Top 5 Things to do in York for Kids

There are lots of things to do in York for kids which will keep your family entertained during the holidays regardless of wether you are a visitor to York or live here all year round.  Sometimes though, the hard part can be getting your kids off the sofa in the first place and out to enjoy all of the fun things that York has to offer.

Are there any things to do in York for kids?

If your question is “are there any things to do in York for kids?” our answer is yes, check out the list below and you are bound to have a great time the next time you visit York.

1. The Ice Factor York

ice factor yorkThe Ice Factor, which is located at York Designer Outlet, is a great place to have some fun in the cold winter months.  As it is the north of England’s biggest outdoor ice rink, there is always plenty of space to master your skating technique, or learn something new.  Personally, I still cannot go backwards but hey, at least there are the penguins to stabilise me, I mean, the kids!

Once you have finished skating, you are bound to feel a little peckish, so head over to PapaKitchen where you will find drinks and snacks all within a lovely winter layout of alpine furniture and rugs.  Or for those, quite not up to skating, it is a great way to watch and wait for the younger members of the family to return.

winter wonderland speedwayThe Ice Factor is just part of the Winter Wonder at York Designer Outlet and you also have the Funfair which is always a highlight of the visit.  Here you will find Dodgems, an original 1930’s speedway, game stalls where you can win some prizes (no gold fish), grab some candy floss and of course a carousel.

Lastly, of course with this being set in the York Designer Outlet, you can always get some retail therapy and pickup a designer bargain to take home and enjoy, all year round.

However you want to enjoy the winter months, a trip to the Winter Wonderland and Ice Factor in York is a great way to do it.

Address: Yorkshires Winter Wonderland, York Designer Outlet, York, North Yorkshire, YO19 4TA, England
Contact: 01904 682700;
Opening times: Monday to Friday 11:00 – 20:00, Saturday 09:00 – 21:00, Sunday 10:00 -19:00
Opening hours:  09:30 – 21:15, Monday to Sunday, November – January
Pricing:  Adult: £9.95, Child: £8.95 (Children 16 and under), Concessions (UB40, Student Card Holders and Senior Citizens): £8.95, Family Package (2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children): £34, Parent and Toddler (Ticket entitles one adult and one child): £9.95

2. Tenpin & Sector 7 York

Everyone loves ten pin bowling, regardless of wether you are good at it or not (me, not so good), and kids love it.  So with that in mind, Tenpin is a fun choice for all the family and a great evening out.

Tenpin & Sector 7 YorkWith 28 computerised lanes, featuring automated bumpers and ramps for small children and customers with disabilities, you can always find a time to play and if you have to wait 20 minutes, don’t worry, there are Pool tables, Amusement Arcades and refreshments to enjoy with your family and kids.

Talking of food, the Beach Road Cafe Bar serves both meals and snacks and for the adults that are not drinking, there is also a fully licensed bar which dullness the pain of being beaten by a 6 year old!

Catering for parties of all sizes, you can celebrate any occasion and enjoy 2 hours of fun with meals and drinks included.

Sector 7 York quasar laserThe fun does not have to stop with ten pin bowling, every played Quasar?  No?  I guarantee your kids are going to love it and so do the dads!  Set in a futuristic landscape, the key to Quasar is to shoot your enemies before they get you, last man standing wins.  Just remember dads, there are kids playing too, actually, you will realise that, when the 6 year old shoots you yet again!

Address: Stirling Road at Clifton Moor Centre, Clifton Moor, York, North Yorkshire, YO30 4WZ, England
Contact: 0871 222 3675;
Prices: £17.50 per person
Opening times:  School Holidays – Monday to Thursday 10:00 – 00:00, Friday and Saturday 10:00 – 01:00, Sunday 10:00 – 00:00.  Daily Opening – Monday to Thursday 11:00 – 00:00, Friday 11:00 – 01:00, Saturday 10:00 – 01:00, Sunday 10:00 – 00:00
Pricing: Bowling – 1 Game: £7.35 Adult,  £5.85 Kids, 2 Games: £12.70 Adult, £10.20 Kids, 3 Games: £18.05 Adult, £14.55 Kids.  Laser – 1st Game: £6, 2 Games: £9

3. Rainbows Ceramics Painting Studio

Rainbows Ceramics Painting Studio provides fun for all the family and great kids activities they will enjoy for years to come.  You do not need to be a fantastic artist, just come along and they provide everything you need to create your work of art.

Rainbows Ceramics Painting Studio

Simply pick your ceramic item, paint it with our great selection of stamps, paints, pens and colours and either pop back a week later to collect your masterpiece or we can pop it in the post, whichever works for you.  No need to book ahead unless you are a large group, so just drop in, whenever you want and have some creative fun!

With over 10 years experience entertaining children, Rainbows Ceramics Painting Studio is one of York’s most loved things to do in York for kids and at the end of your party, each child will have their own personal and unique gift to remember the occasion by.  Parties last between 1 – 1.5 hours and discounted party packages are available for a minimum of 6. They can also provide food (£4 per head) but please make sure to book using the contact details below for parties and large groups.

Address: 15 to 17 Bootham, York, North Yorkshire, YO30 7BW, England
Contact: 01904 675533;
Prices: £16.95 per person
Opening times: daily but please call Rainbows Ceramics Painting Studio directly for bookings.

4. York Chocolate and Sweet Treasure Trail

Do you like chocolate?  Do you like treasure?  If so, you will love the York Chocolate and Sweet Treasure Trail.

york chocolate and sweet trail murder mystery treasure trailSuitable for everyone of all ages, you will follow the circular trail as it weaves past York’s famous historic and modern attractions, and hunt for answers to solve the mystery of what happened to local chocolatier ‘Lotta Smarty’s’ as York’s sweet story unravels with every step.

The trail covers 1.5 miles and you can complete at your own pace during your visit to York, or get swept up in the story and complete the trail in around 1.5 hours.

Once purchased, the York Chocolate and Sweet Treasure Trail can either be downloaded for instant access or sent to you in the post.  Don’t worry if you get stuck as you can always get some free text clues to help you out long the way.

As a bonus, if you want to win some real treasure, you can enter the monthly draw and be in with a chance to win £100.  So, do not miss your chance to explore the chocolate side of York with this sweet self guide tour.

The trail pack includes one booklet which will keep 4/5 people entertained and starts at York’s tourist information centre.

Address: York Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7DT, England
Contact: 01872 263692;
Prices: £6.99 per pack

5. DIG

Children love to dig and make mess, sit a child in the garden with a stick and it will dig a hole in the dirt.  So, rather than letting the little tykes loose in your garden, come and visit York DIG.

DIG Archeology Adventure YorkDIG is a hands on adventure for your kids, giving them the chance to become trainee archaeologists and discover artefacts from 2000 years of York’s history for themselves!

Given the odd chance of rain, you will be pleased to know there are 4 indoor excavation pits filled with replica Viking, Roman, Victorian and medieval finds.  So, grab a trowel and discover how the people of York lived in all of these eras.

Little ones are not forgotten and there is a special area where they can listen to stories, do some digging of their own and see history brought to life in front of their eyes.

You also get free access to the Hungate exhibition as part of the DIG’s admission price.  There you will find real artefacts which have been excavated across the city of York and hear stories of people who lived in Roman, Viking, medieval and Victorian times.

Address: St Saviours Church, St Saviourgate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 8NN, England
Contact: 01904 615505;
Prices: Adult from £6.50, Children (5-16)  from £6, Concessions from £6, Family of 4 from £20, Family of 5 £22.50.
Opening times: open every day, except from 24th-26th December

Things to do for Kids in the North East

If you are going further afield, perhaps up North, take a look at our things to do in Durham guide, where you will find new and exciting things to do for kids which are not too far away, just a short train journey of 30 minutes.  Or if you venture further South, our Chesterfield and Leicester guides.

How to keep your children active

Kids are more inactive than ever, watching television and playing video games instead of biking to the playground or playing football in the back garden with their friends. Even schools have stopped promoting fitness as much as they used to, in some schools, physical education and after school activities has vanished completely because of under-funding.

kids activities in york today

Children need regular exercise to build strong bones and muscles. Just like adults, exercise during the day also helps your kids to sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. Establishing these habits in young kids helps them as they get older to maintain a healthy weight, especially as they go through rapid growth, hormonal changes and are influenced by their peers which often leads to overeating. Overall, children which are active are much more likely to become fit adults.

As childhood has become more inactive, children have put on weight, lots of it. In the past 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of children with type 2 diabetes, a disease once limited to overweight adults.

You do have the power to give your children a lifelong appreciation for activities that strengthen their bodies.

Follow these tips to keep your kids active:

#1 Set a good example

If you want an active child, be active yourself. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park the car farther away from stores. Never make exercise seem like a punishment or a chore. Find fun things to do in York for your kids that the whole family can do together, such as:

  • Swimming
  • Ballet
  • Hikes in the country
  • Gymnastics
  • Bike riding
  • Scooter and skate parks
  • Canoeing
  • Walking the dog
  • Playing tig
  • Dancing
  • Cricket
  • Skipping
  • Hide and seek

If mum and dad exercise, it’s a very powerful message for a child to exercise. In addition to getting active, exercising together gives you good family time. The goal is to get kids moving, whatever the activity.

#2 Limit Screen Time

There are a lot of reasons why kids are less active today, but the biggest culprit is the television set, followed closely by video games and computers, these activities encourage an inactive lifestyle by limiting movement for long periods of time.

Watching television is directly related to childhood obesity. Children who watch more than five hours of television a day are eight times more likely to be obese than are children who watch less than two hours of television a day.

A surefire way to increase your kid’s activity levels is to limit the number of hours they’re allowed screen time each day. When children are bored they find things to do.

#3 Promote Activity, not Exercise

Of course sports and other organised activities are a great way to keep your kid moving, however, kids don’t have to be in sports or take dance classes to be active. Every kid is wired differently. We all have certain strengths and characteristics that permit us to do certain things better than others. Many noncompetitive activities are available for a child who isn’t interested in organised athletics.

The key to success here, is to find things to do in York for kids that they like to do. For example, if your children like to climb on everything at home (most kids do), find your nearest climbing wall or soft play area, there are lots around at sports centres, pubs or dedicated play areas.  A couple of options in York you could use are:

The Web Adventure Park

Address:  Wigginton Road, York, North Yorkshire, YO32 2RH, England
Telephone:  01904 692221

Wacky Warehouse

Address:  Stirling Road, Clifton Moor Retail Park, York, North Yorkshire, YO30 4XY, England
Telephone:  01904 693239

Or, perhaps your kids love to draw, again, most do, so why not go on a nature hike to collect stones and leaves that your child can then use to make a collage when they get back home.  A nice one to do in spring but it is beautiful all year round is:

Farndale Daffodil Walk

Address:  North York Moors National Park, Low Mill, York YO62 7UY
Telephone:  01439 772700

Another idea for kids that are bookworms, walk or bike to your local library to pick out a new book to read.  Details of York libraries can be found below.

York City Library

Address:  Library Square, York YO1 7DS
Telephone:  01904 552 828

Acomb Library

Address:  Acomb Explore, Front Street, Acomb YO24 3BZ
Telephone:  01904 552 651

Clifton Library

Address:  Rawcliffe Lane, Clifton, York, YO30 5SJ
Telephone:  01904 552662

Haxby Library

Address:  mobile library
Telephone:  01904 552 660

Tang Hall Library

Address:  Fifth Avenue, Tang Hall, York YO31 0PR
Telephone:  01904 552 655

#4 Start Young

Remember your energetic toddler? Direct that energy into a lifelong love of physical activity. By incorporating physical activity into our children’s lives at an early age, you are setting the foundation for good fitness habits in the years to come. For instance, have your child show you how bunnies hop, eagles fly or dogs wag their tails.

Some other suggestions for keeping children interested:

You know the games that your children love, they are always asking you to play them, so why not play games that your kids love, like what time is it Mr Wolf, tig, Simon says and hide and seek. If you can’t remember the rules, a two minute google will have you sorted or simply make up your own!  Another idea is to bike, skoot, skate or walk to your local library (see above for locations) and find a book on games, perhaps you will find a few new activities to enjoy with your kids.

Let your toddlers and preschoolers see how much fun you can have while being active. Don’t just run with them. Run like a gorilla. Walk like a spider. Hop like a bunny. Stretch like a cat.

Plan your family holidays around physical activities like hiking, biking, skiing, snorkelling, swimming or camping. Take along a ball or Frisbee to sneak in some activity at rest stops.

Make chores a family affair. Who can pull the most weeds out of the vegetable garden? Who can collect the most litter in the neighbourhood? Have your kids help shovel the snow off the driveway and use that excess snow to build a huge snow fort.

Vary the activities. Let each child take a turn choosing the activity of the day or week. What counts is that you’re doing something active as a family.

Free things to do in York for Kids

If you are looking for some free things to do in York for kids, take a quick look at the video below for ideas of what kids activities in York can be found with just a little research.

The BBC wrote a guide on free things to do in York for kids which you might find helpful, they also have the latest news as to what is happening in the city, so be sure to check this out if you get a chance.

More Information

Try some of our other York guides to find more kids activities in York and the Yorkshire Dales.