If you’re planning a day out in Yorkshire, these 30 awesome attractions should be at the top of your list.
Yorkshire is chock-full of incredible things to do and see. Whether you want to take in a little culture, visit a historic castle or explore the many natural wonders that have helped give God’s Own County its richly deserved nickname, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice here. So to help you decide what to do first, second and third, 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 one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful attractions. Here, you’ll find the remains of one of the best preserved Cistercian abbeys in England, still as picturesque today as in 1132. You can walk in the footsteps of monks and unearth all the monastery’s secrets on a guided tour. For a magical day out, catch your reflection in the mirror-like ponds in the 18th-century gardens, then follow the riverside paths to the deer park, home to over 500 bucks and stags.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY.
2. Henry Moore Institute
One of the most popular cultural 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. It has an ever-changing array of exhibitions, bringing you a host of historic and contemporary art to gaze upon – but there’s more to this world-leading gallery than meets the eye. It also boasts a research centre, library and archive, that gives you the chance to delve deeper into the world of sculpture.
Henry Moore Institute, 74 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AH.
3. The Deep
Need new ways to entertain the whole family? The Deep is one of the best attractions to visit in Yorkshire if you’ve got kids. You’ll go into the depths of an underwater world, to meet an array of marine life from the deep blue. From sharks and sawfish to penguins and jellyfish, you’ll find all the coolest and strangest sea creatures inside. Add to this a whole host of interactive activities that make learning fun, a soft play area and a pair of eateries in The Deep Cafe and The Halfway Cafe, it’s got everything you need 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 best attractions, it promises 68 acres of awe-inspiring gardens, wildflower meadows and woodlands. Wandering around is an absolute pleasure, whether you’re exploring the Sub-Tropicana Garden or walking the length of the stream. Feeling inspired? You can get stuck into a bit of gardening at the Teaching Garden. And if the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can take shelter in the Alpine House, home to over 2,000 different plants.
RHS Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, 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 a beauty to behold and has plenty to offer beyond just gazing up at its breathtaking exterior. Inside, you can join a guided tour or take a trip up the 275 steps to the top of the central tower for jaw-dropping views. If that wasn’t enough, you can even venture into the chambers below to check out Revealing York Minster in the Undercroft, which tells you how this Yorkshire icon was saved from collapse.
York Minster, Deangate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7HH.
6. Salts Mill
Saltaire is home to one of Yorkshire’s finest attractions. In fact, Salts Mill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The renovated mill houses the only permanent David Hockney exhibition in the country, so you can admire ‘The Arrival of Spring’ all year round. Alongside the famed artist’s work are rooms filled with local history and an impressive stream of temporary exhibitions. Add to this a host of art-focused shops, selling everything from jewellery to books, antiques and art materials, as well as numerous eateries, and you’ve got a great day out.
Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Saltaire, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3HU.
7. Yorkshire Wildlife Park
For a real adventure, bring the whole pack to Yorkshire Wildlife Park for a rip-roaring day out to please all the family at the region’s finest safari park. You’ll come face to face with all manner of exotic animals, from lemurs to giraffes, polar bears to lions. And you won’t be driving by, but rather venturing into the enclosure on foot, within the safety of an 800-metre pathway. But it’s not just wildlife, you’ll also get a chance to learn a thing or two at one of the many talks that take place throughout the day.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Hurst Lane, Auckley, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN9 3HQ.
8. Brimham Rocks
A real natural wonder, Brimham Rocks will make you see why they call it God’s Own County. Set in the alluring countryside Yorkshire is best known for, it makes for a great day out in the great outdoors. As you wander between captivating heather moorland and ambient woodlands, you’ll catch glimpses of unique rock formations, like The Dancing Bear, The Eagle and The Gorilla, which are popular with local climbers. But that’s not all, it’s also the perfect spot to look out over the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty, with gorgeous views all around.
Brimham Rocks, Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4DW.
9. The Hepworth
Part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, The Hepworth should sit high on your list of things to do in the region. It’s massive, with 1,600 square metres filled with some truly 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 rarely seen works by Barbara Hepworth. Look out for the Gott’s collection too – it documents 200 Yorkshire villages, towns and cities through enchanting pictures, watercolours, drawings and prints.
The Hepworth, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW.
10. Kirkstall Abbey
It’s one of the most well-preserved 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 wide open green space, right beside the River Aire, so it’s the perfect place for picnics. And journey across the road and you’ll find an entire Victorian street hidden inside the Abbey House Museum. Look out for the Abbey Market on the last weekend of the month for a chance to pick up some tasty local fare.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.
This Yorkshire tearoom is quite the attraction, so it’s not unusual to see folk queuing out the door for a cuppa and cake. Their Harrogate bakery is the original, and though it’s smaller than some of their more recent additions, it offers the true Bettys experience in a quintessentially British setting – afternoon tea doesn’t compare anywhere else. Be sure to check out their shop, which is attached to the tearoom, where you can pick up freshly baked cakes and biscuits to take home, as well as their very own range of teas.
Bettys, 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2QU.
12. Captain Cook Memorial Museum
A proper treat for your little swashbuckling adventurers, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum sits in a fitting Yorkshire attraction. Walker’s House, the 17th-century building where Cook himself once lodged as an apprentice, has been transformed into an exhibition of his extraordinary seamanship. You can get to grips with the incredible achievements and expeditions of the celebrated adventurer, and even see hand-written letters, models of his ships and images captured by artists of his trips around the globe.
Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Grape Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4BA.
13. Ripon Cathedral
You’d be forgiven for never having heard of Ripon. A small city in North Yorkshire, it holds one of the county’s best attractions – its spectacular cathedral. It shows off a long history of local architecture, with brilliant gothic and Early English features. 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 both inside and out, well deserving of its Grade I-listed status and a visit from you.
Ripon Cathedral, Liberty Court House, Minster Road, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1QT.
14. Skipton Castle
900-years-old and still going strong, Skipton Castle has become one of the most popular attractions in Yorkshire. The gatehouse will tempt you in to explore one of the best examples of a medieval castle in England. And it’s not just a little bit that you see, 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 even the bogs. 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.
Skipton Castle, The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AW.
15. The 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, you’ll just have to find your way to the perfect vantage spot.
The Forbidden Corner, The Forbidden Corner, Middleham, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4TJ.
16. Brontë Parsonage Museum
Everyone’s heard of the Brontës. They’re one of the most famous literary families in the world – and they’re from right here in Yorkshire. Thanks to The Brontë Society, much of their legacy has been preserved and you can see it all at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. They’ve gathered the most comprehensive collection of Brontë manuscripts, letters, early editions and poetry around – and it’s all on display in the very building they once lived and wrote in. Take a wander around Haworth while you’re here for a perfectly bookish day out in Yorkshire.
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Church Street, Haworth, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD22 8DR.
17. Go Ape Temple Newsam
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-fuelled day out in Yorkshire, Go Ape have got it covered. This treetop adventure course will see you scrambling through the woodland canopy of the Menagerie Wood at Temple Newsam. You’ll navigate all kinds of heart-racing obstacles, from nerve-testing zip lines to swaying bridges and exhilarating rope swings, all before you reach the stomach-dropping 11-metre plummet at the end of the course. They have a range of routes for different ages and abilities, and the higher you get, the tougher the challenge.
Go Ape, Temple Newsam, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AD.
18. Malham Cove
Needless to say, some of the best days out in Yorkshire will see you venturing into the countryside in search of some serious natural beauty spots – and Malham Cove is one that you should definitely hunt out. This limestone scar is one of the region’s finest natural landmarks, and it’s surrounded by magnificent spots that make this one of the most popular walking spots in the Yorkshire Dales. You can visit Janet’s Foss waterfall, Gordale Scar and Malham Tarn all in one leisurely trek, as you cover over a 7-mile stretch from the cove.
Malham Cove, Malham, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DJ.
19. Flamingo Land
A double-whammy that will please kids big and small, Flamingo Land has a lot to offer. On the one hand, it’s a theme park, with a whole host of hair-raising rides that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping, as well as plenty of giggle-inducing options for the smaller ones in your party. On the other, it’s a fully-fledged zoo, with all the wild animals you’d expect to see, including kangaroos, otters, Humboldt penguins and, of course, flamingos. It’s a full-on family day out, perfect for those sunny Yorkshire days.
Flamingo Land, Kirby Misperton, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6UX.
20. Castle Howard
An 18th-century country 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 has plenty of stories to tell, which you’ll uncover as you wander through the grand halls and opulent bedrooms that took a century to build. Outside, the medley of walled gardens, woodlands, lakes, fountains and even temples are just waiting to be explored.
Castle Howard, York, North Yorkshire, YO60 7DA.
21. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
A beautiful setting that will see you enjoy the great outdoors at the same time you take in the arts, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has more than earned its place on this list. This attraction brings art and nature together, using the 50-acre estate to showcase the work of some downright legendary local artists, like Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, as well as a constant stream of new exhibitions from as far as Japan. With so much to see, you’re in for a chock-full day out, and you’ll find yourself wanting to come back – even if only for the sheep.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 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, hidden past. Meet Eric Bloodaxe (yep, that’s his actual name), the last Viking King of York, Guy Fawkes, the famed Parliament plotter, and Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, as well witches, plague doctors and torturers. You’ll be in for 13 different spectacles, as you make your way through the ghostly corridors of the dungeons, delving into 2,000 years worth of history with a knee-shaking twist.
York Dungeon, 12 Clifford Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9RD.
23. White Scar Caves
Discovered in 1923 by Christopher Long, White Scar Caves is now one of the best attractions in Yorkshire. Inside, this impressive natural wonder boasts underground waterfalls and unique rock formations, many of which take the shape of familiar (but slightly creepy) things, like Witches Fingers and The Face. 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 tunnel.
White Scar Caves, Carnforth, Ingleton, 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 is about to 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 Grosmont, then on to Whitby, passing through the beautiful countryside of the North Yorkshire Moors along the way. It makes for an absolute belter of a Yorkshire day out, come rain or shine – and you can get a meal onboard.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway, 12 Park Street, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7AJ.
25. Bolton Castle
Medieval architecture at its best, Bolton Castle offers a rare glimpse into the past, recreating the sights, sounds and even the smells of castle life. You can feed the wild boar, watch one of their birds of prey displays or have a go at archery, as well as explore the depths of the castle itself, which has over 600 years of history to tell. 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’ll be easy to see why Bolton Castle is one of Yorkshire’s finest attractions.
Bolton Castle, North Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4ET.
26. National Science and Media Museum
The National Science and Media Museum is a can’t-miss attraction for a fun family day out in Yorkshire. With over three-million artefacts to discover, you can enter the world of film, television and science to feast your eyes on everything from old lab equipment to retro TV props. They have over 20 interactive science exhibits in their Wonderlab and a Kodak Gallery with over 35,000 artefacts, including the first photographs ever taken. For the ultimate throwback, swing by the Games Lounge to play old-school arcade games.
National Science and Media Museum, Pictureville, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ.
27. Leeds Art Gallery
Leeds Art Gallery boasts an incredible collection of 19th-century British art and more recent sculptures by the likes of Damien Hirst, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Their permanent displays are worthy of a visit in their own right, but they also bring in an ever-changing array of exhibitions, which explore important themes and encourage discussion, using a broad range of media and modes. It’s the place to be to get some all-important inspiration. Be sure to stop by The Tiled Hall Cafe while you’re here for a cuppa in a scenic setting.
Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AA.
28. Bolton Abbey
After making your way through the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, you’ll arrive at Bolton Abbey, one of Yorkshire’s best days out for nature-lovers. It boasts an amazing 30,000 acres of countryside, with 80 miles of winding footpaths, you’ll have a different experience every time you visit. Cross the famed stepping stones (all 60 of them!), delve into the hilly woods and discover the abundant flora and fauna along the way – all this on top of seeing the ruins of the 12th-century priory, a stunning attraction in its own right.
Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6AL.
29. York Art Gallery
From 14th-century Italian panels to 20th-century works by artists like David Hockney and LS Lowry, you’ll find an impressive selection of art at York Art Gallery. It also holds the largest collection of York artist William Etty’s paintings in the country, and the most extensive collection of British Studio Ceramics in the world. Add to this a diverse range of rotating exhibitions that bring the best in modern art to the city, including the annual Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition, and you’ve got yourself a gallery that’s you’ll want to visit again and again.
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 you can discover all manner of locomotive-related artefacts, like sepia photos, old coins and uniforms, as well as some of the biggest trains in the world from throughout history. From the Shinkasen, the only Japanese bullet train outside of Japan, to the Eurostar, the fastest train that runs in the UK, there are loads of examples of engineering brilliance kept here, as well as a few with royal links, like Queen Victoria’s own ‘palace on wheels’.
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, North Yorkshire, YO26 4XJ.Cover image credit: Peppermint Creative