20+ Things to Do in York with Kids

Discover the best things to do with kids in York. Enjoy family-friendly attractions, activities, and historical sites perfect for a memorable day out.

Your search for things to do in York with kids ends here!

As any parent or guardian knows, family time is sacred, and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve run out of ideas to entertain the kids (except maybe another trip to your local park for the umpteenth time today). 

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Whether you’re planning for school holidays or wanting to treat the family to a fun, wholesome or interesting day out, you’ve come to the right place. 

We’ve asked around the office, combined our collective experiences of the best things to do in York with kids, popped them into this handy list, and added a few tips just for you

Read on to find out what we enjoyed most - and what we hope your family will enjoy too! 

And just so you know, nobody pays us to be featured on this list. No affiliate links here! They’re just our recommendations to you so you can find the best things to do in York

The Best Things to Do in York with Kids

Go on a Treasure Hunt of York to Uncover City Secrets

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Where? Various start/finish locations

First up on our list the best things to do in York with kids, a classic family adventure with plenty of twists and turns.

Treasure hunts like these will have you and the little ones searching high and low to unlock York’s hidden secrets. 

It’s a simple enough concept: follow clues sent to your phones that lead you to historical gems and lesser-known nooks, interact with York’s walls, sculptures, plaques and unassuming street furniture and learn plenty of new, cool stuff along the way!

Accessibility and facilities: The hunt is pedestrian-friendly, weaving through accessible city streets. Public transport options abound, and there are plenty of stops with facilities for families - and there are top-recommended pub, cafe and break stops included in the trails!

Practical information: Available daily. Tickets can be purchased online. Suitable for children aged 5 and up.

Visit York’s Very Own Enchanted Fairy Woods at Dreamery Gardens

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Where? Dreamery Gardens

Do you remember how magical your back garden or local park felt when you were growing up? Well take that memory, times it by about a million and you’ll have a fair picture of what Dreamery Gardens is like.

These “enchanted” woodlands are abuzz with all things magical: you’ll find dragon nests, bridge trolls, mermaids, giants’ swords and fairy houses twinkling between the trees. There’s also a gorgeous Fairy Museum to explore and, if you can keep a secret, remember to open the wardrobe door inside the museum!

Accessibility and facilities: Most easily accessed by car, beware that the driveway can be a bit bumpy but there is ample parking. Facilities include baby-changing areas and designated picnic zones for a family feast near the fairies!

Practical information: Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM during spring and summer. Tickets range from £5.90 to £6.90 for children and £12.95 and £14.95 for adults, although family packages are available. Ideal for children under 12.

Do an Unconventional Self-Guided Walking Tour Around York Together

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Name of the location: Various start/end locations

The last thing most kids want to do during the holidays or over the weekend is have another history lesson - but the good news for them (and you) is that these learning experiences aren’t anything like what they’ve experienced at school. 

Forget about dates, faceless leaders with complicated names - these self-guided walking tours take a gamified approach to learning and exploring. 

Discover York at your own pace and using your powers of deduction using nothing but each other’s wit and a phone for help - and be surprised at how much information you took in along the way!

Accessibility and facilities: Some routes are pram-friendly and all are well-served by public transport. Rest stops with facilities including loos and places to have a drink or a bite to eat are included along the way.

Practical information: Can be started or stopped at any time, mostly suitable for families with children of all ages (check individual trails for suitability).

Go on a Mystery Picnic in York City Centre

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Where? York City Centre

If you’re looking for things to do in York that will fill little and adult tummies, check out the York Gourmet Food Hunt. 

This incredible food tour takes you and your family around some of York’s best local foodie hotspots so you can pick up ingredients for a picnic at your own pace. The twist? You have to unlock the locations by answering puzzles and riddles!

Accessibility and facilities: Centrally located with easy access to public transport.

Practical information: Picnics must be booked in advance. Suitable for families with children of all ages, be sure to check any dietary requirements in advance. 

Explore York’s Gruesome History at York Dungeons

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Where? York Dungeons

Want to find things to do in York with kids who don’t mind a bit of spooky, gory, historical content? This is for you.

A great day out for all the family, The York Dungeon offers interactive experiences that give you a spine-chilling glimpse into York’s past. Delve a bit deeper into iconic eras from Vikings to plague-ridden York, get goosebumps from the actors’ incredible performances and enjoy some gripping storytelling that will have older kids thoroughly spooked and spellbound.

Accessibility and facilities: Easily reached by public transport, with facilities including loos and a small café on-site.

Practical information: Open from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Ticket prices vary. Best suited for children aged 8 and above, due to the scare factor.

Things to Do in York City Centre with Kids

Learn All Things Locomotive at the National Railway Museum

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Where? National Railway Museum

Why be bored when you can “board” a journey back in time at the National Railway Museum?

My bad jokes aside, The National Railway Museum is the perfect place to bring kids who can’t get enough of Thomas the Tank Engine, any kind of transport or anything that toots, beeps or billows steam!

Take a look around the many old trains, peek into carriages used by former monarchs, and don’t forget to take a ride on the road train that takes you from the museum back to the Minster!

Accessibility and facilities: Fully accessible, with parking available and well-serviced by local bus routes (the railway station isn’t a long walk away either). Facilities include baby-changing areas and public loos.

Practical information: Admission is free. Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Suitable for all ages.

Uncover York’s Legendary Myths, Monsters and Magical Places in an Outdoor Escape Room Game

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Where? York City Centre

If you’re looking for things to do in York that give your kids a break from watching screens all day, give this a try.

This themed outdoor escape room adventure is all about interacting with York’s incredible legends and lore, but instead of passively watching events unfold, the whole family will be at the epicentre of the action.

Reveal the city’s mythical beings and magical corners that spark the imagination, give the kids the opportunity to solve a few puzzles and mysteries themselves and see York from a totally new and different perspective!

Accessibility and facilities: The walking route is mostly accessible, with recommended break stops built in.

Practical information: Play and pause at any time. Prices vary; check the website for details. Suitable for children aged 7 and up.

See The World’s Biggest Fossilised Poo at Jórvík Viking Museum

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Where? Jórvík Viking Museum

Not your usual museum visit — come face-to-face with the largest fossilised human poo ever discovered as well as plenty of Norse mythology and Viking history at Jórvík Viking Centre

I’ve picked this quirky exhibit as a headline because it was all the kids would talk about after we pointed it out (oops), but we all had a big laugh about it and, between you and me, it really is massive

Everyone also loved the interactive and immersive ride through the Viking village re-creations (complete with accompanying smells) and, if you have a childish sense of humour like me, you can’t go wrong.

Accessibility and facilities: The museum is easily accessed in town, facilities include toilets and a café.

Practical information: Tickets prices vary. Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Most suitable for children aged 5 and above.

Inspire Some Archaeological Interest at DIG

Where? DIG, Jorvik Centre, York

Weird confession: one thing that’s stayed with me since I was a child is the dream of digging in my back garden and finding a Roman villa stashed away beneath the shed or something. 

And I don’t think I’m alone. We’re spoiled to death in the UK by the incredible finds that pop up seemingly out of nowhere, but as “real” finds are still relatively rare, why not give the little ones a chance to learn some archaeological experience for themselves? 

DIG offers a hands-on archaeological adventure where children can unearth replicas of ancient artefacts and learn all about them themselves. It’s a great way to make history tangible and thrilling, and adults can give it a crack, too!

Accessibility and facilities: Centrally located and accessible, with facilities for families.

Practical information: Ticket prices and opening hours vary; check the website. Recommended for children aged 4 to 12.

Meet York’s Ghosts, Ghouls and Paranormal Pals on a Self-Guided Ghost Walk

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Where? York City Centre

York’s ghost scene is nationally (and even internationally) famous, and that suits my family just fine (we love a bit of paranormal investigating). 

If you’re looking for things to do in York with kids that involve a bit of ghost hunting but don't require walking around with a bunch of strangers in the dark, check this out.

This self-guided ghost walk takes you on a winding journey around York’s shadowy streets and introduces you to some of its unhappily trapped souls, including Roman legionnaires, a woman accused of witchcraft, a money-obsessed mogul, a drunken monk and a Viking who met a vicious ending. 

It’ll be up to you and your family to reset the balance between the two worlds and put these long-lost souls at peace (and, of course, learn all about York’s haunted spots at the same time).

Accessibility and facilities: Moderately easy to walk with kids over the age of 12, recommended rest stops are included. Price is £15 per person.

Practical information: Available to start at any time after dusk, but if you want to play in the dark, make sure you bring a torch. Best suited for tweens and teens due to some slightly disturbing historical content and themes - check the website to check suitability. 

Learn York’s Chocolate History at York Chocolate Story

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Where? York Chocolate Story

Fancy doing something tasty as a family? Indulge in the decadent and delicious history of York’s famed chocolate industry at York Chocolate Story.

This interactive experience offers a journey through the origins of chocolate, its arrival in York, and the city’s confectionery masters who transformed it into an art. A superb insight into how everyone’s favourite treat put York on the map, this activity is ideal for kids of all ages (and parents with a sweet tooth!). 

Accessibility and facilities: Situated in the heart of York, the venue is fully accessible and close to public transport. On-site facilities include a café and loos.

Practical information: Opens daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Ticket prices vary.
Suitable for all ages, with special workshops available for children.

Learn All About Yorkshire’s Dinosaurs at The Yorkshire Museum

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Where? The Yorkshire Museum

There’s more to York’s history than just Vikings and Romans, y’know. 

If we go even further back to the Jurassic era, you’d find some mega monsters trampling all over your kids’ schools, your local supermarket and, if you’re local, maybe even your house. 

Luckily, the remains of these incredible and vast creatures have been carefully curated into an exhibition at The Yorkshire Museum, a stone’s throw away from York’s iconic ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.

Discover fossils and life-size models that illustrate the prehistoric landscapes of Yorkshire, and find out how these creatures lived thousands of years ago.

Accessibility and facilities: The museum is fully accessible, equipped with family-friendly facilities including baby-changing rooms and picnic areas.

Practical information: Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Best enjoyed by children aged 4 and up, there are educational activities that cater specifically to young, aspiring palaeontologists!

Solve a Historical Murder Mystery as a Family

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Where? York City Centre

Delve into a real historical whodunit with 'A Fatal Feud', an urban exploration game that’s perfect for parents looking for things to do in York with older kids or teenagers. 

This family-friendly game challenges you to solve a historical murder through interactive puzzles, cryptic clues and characters based on real life 15th-century Yorkies. 

Starting from the legendary landmark that is Clifford’s Tower, as a team you’ll make your way around the city, visiting places related to this centuries’ old mystery. Do you have what it takes to catch the culprit? Only one way to find out! 

Accessibility and facilities: Recommended rest stops are included along the way.

Practical information: Check the website for further details and suitability. Ideal for families with children aged 12 and older. Price is £15 per person.

Explore The Fascinating Windrush Generation at the Objeks and Tings Exhibition

Where? York Castle Museum

Delving into local history is one of my favourite things to do with my family, and as we’ve been to many museums in our time, we’re always delighted when we come across something new or with a fresh perspective.

As luck would have it, just such a thing is on its way to York Castle Museum on 19 June until 1 November, and takes the form of a poignant exhibition titled 70 Objeks and Tings. 

You’ll get to explore the personal stories and artefacts of the Windrush generation, highlighting their profound impact on British culture and society through a series of objects, photographs, and narratives.

Accessibility and facilities: The museum is fully accessible, with lifts and ramps throughout. Facilities for families include baby-changing rooms and a café with seating.

Practical information: Open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Tickets to York Castle Museum are £17 for adults, with concessions available. 

See Animals from Near and Far at Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park

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Where? Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park

Don’t be fooled by the size of this zoo: it is small but mighty! 

If you’re looking for things to do in York with kids who can’t get enough of David Attenborough documentaries (and, let’s be honest, that includes adults as well), head to Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park.

It’s worth saying off the bat: this isn’t anywhere near as big or famous as Chester Zoo or Yorkshire Wildlife park - but that’s why we like it. 

Although it’s only open on weekends and during school holidays, this lovely little zoo has plenty of diverse species for your little ones to visit and, importantly, the animals have plenty of space for themselves. Our special favourites are the wallabies, although the lemurs, monkeys and alpacas come in a close joint second!

Accessibility and facilities: The park is accessible to visitors with strollers and wheelchairs. There are ample parking spaces, picnic areas, and on-site toilets available.

Practical information: Open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on weekends and during school holidays. Family ticket prices are available. 

Fun Things to Do in York with Kids

Visit York Bird of Prey Centre

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Where? York Bird of Prey Centre

This one’s pretty self-explanatory but personally, I feel like this place gets much less attention than it deserves.

York Bird of Prey Centre is where poorly or rare birds of prey come to be rehabilitated and looked after, and it’s also where you and the kids can get to learn about their incredible lives and see them up close!

I’d recommend this to parents with kids older than 6 or 7, mostly because the educational demonstrations are fairly lengthy and use some specialist terminology that might go over little ones’ heads, but you’re never too young or old to gasp when you see eagles, owls or falcons soar overhead. 

PSST: If you or your kids are Harry Potter fans, this is the perfect place to be introduced to your letter-bearing friend (and they also hold themed events occasionally, so keep an eye out on their website).

Accessibility and facilities: The centre is fully accessible, with pathways suitable for wheelchairs and prams. On-site facilities include a café and picnic areas.

Practical information: Open daily from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM. 

Visit Dick Turpin’s Grave

Where? Close to Walmgate Bar

A quick and easy activity to do with the kids in York, if you’re in the area. 

Dick Turpin has gone down in history as one of the most infamous highwaymen of his time, and his name lives on thanks to TV programmes like Horrible Histories. This site offers a glimpse into the city’s past and the legendary figure’s notorious life and death.

Accessibility and facilities: Located in a quiet area accessible by local bus routes. Limited facilities are available on-site or even nearby so plan accordingly.

Practical information: Accessible at all times. No admission fee. Suitable for older children and adults interested in historical figures and local lore.

Hop on Some Wheels and Explore York’s Surrounding Countryside on a Bike Ride

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Where? Anywhere you like!

When we’re truly stuck for ideas of what to do as a family in York I always revert back to a bike ride. Why? It’s easy, good for us, the environment, and the kids love it.

There are loads of cycle tracks within York city centre and even the surrounding countryside to explore, and if you don’t have your own bikes, you can hire them in town at Get Cycling

Accessibility and facilities: Trails vary in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Bike rental options are available near the city centre. Rest stops and picnic areas are located along most routes.

Practical information: Trails are open year-round. Suitable for families with children who can ride bikes or ride in child seats.

Get Creative at York Art Gallery

Where? York Art Gallery

If you’re looking for things to do in York with kids when it’s raining cats and dogs, here’s an easy (but fun) activity idea: pack some sketch pads, colouring pencils, and a rubber and take the family off to York Art Gallery.

While you’re there, take a wander around the interactive exhibits focusing on everything from classic paintings to contemporary art and then get the kids to create something themselves. 

Have a look at what’s on in advance - there are often workshops or special exhibitions that are well-worth a visit.

Accessibility and facilities: The gallery is fully accessible, with family-friendly facilities including toilets and a café.

Practical information: Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is £7 for adults; children £4.20. Workshops and special exhibitions may have additional charges. 

Brew Potions at The Potions Cauldron

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Where? The Potions Cauldron

We’ve all seen these viral potion making classes making the rounds on social media, but when you come to check the prices you realise you need a second mortgage to take part – well, luckily, that’s not the case at The Potions Cauldron.

This is where you and your family come to brew, concoct and manifest incredible beverages guided by a charismatic and funny host. There are a number of “potions” you can make (we opted for the Family Cauldron Experience) and grown-up wizards can decide to add some “poison” (alcohol!) to their brew if they fancy it.

Accessibility and facilities: Located in the heart of York, accessible by local transport. Although compact, it accommodates all visitors comfortably.

Practical information: Sessions must be booked in advance. Prices vary per potion experience. Open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. 

Find More Things to Do in York with CityDays

CityDays #York

So there you have it, 20 + things to do in York with kids!

Want to find more things to do in York? Of course you do! 

Discover York’s secret sights and noteworthy nooks by playing one of our York treasure and scavenger hunts, exploration games or walking tours.

All you have to do is team up with your partner, friends, family or whoever to solve riddles, complete challenges and answer trivia to lead you on an unforgettable journey around York’s most intriguing streets. 

The best part? We’ll recommend top-rated pubs, cafés and restaurants and give your team the chance to earn rewards by competing on our leaderboard. 

CityDays gives you total freedom to start and finish whenever you like, take extra breaks if you want or need them, and it’s suitable for people of all ages.