Leeds’ attractions aren’t just for tourists you know, some of them are as popular with locals as they are with visitors, and it’s easy to see why…
They may be the first thing tourists check off, but the city’s attractions are just as popular with us Leeds folk as they are with those visiting the city for the first time – and these ten in particular have gone out of their way to win a place in the hearts of locals. Which is your favourite?
Leeds Town Hall
It’s an icon, granted, but there’s so much more to Leeds Town Hall than what just meets the eye. Within the confines of the great Victorian structure, a host of incredibly popular and creative events take place. There’s Leeds International Beer Festival, Live at Leeds and the new Grapeful Festival, as well as unique one-offs like The Wood Beneath the World. And it’s because of this ever-changing line-up that locals can’t get enough of Leeds Town Hall.
Perhaps, because it’s in the suburbs, it’s sometimes missed off the itinerary of tourists coming into Leeds, but Roundhay Park is still one of the best attractions in the city – and don’t locals know it. Over 700 acres of woods, parkland and lakes make it a must visit when the sun’s out. Not only that, but there’s Tropical World too, with its abundance of wildlife and gardens that help set Roundhay Park apart from the rest.
Henry Moore Institute
The home of some of the finest sculpture exhibitions in the whole country, Henry Moore Institute is a gem that can fly under the radars of those not in the know, particularly with the famous Leeds Art Gallery next door. But by bringing a multitude of inventive and groundbreaking works to the city, whether traditional or modern, it has earned its always got something new to offer locals.
Considering the impact the railways had on our lives, to have the oldest continuously working railway in the world is some feat. Middleton Railway was opened to the public in 1758 and has been going ever since. Though it only goes over around one mile of track, it’s a throwback to a bygone era that is deep-rooted within the local community, and is an intrinsic part of Leeds’ heritage that the city is so proud of.
The name alone means its indelibly linked to the history of Leeds’ and its recent revolution into the city’s coolest art space meets bar and restaurant, makes it a firm Leeds favourite. The Tetley is a fine example of Leeds’ cultural power helping to preserve the past, proving that innovation and history can be brought together, all while keeping in touch with the local community through various events that cater for all ages.
Snuck off down an alleyway of Leeds’ main high street, Whitelock’s has been serving the folk of Leeds quality beverages since the 18th century. Even though its reputation is always on the up, you might say that it’s still the best kept secret in Leeds. With oodles of real ale on the pumps and classic dishes out of the kitchen, it continues to find fans in the city way into its fourth century of existence – something Leeds is incredibly proud of.
Hyde Park Picture House
One of the few remaining early 20th century cinemas still in the same use today as it was when it first opened, Hyde Park Picture House is an institution. It’s a time capsule of a former era, and has stayed true to its roots by focusing on finding true independent talent and only the best blockbusters – as a result, it continues to attract and influence a new generation of Leeds film fans.
Meanwood Valley Trail
There aren’t many places in the world where you can be in a thriving city centre one second, and the countryside a few later. But in Leeds, we’re lucky because we can do just that. The Meanwood Valley Trail, starts a few minutes drive out of the city centre on Woodhouse Moor and careers all the way up to the massive Golden Acre Park, with fabulous nature in between. It’s a green retreat that’s too close for locals not to love.
Leeds Corn Exchange
For 150 years, Leeds Corn Exchange has been the centre of commerce for Leeds, and today it’s as strong as ever. While tourists flock to it, it holds a special place in the hearts of Loiners – it has come to signal the regeneration and revitalisation of the city over the past few decades. Whenever seemingly down on its knees, it comes back stronger, with a better, more independent offering that sets Leeds apart from the rest.
Leeds’ long history doesn’t get any more obvious than Kirkstall Abbey. The monastery ruins have been standing there for nearly 500 years of its 850 year existence. It’s an awesome sight that has become the scene of some remarkable, groundbreaking events – Kaiser Chiefs and Frankenstein’s Bride for instance – but even without huge shows, the Abbey’s grounds are the perfect day out in the shadow of local history.
Main photo courtesy of Barnaby Aldrick. The Tetley photo courtesy of Mat Dale. Whitelock’s and Kirkstall Abbey photos courtesy of Ollievision Photography.