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Fun Things to Do With Kids in Yorkshire

Family Friendly Day Trips and Outings in Yorkshire for All Ages

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Successful family vacations depend on plenty of fun things to do with your kids that will entertain all ages. Whether you are visiting the UK with your children for their first taste of "abroad" or simply looking for a few fun outings to liven up school vacations and school holidays, these family-friendly fun things to do with kids in Yorkshire are bound to create great days out and lovely family memories.

Have I missed your favorite family day trip? Let us know about it. Scroll down the page to find out how.

1. The Deep - Europe's Deepest Aquarium

Young Visitor to The Deep
©Ferne Arfin
Any child who has looked after a gold fish or pressed her nose against the glass of a fish tank at home will love The Deep.

Actually, you don't have to be a child to have a whale of a time (pun absolutely intended though they don't have any whales) at The Deep. This spectacular aquarium is full of creatures you may never have seen before - housed in the main salt water tank as well as a tropical tank and many smaller habitat tanks. You spiral down around the main tank to the bottom of the aquarium, walk right under it and then take an elevator up through it.

Hull, in East Yorkshire, is a bit out of the way but it's not really that hard to find and it's well worth the trouble.
Highlight: The rare Australian sawfish

2. The Royal Armouries in Leeds

Indian War Elephant
©Ferne Arfin, licensed to About.com, All Rights Reserved

Knights in shining armor sometimes come to life and start fencing with each other in the modernist galleries of the national collection of historic armaments in the Clarence Docks area of Leeds. Displays include some of the oldest and rarest examples of the armorers art from around the world. And, particularly during school vacations, there are plenty of interactive activites, jousting, falconry and demonstrations by the armorers and war horses. Even if you're not keen on swords, lances, shields, suits of armor and antique guns, there's lots to see.
Highlight The War Elephant in the world's only surviving suit of Indian elephant armor.

3. The National Railway Museum

The Mallard steam train
britainonview/Doug McKinlay

At the world's largest railway museum, more than 300 years of rail history is explained through exciting exhibits and iconic objects for families and railroad buffs.

Kids can climb aboard some of the world's most iconic trains - the UK steam engine record setter, The Mallard, a Japanese Bullet Train and a giant locomotive built in Britain for the Chinese railways.

There are daily demonstrations of awe inspiring machinery - like the turntable, for turning locomotives, in the Great Hall; Theatre programs about railway history and railroad inventors, and visits from Thomas the Tank Engine during some school vacations.
Highlight: A working replica of The Rocket, the world's first modern steam locomotive, built by George Stephenson in 1829.

4. The Jorvik Viking Centre

Jorvik Viking Centre in York
Courtesy of britainonview/Doug McKinlay
The Vikings played a major role in the development of York - including giving the city it's name. Jorvik, on the site where archaeologists first uncovered the remains of a 1,000 year old Viking city, brings this past to life. We all tend to think of the Vikings we've seen in the movies, raiding marauding and pillagings. Jorvik introduces families to the daily lives the Vikings who settled York - their work, their religion, their family life.
  • Highlight: The Jorvik Viking Festival, during February school vacation, is jam packed with events and culminates with a Viking ship burning.
  • Get discounted entry with a York Pass

  • 5. Dig

    Dig in York
    britainonview/Doug McKinlay

    If you've ever watched a program about archaeology on television and wished you could have a go yourself then Dig is for you. At Dig, visitors take part in an excavation and discover real objects from ancient civilisations. Through exhibitions and participation, you'll understand how archaeologists use their finds to recreate the past. Kids of all ages love grabbing a trowel and getting dirty as they dig through 2,000 years of the history of York.

    Dishy BBC TV Presenter Dan Snow called Dig, "One of the best family days out. No other experience gets you as close to the excitement of archaeological discovery.."
    Highlight: Meet real archaeologists, handle artifacts from York and see the most recent discoveries.

    6. Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield

    Kelham Island Museum will thrill budding young engineers as well as anyone interested in industrial history and really big machines. This 900-year-old, man-made island preserves some incredible artifacts of Sheffield's pioneering industrial history. One giant is the 12,000 horsepower River Don Steam Engine built in 1905 to drive a rolling mill that made armor plate for Royal Navy WWI Dreadnaughts.
    Highlight: The last surviving, complete Bessemer converter. The Bessember process for converting pig iron to steel was developed in Sheffield. It made mass production of high quality steel possible - a development that ultimately led to the design and building of skyscrapers.

    7. White Scar Cave

    A massive show cave under the Yorkshire Dales, this features one of the largest cave chambers in Britain. Underground walks lead visitors past an illuminated landscape with rushing streams, waterfalls, exotic formations and colorful stalactites and stalagmites. The ice age cave was discovered by a student in 1923. Battlefield Cavern is 200,000 years old and 330 feet long. Kids will be amazed and so will parents.

    8. Birds of Prey and Conservation Centre at Sion Hill

    Eagles, falcons, hawks, kites, vultures and owls, 70 birds from more than 30 species demonstrate their natural behaviors in a show set against the lovely English gardens of Sion Hill. The center is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with three shows daily. A snack bar and gift shop complete the ingredients of a happy day out with kids
    Highlight: For most children, the great thrill is being able to handle some of these fearsome birds themselves, under the skilled guidance of the center's trainers and keepers.

    9. Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well

    Claiming to be England's oldest visitor attraction, the Petrifying Well as first mentioned in 1538 and began hosting visits from the public in 1630. The water of the well is so heavily saturated with minerals that items left in it, turn to stone in no time at all. A plush teddy becomes a little stone statue in about three months. And to prove the point, the massive stone cushion formed by the mineral waters is hung with all sorts of items in the process of being petrified.

    The pretty town of Knaresborough offers more diversions for grown ups and a riverside walk along the Nidd will burn off extra kiddy energy and excitement.
    Highlights: Agatha Christie's handbag hangs in the petrifying stream.

    10. Xscape in Castleford

    The Xscape center near Leeds is one of several of these brilliant indoor adventure parks around the UK. Facilities vary between the centers but Castleford's 430,000 square feet of extreme sports and leisure activities is regularly named one of the top attractions in Britain.

    Among its facilities:
    • England's biggest read snow slope
    • two rock climbing walls
    • aerial assault course
    • indoor skateboard park
    • Laserzone
    • bars, restaurants and shops
    • a soft play zone and activities for toddlers
    • free family entertainment during school vacations
    • glow in the dark, mini golf course,
    • bowling
    • dodgems or bumpercars

    This place will keep everyone busy and little ones ready for a good night's sleep.

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