Yorkshire’s biggest city, Leeds is packed with quirky family activities and makes a perfect base to explore the surrounding Dales, Moors and coastline. We’ve picked just a few of our favourites from the city and surrounding areas.
In the City
Just a few miles south of the city centre, the world’s oldest working railway shunts visitors up the track to Middleton Park and back on weekends, bank holidays and Wednesdays in the holidays. The engine shed boasts a small museum with several old locomotives to admire and some you can climb inside. This charming attraction is fantastic value for money and entirely staffed by knowledgeable and friendly volunteers. Check the website for more details and special events through the year.
This stunning 700 acre North Leeds park features a lakeside cafe, historic mansion, woodland walks and two playgrounds. Make it a full day out and visit neighbouring Tropical World where you can find monkeys, meerkats and a sweltering but impressive butterfly house.
Meanwood Valley Farm
The relatively new addition of excellent coffee shop The Barn has brought this old favourite back to the top of our must-visit list. Pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and llamas feature in this small but perfectly formed urban farm. There is also a decent playground in which to while away an hour or two. A solid morning or afternoon out.
National Coal Mining Museum
The National Coal Mining Museum recently opened their brand new adventure playground, adding yet another reason to visit this underrated and fantastic value attraction. Kids can enjoy exploring the museum above ground; braver/older children may opt before get the full underground experience, donning their hard hats and descending below ground to learn about coal mining through the ages. There is an under 5s indoor play area, a cafe, and pit ponies to meet. Both NCMM and the neighbouring, ever-popular Yorkshire Sculpture Park are easily accessed from the M1 near Barnsley. A good stop-off activity for anyone en route elsewhere, or those seeking a halfway meeting point for a family day out.
National Science + Media Museum
Formerly the National Media Museum, this brilliantly interactive Bradford museum is a feast for the senses. Bend light and travel through a laser tunnel in the Wonderlab exhibition or check out the Imax cinema. Older kids will love the games lounge, with its impressive array of classic arcade and video games. Admission is free, but advance booking recommended for Wonderlab. Just a 24 minute journey on the train from Leeds City Centre.
The Victorian model village and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire is situated just north of Bradford, on the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The village was famously built by mill owner Titus Salt for his workers to live in is a world heritage site, built by mill owner Sir Titus Salt for his workers to live in. These days it’s famous for the David Hockneys hanging in the 1853 gallery at Salts Mill, but you don’t need to be an art buff to have great day out here. Salts Mill diner is great for a bite, and you can while away hours in the amazing bookshop (which has an extensive kids section). Over the canal, the picnic-perfect Roberts’ Park has a bandstand with regular live music throughout the summer, as well as a top-notch playground and a funicular with a sweet shop located, rather excitingly, at the top.
These family-friendly gems barely scratch the surface of what Leeds and its surrounding areas have to offer. Keep your eyes on local listings sites to keep up to date on quirky one-off events and performances going on across the city, and don’t forget to share your discoveries with us on Twitter or Facebook!
Start planning your trip to Yorkshire today. You can find find child-friendly glamping, hotels and cottages in Yorkshire on Away with the Kids.