Yorkshire is a great place to go on holiday with a toddler. I’m probably biased, because I’ve lived here for most of my life, but I’m constantly amazed about all the things to do in Yorkshire with toddlers. There are world class museums like the National Railway Museum in York, quaint seaside resorts dotted along the east coast, and of course you have the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Dalby Forest on your doorstep. Read on for the definitive list of things to do in Yorkshire with a toddler.
Things To Do In Yorkshire With Toddlers
Museums for Toddlers In Yorkshire
1. Eureka, Halifax
We love days out at the Eureka!, which is the National Children’s Museum in Halifax. Toddlers will love pushing their trolley around the pretend M&S Simply Foods shop, getting arty in the Creativity Space or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Plus, you can eat your picnic lunch in a train carriage outside in the grounds – what could be better?
2. National Coal Mining Museum
High up on the hills outside of Wakefield is the National Coal Mining Museum, which tells visitors about the fascinating history of coal mining in Yorkshire. Children aged 5 and over can go on an underground pit tour, but toddlers will love seeing the pit ponies, the outdoor nature trail and playground and the Little Diggers indoor soft play.
3. National Railway Museum
One of our favourite days out – a must for train fans. See famous engines like the Mallard and Japanese Bullet train in this wonderful free museum right next to York Railway station. There is also regular storytelling sessions and a small under 5’s soft play area. Plus, you can get the land train into York city centre afterwards.
Places To Take Toddlers On A Sunny Day In Yorkshire
4. Dalby Forest
Download The Gruffalo Spotter app at home, then visit Dalby Forest. Along the trail look out for clues which lead to footprint marker posts – point the app at these and watch Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake and the Gruffalo appear before your eyes! You can also buy a Gruffalo Activity Kit from the shop for just £3 which includes an evidence collection bag, 5 fact and activity cards, stickers of the Gruffalo characters, a special magnifying glass, ruler and a pencil!
Parking costs £8 per car but everything is free once you are in
5. York Maze
A fantastic day out in the summer. More than just a Maze, the York Maze has an amazing sand and water playground, slides, painting, tractor rides and much more. Read all about the York Maze for toddlers here
6. Bolton Abbey
For just £10 per car, the whole family can have a day out exploring the Bolton Abbey estate on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Toddlers will love the woodland walks, playing on the river beach and paddling in the river – don’t forget your wellies! Seasonal events like the Welly Walk adventure trail and the Easter Egg hunt are loads of fun too. Finish your day off with a trip to Billy Bob’s Ice Cream Parlour!
7. Piglets Adventure Farm
The whole family will love a day out at Piglets Adventure Farm in York. There is so much to do here including tractor rides, playgrounds, jumping pillows and new for 2017 a Fairy Trail. Of course, there are animals too and an indoor playbarn in case it rains.
Check out their seasonal event. We went in the summer holidays when there was a Circus and Foam Party included in the admission price!
8. RHS Harlow Carr
Don’t be nervous about taking toddlers to the RHS Harlow Carr gardens in Harrogate! These gardens are really family friendly with a treehouse playground, I Spy trails and a fantastic hill for rolling down. Take a look at these pictures of a day out at Harlow Carr with a toddler to see why it is such a good idea!
9. The Valley Gardens
The Valley Gardens are English Heritage Grade II listed gardens in the spa town of Harrogate. There are 17 acres of woodland and parkland to explore along with a children’s playground, boating pool and paddling pool – perfect for a summer day out.
10. Newby Hall
This is one of Britain’s finest Adam Houses, but also has loads of outdoor activities for toddlers. Newby Hall doesn’t just have an adventure playground– it has an Adventure Garden with toddler swings, climbing frames, and pedalo boats. There is also a miniature train ride and a Tarantella dancing water play area which toddlers will love playing in on a hot day.
11. The National Bird Of Prey Centre
Don’t miss a day out at the National Bird of Prey Centre in Helmsley. Run by a team of passionate bird of prey enthusiasts, this new visitor attraction situated at the magnificent Duncombe Park estate is a must visit day out. As well as seeing birds of prey such as the tiny terrestrial Burrowing Owl to the mighty Steller’s Sea Eagle, the National Centre for Birds of Prey houses the largest collection of birds of prey in the north of England.
The highlight of the day are the Flying Displays which happen 3 times a day with different birds in each show. Packed full of interesting facts about the birds, with plenty of flying action, these demonstrations are perfect to keep a toddler’s attention span. There is also a free ink stamp trail and a free word search/colouring in sheet for younger visitors.
Also, once you got your wrist band you can come and go as much as you like during the day. So you can pop down to Helmsley for a wander and then go back to the National Bird of Prey Centre for the afternoon flying demonstrations.
12. Harewood House
Harewood House near Leeds has a Bird Garden with penguins, flamingos and parrots. There is also an adventure playground with a pirate ship and castle. Inside the house, toddlers can dress up as servants using clothes from the dressing up box.
13.The Yorkshire Arboretum and Castle Howard
Located next door to each other, the Yorkshire Aboretum and Castle Howard are great ways to let toddlers or young children burn off some energy. Named England’s Best Stately Home’ by the Lonely Planet, Castle Howard certainly packs a punch in terms of its splendour and grandness. There are vast grounds to explore including an adventure playground and boating lake – don’t forget your picnic!
The Yorkshire Arboretum is set in 120 acres and a is a showcase of an extraordinary tree collection in a stunning landscape, with a woodland playground, shop, café and busy events programme. There aren’t many paths so it is the perfect place to just run around and explore. When we visited, the visitor centre staff gave my children some cardboard with sticky tape they could pull off and stick things that they found in the Arboretum.
The café is well worth a visit too!
Train Rides for Train Mad Toddlers
14. Kirklees Light Railway
The Kirklees Light Railway has 5 friendly engines (Hawk, Owl, Fox, Badger and Katie) which puff along the South Pennines to Clayton West. There is an outdoor play area and café too.
15. The North York Moors Railway
We loved our day out on the North York Moors Railway. Catch the train from the market town of Pickering in North Yorkshire and ride in style across the North York Moors to the seaside town of Whitby. Alternatively, you can hope off in Grosmont and have lunch at the fabulously family friendly Old School Coffee Shop.
16. Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Train
For toddlers with a short attention span, a 15 minute ride on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey steam train is the perfect way for them to get their train fix. Park at Embsay (free parking) and take the train to Bolton Abbey Train Station which is about a 1 mile walk from the Bolton Abbey estate itself. The walk is on little footpaths so baby carriers are recommended instead of buggies.
17. The Worth Valley Railway
The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire runs steam trains 5-miles up the Worth Valley to Haworth and Oxenhope. You can relive memories of the 1970’s film, The Railway Children, see where it was filmed and even see five of the carriages which were used in the film.
18. The Middleton Railway
Ride on the world’s oldest working railway in South Leeds. Take this historic train on a 15 minute train ride to Middleton Park where you can have an ice cream and a run around before catching the train back to Middleton.
19. The North Bay Mini Railway in Scarborough
The NBR was built in 1931 and runs for aprox 1.4km in Scarborough between Peasholm Park and Scalby Mills, which is the station for the Scarborough Sealife Centre.
Places To Take Toddlers Swimming In Yorkshire
20. Ilkley Lido
I can’t think of a better place to take a dip on a hot summer’s day than Ilkley Lido. This outdoor swimming pool overlooks Ilkley Moor, and is the perfect place for a swim and a picnic. The lido is only open in the summer months – check website / Facebook page for more details.
21. Calypso Cove (Barnsley)
This indoor pirate themed water park is full of slides, flumes and a wave pool. You can also have a game of ten pin bowling after your swim!
22. Alpamare (Scarborough)
Opened in 2016, Alpamare is a brand new waterpark in Scarborough with an indoor wave pool, splash and water area and outdoor infinity pool and garden pool heated to a toasty 35 degrees. An adult ticket is £19 and under 6’s are free.
23. Helmsley Open Air Heated Swimming Pool
There is also a heated outdoor swimming pool in the gorgeous market town of Helmsley. Have a dip and then grab some cake afterwards!
24. Splish Splosh at Flamingoland
You will be lucky to stay dry at this water park at Flamingoland where you can play in fountains, water jets and even water canons.
25. Seaside Paddling Pools
If paddling pools are more your toddler’s thing, check out the free paddling pools at Filey and on West Cliff Bay at Whitby.
National Trusts For Toddlers In Yorkshire
We are big fans of the National Trust, and there is no shortage of fantastic National Trusts to visit with your toddler in Yorkshire. These are some of our favourites.
26. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
This is a World Heritage Site near Ripon in North Yorkshire. There is so much to do here that you will be lucky to fit it all into one day. Toddlers will love the new adventure playground, seeing the deer park and exploring the woodland and parkland in this vast estate. There are plenty of cafes and tea rooms dotted around too!
27. Nostell Priory
Another great National Trust with a new cycle path and woodland adventure playground.
28. East Riddlesden Hall
East Riddlesden Hall near Bradford is smaller than its larger National Trust neighbours but has a Mud Kitchen which is a hit with toddlers. There is also a duck pond with hungry ducks to feed.
Things Not To Miss….
29. A Boat Trip on the River Ouze
Get the York Boat from the centre of York and take 45 minute boat trip up and down the River Ouze seeing this beautiful city from the water – a wonderful thing to do on a sunny afternoon. There is a toilet and refreshments on board!
30. The Naval Battle At Peasholm Park
Toddlers will love watching the naval battle in the historic Peasholm Park in Scarborough. Adults squeeze into 20 foot boats and manoeuvre them round the lake as they take part in a battle which also sees planes flying overhead on zip wires. The battle takes place in the summer months. See website or Facebook page for dates and times.
31. The Forbidden Corner
The award winning Forbidden Corner, near Richmond in North Yorkshire, is a 4 acre garden with a labyrinth of tunnels, follies, chambers and lots of surprises! This is probably better for older toddlers, due to the unexpected surprises in the garden.
32. Stockeld Park
Stockeld Park is a large adventure park near Wetherby, which has excellent seasonal events such as their Christmas and Summer Adventure. There is an enchanted forest, maze, roller skating, indoor soft play area and lots of outdoor activities. Well worth a visit. Read about our experience of the Summer Adventure at Stockeld Park with toddlers here
33. The Studfold Adventure Trail
One of our favourite days out in 2016 was to the Studfold Adventure Trail in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire. This 1.5 mile farmland trail is packed full of activities to interest and excite toddlers and young children. There are clues, questions, bird hides and a playground along the trail, and somehow it took us almost 3 hours to complete. It is very reasonably priced, and picnics can be ordered and delivered to the end of trail. Due to the trail passing through fields, I would recommend baby carriers rather than buggies. Pick a nice dry day to do it too.
Things To Do With A Toddler On A Rainy Day In Yorkshire
DIG is an indoor archaeological adventure in York where children can become trainee ‘diggers’ and learn about York’s 2000 year old history. You start off with an interactive briefing sessions where the children get to hold various artefacts, then it’s time to get digging in the pits to see what you can find. The soil is synthetic no mess soil so you don’t need to bring spare clothes!
35. Afternoon Tea At The Grand Hotel In York
What better way to spend a rainy afternoon than being tucked up inside having afternoon tea? The Grand Hotel at York has a daily Children’s Afternoon Tea which is perfect for a special treat. Read more about our experience of Children’s Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel here
36. York Chocolate Story
Find out about the history of chocolate making in York, make your very own chocolate lollipop and sample lots of chocolate at the York Chocolate Museum. Read about the York Chocolate Story with toddlers here
37. Creepy Crawlies
Let off steam at Creepy Crawlies indoor adventure park in York
38. Magna Science Adventure
Find out about Air, Earth, Fire and Water at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Sheffield. This is a fantastic attraction, which I think is more suitable for older toddlers than babies. Toddlers will love seeing the fire tornado, digging in Earth pavilion and splashing about in the Water play area. The outdoor Aqua Tek water adventure playground is fantastic in Summer too. Wrap up warm though as Magna tends to be cold due to the immense size of the building!
39. Scarborough Sealife Centre
Meet penguins, rays and sharks at the Scarborough Sealife Centre
40. National Emergency Services Museum
Visit the world’s largest emergency services museum with over 50 exhibits on show and 3 floors of interactive displays (including Victorian police cells!)
Days At The Seaside Which Toddlers Will Love
I’ve done a more detailed round up about 5 toddler friendly days out at the seaside here, but this is a summary just to whet your appetite!
Spend the day exploring day the fishing town of Whitby on the east coast. As well as the beach, there is a cliff top paddling pool and the fantastic Pannett Park. Don’t leave without having a lemon top ice cream! More ideas about things to do in Whitby with a toddler here
Scarborough is another famous Yorkshire seaside town with loads to do with toddlers. As well as the beach, there is the Sealife Centre, North Bay Railway and Alpamare water park. Don’t miss Peasholm Park and the naval battle display.
With over 7 miles of beach, Filey never feels busy. There are donkey rides, plenty of rockpools at the bottom of Filey Brigg and a free paddling pool overlooking the sea.
44. Runswick Bay
Close to the former fishing village of Staithes (of Cbeebies Old Jack’s Boat fame) is Runswick Bay. This picture perfect village teeters on the cliffs overlooking a sheltered bay where you can enjoy the simple things in life – sandcastle building, splashing about in the sea and having a picnic. There are public toilets up in the village along with lots of cafes and ice cream shops. After beach time, make sure you explore the village and get lost in the narrow streets and lanes which run past quaint cottages.
Parking is available at the top of the hill. There is a Tea Garden at the top of the hill too which serves amazing cakes!
Days Out With Animals
45. Yorkshire Wildlife Park
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is the UK’s number 1 wildlife park adventure with over 400 different animals. You can see tigers, lions, leopards, polar bears and much, much more. There are also daily animal talks so you can learn more about the animals which live there
46. The Tropical Butterfly House
The Tropical Butterfly House, near Sheffield doesn’t just have butterflies! There are birds of prey, meerkats, lemurs and lots of butterflies and exotic animals.
47. The Deep
The Deep in Hull is one of the UK’s largest and best aquariums. There are over 3500 fish including rays, sharks, turtles and penguins.
48. Hesketh Farm Park
One of the best things about Hesketh Farm Park near Bolton Abbey is it stunning location on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. This family run farm has lots of animals, plus an indoor playbarn, large outdoor playground, go karts and of course the tractor rides. Another of our favourite days out in 2016.
This is a really good review of Hesketh Farm Park from Erin from Yorkshire Tots (including a great video).
49. Thornton Hall Country Park
Another great farm in Yorkshire is Thornton Hall Country Park near Skipton. There are lots of animals, daily feeding and petting activities, an outdoor playground and large indoor playbarn with a fantastic slide!
50. Canon Hall Farm
Canon Hall Farm near Barnsley is a large working farm with lots of pigs, sheep and cows to see. Plus there is a fantastic new indoor play area with a café which is worth a visit.
51. RSPB Bempton Cliffs
RSPB Bempton Cliffs is the home to over 250 000 sea birds depending on the time of year that you visit. There are 6 viewing platforms where you can look down and see the sea birds such as puffins, ganets and kittiwakes flying about. There is easy parking, friendly staff, and activities for younger children to take part in. The viewing platforms aren’t too far from the entrance so little legs don’t have to walk far – a great morning / afternoon out if you’d like to inspire your little one to enjoy nature.
Places To Get Ice Cream In Yorkshire
52. The Ice Cream Boat in York
One of the highlights of a summer’s day out in York is finding the Two Hoots Ice Cream Boat and having one of their salted caramel ice creams!
53. Birchfield Ice Cream Parlour
This family run farm combines two things toddlers love; cute animals and ice cream. The farm make their own ice cream, and serve amazing milkshakes, waffles and sandwiches and snacks in their café. The farm is also open to the public and has pigs, sheep, cows and guinea pigs to see as well as a straw bale mountain, woodland walk and den building. You may even be lucky enough to bottle feed some lambs!
Toddler Friendly Theme Parks In Yorkshire
Flamingoland is a theme park and zoo all in one near Malton. There is a holiday resort onsite if you want to make a weekend of it, as well as family friendly shows and entertainment.
55. Lightwater Valley
Lightwater Valley has loads of rides for toddlers including carousels, boat rides and mini rollercoasters. Angry Birds fans will love the Angry Birds play area! Read about Lightwater Valley for toddlers here
Diggermad toddlers will love driving their own digger at Diggerland. Everywhere you turn there is another digger you can play on! Read about Diggerland for toddlers here
Something A Bit Different
57. Standedge Tunnel
Standedge Tunnel is Britain’s longest canal tunnel located in the Pennines. You can take a 30 minute boat tour into the tunnel and learn more about its history. There is also a café and indoor play area. This is probably suited more for older toddlers. Note – there isn’t a toilet on board!
58. The Yorkshire Air Museum
This independent air museum has loads of beautiful aircraft from World War 2 and before. You can’t go in many of the planes, but they are impressive to see, and the NAAFI system café is worth a visit. A great day out for toddlers who like planes and ‘big things’
59. Hire A Boat At Knaresborough
The pretty market town of Knaresborough is situated on the River Nidd. One of the most popular activities in the summer is to hire a boat and have a paddle about on the Nidd followed by an ice cream at one of the waterside café’s and restaurants. There are plenty of boat hire companies and life jackets are provided.
Phew – that’s it! I’d love to know if you have any more ideas about things to do in Yorkshire with toddlers!