How to discover York like a local
York is a great place to bring up children; there’s so much on offer. This of course makes it an idea place for a city break. When we take our kids on city breaks, we not only want to see all the main places, but we also like to experience the city like locals by uncovering places that most tourists won’t see.
If you’ve never been to York before you must visit the Minster. It may sound like somewhere that your kids will just moan around, but the Minster offers an activity trail and information stops especially for children. It is aimed at over seven’s but the three to under seven age group is not left out either as if you’re in York during Easter, York Minster offers Easter-themed backpack explorer packs for the younger children. They also provide a special area for kids where there are bean bags to sit on, a box of books and other fun things to do.
Askham Bryan College has opened a wildlife park in their arboretum. So, as well as giant trees and twisted hazel, you can also see Meerkats, Otters, Lemurs, Wallabies and Skunks as well as aviaries full of birds, and aquatic, amphibian and reptile centres. It’s a great day out for the children. Prices are £6.95 per adult and £5.95 for children. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children is £22.50.
Another great day out with children is Castle Howard. They’ve recently built a new adventure playground and there are treetop walkways for you kids to see the forest from a new angle. Right next to the children’s playground is the stunning lake and the Boathouse Café. They have picnic tables where you can enjoy a coffee whilst keeping an eye on the kids or there’s seating overlooking the lake. They serve really nice homemade cafe food and drinks too. Admission for house and grounds is £22.00 for adults, £12.00 children 4-16. A family ticket for 1 adult and up to 3 children is £43.00 or 2 adults and up to 3 children is £65.00.
Playgrounds and Parks
Castle Howard also has nature trails around the grounds for children and there’s magical folly’s to stretch their imaginations. There’s so much to do and entertain everyone and that’s before you even set foot in the house!
There are plenty of good, free children’s playgrounds in York and we especially love the Rawcliffe Playground in Rawcliffe Park. There are plenty of outdoor toys and room to run around. Plus, you can walk, kick a ball about or picnic in the park. When we take our kids to the centre of York a highlight is the Clarence Gardens play area, it’s a nice big play area with mostly wooden equipment. It’s close to Haxby Road and convenient for the B&B’s and Guesthouses in that part of York too.
Where to Eat
As far as eating out with children we love to indulge at The Double Dutch Pancake House, in Church Street, they make and sell sweet and savoury Dutch pancakes and they are really yummy with plenty of choices so there is something for everyone’s taste.
Another eat out treat we recommend is The Balloon Tree in Gate Helmsey, which is a short 10 minute drive from the centre of York. It’s more than a family friendly cafe, there is also a farm shop on site with a pick your own. So, we go to the pick your own for things like strawberries, raspberries or pumpkins and then go to the cafe for refreshments. The Balloon Tree has a fun children’s play area with inside and outside seating to keep an eye on them playing. The food is really nice, just a little bit different and special. We love it there and highly recommend it as worth a journey out of the city.
Three Tips for Parents Coming to York
- Make Use of the Library
York has a great library and a fantastic children’s section. They frequently have author visits and special storytelling sessions, as well as other events for children. Booking your children into a library event is a fantastic way for them to mix with some other children whilst you are away and also to give you a little time to do something without the kids for a little while.
- Spend Time in the City Centre – on Foot
Because central York is so compact, it’s easier to walk than to drive. Walking in different directions on different days will help you to explore. A great way to discover York early in your stay is to walk the medieval walls. The higher perspective gives fantastic views as you get your bearings. The walls are free to walk along and are around two miles long, so with young ones determined to walk you can easily spread the walks over a few days.
- Buy a York Pass
The official York Pass is a terrific way to navigate the museums and top activities in York and includes free travel on the hop on hop off tour buses.
The pass is issued to your mobile phone and you simply scan it to gain entry to any of the attractions listed as free entry with the pass. It also gets you some free pizza or pasta meals at the ASK Italian restaurant. You can also get discounts on things like car hire, taxi’s and bicycle tours with the pass.
The passes are £65.00 for 2 days per adult and £35.00 for 2 days per child, single day passes are also available.