Things to do in York with Families


Children will enjoy many aspects of the museums in York, especially the Castle Museum and the National Railway Museum. Jorvik is also very popular with all ages, and the ARC (Archaeological Resource Centre) is fully designed for children. But that may all seem too worthy, or heritage can only be tolerated up to a point, so what else?

The shopping in York will be of interest to some youngsters, and there is a wide range of shops. It is fine to take children into most pubs, and if they advertise food this is a good indicator. There are also many cafes, and all the large museums have cafes if you want to take a break whilst looking round.

Some of the day tours may also appeal. The castles and abbeys are great for running about and exploring, rolling down steep slopes (they are not meant to climb on the ruins but they will do that too) and imagining. It is probably wise to take spare clothes for if they get soaking wet early on in the day! Temple Newsam has a model farm with lots of animals and birds. The Royal Armouries have recreation displays of fighting, showing how the weapons were used (no blood).

Getting About

Getting about York city centre is easist on foot, and much of the city is pedestrianised. There are also many buses, which are also useful for getting to the outlying shopping centres etc. FirstGroup operate a comprehensive service, though timetables vary according to route, day of the week and time of day, so check beforehand. there are also lots of taxis, though most cannot be stopped in the street; they have to be taken from a taxi rank, or telephoned for.


In the early evening, ghost tours of York are offered by several companies. Not archaeological, but amusing, these tours will be available at a discount price for delegates and their families from The Ghost Trail. Just meet at 7.30 pm outside the West doors of the Minster any evening, and pay then. Details will be in your conference pack.


Suitably gory to appeal to children (my youngest bought a most extraordinary plastic severed arm in the souvenir shop), but do not see it as an educational visit. The York Dungeon entertains and diverts. Ideal on a wet, cold day!


Most films get released in North America before Britain, but there are several cinemas. There is the City Screen in the centre, on the opposite side of the river to the Moat House Hotel, the Odeon (though at present threatened with closure), and a multi-screen Vue cinema on the Clifton Moor shopping park on the edge of York, easily reached by bus.


There is an indoor swimming pool complex at Monk's Cross Shopping Centre on the edge of York, easily reached by bus. The Waterworld complex offers good family fun, and is weatherproof!


Megabowl on the Clifton Moor shopping park on the edge of York, is easily reached by bus.


Train journeys will probably be a novelty. If you want to go and see the sea, take the train to Scarborough for the day. Bracing and grey in January, but it has some fine buildings and you can venture onto the sea front, the beach and the pier. See how grey the North Sea can be!

Lots of other places can be reached as a day trip from York (even London, though expensive).