If you’re planning a day out in Yorkshire, these 30 awesome attractions should be at the top of your list.
Yorkshire is full of incredible things to do. Whether you want to take in a little culture, visit a historic castle or explore the many natural wonders that have helped to give God’s Own Country its name, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice. So to help you decide what to do first, we’ve rounded up 30 of the region’s must-do attractions, perfect for your next adventure.
1. Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden
A World Heritage Site, and with good reason, Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden is a beautiful spot to spend the day. You’ll find the remains of the Cistercian abbey here, built back in 1132. It was once one of the richest in Europe, and it’s still beautiful today, offering a unique glimpse into the past. This is combined with the Studley Royal Water Garden, Fountains Hall and Mill, as well as The Deer Park and Orchard to create one of the best days out in Yorkshire.
Fountains Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY.
2. Henry Moore Institute
One of the most talked about attractions in Yorkshire, let alone Leeds, the Henry Moore Institute is a one-of-a-kind exhibition space that celebrates sculpture in all its forms. The work within is ever-changing, bringing you a host of historic and contemporary art to gaze upon – but there’s more to this world-leading centre than meets the eye. It also boasts a research centre, library and sculpture archive, so if you want to delve deeper into the art of sculpture, there are few better places to go.
Henry Moore Institute, 74 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AH.
3. The Deep
One of the best places to visit in Yorkshire if you’ve got kids (or even if you’re just a big kid), The Deep will take you into the depths of its underwater world, introducing you to an array of marine life along the way. From sharks and sawfish to penguins, jellyfish and stingrays – you’ll find all the coolest creatures within, as you pass through clear tunnels, giving you 360º views. Add to this a host of exhibits that make learning fun, a soft play area and a restaurant, and you’re all set for a great day out.
The Deep, Tower Street, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU1 4DP.
4. RHS Harlow Carr
Want to get back to nature? RHS Harlow Carr is the perfect choice. One of Yorkshire’s top attractions, it promises 68 acres of beautiful gardens, ranging from wildflower meadows to sheltered woodlands. Wandering around is an absolute pleasure, whether you’re sheltering in the Alpine House, which is home to 2,000 different specimens, or walking the length of The Streamside. You can even grab a few cuttings from the Kitchen Garden, ready to start your own little herb garden at home.
RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1QB.
5. York Minster
If it’s stunning architecture you’re after, a trip to York Minster is a no brainer. Built between 1220 and 1472, it’s beautiful to behold and has plenty to offer visitors, beyond simply gazing on its stunning exterior. Inside you can enjoy a guided tour, take a trip up the 275 steps to the top of the Central Tower, where the views are simply exceptional, or even venture into the chambers beneath the Minster to explore their latest addition, Revealing York Minster in the Undercroft – definitely one of the best days out in Yorkshire.
York Minster, Deangate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7HH.
6. Salts Mills
Believe it or not, Saltaire is home to one of Yorkshire’s finest attractions, as Salts Mill has the only permanent David Hockney exhibition in the UK. They showcase the work of the famed artist throughout the year, alongside an additional four galleries filled with local history and an impressive stream of temporary exhibitions, like The Arrival Of Spring by David Hockney. Add to this a host of art-focused stores, selling everything from jewellery to books, antiques and art materials, as well as various eateries, and you’ve got a great day out.
Salts Mill, Victoria Rd, Shipley, Saltaire, West Yorkshire, BD18 3LA.
7. Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Now for a real adventure, Yorkshire Wildlife Park offers a rip-roaring day out for all the family, as you come face to face with everything from lemurs to giraffes. Pixel the polar bear is the latest addition, and he’s well worth a visit, weighing in as one of the heaviest in Europe at 500 kilograms, but the highlight has to be their pride of lions – rescued from a zoo in Romania, you won’t be driving by, but rather venturing into the enclosure on foot, within the safety of a 800 metre pathway.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Warning Tongue Lane, Branton, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN4 6TB.
8. Brimham Rocks
A real natural wonder, Brimham Rocks will make you understand why they call it God’s Own Country. Set in the stunning countryside Yorkshire is famed for, it makes for a great day out, as you wander between heather moorland and beautiful woodlands, catching glimpses of unique rock formations, like the Dancing Bear, The Eagle and The Gorilla along the way. It’s also the perfect spot to look out over Nidderdale, with gorgeous views all around.
Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4DW.
9. The Hepworth
Part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, The Hepworth should sit high on your list of attractions to visit. Not only is it massive, with 1,600 square metres of space dedicated to exhibitions, but it’s also filled with exceptional works of art. Wakefield’s collection includes pieces from the likes of Henry Moore, Harold Gilman and Ben Nicholson, while The Hepworth Family Gift offers up rarely seen works by Barbara Hepworth, from whom the gallery takes its name. Look out for the Gott’s collection too – it documents 200 Yorkshire villages, towns and cities through pictures, watercolours, drawings and prints.
The Hepworth, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW.
10. Kirkstall Abbey
It’s one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain, and that alone should convince you that Kirkstall Abbey is one of Yorkshire’s top attractions, but there’s more. It’s surrounded by a beautiful park, right beside the River Aire, perfect for picnics – and the Abbey House Museum offers plenty to entertain the kids, with an entire Victorian street hidden within. Look out for the deli market on the last weekend of the month for a chance to pick up some tasty local fare in the stunning surroundings.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.
This Yorkshire tearoom has become an attraction in itself, so it’s not unusual to see folk queuing out the door to venture inside for a cuppa and a cake. Their Harrogate bakery was their first, and though it’s smaller than some of their more recent additions, it offers the true Betty’s experience in a quintessentially British setting. Be sure to check out their shop, which is attached to the tearoom, to pick up freshly baked cakes and biscuits to take home, as well as their own range of tea.
Betty’s Tearoom, 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 2QU.
12. Captain Cook Memorial Museum
A treat for your swashbuckling adventurers, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum will see you getting to grips with the incredible achievements of the famed sailor. The 17th century house where Cook once lived as an apprentice has been transformed into a museum where you can see his letters, models of his ships and images captured by artists on his trips around the world, which saw him charting New Zealand and making the first crossing of Antarctica.
Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Grape Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4BA.
13. Ripon Cathedral
You’d be forgiven for never having heard of Ripon. It’s a very small city in North Yorkshire, but it holds one of the county’s best attractions, with folk coming from far and wide to visit its cathedral. The saxon crypts of the original church have survived to this day, but the building above was constructed in the 1220s, with the nave rebuilt in the 1500s after the central tower collapsed. It’s beautiful to behold, both inside and out, well deserving of its Grade I status and well worth a visit.
Ripon Cathedral, Liberty Court House, Minster Road, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1QS.
14. Skipton Castle
900 years old and still going strong, Skipton Castle has become one of the market town’s most popular attractions, tempting folk in to explore one of the best preserved medieval castles in England. The entire building is open to the public, giving you the chance to explore everything from the dungeons to the watch tower, the bed chambers and the bogs. As you can imagine, it’s extremely popular with the little ones, so if you’re looking for things to do in Yorkshire with the kids, you’re onto a winner here.
Skipton Castle, The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AW.
15. Forbidden Corner
If you like your days out a little less conventional, make a beeline for one of Yorkshire’s more unusual attractions. At first glance, The Forbidden Corner is nothing more than a scenic garden, but once you start to explore, you’ll soon discover that there’s a lot more to it. You’ll find a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers underground, while back on the surface, art, statues and follies are hidden in every nook and cranny. It comes with quite a view too, so you’re sure of a memorable experience.
The Forbidden Corner, The Tupgill Park Estate, Coverham, Middleham, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4TJ.
16. Brontë Parsonage Museum
These days, everyone’s heard of the Brontës – Charlotte, Emily and Anne have become one of the most famous literary families in the world, and thanks to The Brontë Society, much of their legacy has been preserved. Over the years, they’ve gathered together the most comprehensive collection of Brontë manuscripts, letters, early editions and poetry in the world – and you can see it all the building they once lived and wrote in. Take a wander round Haworth while you’re there for the perfect Yorkshire day out.
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Church Street, Haworth, West Yorkshire, BD22 8DR.
17. Clifford’s Tower
William the Conqueror actually built two castles in York between 1068 and 1069, but Clifford’s Tower is all that remains today. Even now, hundreds of years later, it’s still a stunning example of a motte-and-bailey castle, and you can explore it at your leisure, visiting the rooms that once housed the old royal exchequer and treasury, as well as climbing to the top of the tower, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views over the city. It’s definitely one of the more memorable places to visit in Yorkshire – and the kids will love it as much as you.
Clifford’s Tower, Tower Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9SA.
18. Malham Cove
Needless to say, some of best days out in Yorkshire will see you venturing into the countryside in search of natural beauty spots – and Malham Cove is one that you should certainly hunt out. This limestone scar is awesome to see, and it’s surrounded by beauty spots that help to create one of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales. Visit Janet’s Foss waterfall, Gordale Scar and Malham Tarn all in one leisurely walk, as you cover over 7 miles, passing stunning scenery every step of the way.
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DG.
19. Flamingo Land
A double-whammy that will please big kids and small, Flamingo Land has a lot to offer. On the one hand, it’s a theme park with a whole host of rides that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping, as well as plenty of options for the smaller kids in your party. And on the other, it’s a zoo, with all the wild animals you’d expect, including black rhinos, African lions and Humboldt penguins. It’s perfect for sunny days out in Yorkshire.
Flamingo Land, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6XY.
20. Castle Howard
An 18th century house that’s full of history, surrounded by 1,000 acres of stunningly landscaped grounds, ripe for exploring – it’s no wonder Castle Howard is one of the most popular attractions in Yorkshire. Inside, it’s not only beautiful but also full of stories that you can learn as you wander round, while outside walled gardens, woodlands, temples, lakes and fountains are just waiting to be discovered. It’s a great day out, and one the kids will enjoy as much as you.
Castle Howard, The Estate Office, Castle Howard, York, YO60 7DA.
21. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Focusing on modern and contemporary sculpture, in a beautiful setting that will see you enjoying the great outdoors while you take in the arts, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has more than earned its place in this list. It explores the relationship between art and nature, using the 50 acre estate to showcase the work of legendary artists like Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, as well as a constant stream of new exhibitions like ‘Raqs Media Collective: However Incongruous’. With so much to see, it’s perfect for days out and you’ll probably find yourself wanting to come back.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4LG.
22. York Dungeon
One of the best days out for families in Yorkshire, York Dungeon promises guts, gore and horror, as real actors take on characters from the city’s dark past. Meet Eric Bloodaxe, the last Viking King of York, Guy Fawkes, the famed plotter, and Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, as well witches, plague doctors and torturers. You’ll be treated to 12 different shows as you make your way through the dark corridors of the dungeons, delving into 2,000 years of history with a scary but funny twist.
York Dungeon, 12 Clifford Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9RD.
23. White Scar Caves
Discovered in 1923 by Christopher Long, White Scar Caves has gone on to become one of the most interesting places to visit in Yorkshire. Inside, this impressive natural wonder boasts underground waterfalls and unique rock formations, many of which take the shape of familiar things, like Witches Fingers and The Face. Along the way, you’ll get to explore tunnels and squeeze through tight spots as you make your way towards the Battlefield Cavern, which has been made accessible to visitors by the addition of a 65-metre man-made tunnel.
White Scar Caves Ltd, Ingleton, Carnforth, North Yorkshire, LA6 3AW.
24. North Yorkshire Moors Railway
You’re probably more accustomed to travelling to your day trip destinations, than travelling on them, but The North Yorkshire Moors Railway will change all that. It’ll see you jumping on board one of their steam or heritage diesel trains as you travel from the idyllic market town of Pickering to the small village of Grosmot then on to Whitby, passing through the beautiful countryside of the North Yorkshire Moors along the way. It’s perfect for days out, come rain or shine – you can even enjoy lunch, afternoon tea or dinner on the train.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, 28 Park Street, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7AJ.
25. Bolton Castle
Medieval architecture at its best, Bolton Castle offers a rare glimpse into the past as they recreate the sights, sounds and even the smells of castle life. You can feed the wild boar, watch one their birds of prey displays or have a go at archery, as well as the exploring the depths of the castle itself, which has 600 years of history to tell. Outside, the medieval gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll and you’ll come across a maze, a vineyard and a rose garden on your adventures. It’s easy to see why Bolton Castle is one of Yorkshire’s finest attractions.
Bolton Castle, Near Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4ET.
26. National Media Museum
With seven floors of galleries, packed out with new and interactive exhibitions, the National Media Museum is great for family days out in Yorkshire. They cover everything from TV to photography and gaming, with galleries dedicated to animation, TV making, video game, classic and rare films. You’ll also find two galleries dedicated to new and touring exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see – like Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph, which showcases one of the world’s most comprehensive and important collections of his work.
National Media Museum, Little Horton Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ.
27. Leeds Art Gallery
Leeds Art Gallery boasts an incredible selection of twentieth century British art, with the likes of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Francis Bacon all on display. Their permanent displays are worthy of a visit in their own right, but they also bring in an ever-changing array of exhibitions, like the famed British Art Show 8, which made Leeds its only Yorkshire stop in 2015. Be sure to check out The Tiled Hall Cafe while you’re there, for a cuppa in a scenic setting. Alas, Leeds Art Gallery closed until autumn 2017, but then it’ll be back better than ever.
Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AA.
28. Bolton Abbey
After making your way through the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, you’ll arrive at Bolton Abbey, one of Yorkshire’s best days out. It’s boasts 30,000 acres of countryside, with 80 miles of footpaths intertwined within, giving you a different experience every time you visit. Cross the famed stepping stones, delve into the woods and discover the many activities along the way – all this on top of seeing the ruins of the abbey itself, which are stunning to behold.
Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6EX.
29. York Art Gallery
From 14th century Italian panels to 20th century works from famed artists like David Hockney and LS Lowry, you’ll find an incredibly varied selection of art at York Art Gallery. It also holds the largest collection of William Etty’s works in the country and the most extensive collection of British Studio Ceramics in the world. Add to this a range of rotating exhibitions that bring the best in art to the city, and you’ve got yourself a gallery that’s worth visiting again and again – definitely one of Yorkshire top attractions.
York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7EW.
30. National Railway Museum
Take a trip back in time at the National Railway Museum, where they have million of artefacts ranging from photos to coins and uniforms, as well as some of the biggest locomotives in history. From the Shinkasen, the only Japanese bullet train outside of Japan, to the Mallard, the train that broke the world speed record for steam locomotives, there are some amazing machines here, as well as a few with royal links, like Queen Victoria’s ‘palace on wheels’.
National Railway Museum, Leeman Rd, York, North Yorkshire, YO26 4XJ.Cover image credit: Peppermint Creative