Just because you don’t call Leeds home, doesn’t mean you can’t have a mighty fine day out here…
With the weather warming up, it’s time to start planning a few summer day trips – and Leeds is the perfect choice. Come rain or shine, there’s always something to do, with beautiful outdoor spaces, intriguing museums and all manner of lovely places to grab a drink and a bite to eat. So to help you plan your next day out in the city, we caught up with our favourite bowler hat wearing guides, the Leeds Welcome Ambassadors…
1. Roundhay Park
First up is Roundhay Park. “It’s a day out in itself,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “It’s got forests, lakes, beautiful old buildings and landscaped gardens. You can have a picnic or go exploring – and Tropical World is just across the way too. The kids will love meeting the meerkats!” In fact, Roundhay Park stretches over 700 acres and is one of the biggest urban parks in the world. As well as the natural wonders, it also boasts tennis courts, cycle tracks, a playground and a skateboard park.
Roundhay Park, Princes Avenue, Roundhay Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2ER.
2. West Yorkshire Playhouse
The perfect excuse to stay a bit later, maybe even overnight, is West Yorkshire Playhouse. It’s a unique, purpose built theatre that shows a constant stream of first class productions, including their own creations. “It’s got all these different spaces, so there’s loads of variety,” Welcome Ambassador Suzanne Frain told us. “You can catch big shows, operas and ballets in the Quarry Theatre, smaller thought-provoking productions in the Courtyard Theatre and really intimate shows in the Barber Studio.”
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7UP.
3. Belgrave Music Hall
“Belgrave Music Hall is great,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “Every month, they hold Belgrave Feast, which is essentially a street food market, but indoors. You can try loads of new stuff, which I love. They’re also dog friendly and upstairs they have a roof terrace, perfect for sunny days.” Alongside all that, the three storey venue also has a music hall, where you can see a mix of established talent and new acts, as well as stocking loads of different craft beers from around the world.
Belgrave Music Hall, 1-1A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
4. The Leeds Owl Trail
“I would suggest the Owl Trail to everyone who wants to explore Leeds,” Welcome Ambassador Peter Allinson told us. “It’s a good way to get out and see the city – you can download the Owl Trail map for free online or pick one up at the Visitor Centre.” There are a surprising number of owls to be found in Leeds, and you can take in all twenty six on the city’s two trails, which will take you from Millennium Square to Leeds Town Hall, and from South Parade to Leeds Minster, taking in many of the city’s most famous landmarks along the way.
Leeds Visitor Centre, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AA.
5. Kirkgate Market
Kirkgate Market is one of the most iconic buildings in Leeds. Designed by Joseph and John Leeming of London, it’s rather grand, and owns the title of the biggest covered market in Europe. It’s also the birthplace of famed British brand M&S. “The market, if you’re going to talk about amazing Leeds things, you have to talk about the market,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “It’s a beautiful building with loads of history, and it’s full of little independent stalls, so there’s fruit and veg, but also things like flowering tea and all these exotic spices.”
Kirkgate Market, 34 George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HY.
6. Everyman Cinema
“I’ve been speaking to visitors and they all rave about The Everyman in Trinity Leeds,” Welcome Ambassador Suzanne Frain told us. “They’ve been saying it’s absolutely awesome. The sofas! They can’t believe they can order a glass of wine and have a pizza in the cinema.” That’s the beauty of The Everyman, it’s an independent cinema that creates an experience. You can have a pizza delivered to your seat – and those seats are actually more like cosy two-seat sofas. They also have a wine cooler built into the side table, if you fancy a tipple.
Everyman Cinema, Trinity Leeds, Albion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AY.
7. Friends of Ham
A good place to start or end your day out in Leeds, Friends of Ham is nestled right next to Leeds Train Station. “Friends of Ham are great,” Welcome Ambassador Yvonne Kennedy told us. “They’re famed for their beers, they do loads of them – you could get a beer flight and try a few. But they also do nice wines and perhaps the best meat and cheese boards in the city.” It’s all about quality at Friends of Ham, from the drinks and the food right through to the service, so you’re in good hands.
Friends of Ham, 4-8 New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DL.
8. Our Handmade Collective
“Leeds is great for shopping, but alongside the all the big names, there are some lovely independent stores, like Our Handmade Collective in Grand Arcade,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “It’s full of lovely homemade, handmade stuff, I could buy everything in there.” It’s a quaint little store, but it certainly packs a punch with the work of over 60 local designers on sale within. They also do workshops, if you want to pick up a few new craft skills.
Our Handmade Collective, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
9. The Royal Armouries
Sister to the Tower of London, The Royal Armouries showcases 8,500 artefacts from the National Collection of Arms and Armour. The Hall of Steel alone houses 2,500 items, with an awe-inspiring display of weapons within an architectural masterpiece of steel and glass. “We get loads of people asking for Royal Armouries,” Welcome Ambassador Suzanne Frain told us. “It’s a great day out, there’s loads to see, and they do some really interesting events, like jousting. The kids love it.”
The Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds Dock, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LT.
10. Laynes Espresso
“Laynes Espresso is a must,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham pointed out. “They do the best lattes I’ve ever had, and their peanut butter chocolate brownies are pretty good as well.” It’s fair to say that Laynes is a Leeds institution and one that every visitor should try. Luckily, it’s only too easy to fit it into your day, as it’s right by the train station. Let their expert baristas whip you up a coffee to set you up for your day, or indulge in something delicious, like one of their cakes – you won’t be disappointed.
Laynes Espresso, 16 New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DL.
11. Kirkstall Abbey
“Kirkstall Abbey has to be on the list,” Welcome Ambassador Suzanne Frain told us. “It is beautiful. It’s always worth a visit, you know, to see the ruins, and it’s in a park by the river, which is really nice.” Founded by Cistercian monks in 1152, Kirkstall Abbey offers a unique glimpse into the past. Over the years, it has captured the attention of famous painters, including J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman – and the old gatehouse has now been transformed into the Abbey House Museum, where you can see a recreation of an old Victorian street.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.
12. The Arcades
“The Arcades are what makes shopping in Leeds unique,” Welcome Ambassador Yvonne Kennedy told us. “They’re these little throwbacks from days gone by, filled with independent and designer stores, not to mention some lovely little eateries.” The Victoria Quarter is the most famous, it’s got the biggest stained glass roof in the UK, as well as a host of well known labels, while Grand, Queen’s and Thornton’s Arcade are full of old school character and unique independents.
All the Arcades lead off Briggate & New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LQ.
13. Golden Acre Park
If you want to get back to nature, Golden Acre Park is the perfect choice. At 55 acres, it’s got plenty of space for you to roam around – do a circuit of the lake, explore the gardens or visit the tearoom. “Golden Acre Park is lovely,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “They’ve got open fields, they’ve got forests, they’ve got gardens – it’s a really good day out.” If you’ve got time, visit the neighbouring Breary Marsh and Adel Dam, a nature reserve that’s full to the brim with flora and fauna.
Golden Acre Park, Off Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 8BQ.
14. Trinity Leeds
Millions of people have visited Trinity Leeds since it opened in 2013, and with good reason. It boasts 200 shops, restaurants and bars, with more than a few brands choosing to make the centre their first foray into the North. Shop at the likes of Victoria’s Secret, TopShop and River Island, drink at the likes of The Alchemist, The Botanist and Angelica, and eat at the likes of MEATliquor, Cabana and the famed Trinity Kitchen, with its revolving selection of street food vendors. “I’ve got to mention Trinity Leeds,” Welcome Ambassador Peter Allinson told us. “It’s got such a great variety of shops, you can’t not mention it, it’s always going to bring people to Leeds.”
Trinity Leeds, Albion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AT.
15. Leeds City Varieties
“There’s Leeds City Varieties, the oldest theatre in the city,” Welcome Ambassador Suzanne Frain told us. “It was built in 1865, and is a grade II listed building. Obviously very historical, but still in use to this day.” The theatre has retained much of its original charm, which you can see for yourself at one of their regular events. They do everything from comedy and gigs to musicals and pantomimes, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. Over the years, it’s played host to a series of living legends, including illusionist Harry Houdini and famed funny man Charlie Chaplin.
Leeds City Varieties, Swan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LW.
16. The Farmers’ Market
“The Farmers’ Market comes to Briggate on the first and third Sunday of every month,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “There’s loads of lovely, fresh produce there, and homemade stuff. I love the mushroom stall, and there’s a lady there that does really nice flowers too.” As well as the edible treats, of which there are plenty, the Farmers’ Market also has a crafty twist, which means you can find all manner of handmade pieces, from art to accessories.
Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AZ.
17. Leeds City Museum
“Leeds City Museum is great,” Welcome Ambassador Yvonne Kennedy told us. “It’s free, and it’s obviously an amazing hub of culture. It covers Greek, Roman, and Egyptian history, going all through the ages. It’s also got a living world section and an environmental section, so there’s loads to see.” Among the many highlights hidden away in this impressive landmark, you’ll find the famed Leeds Tiger, an Egyptian mummy that survived the World War Two bombings of 1941 and the complete skeleton of a Heavy-footed Moa.
Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8BH.
18. Leeds Town Hall
“The Town Hall was designed by an architect called Cuthbert Brodrick. It was the first of its kind, and if you go, you can see that the architecture was inspired by the Greek, the Romans and the Egyptians,” Welcome Ambassador Suzanne Frain told us. “He also designed a lot of other buildings in Leeds, like the Corn Exchange, he’s a bit of a local legend.” These days, the Town Hall hosts an impressive calendar of events, with everything from beer festivals to classical music, comedians and comic fairs. You can also go on a tour, taking you down into the cells beneath and up to the famous clock tower.
Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AD.
19. Temple Newsam
For something a little bit different, why not check out Temple Newsam? The beautiful house holds over 500 years of history, and was birth place of Lord Darnley, the notorious husband of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s maintained much of its Tudor-Jacobean charm, giving you a real glimpse into the past – but that’s not all you’ll find here. “As well as the house, there’s lots of open space, with different routes you can walk, and lakes you can circle,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “There’s also a farm, which is great if you’re bringing the kids.”
Temple Newsam, Templenewsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE.
20. Leeds Grand Theatre
“The Grand Theatre, it’s a lovely big place, a proper theatre filled with character,” Welcome Ambassador Peter Allinson told us. “You don’t just go to see what they’ve got on, it’s an experience, and it’s not too expensive either.” The line-up of events is always impressive, with headline comedians alongside touring West End shows – think Cats the Musical and Sister Act with Alexandra Burke taking the lead. If you needed a reason to make a weekend of it, Leeds Grand Theatre is it.
Leeds Grand Theatre, 46 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NZ.
21. The Tetley
Tetley once called Leeds home, but while the brewery is gone, the HQ has been transformed into a modern gallery with an ever-changing selection of art on display. They’re great with the kids, hosting family art workshops every weekend, and have a bar and restaurant that will please just about everyone – try the Sunday roast. “The Tetley do really good beer, as you’d expect,” Welcome Ambassador Kirsty Hardingham told us. “It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s worth the walk. They’ve got an outdoor space too, so you can sit out in the sun, and a petanque court if you fancy a game.”
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.
All Leeds Ambassador image copyright Jessie Leong. West Yorkshire Playhouse image copyright Chris Thornton. Friends of Ham and Laynes images copyright Ollievision. Kirkstall Abbey image copyright Daria Wszolek. Temple Newsam image copyright Tim Green licensed under creative commons for commercial use. Leeds City Museums image copyright Leeds Museums and Galleries.