With so much to see and do in Leeds, it’s no surprise that the city is a hugely popular destination amongst families. From finding the perfect place to stay and dine, to experiencing Leeds’ exciting museums, wildlife centres and the UK’s biggest city centre dinosaur trial, there is plenty to keep the family entertained during your stay. We’ve got everything covered from outdoor adventures, marvellous museums, art galleries, incredible animals, food and drink and where to stay – the ultimate guide to family fun in Leeds.
If you want a place for your youngsters to let off steam and have fun, then there are plenty of exciting play areas across Leeds, many of which are completely free and in wonderful green surroundings. Perhaps the largest and most challenging park for children of all ages can be found at Harewood House, with its fantastic climbing frames, climbing towers, bouncing swings and slides. You will also find exciting play areas at Stockeld Park, Temple Newsam and Lotherton. Leeds’ great parks of Roundhay, Golden Acre and Pudsey also have wonderful family play areas. In fact, there are over 60 local parks in Leeds, many with play areas for children.
If adventure is what you’re after, then Go Ape at Temple Newsam is the perfect activity. Featuring treetop thrills for all ages from 1 metre in height upwards, and with rope bridges, zip wires and “Tarzan swings”, it’s family fun for the bold and the brave. Secure your slot by booking your trip in advance, and making sure to dress for the outdoors. Better yet, why not combine it with a trip to the historic Temple Newsam for an exciting, full, family day out.
If you really want to try your hand at adventure activities, Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre is the place for you. The Centre offers Sailing, Kayaking, Open Canoeing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Improvised Rafting, Windsurfing, Rowing, Climbing, Abseiling, Orienteering, Off Road Biking, Problem Solving, Bushcraft, Soft Archery and Team Building!
Love Exploring is a NEW, FREE fun way to encourage families to be active together and inspire people of all ages to explore their local parks and discover some of the city’s cultural treasures. Follow the Dinosaur Safari to encounter life-like AR Dinosaurs along the route.
Offering a wide range of activities to suit all families, there is plenty to do and see in the city of Leeds for a fun-packed trip.
The Royal Armouries Museum holds part of the national collection of arms, armour and military equipment, and boasts five themed galleries to explore. From a full set of elephant armour, to Henry VIII’s own, it’s easy to see why this museum is so popular with children and families alike. What’s more, families can also watch history come to life with their regular live performances and combat displays. This summer, the Royal Armouries are going back to the Tudors with Horse shows, falconry, have-a-go archery, blacksmith demonstrations, outdoor gun-firing and combat demonstrations. Open 10am – 5pm daily during the school holidays, The Royal Armouries has all of the family friendly amenities to make your visit an easy one, and best of all, admission is free. Why not hop on the little yellow water taxi from Granary Wharf, just next to Leeds Train Station, to sail down to Leeds Dock? It’s only £1 per person per trip and is a fun way to travel.
For the history buffs amongst the family, visitors can explore Victorian Leeds by paying a visit to Abbey House Museum, and stroll down its recreated 19th Century street. Featuring shops, pubs and furnished houses reflective of the Victorian era, visitors can truly immerse themselves in this historic experience. What’s more, The Childhood Galleries offer a slice of nostalgia for some, and a history lesson for others. With a collection of toys and games ranging from the 19th Century to the present day, it will spark lots of fun conversations about what your childhood favourites were, and how much has changed since then. During the summer holidays, Fairy Tales take over the museum. It’s easily accessible by public transport, and at just £13 for a family ticket, it’s an affordable day out. Plus the café serves delicious food, and the beautiful grounds of Kirkstall Abbey, just over the road, make the perfect spot to have a picnic. Look after for some woollen friends as it’s a summer of sheep.
Thackray Museum of Medicine is welcoming visitors back after a multi-million-pound redevelopment. Find out more about the history of healthcare in Britain, learn about medical interventions that have changed the way we live, or, for the slightly gruesome, you can wander down the grimy streets of Victorian Leeds and see a gory 19th Century operating theatre. This summer, prepare to have your mind blown at Professor Pumpernickel’s Mind-Blowing Science Show! The museum is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, and you can buy individual tickets or family passes which will give you a full 12 months of access. What’s more, under 5s get in for free.
If you’re looking to learn about the history of the city during your visit, you’ll find out all there is to know at Leeds City Museum. The popular Life On Earth gallery showcases everything from minibeasts to dinosaurs, and not forgetting our famous tiger, whilst the Story of Leeds gallery sits on the second floor, including the history of Leeds’ cultural links to Asia. On the third floor, you’ll enter the wider ancient world and meet Nesyamun, the museum’s resident 3000 year old mummy. Located right in the heart of the city, and completely free, Leeds City Museum makes a wonderful visit for all the family. Explore the myths and legends of different cultures this summer holidays and take part in free activities.
Future train driver in your midst? A visit to Middleton Railway, the oldest working railway in the world, is a must! All aboard the steam train for a trip through time. Trains run every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday as well as on Wednesdays in school holidays.
More steam machines can be discovered at Leeds Industrial Museum, along with the Tailoring Gallery where you can find out how Leeds helped to launch high street fashion, and Media in the Mill, celebrating the creative industries in Leeds. There’s even a cosy 24 seat cinema too. Bring nature back to our urban landscape with nature themed crafts and meet insects from the Leeds collection during the summer school holidays.
Tucked away on an island just outside the city centre is Thwaite Watermill, one of the last remaining examples of a water-powered mill in Britain. Step back in time and discover what life was like at Thwaite House, a Georgian Grade II listed building packed full of vintage treasures. Situated in stunning riverside surroundings which are home to many local species from plant life to mini mammals. See how many you can spot by following the nature trail, taking a stroll along the canal and stopping off to enjoy a picturesque picnic. Get hands on this summer with crafts, weaving workshops and even mini-beast handling.
PAINTERS AND CREATORS
Looking for an artsy day out? Leeds Art Gallery is home to classic and colourful art and sculptures that will get creative cogs turning. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday and is free entry. Be sure to stop for a snack at the stunning Tiled Hall Café. Between 16-20 August artist Fran Heap moves her studio into Artspace, working with families to create a folk inspired outfit which takes inspiration from magical beasts, protectors and guardians. During August they’ll be taking Artspace outdoors with family fun on Cookridge Street!
It’s not just inside galleries you can find art, Leeds has seen a number of new street art pieces added in the past few years. Rainbow bright murals can be found across the city. Follow the street art trail to find them all. Just one of the many trails you can follow.
Kick starting on Saturday 17th July, Leeds is excited to welcome back the UK’s biggest, free, city centre dinosaur trial this summer, boasting 13 moving, roaring dinosaurs scattered across the city, with the launch of Leeds Jurassic Trail 2. With dinosaurs including a flying Pteranodon, a huge Diplodocus, the popular T-Rex, and the world’s first animatronic Yorkshiresaurus, whose design was inspired by a local pupil. All families who complete the trail can then be entered into a prize draw, to win one of 25 dino prize packs.
At Tropical World, families can enjoy a fun-filled and educational day out, exploring the wonderful wildlife on offer. What’s more, visitors can also take a journey below the surface of the water, with the aquarium and see the amazing creatures! Soak up the heat of the Yorkshire Desert and watch the antics of Tropical World’s very own Meerkats, before venturing on to Creature’s Corner to see the Snakes, Lizards, Iguanas and other astonishing reptiles. Home to 20 to 30 different species of butterflies from all around the world, including the ‘Owl’ butterfly whose wings can span the size of a large dinner plate, visitors can appreciate the beauty with ease. Finally, Rainforest Canopy offers families the chance to scale the heights of the rainforest and experience a bird’s-eye view.
When coming to the city, a visit to Lotherton Wildlife World is a must and with many different species from all across the globe, you will not be disappointed. At the amazing Wildlife World, you will get to see the colony of playful Humboldt Penguins and their unique personalities, so pick a spot beside the pool to see them waddle, dive and fly through the water for their dinner! The expert staff at Wildlife World play their part in European breeding programmes and aim to raise awareness of both endangered animals and plant species, through an exciting learning and events programmes, making it a guaranteed great day out for all the family. They’re calling for explorers this summer!
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, situated north of Leeds City Centre, has all of the animals you’d expect in a farm, including cows, chickens, pigs and also a few surprises like Alpacas and turtles!
Home Farm at Temple Newsam also has a large range of farm animals including many heritage breeds, so make the most of your day and combine a visit to the farm with the house and gardens.
Harewood Bird Garden is a home to over 40 species of birds from around the world. Visit, and you will see the critically endangered Bali starling, charismatic and colourful parrots, as well as a popular colony of Humboldt penguins. Then head over to the Farm Experience to meet some of Harewood’s animal family. Young farmers can meet friendly alpacas, learn about our family of pygmy goats and see our pot-bellied pigs enjoy a spot of lunch. The gardens are perfect for a day of exploration too!
FOOD AND DRINK
When it comes to dining out, you and your family will be spoilt for choice. Leeds Trinity Kitchen, a lively eating destination that is centrally located in Leeds Trinity shopping centre, offers an eclectic mix of food styles and décor meaning that there is something for everyone. Also located in Trinity Kitchen is Wagamama, which is perfect for families with its scrumptious children’s menu. Whether you’re after breakfast, lunch or dinner, Bill’s Restaurant has you and your family covered. Situated within the main pedestrianised centre of Leeds, Bill’s is well known for its relaxed, easy going vibe, alongside its dedicated kids menu and plenty of space for high chairs and push chairs. Of course we can’t forget family favourite, Pizza Express – with three restaurants in the centre of town, and all within easy reach of the main attractions, it’s a smart choice for all families. For families whose children are foodie adventurers, you might want to delve a little deeper into the food and drink scene in Leeds here. With so much choice in Leeds, you could choose to eat somewhere different every day of the year!
This summer, feed the family for less with Eat Leeds.
Where To Stay
With a wealth of family-friendly hotels across Leeds city centre, including well-known names such as Premier Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Ibis, there is plenty of accommodation in Leeds for those who wish to visit with their families.
Jurys Inn has many family rooms and is ideally situated close to the main shopping streets of Leeds, as well as the stunning waterfront and the Royal Armouries Museum.
Cosy up at The Queens, their double double family rooms make for the ultimate sleepover party. The hotel is right in the city centre so makes for a great location too.
What’s more, The Clayton Hotel is also great for families; as one of the largest hotels in Leeds and with over 300 rooms, it is perfectly located on the south side of the city centre, as well as near to the main road and rail links for easy access to the wider area attractions.
Hilton Leeds City are pulling out all the stops for their young guests. There are children’s activities and children’s welcome pack on arrival and kids stay free and eat free under age of 12.
Child Friendly Leeds are committed to making Leeds the best city for all children and young people.
They regularly share and promote activities, events and opportunities for children, young people and families via their social media. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or visit their newly refreshed blog, featuring the voices of young people, ambassadors, leaders and organisations from across the city.
For more information please visit leeds.gov.uk/childfriendlyleeds