Whether we’re blessed with a heatwave or struggling with storms, the summer holidays can seem very long when you have youngsters to entertain.

After a couple of weeks, you can quickly start to run out of inspiration when it comes to days out – not to mention the pressure on the purse strings.

Luckily, our team have been putting their heads together to come up with the best free family days out in Yorkshire to give you some inspiration. Why not add some of these to your list?


Free family days out in Yorkshire: indoors

Yorkshire has a wealth of brilliant indoor attractions – and it’s surprising how many of these are free to enter.

The National Railway Museum in York has been a favourite with families for decades. It’s both educational and interactive, keeping families of all ages entertained for hours at a time. You’ll find a great cafe and restaurant on site – or why not eat outside in the courtyard if the weather allows?

A little further afield in Bradford, the National Science & Media Museum is well worth a visit. Set across eight levels, it has a range of interactive galleries and temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see. You can also opt to pay to see something on the impressive IMAX screen or in the cinema, and there are small charges for some of the activities around the halls. There’s a cafe on site, as well as a dedicated indoor picnic space if you want to really keep the costs down.

Just outside Wakefield, the National Coal Mining Museum tells the history of this traditional industry in an engaging way. Visitors can enjoy an underground tour, see the ponies in the stables and explore their creative side around the site. In good weather, enjoy a nature trail and an adventure playground, or shelter in the soft play area for under 5s if it’s raining. Indoor picnics are made as welcome as visitors to the cafe and shop. While entry to the museum is free, there is a charge for parking during the summer and contributions towards the upkeep of the museum are always encouraged.

Finally, Salt’s Mill in Saltaire is a fascinating place to spend a day. Created by the famous philanthropist and entrepreneur Sir Titus Salt, it now houses art galleries, exhibitions, a restaurant and cafe, and numerous shops selling everything from antiques and art supplies to walking shoes and bikes. You’ll find all sorts of unusual products on the shelves and spend hours browsing the halls. Both entry and parking are free and, as well as the things to do inside, make sure you take time to admire the building itself, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for almost two decades.


Free family days out in Yorkshire: outdoors

When the weather allows, Yorkshire has wonderful days out to offer in the great outdoors. A trip to the seaside is an obvious choice – have a look at the YHL guide to the best seaside resorts in Yorkshire for inspiration.

In the last few months, we’ve also raved about the best market towns and best Yorkshire landmarks to visit on our own blog – both of these have some great suggestions for free family days out during the summer break. Make sure you don’t miss Sutton Bank Visitor Centre, right on our doorstep – more details in the Yorkshire landmarks blog.

Of course, there are plenty more to keep you busy: here are some of our favourite free family days out in the great outdoors.

Public gardens can be very varied, but one we’d always recommend visiting is Valley Gardens in Harrogate. It has a fantastic play area for youngsters, and a great BMX and skate park, as well as plenty of pathways and gardens to explore. If you don’t mind spending a few pounds, you can also choose from crazy golf, pitch and putt, disc golf and more – as well as a charming cafe and an ice cream kiosk.

The fascinating Brimham Rocks, not far from Pateley Bridge, is a great place for children to burn off some energy. Climbing the oddly-shaped rocks, running through the moorland and enjoying the incredible views will keep them busy for hours. There are frequent events organised and you’ll find a small food and drink kiosk on site too. Entry is free, though there is a charge for parking (free to National Trust members).

The historic woodland gardens of Hackfall Woods near Masham are a great place to visit if the weather turns hot – plenty of shade is on offer, as well as waterfalls, fountains and follies to explore. The landscape was designed by John Aislabie, famous for his work at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

A little further away is Malham Cove, a great landscape just waiting to be explored. From walking along the river to the waterfall at the lower level to climbing up to the limestone pavement above, you could spend a day here getting to know the views and surroundings. If your kids are fans of the Harry Potter films, they may even recognise the setting of some scenes from the final film, Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Just east of Skipton you’ll find Bolton Abbey, one of the most stunning places in Yorkshire. With its river running through the grounds, spacious grassland perfect for picnicking, and woodland, hills and stepping stones to explore, families have been spending enjoyable days here for generations. There’s even a riverside beach with enough sand for building sandcastles, and youngsters can bring mini fishing nets to use while paddling. You won’t be short of choice if you decide to eat in one of the tea rooms, cafes and restaurants, but you could also bring your own barbecue to enjoy in the Riverside car park. There is a charge for parking, but once there you can stay as long as you like.

Aysgarth Falls, in the heart of Wensleydale at the very north of our region, is a spectacular triple flight of waterfalls which has been drawing visitors for more than 200 years. The nearby National Park Centre is worth a visit, as is the neighbouring cafe. You can walk from there up to the falls and explore the surrounding area – the Yorkshire Dales website has some great suggested routes.


We hope this is plenty to keep you and your family occupied throughout the summer. If you have any of your own suggestions to pass on, or want to ask for any more pointers, our Park Managers are always happy to help – just ask!

Visit the main YHL Parks Website