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

21 Fabulous Things to Do With the Kids in Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin

Take the kids on a fabulous adventure to Leeds, with these family-friendly activities.

Abbey House

Whether it’s the weekend, the school holidays or just a family day out, you’ll find plenty of things to do with the kids in Leeds…

When it comes to family days out, Leeds always comes through. You’ve got fantastic museums to explore, marvellous immersive theatre experiences and all manner of opportunities to get back to nature, meeting some incredible creatures along the way. So next time you’re looking for things to do with the kids – take a trip to Leeds.

1. Take a walk down a proper Victorian street

Abbey House Museum Christmas

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Abbey House Museum is one of the most interesting museums in Leeds. You’d never guess from the outside, but within, they’ve created a Victorian high street, complete with old-fashioned shops. You can also get a glimpse into homes, as well as taking a peek into the inn and seeing the darker side of history with the undertakers. Upstairs, you can introduce the kids to a new world of toys, as the Childhood Galleries showcase an impressive selection of 19th-century dollhouses, toys and games.

Abbey House Museum, Abbey Walk, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.

2. Wear out the kids at the trampoline park

If you want to give your little ones a mighty fine day out, wearing them out ready for an early bedtime, head to Gravity. This incredible trampoline park will see the kids jumping, bouncing and springing their way across the huge complex which is home to over 100 interconnected trampolines. Wait, there’s more, because you can also have a go at dodgeball, obstacle courses and fitness sessions – all of which make it perfect for family days out in Leeds.

Gravity, Cardigan Fields Leisure Park, Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2DG.

3. Feed the penguins at Harewood House

Harewood Penguins

Credit: Sarah Ayache

On a bright sunny day, you’ll find few better things to do with the kids than a visit to Harewood House. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the city, and with good reason, because as well as the 18th-century house, which is beautiful to behold and full of history, it boasts 100 acres of gardens, perfect for boisterous children to run around in, and an adventure playground that is second to none. The kids will love the bird gardens and the farm but it’s the chance to feed the Humboldt penguins they’ll go home talking about.

Harewood House, Harewood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 9LG.

4. Play on vintage arcade machines

Arcade Club

Arcade Club is video game heaven. It’s a retro gaming centre that welcomes children to step back in time every weekend. They have three floors of old-school arcade machines, so you can introduce the kids to the games you used to love at their age as you battle it out on classics like Pac-Man, Mario Kart and Space Invaders. And if that’s not enough, they have pinball machines, the original 1972 Pong machine and all the current generation consoles for you to play on too.

Arcade Club, Unit 3, Abbey Retail Park, Savins Mill Way, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3RP. 

5. Visit one of the last water-powered mills in Britain

Easter at Thwaite Mills

Thwaite Mills offers the best of both worlds – nature and history all in one. It’s one of the last remaining examples of a water-powered mill in Britain and will give you the chance to see the full force of water in action, as solid rock is ground into paint and putty. Visit the engineer’s workshop to see the equipment they used to repair the mill, nip into the grade II-listed Thwaite House to see what life at the mill was like and head out to the island itself for a walk, a picnic or just to take in the lovely riverside views.

Thwaite Mills, Thwaite Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1RP.

6. Have a scenic picnic at Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Daria Wszolek

Kirkstall Abbey is the jewel in Leeds’ crown. Founded in 1152, it’s one of the finest remaining medieval Cistercian abbeys in Britain – and you can step inside to explore the remains up close. The abbey is set in 24 hectares of parkland, perfect for a scenic picnic, with plenty of space for the kids to run around, play games and generally burn off some energy. There are tennis courts, if you fancy a game, as well as scenic walks for active day-trippers and an adventure playground across the road. And if the weather turns, why not take shelter in Abbey House Museum?

Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.

7. Visit a farm in the heart of the city

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Barnaby Aldrick

It’s not often that you find a farm in the heart of a bustling city, so if you’re looking for things to do with the kids, Meanwood Valley Urban Farm awaits. They have all manner of marvellous animals for you to meet, with alpacas, cows and sheep, alongside donkeys, guinea pigs and rabbits. It doesn’t end there because you can also take a turn around the bike track, tick off their bird spotting checklist and pop in the cafe for a bite to eat. Before you go, nip to the shop where you can even pick up fresh local produce.

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Sugarwell Road, Meanwood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 2QG.

8. Delve into the gory world of medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Got kids that love horrific histories and gory stories? Then you need to pay a visit to the recently renovated Thackray Museum of Medicine. It’s the epitome of ‘fun learning’ with loads of interactive exhibitions that will teach you a thing or two about the history of medicine, taking you from the rudimental (and often rather grisly) techniques and tools of the Victorian age right through plagues, pregnancy and surgery. Look out for their regular activities, which could see you doing anything from dissecting eyes to making stethoscopes.

Thackray Museum of Medicine, 141 Beckett Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7LN.

9. Visit the oldest working railway in the world

Middleton Railway

Credit: Middleton Railway

Believe it or not, Leeds is home to the oldest working railway in the world. Middleton Railway was founded in 1758 and the former colliery line is still fully functional today, so you can ride the mile-long track from Moor Road to Park Halt. It’s not just the railway itself, though – you can also dig into the history of railways by visiting their museum, which is home to a host of old steam, diesel and electric locomotives. A fabulous family day out, guaranteed.

Middleton Railway, Moor Road Station, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 2JQ.

10. Paint your own pottery

Jackrabbits Pottery

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Ali Turner

When the weather’s miserable, why not head indoors at Jackrabbits Pottery? You can round up the kids and head out to this little pottery studio for a day of arty fun. It’s pretty straightforward – choose from a selection of pre-made ceramic pieces, with everything from mugs and bowls to money boxes and plant pots. You can then let the kids loose with the paints provided, creating their own unique little piece of art – hand it back when you’re done, so they can glaze and fire it before you pick it up a week later.

Jackrabbits Pottery, 633A Roundhay Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 4BA.

11. Check out natural wonders and ancient treasures

Leeds Museum

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Leeds City Museum is great for family days out and there’s loads to discover here, with collections covering everything from the city’s past to life on earth and the ancient world. Along the way, you’ll encounter the iconic Leeds Tiger, a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy that survived a bomb raid and the skeleton of a 152-year-old long-finned pilot whale. Visit the Leeds Collectors’ Gallery, which is full of weird and wonderful exhibits collected over the years and look out for their regular exhibitions and events too.

Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8BH.

12. Challenge the kids to a go-karting race

TeamSport Go Karting

Credit: TeamSport Go Karting

If you want to give the kids a day out they won’t forget, head to Team Sport. It’s the ultimate go-karting experience, with 580 metres of track to race on. Expect hairpin turns and speedy straights, as you give the kids a run for their money, putting their video game practice to the test against your real-life driving experience. They offer a range of family packages, each of which comes with a full safety briefing, so you know your little ones are in good hands – and if you want to sit it out, they offer kids sessions too.

Team Sport Leeds, South Accommodation Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1NQ.

13. Step into a Tropical World in the middle of a park

Tropical World

This is a two-in-one scenario. Roundhay Park is a day out in itself, boasting 700 acres of rolling parkland complete with landscaped gardens, lakes, adventure playgrounds, tennis courts and even a skate park. It’s perfect for family days out in Leeds, with loads of adventures to be had – but the great outdoors isn’t the only reason to visit. It’s also home to Tropical World, where you’ll find all manner of intriguing creatures, from snakes and tarantulas to crocodiles, meerkats and butterflies, before you go for a brew in the cafe.

Tropical World, Princes Avenue, Roundhay Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2ER.

14. Scale the colourful Clip n’ Climb walls

Clip 'n Climb Leeds

Credit: McFade

If you want to introduce the little ones to the world of climbing, Clip ’n Climb is the best place to go in Leeds. It’s a family-friendly climbing centre, complete with brightly coloured walls that have special grips embedded which make it a lot easier for kids as young as four to hold on. There are 32 different climbing walls to tackle, each with its own routes to make it to the top, and you can rest easy knowing their clip-on safety system and full briefing procedure will keep them safe and secure throughout.

Clip ’n Climb, Unit 3, Tristram Centre, Brown Lane West, Gelderd Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 6BF.

15. See the wildlife at Lotherton

Lotherton Hall Wildlife World

This Edwardian house and country estate makes for a fabulous family day out in Leeds. There are loads of things to do with the kids at Lotherton, you can look inside the house and chapel or head out to explore the grounds, which cover eight acres promising landscaped gardens, wooded walks and nature trails. The kids will love visiting Wildlife World, which is home to all kinds of animals, from hornbills to tapirs – and the adventure playground is the perfect place for them to burn off some energy before you head home.

Lotherton, Aberford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS25 3EB.

16. Go on a scenic cycling tour

Cycling

Leeds is a great place to go cycling. If you’ve got younger kids, why not hire bikes and take a ride along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal to Saltaire? It will give you a glimpse of the city’s industrial history, with a few very nice pubs to stop at along the way. You can always jump on a train in Saltaire and be back in Leeds in 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you’ve got big kids and teens, why not take on a section of the Tour de France route? It’ll take you out of the city, towards Harrogate, passing through stunning Yorkshire countryside along the way.

Check out our guide to awesome days out on your bike around Leeds/

17. Explore Leeds’ industrial past

Armley Mills

Once the largest woollen mill in the world, Armley Mills is now a museum dedicated to the city’s industrial heritage. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find within – it ranges from early engineering feats, like steam locomotives, to remnants from the textiles industry, including the machines that were once used in this historic building. There’s even an old 1920s cinema that’s in full working order – why not catch a show? If you fancy a walk, it’s right next to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, perfect for a leisurely stroll with the family.

Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills, Canal Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 2QF.

18. Delve into a world of books

The Little Bookshop, Chapel Allerton

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Corvin Pamp

The Little Bookshop is one of a kind – it’s the only independent book shop in Leeds that’s dedicated to children’s literature. You can pick up everything from picture books to teen fiction, but it’s not just about what you can buy. They host special events that the little ones will love. From author talks to storytime sessions and craft workshops, they know how to make reading fun. It’s even got a cafe that’s just as good for the adults as it is for the kids.

The Little Bookshop, 47 Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3PD.

19. Visit the ever-so marvellous Stockeld Park

Stockeld Park

Credit: Phil Taylor

Did you know that Leeds has its very own family-friendly adventure park? You can enjoy a whole day of fun at Stockeld Park. It’s home to a host of activities for the kids to get involved in, from go-karting and roller skating to tree climbing and boating. They’ve got not just one, but five adventure playgrounds for the kids to let off a bit of steam on, as well as a maze, an electric scooter track and an Enchanted Forest. Keep an eye out for themed events throughout the school holidays too.

Stockeld Park, Wetherby Road, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS22 4AN.

20. Take a scenic walk

Otley Chevin Surprise View

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Contakt Photography

Leeds may be a thriving city, but it’s also full of green spaces. In fact, Leeds has a host of nature reserves for you to explore, as well as a wealth of family-friendly walks. You could venture out to Otley Chevin Forest Park to take in the Surprise View or take a turn around the stunning grounds of Temple Newsam, whatever you choose, you’ll have an opportunity to discover why Yorkshire is known as God’s Own Country, without venturing far from the city centre.

Check out our list of nature reserves and family-friendly walks.

21. Delve into the history of weapons and armour

Royal Armouries

Credit: Royal Armouries

The Royal Armouries is a purpose-built museum, designed to protect and display the National Collection of Arms and Armour. It’s home to over 8,500 objects, ranging from suits of armour to swords, spears and arrows – but that’s just the start because they also have their own crossbow range and a special play area called the Jester’s Yard, where the children can get dressed up and play in the castle. Look out for their school holiday events, which see live combat demonstrations taking place in the arena.

Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LT.