Discovering York With Toddlers

York with toddlers
The historic city of York is a great place to go with a toddler. The good thing about York is that it is fairly compact so it is easy for toddlers with little legs to get around. The Museum Gardens in the centre of the city, is an excellent place for toddlers to run around, feed the ducks, and have a picnic in summer. Read on to discover the best things to do in York with toddlers.  

Best Things To Do In York With Toddlers

#1. National Railway Museum

The Mallard at the National Railway Museum

A must day out for transport loving toddlers, or toddlers who like seeing ‘big things’. The National Railway Museums houses a magnificent collection of engines, plus a mini railway which will mesmerise toddlers and an Under 5’s play area.  The NRM is situated just next to York Train Station but you can get a little NRM road train into the centre of York.

Learn More – National Railway Museum

#2. The York Chocolate Story

York Chocolate Story

Did you know that chocolate has been made in York for over 300 years? Find out more about the history of chocolate making in York at the York Chocolate Story. Visitors start off with a tour which involves lots of moving from room to room, and eating chocolate samples before giving you the chance to make your own chocolate lollipop at the end. Don’t miss a trip to the chocolate café afterwards.

Learn More – York Chocolate Story

#3. The York Maze

The Sand and Water Play at the York Maze

For an a-maze-ing day out in the Summer, head to the York Maze. More than just a Maze, the York Maze has a fantastic water and sand play area, giant pillows, outdoor painting and much more. The highlight of a day out at York Maze is the Crowmania tractor ride where you are taken on a ride looking for pesky crows – without giving too much away, the ride is full of surprises!  Most of the Maze is outside, so try and visit on a sunny day.

Learn More – York Maze

#4. DIG

DIG In York

Become a mini archaeologist and dig for treasure at this toddler friendly attraction near to the Shambles. Visitors start off with a short tour where a guide explains the types of things that you might find in the excavation pits, before you are let loose to do some digging and exploring yourselves. There are 3 pits to dig in, and the sand and mud is fake so toddlers won’t get dirty.  There is an Under 5’s play area upstairs.

Learn More – DIG

#5. The Museum Gardens


These lovely riverside gardens are a great spot for a picnic in the summer, or for a run around at any time of the year. There are plenty of ducks to feed on the riverside as well as boats to watch on the river.

Learn More – The Museum Gardens

#6. A Boat Cruise On The River Ouse

York Boat Cruise

Take a rest from the hustle and bustle of York and enjoy a boat cruise along the River Ouse. At just 45 minutes long, this cruise is perfect for a toddler’s short attention span. Commentary is included and there is a snack bar and toilets on board too.

Learn More – The York Boat

Things To Do Around York With Toddlers

If you want to spend longer in York, or fancy getting out and exploring the beautiful Yorkshire countryside or coast there is certainly loads to keep you busy. These are my recommendations on things to do around York with toddlers.

#1. North York Moors Railway

The North York Moors RailwayTake a trip to Whitby on the famous North York Moors Railway. This historic stream train chugs across the Moors to the seaside town of Whitby, but there are plenty of places to stop off at along the way if you don’t fancy doing the whole journey in one go. It takes aprox 1 hour to get to Grosmont, which is a little village in the middle of the Moors, and the home of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s engine sheds where the trains are maintained.  Don’t miss lunch at the Old School Café which is a family friendly café with children’s sandwiches and toys and books to play with.

Learn More – North York Moors Railway

#2. Castle Howard

Castle Howard

Named ‘England’s Best Stately Home’ by the Lonely Planet, Castle Howard certainly packs a punch in terms of its splendour and grandness. Castle Howard is set in the Howardian Hills 15 miles outside York, and has plenty to entertain toddlers such as a large adventure playground, road train and boating lake.  Don’t forget your picnic!

Learn More – Castle Howard

#3. Dalby Forest

Dalby Forest

Gruffalo Fans will love the Gruffalo Spotters Trail at the magnificent Dalby Forest 1 ¼ hours from York. Download the Gruffalo Spotter app beforehand to get the full experience and bring the Gruffalo characters to life.  The Dalby Forest also has lots of family cycling trails (as well as bike hire) and a large adventure playground.

Learn More – Dalby Forest

#4. A Day Out At The Seaside

Whitby Harbour

York is just over 1 hour from the East Coast where there are seaside resorts such as Scarborough, Filey and Whitby. Filey is great for sandcastle building as the beach is 7 miles long, and rarely gets packed.  The highlight of a day out at Scarborough is seeing the mock naval battle in the summer months at Scarborough’s Peasholm Park.  There is loads to do in Whitby with toddlers including visiting Pannett Park, padding in the cliff top paddling pool and playing on the beach.

Find out more about the best toddler friendly days out at the seaside in Yorkshire.

#5. Piglets Adventure Farm

Piglets In York

For a bit of fun on the farm, head to Piglets Adventure Farm on the outskirts of York. As well as plenty of animals to see, there is also an indoor playbarn, jumping pillow, outdoor playground and go karts.

Learn More – Piglets Adventure Farm

BEST Places To Stay In York With Babies & Toddlers

If you fancy staying a bit longer, check out these amazing places to stay with babies and toddlers in and around York.

Read More – 10 BEST Places To Stay With Babies & Toddlers In York

#1. Griffon Forest

log cabin for babies and toddlers
Griffon Forest is a great place to stay with babies and toddlers just outside of York.  All of the log cabins have hot tubs and are set within 100 acres of naturally beautiful woodland. There’s a network of walking and cycling trails that weave through the woodlands, while you’re welcome to simply relax at the on-site, family-friendly restaurant.

log cabins for babies and toddlers

log cabins for babies and toddlers
Learn More – Griffon Forest

#2. Novotel York Centre

baby and toddler friendly place to stay in york

The Novotel York Centre is a great choice for families looking for a baby and toddler friendly place to stay in York.  It has family rooms, a swimming pool and is really close to the city centre and the river if you want to pop down and feed the ducks.  You can walk into the city centre along the river in front of the hotel.

Learn More – Novotel York Centre

#3. Holiday Inn York East

baby and toddler friendly place to stay in yorkThe Holiday Inn York East is a baby and toddler friendly hotel just 2.5 miles outside of York city centre.  The hotel offers free parking, free breakfast and there is a Toby carvery restaurant next door. Family rooms have a flat screen TV, tea / coffee making facilities and free WIFI. The hotel is only an hour’s drive away from the seaside towns of Scarborough, Bridlington and Whitby too.

Learn More – Holiday Inn York

#4. Staycity Aparthotels

baby and toddler friendly apartment in yorkThe Staycity apartments are great for families wanting a baby and toddler friendly apartment in York.   The Staycity apartments are located in the city centre and offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments which a short walk to the York Minster, Shambles and River Ouze. All apartments have air conditioning, super fast WiFi, flat-screen TV’s and a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, fridge, twin hob and microwave.  A Continental grab-and-go breakfast is available in the mornings and light snacks in the afternoons.

baby and toddler friendly apartment in yorkLearn More – Staycity Apartments

#5. The Queens Hotel

baby and toddler friendly hotel in yorkThe Queens Hotel is a great family friendly hotel in York situated on the banks of the River Ouze in the centre of the city.  Family rooms are spacious and have Free WIFI, complimentary toiletries, a refreshments trays and a TV.  A really nice hotel in a good location.

Learn More – The Queens Hotel

Read More – 10 BEST Places To Stay With Babies & Toddlers In York

Places To Eat In York With Toddlers

York has loads of family friendly places to eat including the usual restaurant chains of Pizza Express and Ask.  For something more independent, check out Café No 8 On Gillygate. Children under 5 eat free here, and the food is locally sourced and freshly prepared. The owners also run the café at York Art Gallery.

Another independent restaurant is The Rattle Owl in Micklegate which serves excellent children’s food at just £3. Choose from freshly made fettucine, Cumberland sausage, or chicken goujons all finished off with chocolate brownie and ice cream.

For a treat, don’t miss the Children’s Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel. This sumptuous feast is bursting with handmade sandwiches, savoury sausage rolls and cakes and is the perfect place to go for a treat.

For ice cream in York, have a walk along the river Ouse to where the Ice Cream Boat is moored up! The salted caramel ice cream is to die for!

york with toddlers


  • Beetle bank farm is also a great place for toddlers in york

    7th January 2020

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