It’s time to ferret out the fabulous stuff that surrounds you in Leeds and West Yorkshire…
There are riches galore when it comes to things to see and do in Leeds and West Yorkshire, but have you really done them all? What if there are some sensational days out that you’ve never even heard of? Or maybe there’s a place or two you’ve been meaning to visit but have never got around to. It could even be that you’ve been planning to take the kids somewhere special. Well, venture forth, bold explorer, with our round-up of brilliant bus-friendly adventures across the region.
Saltaire makes for a brilliant day out, with its rows of historic houses and repurposed industrial heritage. Salts Mill should be one of your main destinations, an eclectic mix of shops, art galleries and eateries. Browse a sensational selection of original David Hockney pieces alongside even more inspirational local art, pick up pieces of handcrafted jewellery or hunt for antiques. If you get hungry, grab a table in Salts Diner – they do a brill burger and perfect pizza – and feast your senses on both the food and the Hockneys lining the wall.
Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Shipley, Saltaire, West Yorkshire, BD18 3LA. Get the X6 bus to Hall Ings, Bradford, then the 622 to Bingley Road/Ferncliffe Road, Saltaire.
National Science and Media Museum
Spread over seven floors, the National Science and Media Museum is dedicated to the moving image. Through an entertaining and enlightening mix of exhibitions, galleries, festivals and cinemas it explores film and TV from production to consumption and all points in-between. It also boasts what was the first IMAX cinema in the UK in addition to the Pictureville Cinema which is recognised as one of the most technologically advanced picture houses in the world. It’s great for kids too, with interactive exhibits, a games lounge and animation gallery.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable day out with the family, look no further than Kirkstall Abbey. This 12th-century Cistercian monastery may have been monk-free since its dissolution by Henry VIII, but it’s still full of atmosphere. You can wander the ruins to catch the echoes of the past, discover more in the visitor centre or pack a picnic to enjoy as you gaze at these historical remnants. With an adventure playground and a picturesque river running past, there are few better places to be on a nice day in Leeds.
Horses have been galloping across Wetherby Racecourse since 1891, and while you don’t have to dress in Victorian finery to attend these days, they probably wouldn’t stop you if you did. The races make for a splendid day out with friends, with a lively atmosphere at the National Hunt and Flat meets. You can place a wager, drink at numerous bars and dine with a view of the finishing line. There’s even fun to be had without horses – Wetherby is home to the annual Mascot Gold Cup!
The Piece Hall
Given the right light, standing in front of Halifax’s Piece Hall is like being stood on the perfect piazza in Rome. This Grade I-listed masterpiece was built in the late 18th century as a cloth hall, and it’s a beautifully preserved, graceful place to spend a day out. You can visit just to shop and eat, with places to pick up art, homeware, books, vintage clothes and more. Bars, restaurants and cafes abound, while a lively events calendar ranges from markets to gigs from the likes of New Order and Kaiser Chiefs.
A gourmet day out in Ilkley
Gorgeous Ilkley is the place to go if you want to stuff your face in style. It’s packed with restaurants, cafes and delis, with an obvious highlight being the refined afternoon tea experience at the famous Betty’s. If you want a true gourmet experience, book ahead for The Box Tree. The set lunch is a steal, the Sunday roast a thing of wonder. But if you want a truly memorable experience, go for the tasting menu. Want something tasty to take home? Head to Lishman’s before you leave for award-winning meats, pies and charcuterie.
The bus journey out from Leeds will whet your appetite, with the Wharfe valley opening out beneath you as head into Otley. It’s best appreciated from above, up on the Otley Chevin, a place that attracts both serious walkers and more casual ramblers. Get to the top, head for Surprise View, and you’ll be treated to seemingly endless vistas of God’s Own County. Worked up a thirst? There’s a pub at the top, another on the way down, and just the 20 or so waiting for you down the Chevin in Otley itself.
Thackray Museum of Medicine
The Thackray has always been a brilliant place to spend an afternoon with the kids or a loved one, but it has been recently revamped, so even if you’ve been before it’s time to revisit. It sits in the old Leeds Union Workhouse and has transformed this storied building into a museum that tells many tales of its own. Find out about the past, present and future of medicine, with almost 50,000 objects include Prince Albert’s medicine chest and wince-inducing equipment from the distant past. Head for Disease Street to see just how far we’ve come.
Thackray Museum of Medicine, 141 Beckett Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7LN. Get the 49, 50 or 50A to St. James’s Hospital/Beckett Street.
It doesn’t matter what sport floats your boat, you’ll find somewhere in Leeds to get your fix. Headingley is the place to head to for cricket and rugby, with the two grounds sitting cheek by jowl in the heart of this suburb. The rugby stadium is the home of the Rhinos, where you can see top-class rugby league with both domestic and international games such as the 2021 World Cup. For cricket, you can pop by to catch Yorkshire in county action or book a ticket for the thrills of The Hundred and T20.
Headingley Stadium, St. Michael’s Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3BR. Get the 19 or 56 to Cardigan Road/Spring Road, Headingley.
Sunny Bank Mills
Another winning example of how to imaginatively repurpose an old industrial building, Sunny Bank Mills is unusual in that it’s still owned by the family who founded it in 1829. You can have a great day out exploring the heritage of the old textile mill, but today it’s the vibrant home of art spaces, studios, galleries, shops, creative courses and workshops. Little ones with you? There’s a kids play gym for them to burn off some energy. Don’t miss the chance to grab some pizza and cocktails at the excellent Grumpy’s before you head home.
Sunny Bank Mills, 83-85 Town Street, Farsley, Pudsey, West Yorkshire, LS28 5UJ. Get the 16 or 508 to Farsley Cenotaph/Town Street, Farsley.
What’s a tarn, you ask? It’s a lake, and Yeadon boasts one of the loveliest in all of West Yorkshire. It sits inside a 17-hectare park that has lots to do in it no matter the time of year. There’s a BMX track for kids, an adventure playground, captivating walks and even a bowling club. Expect live music during the summer and plenty of serene spots to tuck into a picnic. Plan ahead and you can get out on the lake itself, with paddleboarding, windsurfing and stacks more organised by Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre.
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
A working farm, Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is a family-friendly oasis in suburban surrounds. There are sheep and pigs, chickens and alpacas, goats, Dexter cows, turtles and a super-cute small animals section. You’ll find rabbits and guinea pigs, but also ducklings and chicks if you arrive at the right time. Their website has activity booklets to print out before you go, so you can tick off all the sights and sounds. Wander the wildflower meadow and along woodland trails, grab a great coffee in The Barn and breathe in the fresh air.
Meanwood Urban Valley Farm, Sugar Well Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 2QG. Get the 51 to Ridge Grove/Meanwood Road, Meanwood.
Temple Newsam is so big – and contains so much – that it’s really going to take more than one day to see all that it has to offer. Don’t worry – you can always go back! The 1,500 acres of parkland finds room for the house itself, tearooms, Home Farm with its array of animals, picnic spots as far as the eye can see and events and exhibitions all year round. A trio of lakes, woodland trails, headily-scented rose beds and more means you’ll find a peaceful spot with ease.
Temple Newsam, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE. Get the 19 to New Temple Gate/Temple Gate Drive, Halton.
Horsforth Japanese Garden
Horsforth Hall Park is a lovely destination in itself – there’s a skate park and Spider’s Web playground, some gorgeous places to walk and a cricket pitch. But the jewel in the crown is the Japanese Garden, originally opened in 1987 but given a much-needed overhaul in 2009. It’s a compact spot ideal for contemplation, with oriental touches including a bridge, kanji-inscribed gateway and bamboo, maple and cedar trees. Make your way across the stepping stones at the ornamental pond in this unsung, little-known corner of Japan in Leeds.
Leeds Urban Bike Park
It hasn’t taken long for Leeds Urban Bike Park to become a firm favourite with those who love two-wheeled adventures. Even seasoned mountain bikers come from across the country to try out the trails – luckily for you, it’s on your doorstep. You can hire a bike if you don’t have your own and get out onto the cross country trail. For faster thrills, try the duel or pump tracks, while the trails are rated all the way up to severe – only for the experienced! There’s a great café too if you’re just here to watch.
Leeds Urban Bike Park, Ring Road, Leeds, LS10 3TN. Get the 2 or 75 to Bodmin Road/Ring Road Beeston Park, Middleton.
It’s retro gaming heaven at Arcade Club in Kirkstall. If you haven’t been here before you’re in for a real treat. It’s a vast, three-floor playground of classic pinball machines, legendary arcade games and there are even a few new delights thrown in too. There’s no scrabbling around for change – you just pay once and then you can play all day. Go back in time with classics such as Space Harrier, Paperboy and OutRun, while there are plenty of timeless fighting games for multi-player competition. Heck, there’s even the original Pong game from 1972!
Arcade Club, Unit 3, Abbey Retail Park, Savins Mill Way, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3RP. Get the 33, 34, 49 or 508 to Kirkstall Lane, Kirkstall.
If you haven’t been to Eureka! before, you’re in for a doozy of a day. It’s the National Children’s Museum, so scoop up the little ones and get them ready for interactive exhibitions at a place that is famous for being hands-on. They make learning fun here, with six different zones. The giant noses and teeth of ‘All About Me’ are a big draw, while the kids can also go shopping and banking, picking up life skills as they go. The staff are awesome too, helping your children make the most of the colourful environment.
Take a trip into the past when you head to Middleton Railway Museum. You don’t have to be a trainspotter to have a splendid day out here, it’s geared towards the whole family with vintage locomotives and an interesting look at the heritage of the railways. There’s no better place for it – this is the oldest continuously working railway in the whole world, going since 1758. You’ll want to hop on the train to really make the most of the day – it whisks you on a return journey to Middleton Park.
Middleton Railway, Moor Road Station, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 2JQ. Get the 2 or 3 to Burton Road/Dewsbury Road, Beeston Hill.
Animal lovers in the family? Swithens Farm combines the bucolic charm of its setting with some of the cutest beasts you ever did see. Kids will clamour to get to the petting farm – this a very hands-on place where they’ll meet guinea pigs and rabbits. They might get to help feed the calves, and you’ll all ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the donkeys, alpacas, llamas, turtles, meerkats and emus. There’s even a play barn and ball pool for the kids, so you can relax in the café while they have fun.
Swithens Farm, Swithen’s Lane, Rothwell, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 0BT. Get the 74 to Sharp Lane/Sharp Lane School, Belle Isle, then the 9A to Marsh Street/Marsh Street Library, Rothwell.
The Depot Climbing Centre
The Depot in Pudsey is one of the best-kept secrets in Leeds, a climbing centre that specialises in bouldering and that welcomes beginners, experts and kids. Book an induction if you’ve never done it before and they’ll have you scaling new heights in no time. They provide all the equipment you need – there’s a shop on site too – and the instructors are great at working out your level and making sure you’re safe. If the kids get addicted to climbing the boulders, you can even book them in for a training course while you spend time in the café.
The Depot, 173 Richardshaw Lane, Stanningley, Pudsey, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 6AA. Get the 72 to Stanningley Bottom/Bradford Road, Stanningley.
Goit Stock Waterfall
This is a pearl of a place to go on any West Yorkshire wander, one of the highlights of the Harden Valley in Brontë Country. If you’re a keen walker, strap on your boots but don’t forget your camera – this is one of the most photogenic rambles in the county. You’ll pass Hewenden Viaduct, Ruin Bank Wood and Harden Beck, with perfectly picturesque views galore as you go. The waterfall itself is a great place to pause, while liquid refreshment awaits at The George Hotel pub shortly after. Walking is thirsty work, after all…
Goit Stock Waterfall, Penny Cote, Leech Lane, Goit Stock Lane, Bingley, West Yorkshire, BD16 1DF. Get the X6 to Bradford Bus Station then the 619 to Harden Lane Cherry Tree Row, Wilsden.