Markets, historic halls and a lido – check out this list of brilliant days out that you can get to for next to nowt!
Everyone is used to getting the bus to work or to the shops, but there are loads of places they can take you to that you might not even know about. For just a couple of quid you can experience wonderful slices of God’s Own County, stellar shopping destinations and even wonderful wineries. It doesn’t matter if the kids are clamouring for something to do or you just want an escape from the day-to-day, hop on board for pocket-friendly adventures…
Bounce your way to The Springs at Thorpe Park
You can make a real day of it at The Springs, one of the shiniest, newest retail parks in Leeds. Shop-wise, there’s everything from H&M to JD Sports, M&S to FatFace and Mountain Warehouse. Pick up some designer bargains at TK Maxx and, if the kids are with you, you’ll definitely be dragged to The Entertainer, an Aladdin’s cave of toys. There are loads of options to feed hungry stomachs, from Italian grub at Piccolo to the hummus champs Humpit. Round off the perfect day before your bus back at Odeon Luxe, with its luxurious reclining seats and state-of-the-art screens creating the perfect film experience.
Discover exciting history at the National Science and Media Museum
With free entry and a mere £2 bus ticket all you need to get there, the National Science and Media Museum is a brilliant, bargainous day out. It’s spread over eight floors, with the centrepiece being the Wonderlab, an interactive gallery which lets kids learn about light and sound while getting hands-on. Elsewhere you’ll find a selection of fascinating objects from their three million-strong archive, all telling the story of the development of film, photography and media in the country. Keep your eyes peeled for ever-changing exhibitions and pop-ups, or grab a ticket for the largest iMAX screen in the region.
Admire the beauty of the Piece Hall in Halifax
This glorious Grade I-listed building is evocative of a Roman piazza, but is actually a former cloth hall, built back in 1779. Once close to being demolished, it has been packing them in since it reopened in 2017 with A-list concerts, an eclectic programme of events and plenty of fab shops and eateries. Paloma Faith, Paul Weller and Primal Scream are among the artists to have graced the stage here in 2022, but even if there’s no show on, it’s still an amazing destination. There’s a free museum to explore the history of the building, while the indie shops run from vintage clothes to homewares and toys.
Explore the marvellous markets of Wetherby
Wetherby is a proper market town, and the fact you can get there on the bus from Leeds means you can make the most of the square in front of the town hall. There’s a regular Thursday market, where you can pick up bargains and support independent traders, with everything from books to picture frames and household goods. If you’re after something a little more special, head here for the monthly Artisan Market, held on the second Sunday of each month. Run by Little Bird, you’ll be able to meet the makers of arts, crafts, food, jewellery, ceramics, clothing and more, so you can take home something unique.
Take a dip in the lido in Ilkley
There’s lots to explore in Ilkley, from high-class restaurants to wonderful shops, but the Lido is a definite highlight. If it’s sunny, there can be nothing more tempting than diving into the cool, clear water of the 45-metre outdoor pool. If the weather isn’t playing ball, worry not, because there’s a 25-metre indoor pool you can enjoy a splash in. Swimming lessons are available for all age groups too. Beyond that, it’s a great place to spend a day that’s as active or chilled as you want it to be – you can serve up an ace on the tennis courts, or go to the picnic area for some al fresco dining.
Take a scenic stroll around Eccup Reservoir
In want of a perfect walk? The bus will whisk you to the outskirts of Leeds, some seven miles north of the city centre, and you’ll feel like you’re in North Yorkshire. It’s a family-friendly circular walk that will leave you back where you began, but along the way you’ll pass the likes of Owlet Hall Farm and the Goodrick Plantation. Circling the water as the sun sets is truly memorable, while the area is important for birds – keep an eye out for the red kites that have been saved from extinction. Pack a picnic if the weather is fine then, after the conclusion of your five-mile pootle, return to Alwoodley Lane for the bus home.
Gallivant around gorgeous Golden Acre Park
Golden Acre Park is a gorgeous oasis of almost pastoral peace in North Leeds. At its heart is a beautiful lake, but there are a full 179 acres to explore – in other words, you’re bound to find a quiet spot for relaxation, contemplation or a picnic. The lake is home to abundant wildfowl, while elsewhere you might spot rabbits, squirrels and deer. For a quick stretch of the legs, a lap of the lake covers around a mile – if you need to get more steps in than that, take in the woods and arboretum to double it. There are pretty rock gardens to seek out and, if you visit in summer, there’s a program of live concerts to enjoy as well.
Step into the past at Shibden Hall
If you watched Gentleman Jack on TV, you’ll already be familiar with the impressive home of Anne Lister – even better, you can visit it on the bus. Lister lived here from the late 18th to the early 19th century, but the Hall itself dates back to 1420, and the building reflects a mix of styles as a result. However, it’s the Tudor-style fronting that really catches the eye, as well as the barns, workshops and manicured gardens. All aboard the miniature railway at this kid-friendly attraction that also boasts a boating lake, wildflower beds and pretty woodland walking trails.
Get back to nature at Hetchell Wood
Arrive here and you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside, rather than on the outskirts of Leeds. Hetchell Wood Nature Reserve is a real escape from the city, over 30 acres of flower-strewn meadows and ancient woodlands, contrasted against crags of gritstone. It’s a place to come for peace and quiet, but also somewhere to take the kids when you want to get some fresh air and to explore the great outdoors. In spring, wild garlic pops up, while winter is the time to spot roe deer and tawny owls. For the perfect place to escape from it all, seek out the stream, where the babbling water will soothe your soul.
Taste fine Yorkshire wine in Woodlesford
It might not be Tuscany, but God’s Own County has a way with the grape too, and after hopping on a couple of buses you can be at one of Yorkshire’s most notable vineyards, Leventhorpe. They’ve been practising viticulture here since 1985, and you’re welcome to visit the family-run winery where they make red, white and sparkling varieties. It’s open nearly every day, but as they might be in the middle of picking season, it’s best to call ahead. If they’re open, make your way there and you can try their acclaimed wines, from the award-winning Seyval to the Yorkshire Brut if you fancy some fizz.
Leventhorpe Vineyard, Newsome Green Road, Off Bullerthorpe Lane, Woodlesford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 8AF. Take the 2 to Tommy Wass Junction in Beeston, then the 9A towards Seacroft to Wakefield Road in Woodlesford. Plan your journey now.
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