It’s time to ferret out the fabulous stuff that surrounds you in West Yorkshire…
There are riches galore when it comes to things to see and do in West Yorkshire, but have you 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 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.
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.
National Science and Media Museum, Little Horton Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
500 acres of rolling countryside, beautiful to behold, awaits at the famous Yorkshire Sculpture Park, making this a glorious place for a stroll. But the grounds are just one of the attractions here – hidden amongst the trees, you’ll find 100 world-class sculptures and art installations. Not only can you see the work of local artists like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, but they also have pieces from international giants like Ai Weiwei and Alfredo Jaar. Exhibitions change on the regular, demanding return visits.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4LG.
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.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3AH.
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!
Wetherby Racecourse, York Road, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS22 5EJ.
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.
The Piece Hall, Blackledge, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1RE.
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 Royal Armouries
Home to the UK’s national collection of arms and armour, The Royal Armouries is one of the best and most exciting museums in the country. It’s packed to bursting with five galleries that showcase 4,500 objects, ranging from swords and helmets to lightsabers and vampire-hunting kits. Be sure to seek out their jaw-droppingly huge set of elephant armour – not only is it the biggest suit of armour in the world, but it’s also the heaviest at a whopping 118 kilograms! Keep your eyes peeled for their horse shows and events.
The Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LT.
The 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.
Otley Chevin, Yorkgate Road, Otley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS21 3DG.
Thackray Museum of Medicine
The Thackray has always been a brilliant place to spend an afternoon with the kids – all that gore makes learning so much more fun. 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 including 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.
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.
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.
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 no matter the time of year. There’s a BMX track for the kids and an adventure playground, not to mention 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.
Yeadon Tarn, Yeadon, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 7UR.
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.
Want a double whammy of countryside and culture? Get yourself over to Hardcastle Crags! This charming National Trust site will lead you through the woods on a winding riverside walk that will take you to Gibson Mill. At over 200 years old, it’s one of the oldest mills of the Industrial Revolution, and there’s oodles of history to be uncovered here. Check out their exhibitions and enjoy a cuppa in the riverside Weaving Shed café, before heading back out to explore the 15 miles of twisting, turning footpaths on-site.
Hardcastle Crags, Gibson Mill, Midgehole Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 7AW.
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, while the kids can burn off their energy on the adventure playground.
Temple Newsam, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE.
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.
Horsforth Hall Park, Hall Lane, Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 5JE.
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, West Yorkshire, LS10 3TN.
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.
Set in a waterside location and surrounded by Tom Stuart-Smith’s beautiful public garden, The Hepworth impresses before you even step inside. The sharp angles and slants of the building, which was designed by David Chipperfield Architects, was purpose built to showcase contemporary art. Inside, you’ll find an exceptional collection of art by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, alongside the 5,000-plus works in the Wakefield Permanent Art Collection and their ever-changing exhibitions.
The Hepworth, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW.
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.
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 2NE.
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.
Animal lovers in the family? Swithens Farm combines the countryside charm of its setting with some of the cutest beasts you ever did see. Kids will clamour to get to the petting farm – this is 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.
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.
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.