My Favourite Things For Families To Do in York (Cheaply)

I don’t think it is much of a secret that I am a northerner in the south, having been born and raised in North Yorkshire. I moved down to the south (Surrey to be precise) in 2008 after I graduated University.

With some family still in North Yorkshire, we do go back up to visit from time to time. York is one of the main spots that we visit. There is plenty to do with the children, as well as enjoying lots of shopping and fantastic restaurants. The shopping in York is amazing (I especially love the new Vanguarde shopping centre that is just outside of the city centre). But that does tend to be somewhere that I’ll visit when the kids are in bed and my parents are babysitting 😉

So what are some of the best things to do with the children? Here are a few suggestions:


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National Railway Museum

When you have got children (and a father) that are obsessed with trains, the railway museum is pretty much a must when you are in York. It is the same group as the likes of the Science Museum in London, so it is free to visit (though you can donate something at the entrance). There are plenty of trains to climb on-board of, as well as a ride-on train outside. There is a little soft play area too, so lots to do for children of all ages. Most of the museum us undercover, so it it is perfect for a rainy or cold weekend.

York Minster

Religious or not, this is a stunning place to see. It is easy to see why as it is the largest medieval cathedral in all of Northern Europe. If you just go in the main part of the minster then it is free to see too. You can pay to have a tour / go up to the tower to see some views over York. We went to midnight mass there last Christmas and it was really interesting to see it in all it’s glory.


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City of York Walls

You can’t get away from the walls as you wander around York. They are really well-preserved walls, from medieval times, and span over 3km around the city. So you can take a walk, for free, and enjoy some of the views. I have many a fond memory of walking these walls with my family when I was younger. So it is lovely to do with my family now too.

Clifford’s Tower

The tower is one of the only surviving features of York Castle. It is now a shell but you can wander in and look around. It provides you with panoramic views of the city, as it is set on on hill. If you are a member of English Heritage, then it is free to visit too.


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The Shambles & Betty’s Cafe

Sometimes just mooching around the city is fun enough in itself. The Shambles is such a fun little street, with old school architecture that blows your mind that it is still standing in one piece! The shops are cute and quirky, as well as having well known high street brand shops. Betty’s cafe is a must on the list in the city centre too. There is pretty much always a queue, so you do need to time your visit to it and avoid the peak times. Nothing beats a scone or Betty’s famous ‘fat rascal’ for an afternoon treat!

Have you ever been to York? Anything you would recommend?


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