Living in North Yorkshire all my life I have had the opportunity to test out most of the attractions in the area. There are some places that I have found are just the best for kids, whereas others are more difficult and things really could have been thought out a bit better to make life easier for parents. While I love doing things with the kids it can sometimes prove really hard because I’m paying for 2 children now, and soon I’ll be forking out for 3. Whilst this isn’t an issue, it does mean that big trips where children’s tickets are £20+ and adult tickets are £40-75, we can’t do that every day of the week.
Here are my favourites places to visit with kids, for free or on a budget:
1.) The Railway Museum at York
This is completely free and they literally ask for a donation for their attraction. Every child seems to have a Thomas the Tank Engine phase, or at the very least a train and tractor phase. The museum is packed to the rafters with interactive equipment, trains of all styles and two cafes. We love visiting and every time we do we get to see something we didn’t see before. As for the accessibility they make things really easy for everyone, pushchair or carrier. It’s fab and definitely worth a visit if you are near York – plus if you are from out of the area the miniature “train” will pick you up and drop you off in the city centre.
2.) Dalby Forest
There really is nothing more magical than a woodland when you are a child and both my husband and I have the fondest memories of Dalby Forest as kids. Den building, nature trails, bike riding, BBQs and picnics and even stream wading. It is a place of endless possibilities and only £7 per car in peak season or £4 during off season. We have a season pass which costs £40 and we head up there most weeks just for a couple of hours fun. There are plenty of toilets and a cafe on site too if you didn’t want to take a picnic or BBQ, and there is no end of activities that you can purchase, including Go Ape! Which is a high wire climbing area in the trees.
3.) Goathland and the North Yorkshire Moors
Loads of people tell me they have been camping or hiking with their little ones in the Lake District, but here in North Yorkshire we have a beautiful Moorland that really can’t be beaten. This is a great place to take the kids on a walking trail, you can download a route online or even purchase a book that will tell you where to go. There are different things to do, nature observation, rock climbing, wading in the streams, sheep spotting – just to name a few. If your little ones aren’t up to long walks then visit Goathland and have a walk around, spot the sheep and grab some gorgeous ice cream from their local shop – it’s made on site and can’t be beaten.
4.) Cayton Bay Beach
So much prettier than most of the places in the area and you aren’t going to be bombarded by the usual beach fare – the arcades where your 2p slot machines cost you £20 and you end up with more, an obscene amount of fish and chips shops and an excess of tourist brick-a-brack shops that your little munchkin will neeeeed everything from. The beach doesn’t really have anything except one shop at the top of the cliff that sells ice creams and the odd surfers essential, so come well prepared for a day of chilling out and playing on the super clean sand and sea.
5.) Mother Shipton’s Cave, Harrogate
With a family ticket for the day cost £18 this is one of the best places to take the kiddos! Not only is it just as much fun as any of the overpriced play parks but it has a wealth of things to teach kids that won’t feel like an educational borefest. You can go in the caves, enjoy the carvings as you walk around the gardens and even enjoy the history of the place – without realising it. They also have a pretty good play area and picnic spot too.
6.) Walk the walls in York.
Admittedly I haven’t done this for an age, but it was pretty awesome when I did. One thing I will say about walking the walls – it is NOT pushchair friendly at all, so use a baby carrier and be wary of little ones that might want to climb. You do get the best view of York this way and you can make up stories about being on the battlements if you like, it all adds to the fun!!
7.) Wharram Percy
I love this place. Wharram Percy is a deserted medieval village between Beverley and Malton. It is filled with ruins, a fabulous lake to walk around (never swim in it!) and is made all the better by being free free free! It’s a great place to wander around with sheep and sometimes cows milling about, go on a good walk and enjoy the fresh-ish air!
I hope you feel inspired and add at least one or two of these place to your summer holiday bucket list – it’s great to get out and about, and it costs so little or nothing. Ditch the big theme parks, zoos and attractions that cost big bucks before you get in and just go enjoy some worry free family time… Every day if you like!