark on a journey through aviation history at the Yorkshire Air Museum. This award-winning museum situated on the site of former RAF Elvington in York offers an enlightening glimpse into Britain’s rich aviation heritage.
The museum houses an impressive collection of aircraft, from early flight pioneers to modern jets. Kids will be thrilled to see iconic planes like the Spitfire and Hurricane up close. Interactive exhibits, such as the hands-on flight simulator, provide an engaging learning experience. Regularly held family events add to the museum’s appeal.
The Yorkshire Air Museum offers not just a fun day out but also an educational one, making it a must-visit attraction for families in York.
Diving Into Viking Experiences
Another significant portion of York’s rich history that kids will surely find intriguing is the city’s extensive Viking heritage, providing numerous Viking-related educational experiences.
- JORVIK Viking Centre: Here, children can delve into the Viking world through a captivating journey that recreates the sights, sounds, and even smells of the Viking-Age city.
- JORVIK DIG: A hands-on archaeological adventure that allows kids to uncover the city’s layered history, from Roman times to the Viking invasion.
- Viking Festival: An annual event that brings York’s Viking history to life with re-enactments, combat demonstrations, and interactive workshops.
Unraveling the Secrets of Museums and Exhibits
Building on the historical journey, the museums and exhibits in York offer a treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment, seamlessly combining education with fun for children of all ages.
The National Railway Museum captivates with famous locomotives and interactive play areas, while York Castle Museum fascinates with a mix of classic toys, a recreated Victorian street, and exhibitions covering centuries of fashion.
Uncover the mysteries of Richard III and Roman York at The Yorkshire Museum, home to diverse artifacts. The Jorvik Dig provides hands-on archaeological adventures, transporting children back to Roman, Viking, medieval, and Victorian periods.
These immersive experiences make learning enjoyable, fostering a love for history and culture among the young visitors.
Embarking on Unique Magical Experiences
Continuing the exploration of York’s family-friendly activities, three unique magical experiences promise to captivate children’s imaginations and bring a sense of enchantment to their visit.
- The Potions Cauldron: This magical store offers a fun potions experience where kids can mix their own magical drinks using ingredients like ‘unicorn essence’ and ‘basilisk blood’.
- The Hole in Wand: A wizard-themed mini golf that offers an enchanting experience with quirky decorations, and a chance for kids to take a photo on a broomstick.
- A Very Magical Adventure: Kids can embark on a quest to track down stolen dragon eggs, guided by a knight of Camelot.
These experiences not only entertain but also foster creativity and imaginative play, making them a must-visit during your trip to York.
Visiting York Minster
After immersing in the magical experiences York offers, families can turn their attention to exploring the iconic York Minster, a stunning cathedral that promises an engaging experience for visitors of all ages. Known as one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, York Minster is a masterpiece of stained glass and stone, housing an undercroft museum that reveals the site’s ancient history.
Children will be awestruck by the awe-inspiring architecture, while learning about the Minster’s role through the centuries. For adventurous families, a climb up the Central Tower rewards with panoramic views of York. The Minster also offers interactive displays, making history come alive for young minds.
A visit to York Minster is not just a religious journey, but an educational exploration that captivates all generations.
Using the York City Pass
So, how can families make the most of their visit to York and enjoy these attractions without breaking the bank? The answer is simple: the York City Pass. This pass allows families to explore the city’s rich history and vibrant culture at a discounted price.
- Cost-effective: The York City Pass offers significant savings on entrance fees to over 30 top attractions, making it an economical choice for families.
- Convenience: The pass is easy to use, eliminating the need to purchase individual tickets for each attraction.
- Flexibility: Valid for one or two days, the pass gives families the freedom to explore York at their own pace.
Adventure at Hallowtween
For those seeking an enchanting blend of fun and fright, Hallowtween offers a unique family-friendly Halloween experience in York. This annual event transforms York Maze into a spooky paradise, where children can embark on ghost hunts, navigate haunted mazes, and engage in other thrilling activities under the watchful eyes of professional actors.
ActivityDescriptionAge RangeGhost HuntsInteractive exploration of the maze, with hidden surprises10+Haunted MazeNavigate a spooky labyrinth, filled with eerie characters7+Magic ShowsWatch professional magicians perform spellbinding tricksAll ages
Perfectly balancing excitement and safety, Hallowtween ensures children can celebrate Halloween in a fun, safe, and memorable environment. Be sure to book in advance, as tickets for this popular event tend to sell out quickly.
Exploring York Maze
Adventure awaits at York Maze, a beloved family-friendly attraction offering a unique blend of educational activities and thrilling experiences. The giant maize labyrinth changes annually, providing a fresh challenge for returning visitors.
Interactive Fun: Your family’s problem-solving skills will be put to the test as you navigate the complex pathways. Along the way, engage in interactive games and challenges to add to the fun.
Educational Opportunities: Learn about the lifecycle of corn, from seed to harvest, and how mazes are designed and grown.
Additional Attractions: Beyond the maze, children can enjoy a range of attractions including an adventure playground, animal encounters, and seasonal events.
Prepare for a day of laughter and learning at York Maze, where every twist and turn brings a new adventure.
Family Fun at Haunted York
Continuing the exploration of York’s family-friendly attractions, Haunted York offers a spine-chilling yet fun-filled experience for families with a taste for the supernatural. This unique attraction merges history with horror, offering guided ghost walks through York’s most haunted locations. Experienced ghost guides will take you on a journey into the city’s dark past, sharing thrilling tales of York’s spectral inhabitants.
The Shambles, considered one of the most haunted streets in England, is a must-visit. Here, children can try to spot the ghost of a butcher’s wife seen wandering after dark. The York Dungeon offers an interactive experience with live actors and special effects, providing insight into the city’s gruesome history.
Despite the eerie atmosphere, Haunted York maintains a family-friendly environment, ensuring a memorable experience for all.
Dining at Family-Friendly Restaurants
In York, families can enjoy a wide range of dining options that cater specifically to children’s tastes and preferences. From traditional English pubs to international cuisine, the city is a culinary haven for families.
- The Star Inn The City: Situated by the River Ouse, this restaurant offers a dedicated children’s menu with dishes like mini fish & chips and sausage & mash. The relaxed atmosphere and scenic location make it a family favorite.
- El Piano: A plant-based restaurant that welcomes children with open arms. They offer a ‘build-your-own’ plate option that allows kids to choose their favorites.
- Ask Italian: This restaurant chain offers a variety of Italian dishes with a special children’s menu. The child-friendly environment combined with delicious food makes it a must-visit for families.
These establishments make dining in York an exciting and enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Utilizing Visit York’s Resources
Numerous resources provided by Visit York can greatly enhance the travel experience for families visiting the city.
The Visit York Pass is an invaluable resource, offering discounts on over 25 attractions and including a 24-hour city sightseeing bus ticket. This easy-to-use sightseeing card provides families access to popular sites like York Minster and JORVIK Viking Centre.
Visit York also provides a wealth of information online, including family-friendly blogs such as the Little Vikings Guide to Haunted York. These resources offer detailed insights into engaging activities like the York Minster’s Tower Challenge and DIG: An Archaeological Adventure.
If families require additional assistance, Visit York’s team is available to provide support, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable visit to this historic city.
What Are Some Family-Friendly Activities in York That Are Free of Charge?
In York, families can enjoy numerous free activities. The National Railway Museum offers educational fun, while the York City Walls provide historical exploration. The Yorkshire Museum Gardens are ideal for outdoor enjoyment.
Are There Any Special Discounts or Offers for Families Visiting Multiple Attractions in York?
Yes, the Visit York Pass offers families discounted access to over 25 attractions, including York Minster and JORVIK Viking Centre. It’s a cost-effective solution for families planning to visit multiple attractions in York.
Can You Recommend Any Child-Friendly Restaurants With Traditional Yorkshire Food in York?
For a child-friendly dining experience with traditional Yorkshire food, consider Bettys Café Tea Rooms or The Star Inn The City. Both offer a welcoming atmosphere and menus featuring local favorites like Yorkshire pudding.
What Are Some Outdoor Activities That Families Can Engage in While in York?
In York, families can enjoy outdoor activities like exploring the historic City Walls, visiting the York Maze, embarking on river cruises with York Boat, and experiencing wildlife encounters at Askham Bryan Wildlife Park.
Are There Any Unique or Lesser-Known Attractions in York That Would Be Interesting for Kids?
Unique attractions for kids in York include the immersive DIG: An Archaeological Adventure, the educational yet thrilling York Maze, the spooky Haunted York experience and the enriching York Theatre Royal’s family-friendly performances.
In conclusion, York offers a rich array of historical, cultural, and entertaining attractions suitable for families with children.
Activities such as exploring the JORVIK Viking Centre, the National Railway Museum, or the York Maze, offer an educational and fun-filled experience.
Furthermore, the city’s historical and magical streets, with family-friendly dining and engaging performances, ensure a memorable vacation.
Utilizing Visit York’s resources can further enhance the overall experience of a family trip to this remarkable city.
Below you can see some of the options available to booking while in the area.