Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

21 Bus-hopping Adventures to Keep the Kids Entertained

· Ruth Hargreaves · Culture

No car? No problem.

Tropical World

It’s time to try the bus again! Travel all over the city, connect to the onboard wifi and charge your phone as you ride. Intrigued? Get your FREE First Bus day pass worth £4.30 now!

Hop on board ladies and gents because your next big family outing is just a bus ride away.

Leeds is a magnificent place for kids to let loose. From adrenaline-fuelled antics to wild wanders, you’re surrounded by choices that’ll tickle the fancy of even the fussiest family members. And if you think you need a car to make the most of them, think again. You can jump on the bus and go just about anywhere. Fancy a swim at Ilkley Lido? No problem. Ready to set sail at Yeadon Tarn? You got it. Up for a spin around Bradford Ice Rink? Let’s do it. After all, it’s only a bus ride away.

1. Eureka!

Eureka! The National Children&#039c;s Museum

Credit: Jonathan Pow

Superb fun for tiny tots right the way up to 11 years old, Eureka! in Halifax is a win-win for parents. The interactive museum gets your little ones learning through play with oodles of hands-on exhibits that are just too tempting to ignore. Oh, and it’s only a five-minute stroll from the bus station. Win!

Technically it’s an educational day out, but young visitors won’t know the difference. They’ll be too busy getting stuck into six colourful zones, from discovering the human body to the science of sound. There’s even a replica town where children can role-play a bunch of different ‘grown-up’ jobs. It’s enough to tucker even the most energetic of kids out, so get ready for naps all round on the ride back home.

Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 2NE. You can get the 508 bus to Halifax Bus Station. Get your free First Bus day pass…

2. Meanwood Valley Urban Farm

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Barnaby Aldrick

Up for meeting goats, pigs, chickens and even a few fuzzy alpacas? You’ll make farmyard friends in no time, because Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is a mere snort, snuffle and chirp from Leeds. Also home to 24 acres filled with gardens, play areas and woodland walks, it’s hard to believe the bustling city centre is only 15 minutes away.

Wander through the wildflower meadows, embark on a hunt for creepy crawlies, grab a bag of food to feed the animals, then finish off by sating your own appetite at The Barn Coffee Shop. A perfect pitstop for sandwiches and snacks, with a special children’s menu to keep the little ones happy.

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Sugarwell Road, Meanwood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 2QG. You can get the 51 or 52 bus to Meanwood Road Ridge Grove. Get your free First Bus day pass…

3. Roundhay Park and Tropical World

Roundhay Park

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Ali Turner

Treat your family to a double dose of environmental escapades at Roundhay Park. It’s easy peasy to get to and once you’ve stepped off the bus, you’ll find yourself in the midst of 700 acres of lovely green parkland. There are colourful gardens, lush lakes and even a woodland waterfall to seek out, it’s a prime spot to let your little ones run wild. Add two adventure playgrounds, sport pitches and a skate park and you’ve hit the family day out jackpot.

There’s even more wilderness in store on the western edge of the park. Tropical World boasts the largest collection of tropical plants outside of London, plus all manner of cuddly (and not so cuddly) creatures. Get nose-to-nose with meerkats, seahorses, armadillos and an utterly charming Butterfly House that houses up to 30 species. It’s as close to a real-life rainforest as you’ll find in Leeds.

Tropical World, Princes Avenue, Roundhay Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2ER. You can get the 2 or 12 bus to Roundhay Park, Princes Avenue. Get your free First Bus day pass…

4. Go Ape

Go Ape

Teeter from treetops and balance among branches, Go Ape is easily accessible by bus and an ideal adventure for your little monkeys. Head to the 500-year old Temple Newsam mansion and take a stroll through the stately grounds. This is where your high rope obstacle course awaits.

Take a deep breath before you put your harness on and clamber up to the woodland canopy. Go Ape is about challenging yourself through a series of circuits that appeal to all ages, abilities and adrenaline levels. Practice your battle cry on the Tarzan swing, hold your nerve on the rope bridges, then fly back to earth via a speedy zip line. Don’t worry, their friendly leaders are ready with the pep talks when your knees start to wobble.

Go Ape, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AD. You can get the 19 or 19A to Selby Road Primrose Lane. Get your free First Bus day pass…

5. Jackrabbits Pottery

Jackrabbits pottery

For kids who love to get creative, Jackrabbits Pottery in Oakwood is a sure-fire winner. Budding Picassos can pick a ceramic item of their choice, before giving it the personal touch with a bunch of paints, tools and some gentle guidance from their staff. It’s delightful. And if you think you’ll only be offered bog-standard plates and mugs, get ready for a pleasant surprise.

You’ll have over 120 pottery pieces to choose from including piggy banks, plant pots, candle holders and some rather sweet egg cups. Once the little ones have transformed your item into a work of art, simply leave it in the safe hands of the team who’ll fire and glaze it for you to pick up a week later. Pop back often enough and you can furnish your entire home with unique pieces from all the family.

Jackrabbits Pottery, 633A Roundhay Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 4BA. You can get the 12, 13, 13A or X99 to Oakwood Clock. Get your free First Bus day pass…

6. National Science and Media Museum

The National Science & Media Museum

Credit: The National Science & Media Museum

Got kids who go head over heels for technology? Let them revel in all things media at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford – a cultural behemoth with no fewer than eight floors of interactive exhibits. Filled with mirror mazes, live shows and even a gaming arcade laden with retro consoles, the biggest problem is deciding what to do first.

Whether it’s space, sound, lasers or light, this museum has the knack of engaging young minds with the awe-inspiring magic of science. The damage? Nada, because entry to the museum won’t cost a penny (only the cinemas and special activities require you to put your hand in your pocket). And with a bus from Leeds that whizzes you to within minutes of the museum’s doorstep, this is one family day out with bargain stamped all over it.

National Science and Media Museum, Pictureville, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ. You can get the X6 to Hall Ings, Bradford. Get your free First Bus day pass…

7. Oxygen Freejumping

Oxygen Freejumping Christmas

When you’re in need of a high-energy activity that’ll leave even the bounciest of kids cream-crackered, Oxygen’s trampoline park should jump straight to mind. With over 120 interconnected trampolines to leap, launch and generally lose all inhibitions on, it’s enough to keep the kids occupied for hours.

But there’s more. Show off your best dive into the giant foam pit, spring back into the air on the humongous airbag or test your aim in the dodgeball arena. Rambunctious kids will have a riot, but there are also daily toddler sessions for little leapers who need a bit more space. Plus, you can expect heads to hit the pillow pretty darn quickly when bedtime rolls around.

Oxygen Freejumping, Cardigan Fields Leisure Park, Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2DG. You can get the 34, 49, 50, 50A or 508 to Burley Road Cardigan Lane or Kirkstall Road Cardigan Fields. Get your free First Bus day pass…

8. Yeadon Tarn

Yeadon Tarn Days Out

Bid farewell to solid ground and spend the day with your young pirates on the high seas of Yeadon Tarn instead. Ok, it’s a lake rather than an ocean. But when you’re slicing through the water in your sailboat, wind in your hair, looking like a pro, it’s all too easy to forget you’re less than an hour by bus from the city centre.

Sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding and the like is available to children aged eight or over, but there’s still masses for every age to enjoy. Back on dry land, the surrounding 17-hectare park is studded with child-friendly tidbits like a BMX bike track, a fantastic playground (complete with a zip wire, yee-haw) and plenty of picnic areas. Top tip – it’s also a superb spot to watch aeroplanes take off from nearby Leeds Bradford Airport.

Yeadon Tarn, Cemetery Road, Yeadon, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 7BB. You can get the 34 or 97 to White Swan PH, Yeadon. Get your free First Bus day pass…

9. TeamSport Go Karting

TeamSport Go Karting

Credit: TeamSport Go Karting

Buckle in, thrill-seekers, things are about to rev up a gear. If your kids often badger you for a no-holds-barred day of entertainment, they may meet their match at TeamSport Go Karting. Here, over-eights can take on the longest indoor circuit in Yorkshire. It’s a 580-metre track that lets you put the pedal to the metal on speedy straights, but you can also tackle bridges, tunnels and even a full-blown flyover.

As for the parents? Choose to cheer on from the sidelines or join the action yourself and show your little dear who’s boss on those hairpin bends. A range of family experiences, from timed races to guided skill sessions, come with full safety briefings as well as specially-designed Cadet Karts for the kids.

TeamSport Leeds, South Accommodation Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1NQ. You can get the 74 or 74A to Hunslet Road/Chadwick Street. Get your free First Bus day pass…

10. Otley Chevin Forest Park

woodland in a valley with sunlight shining though the trees with rocks and boulders covered in ferns and moss taken in otley chevin in west yorkshire

Less than an hour’s bus ride and yet a whole world away from Leeds city centre, Chevin Forest Park is just the ticket for families who love to immerse themselves in nature on their day trips. Set high on Otley’s hills, the designated nature reserve is criss-crossed with walking trails at every turn. Pick a path and venture through wild woodland, furze-covered moorland and some of the finest views around.

Head up the park’s north-facing cliff and you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Otley and the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the North York Moors. It’s a fitting bonus for that steep climb, but children have an extra incentive in store – the ice cream van that’s stationed in the car park at the top.

Otley Chevin Forest Park, East Chevin Road, Otley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS21 3HB. You can get the X84 to Leeds Road Pool Scar, Otley. Get your free First Bus day pass…

11. Clip ’n Climb

Clip 'n Climb Leeds

Credit: McFade

When it comes to family-friendly adventures, Clip ’n Climb is the perfect place to strap in and scale new heights. You’re fully harnessed and attached to the wall with ropes, but that doesn’t stop the adrenaline from pumping as you channel your inner Spiderman to leave the ground further and further behind.

It takes just 20 minutes to reach Clip ’n Climb by bus and it’s undoubtedly the best climbing centre for kids in Leeds. Tetris-themed climbs, luminous stepping stone climbs, light-up climbs – the whole place looks totally barmy. But as soon as your young ones are fully briefed and kitted up, they’ll be chomping at the bit to take on each of the 32 colourful courses. Up for a big finale? Steel your nerves to attempt the Vertical Drop Slide. It’s as exciting, and terrifying, as it sounds.

Clip ’n Climb, Unit 3, Tristram Centre, Brown Lane West, Gelderd Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 6BF. You can get the 55 to Top Moor Side. Get your free First Bus day pass…

12. Ilkley Lido

Ilkley Lido

Credit: Bradford Council

Sometimes, a hearty dose of good old-fashioned fun is in order and Ilkley Lido delivers the goods. From May to September, the outdoor pool is open for splash-splashes aplenty with an enormous shallow end for kids to cool off in. When the sun is shining it’s possible to spend all day frolicking in the shallows, stopping only for bites of packed lunches and afternoon naps.

Be warned, it does get very busy. But there’s tons of space on the surrounding grassy area to pitch up for the day, and a few picnic tables if you get there early enough (pay your entry with cash and you may find yourself in a smaller queue). Alert lifeguards keep both young and older swimmers safe, plus there’s an indoor pool open year-round just in case the weather turns against you.

Ilkley Lido, Denton Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 0BZ. You can get the X84 to Ilkley Bus Station. Get your free First Bus day pass…

13. Arcade Club

Arcade Club

If you struggle to tear your video game-loving offspring away from their computer, Arcade Club will be the new ace up your sleeve. Quite frankly, it’s gaming heaven. Three floors are packed full of nearly every arcade game you can imagine, from the snazziest virtual reality sets to much-loved retro classics. Kids are in their element, but old friends like Pac-Man, Street Fighter and Space Invaders are likely to give parents twitchy fingers too.

It’s all too easy to completely lose track of time sampling the 200-odd titles on offer. Lucky for you, there’s no limit on either time or the number of games you can get to grips with. Simply pay for entry and you’re free to unleash your mad skills for as long as you wish.

Arcade Club, Unit 3, Abbey Retail Park, Savins Mill Way, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3RP. You can get the 35, 49 or 508 to Savins Mill Way or the 50 or 50A to Kirkstall Lane. Get your free First Bus day pass…

14. Bradford Ice Arena

Bradford Ice Arena

Whizzing about on the ice, tentatively setting foot on the ice, falling flat on your face on the ice – it’s all part of the fun at Bradford Ice Arena. At over 50 years old, this local legend has seen its fair share of birthday parties, sibling rivalries and awesome knee slides over the years, and it continues to be a firm family favourite.

Dedicated family sessions ensure young skaters can build their confidence without the pros skating circles around them. Penguin and snowman aids are on hand to help the more hesitant, while four-week courses are available for those who really want to get their glide on. And when you’re up to scratch? Test out your cool new moves to music at one of the disco sessions.

Bradford Ice Arena, 19 Little Horton, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD5 0AD. You can get the X6 to Hall Ings, Bradford. Get your free First Bus day pass…

15. Meanwood Valley Trail

Golden Acre Park

© Copyright Leeds-List 2018 by Suzy Rodden

A true city sanctuary awaits on the outskirts of Leeds and you can get there in a mere five (yes, five!) minutes. The Meanwood Valley Trail is an absolute must for families in need of a fresh air fix. Walkers, horse riders and cyclists alike all take pleasure in traversing this seven-mile wedge of nature, but it’s also a chance to brush up on local history.

Kick off just south of Woodhouse Moor, then follow the trail north past statues of former mayors, old flax mills and Leeds’ first aqueduct – an impressive sight to behold. Yet it’s not just manmade structures. You’ll find carpets of bluebells in spring, leggy grasslands in summer or boggy woodlands in winter (don’t forget the wellies). Keep your eyes peeled for bats, butterflies and crayfish too. And when you’ve finished the linear route? There are plenty of buses that’ll take you right back to where you started.

Meanwood Valley Trail starts near the junction between Woodhouse Lane and Raglan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9DZ. You can get the 6 or 28 to Woodhouse Lane Clarendon Road. Get your free First Bus day pass…

16. Shibden Park

Shibden Park

Hopping on the bus to discover somewhere new is an adventure the kids can really get on board with. Throw a miniature train ride into the mix and you’ve got the makings of a top notch family day out. That’s what’s on offer at Shibden Park, a recently-restored gem in Halifax. Once you’ve been dropped off right on the doorstep, you’ve got hours more fun ahead of you.

Acres of green space, fantastic play areas and a boating lake are just waiting to be explored. Why not hire a pedalo to meet the herons, swans and ducks that live on the water? The Land Train chugs you around the park’s other highlights, like the Wilderness Garden, Victorian flower beds and Shibden Hall itself. A miniature steam train and fairground rides are regular additions to the summer entertainment on offer.

Shibden Park, Lister’s Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 6XG. You can get the 508 to Godley Lane Shibden Park Garage, Halifax. Get your free First Bus day pass…

17. Skipton Castle

Located at the top of Skipton High Street, this market town’s castle provides a totally unique day out of Leeds. The first thing you need to know is that Skipton Castle is old. Over 900 years old, to be precise. Yet it’s one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the whole of England, despite the three-year siege it endured way back in 1645.

Best of all, it’s still possible to discover nearly every inch of it today. Far from a ruin, your kids can imagine life here over the years as you wander through warrens of chambers, libraries, towers and pitch-black dungeons. There’s tons to explore, but don’t miss the beautiful yew tree in the central courtyard. Believed to be planted by Lady Anne Clifford, this beauty is over a whopping 350 years old.

Skipton Castle, The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AW. You can get the X84 to Market Place, Skipton. Get your free First Bus day pass…

18. LaserZone Leeds

Laserzone

Got a young family member who considers themselves to be a rather sharp shooter? Here’s your chance to put them to the test. They’ll have a hoot at LaserZone where, can you believe it, a spaceship has crash landed into Leeds. Your mission? To enter the 3,500 square foot arena and traverse multiple smoke-filled levels to seek out enemies and blast them into oblivion.

Each zap-happy game lasts for 15 minutes, plus a safety briefing, and comes with state-of-the-art laser packs and ‘phaser’ energy weapons (Star Trek fans, that one’s for you). Up the ante by comparing individual score cards, and choose whether to rack up hits via team challenges or an every-person-for-themselves laser extravaganza.

LaserZone Leeds, Cardigan Fields Leisure Park, Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2DG. You can get the 34, 49, 50, 50A or 508 to Burley Road Cardigan Lane or Kirkstall Road Cardigan Fields. Get your free First Bus day pass…

19. Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Daria Wszolek

Kirkstall Abbey is a breathtaking sight, medieval ruins rise high above the trees in a show of architectural splendour. It’s one of the finest Cisterian monasteries left in England, and the drama delivers a true sense of wonder to all ages. Admire the Grade I-listed building, discover what life was like for its resident monks, then let the family loose on the 24 hectares of surrounding parkland.

The large playground is the ideal place to burn off some steam, while the extensive grounds take you right down to the River Aire – a perfect picnic spot. Try to time your visit with the monthly Deli Market – it’s filled with sumptuous Yorkshire produce. Then for the full experience, join a guided tour with resident monk, Bernard. He’ll let you in on some of the Abbey’s secrets and there’s even a tot of mead for the parents. Yet another good reason to catch the bus home afterwards.

Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH. You can get the 33 or 34 to Abbey Road Abbey Walk or the 50 or 50A to Morris Lane Morris Avenue. Get your free First Bus day pass…

20. The Rainbow Factory

The Rainbow Factory

Storytime gets a serious splash of colour at The Rainbow Factory. For young children with big imaginations, this centre in Farsley brings some of the best-loved bedtime tales to life through interactive theatre, games, music and crafts. Stories needn’t always be enjoyed sitting down, after all!

Up to the age of 10 (although little’uns get particularly caught up in the magic), your kids can embark on a Frozen adventure with Elsa, jump into the toy box with Woody or meet a real-life Big Friendly Giant. Indoor and outdoor areas get a scenic overhaul to fit in with the ever-changing themes and messy play is warmly encouraged by the in-character staff who lead each session.

Rainbow Factory, Springfield Commercial Centre, Bagley Lane, Farsley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 5LY. You can get the 508 to Bagley Lane Springbank Road, Farsley. Get your free First Bus day pass…

21. Golden Acre Park

Golden Acre Park

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Suzy Rodden

Calling all outdoor-loving families, you’re onto a winner the moment you step off the bus at this 136-acre paradise just north of Leeds. Golden Acre Park’s ornamental gardens are a riot of colour in spring and summer. Meanwhile, winter brings its own kind of magic, when frost-glittered footpaths lead the way to hot drinks and snacks in the cafe.

Budding ornithologists should make the most of the bird hide overlooking the lake (if you’re very lucky you may spot a kingfisher or two), while those of a less selective nature will have a grand old time feeding the ducks. Once you’ve paid homage to your feathered friends, you can spot wild orchids in the arboretum, admire wildflowers in the meadow or seek out the little waterfall in the ornamental garden.

Golden Acre Park, Off Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 8BQ. You can get the X84 or X85 to Golden Acre Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…

Get your FREE First Bus day pass and start exploring

First Bus

Credit: Richard Walker

Seen something that’ll suit your family? Ready to treat the kids to an adventure outside the city centre? You’re in luck because you can get a FREE First Bus day pass worth £4.30. Just sign up for our exclusive offer, get your code and download the app. Not only can you travel free by scanning your ticket on the bus, but you can also plan your trip and find your next bus!

Cover image credit: LCC Tropical World