The top family attractions in Yorkshire

09 March 2022

Top family attractions in Yorkshire

Yorkshire may be more famed for producing some great tea and delicious puddings, but the county is also home to some of the country’s best family attractions.

These Yorkshire attractions are places where families can spend a whole day and if you are thinking of going on a staycation in Yorkshire this summer, then pencil some of these into your itinerary.

Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary

Scarborough SEA Life Sanctuary

Established in May 1991 the Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary is one of the top attractions to see whilst visiting Yorkshire.

The Sanctuary has the perfect mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits with the centre boasting Europe’s first fully immersive penguin walkthrough experience and Yorkshire’s only seal hospital.

The £300,000 penguin walkthrough, which was completed this year, allows guests to get closer than ever before to the SEA LIFE Sanctuary’s colony of 20 Humboldt penguins.

Alongside this, the centre concentrates on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured seal pups found on local coastal waters and visitors to the centre are able to see the patients in the seal hospital.

In total there are over 1,000 different marine creatures and 50 indoor and outdoor exhibit displays, meaning that the sanctuary is the perfect destination whatever the weather.

The fact that the attraction is close to some Scarborough-based hotels means that it is easily accessible for families staying in the nearby area too.

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey

One of the best days out with children in the county is a visit to Bolton Abbey, an estate located in Wharfedale in North Yorkshire.

The abbey is located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and offers visitors over 80 miles of footpaths that go along the River Wharfe. You can wander through woodland, go through the nearby moorland and explore the ruins of the Priory.

Bolton Abbey is open every day from 9am and there are a number of events taking place throughout the summer such as the Welly Walk, which takes place from 23rd May-1st November, and the Mini Explorers tour that takes place on 4th, 12th, 18th and 25th August.

Thornton Hall Country Park

Thornton Hall Country Park

The award-winning Thornton Hall Country Park offers family fun come rain or shine, as well as some unforgettable animal encounters.

The farm park attraction has a number of activities for the kids to enjoy such as the Wizzick Play Barn, the chance to ride on tractors, a straw maze, an animal petting area, an egg collecting zone, a Wizzick Caterpillar ride (£2 per person), a Wizzick Farm Safari (a 4×4 adventure around 200 acres of land costing £3.50 per person) and a Junior quad biking & Quadtrex track for children over six that costs £4 per person.

Cows at Thornton Hall Country Park

Thornton Hall Country Park is open seven days a week from 10am – 4.30pm until 23rd December 2015. Tickets cost just £6.00 for children, £5.50 for adults and £5 for seniors.

National Railway Museum

National Railway Museum


The York-based National Railway Museum is a dream come true for anyone interested in trains as the museum has a collection of over one million objects from the past 300 odd years of railway history, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that the museum has approximately 300 rail vehicles in its collection.

The museum really does offer people of all ages a wide range of attractions and activities to enjoy, with the elderly being able to get up close to some of the most impressive trains from their childhood generation. Children are able to learn about the railways with an explosive science show, live storytelling sessions and a brand-new miniature railway ride.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Have a magical summer and escape to the moors and coast with trains running to and from Whitby every day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Families staying in hotels in Whitby can enjoy a superb day or afternoon trip by climbing on-board a steam or heritage diesel train for a delightful scenic journey through Heartbeat Country. The cosy compartments on the trains are perfect for people to enjoy the enchanting landscapes of the North York Moors National Park.

Train going under a viaduct in North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Moors Railway also offers visitors marvellous 60s and 70s music events, a heritage diesel gala, classic cars and vehicle displays, summer story trains and Pullman dining trains too. The children will also be amazed to visit Goathland, which became the bewitching Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film.

Visitors can save up to 20 per cent on tickets by booking their tickets through the North Yorkshire Moors Railway website – more details here.

York’s Chocolate Story

York's Chocolate Story

Located in the heart of York is York’s Chocolate Story and visitors can guarantee they will be entertained during a guided tour through the history of York’s most famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations.

Visitors can discover the origin of chocolate, how to make it, how to taste it like an expert and even the sustainable future of chocolate. York is the UK’s home of chocolate. While other northern centres made their wealth from wool, cotton and steel, York went its own sweet way and built a city from chocolate.

Making chocolate bars

At York’s Chocolate Story a host of surprising secrets and fascinating facts behind York’s greatest chocolate products come to life – from the Chocolate Orange to the globally famous Kit Kat.

Visitors can see live chocolate-making demonstrations from skilled chocolatiers and see a host of fascinating chocolate artefacts as well as being able to get stuck in and make your own chocolates.

The factory is open daily from 10am – 6pm. To find out more about ticket prices visit the York’s Chocolate Story website.

Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hoods Bay

Home to sandy beaches, Robin Hood’s Bay is a great place to visit during a break in North Yorkshire.

The beach is a fossil hunter’s paradise as millions of years ago the land upon which Robin Hood’s Bay is situated was once a deep sea. The sea animals from that time became buried in mud, becoming fossilised. These fossils can still be picked up today and is a great activity for the kids.

As well as the stunning beach the area has a number of family-friendly attractions that are nearby, such as the Old Coastguard Station and the Robin Hood’s Bay Museum. The museum and coastguard station are well worth a visit as details about the area’s famed smuggling and fishing industry are detailed.

Image Credits: Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Bolton Abbey, Thornton Hall Country Park, National Railway Museum, North Yorkshire Moors Railway, York’s Chocolate Story, Thomas Tolkien (flickr.com)

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