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48-hours   ›   Short breaks › Travel Inspiration  ›  Yorkshire and The Humber

48 HOURS IN - the best things to do in York with kids over 2 days

York is an ideal destination to visit with children – there are so many things to do in York with kids. With more attractions per square mile than any other UK city, there is plenty to keep everyone entertained.

York is built on 2000 years of history and is full of world class museums, glorious architecture, art galleries and other fun filled experiences for you to enjoy. It is easy to get to York by road or rail and Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds/Bradford airports are also within easy reach. If you are arriving by train, there are left luggage facilities right next to the train station if you still have some time before you can check into your accommodation. York is a compact city which makes it easier when exploring with kids and is very walkable, but you may choose to take the Hop On Hop Off bus.

If you are looking for a city break with the whole family, then York should definitely be on your list of great places to visit.

February 25, 2023

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Where to eat:

There are lots of family-friendly eateries with something for every appetite. From traditional cafes to excellent restaurants, York has a dynamic food scene that is sure to please even the fussiest of eaters.


Tuck into delicious street food at Spark: York, with a welcoming atmosphere and a relaxed space to eat and drink. If you can’t all agree on what to eat, there is a variety of places to order from which are sure to keep a smile on everyone’s face. Home to the freshest selection of independent traders in Yorkshire, feast on epic buttermilk chicken burgers, or tuck into some delicious Greek food, it is the perfect destination for eating and drinking.


Celebrate with Afternoon Tea at Betty’s, it is most certainly worth braving the queues for. Expect dainty sandwiches, scones and exquisite cakes, with a “Little Rascal” menu especially for children.

Betty’s is the ultimate destination for Afternoon Tea in York and as well as serving this quintessentially British treat, you will also find some great options for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner too. A trip to Betty’s is one of the most delicious things to do in York with kids

Plush Cafe

Plush Café is York’s most instagrammable café with, not one, but three themed dining rooms! You can even sit on a swing whilst tucking into your lunch, it is a seriously fun place to eat and drink. Expect incredible desserts, afternoon tea, and delicious brunch. The food menu contains delights such as “Pancake My Eyes off You” and the “I Like you Berry Much Granola Bowl” with as long as extravagant rainbow bagels, pizzas and sharing boards.

Rosa’s Thai

From Thailand to the UK, Rosa’s Thai serves a range of authentic home-cooked Thai dishes to satisfy all appetites. On the menu, you can expect delicious curries, stir fry’s, pad thai and big plates of rice and noodles. The atmosphere is relaxed, vibrant and family friendly, with a great children’s menu.

Where to go:

York is the perfect place to visit for a family staycation. Whether it’s a day out, weekend break or a holiday, York is a city that it ideal for children because there are so many fun things to do in York with kids. From York’s world famous cathedral to the National Railway Museum, there are lots of great places in York to take the whole family.

York Minster

York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals and is a must see on your visit to York. There is a vast number of things to see and do, from discovering the stained glass and stone and experiencing the medieval architecture, to learning about the history of the Minster. Children can collect a Little Explorer Backpack from the information desk, inside they will find binoculars, a torch and a compass to help them explore the cathedral and discover fun facts. Admission is free for up to four children.

National Railway Museum

Escape the day-to-day and discover the fascinating history of the National Railway Museum as you take a journey through time. This is one of the best things to do in York with kids. Explore the iconic locomotives and get up close to some of the icons of the rails including the Mallard, which is the world’s fastest steam locomotive.

Located near the railway station, find out how the railways shaped our world and come face to face with incredible inventions like the Japanese bullet train. Children will love that they can climb into a cabin and pretend to drive a train. Let the kid’s let off some steam in the indoor play area or ride on the miniature railway line.

Entry to the museum is free for all ages. If you’re feeling a little hungry after all of that running around, children’s meals are available at the café and restaurant.

JORVIK Viking Centre

Journey back in time to the Viking Age and discover the lives of the people who made York their home over 1,000 years ago. This memorable experience allows families to discover lots of fun facts and get up close to some exciting Viking artefacts that were discovered on the same site. Travel around 10th century York, and experience what it would have been like to live in the city all those years ago. Adults £15, Children £10.50. Under 5s go free so it’s one of the best free things to do in York with kids.

York’s Chocolate Story

Discover York’s chocolate history at York’s Chocolate Story. Join a guided tour for an entertaining and informative experience as you discover York’s most famous chocolate making families and their finest creations. You’ll find out how chocolate is made, discover the story of why York is called ‘The Chocolate City, watch a chocolatier in action, as well as tasting some for yourself.

DIG: An Archaeological Adventure

Enjoy a fun filled family day out at Jorvik DIG, the sister attraction to JORVIK Viking Centre. Discover the most exciting archaeological artefacts from the 2000 years of history hidden under the streets of York. It gives visitors the chance to become trainee “diggers” and is ideally suited for ages 5 to 12, with additional “Dig Deeper” tours designed for adults and “Tiny Digger” sessions for under 5s. There are 4 excavation pits containing amazing Viking, Medieval, Roman and Victorian artefacts which are all based on real life digs in York. Your experience will also include a talk with an archaeologist.

York City Walls

Enjoy some of the best views of York and see the city from a completely different perspective. A wonderful family activity to do at any time of the year, the walls are particularly beautiful when the daffodils are in bloom. There’s almost 3.5km of medieval wall to choose from and you can use them as a way to travel between places. You can do the full 2 mile walk or you can just complete a section and the best news of all is that it is absolutely free.

The Shambles

The Shambles is one of York’s most famous landmarks and is one place that kids really love in York, For Harry Potter fans, it is believed to have been the inspiration behind Diagon Alley in JK Rowling’s well-known books. With its cobbled streets and overhanging buildings, the Shambles is full of character and is populated with a variety of gift shops, cheerful cafes and boutiques. The beautiful buildings are home to lots of quirky shops including The Potion’s Cauldron which is a magical place to visit, and The Shop That Must Not Be Named where you can pick up a wide range of Harry Potter souvenirs.

York Castle Museum

There is something for everyone at York Castle Museum. See how people used to live hundreds of years ago and step back into Edwardian living rooms, shops, 1970s kitchens and even prison cells. Kirkgate is the museums Victorian street that literally brings history to life. Step onto the cobbles, visit the shops and soak up the atmosphere of the Victorian era.

York Museum Gardens is a stunning place to visit and provides the perfect setting to spend time with family. Home to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, there’s plenty of space to run around, enjoy a picnic and relax with an ice cream.

York Museum Gardens

York Dungeon

Step into York’s gruesome history as you journey through 2,000 years of terrifying tales. The York Dungeon brings together live actor shows, special effects and immersive sets as you see, hear and smell the city’s murky past. Meet famous characters like Guy Fawkes and come face to face with the mighty Vikings. Expect to be terrified then be reduced to laughter as you laugh, learn and scream your way through the York Dungeon. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older and because of the nature of the attraction, The York Dungeon is not recommended to children under 8 years old.

Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower is the largest remaining part of York Castle and is one of the cities most iconic sites. It has been at the heart of the city since the Norman Conquest and was built by William the Conqueror. Immerse yourself in centuries of history and enjoy spectacular views over the city. Climb to the top and explore the new roof deck and spot some of York’s main landmarks.

City Cruises

City Cruises offer a number of cruise experiences on the river Ouse. Hop on board a family adventure and enjoy a sightseeing cruise, an early evening cruise or a twilight cruise. Learn and discover the city’s facts on an informative daytime cruise or create your own adventure in one of the self-drive boats. Their sightseeing cruises take in iconic York landmarks and you’ll discover more about the history of the city. With tempting fish and chips to Santa experiences, there is plenty to keep the kids entertained – one of the great year-round things to do in York with kids.

Where to stay

Finding the right hotel or place to stay can be a bit daunting when planning a family holiday, whether you are looking for a family friendly hotel or self-catering accommodation, create life long memories with your loved ones and enjoy a home-away- from- home experience in one of the most family friendly cities.

The Grand, York

Enjoy a luxury five star stay at York’s best address. Located just within the iconic ancient walls, this hotel is an ideal base to explore all of the city’s treasures. It is home to an award-winning cookery school and an indulgent spa, as well as a wonderful array of food and beverage outlets. Experience ultimate elegance when staying at The Grand, along with a wide range of family friendly services from afternoon tea, spa treatments and cookery classes.

No.1 Guesthouse

Just a short walk from York’s iconic Minster, No.1 Guesthouse is situated in a gorgeous, Georgian townhouse located on one of the city’s most picturesque streets. Not only do they put tipis in the bedrooms to make for the most cosy hideaways, they also have a pantry stocked full of delicious treats. At mealtimes, there is a special kids menu and lots of magical ideas to help make your stay a fun one.

My favourite places to stay

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February 25, 2023