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See why York Mumbler thinks York is the best place to visit in the UK for families this summer!

We've lived in York for all of our children's lives, my 8 year old and 10 year old just love all that York has to offer for kids and I've made it my job to discover the very best parts for families of all ages. If you're going to visit York this summer, as a local or a tourist, we hope that this blog is going to be useful as we've picked out & visited 5 fantastic family friendly attractions in York and have all the info here!

York Minster | National Railway Museum | The York Dungeon | City Cruises York | York Museums Trust

If you want to see a bit more 'behind the scenes' info then head over to my Instagram page and you can see all the best bits in the 'Summer' highlight too.

Getting in to York

Before you set off it's a good idea to plan how you're going to enter the city - of course there is parking available but it can be limited (and a little expensive!) so we find the easiest way is by bus... plus the kids love it and it makes it part of the trip! You can make your journey into the city hassle-free by taking advantage of York Park & Ride. With free parking available at all sites, it's a convenient and cost-effective option. What's even better, an Adult Return ticket costs just £3.60, and up to three children can travel for free! We love the app - Did you know you can track your bus in real-time so you know exactly when your service will arrive? Super helpful.

Summer at York Minster

It was a very sunny and very busy day in July when we visited York Minster. The tranquillity we experienced throughout our visit was just the tonic. Before we entered the building, we paused for a gorgeously relaxed picnic lunch in the brand new park space which is directly in front of the new refectory. There are also parks on college green and the larger Deans Park, all surrounding the Minster.

We grabbed a simple picnic in town - many of the fab surrounding independent cafes offer a take out service including the refectory itself. After the buzz of the streets - the kids and I really enjoyed the relaxation and simplicity of the picnic in the park - they could burn off excess energy with their cartwheels and chasing while I took a moment of calm and pause. I honestly don't believe there is a better view in the whole of York than in that garden.

On entering the Minster itself - the calm continued. I must admit I haven't been for a number of years and I'd forgotten just what a haven this place is. For adult York residents it's completely free to enter the building and for children (from anywhere) it's also free!

The Minster has, for many years, catered very well for children with their free explorer backpacks - complete with magnifying glass, binoculars and map as well as other things - we also used one of the sensory backpacks which are perfect for children with additional needs - lots of sensory aids. My girls loved them!

New additions for the summer are the 2 trails - the light trail and the maths trail. We did the maths one which both of my girls really enjoyed... it was all around shapes, counting, observations etc. so very accessible for all ages - certainly didn't feel like homework and it engaged them really well with a bit about the structure and the history of York Minster.

We continued to explore the whole building including the chapter house, under croft (where the girls could dress up and hang out with the corgi!) and for the first time - we were all able to go up to the top of the Minster. It's an additional cost but for the views from the top it's well worth it - we even spotted the White Horse from the top!)

We spent about 2 and a half hours in there - which I wasn't expecting! And I'll certainly be going back again this year. They are also doing a number of events over summer including Three inch fools and Luna Cinema. Find out more about them at the York Minster Website.

💜 Our Mini Mumbler review of York Minster...

"I really enjoyed going to the Minster, there were many activities to get involved with. The maths quest was fun and challenging, I think that it covered most types of maths like shapes, patterns and things like that. When we went to the top of the Minster, we saw an amazing view of the whole of York. To get there, we climbed 270 stairs until we reached the top. It was fun because you were exercising for a beautiful reward." Edith, age 10.

ℹ️ More information about York Minster

👩‍💻 Find out more on the York Minster website.
💷 Free if York resident with proof of address. To climb the tower you must be aged 8+ and charges apply (£22 per adult/£6 per child)
📅 Mon to Sat: 9.30am – 4pm & Sun: 12.45pm – 3.15pm
📍 York Minster, Deangate, York, YO1 7HH

Summer at the National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum was a very frequently visited attraction for us when the girls were pre-school age.. but I must admit we hadn't been for a while. When the opportunity came up to visit again we couldn't wait - and this time we invited our family engineer - Grandad!

The girls are at such a good age to really take in and learn all there is to learn here now - so very much enjoyed grandad explaining to them all about how the steam engine worked - it was great to see an exposed train so that they could see all the different parts and put together how it works.. we all learned a lot!

Their favourite area as kids was the model railway - and they loved viewing that again with a lovely excitement when they saw the model train chugging along in the miniature landscape. There is a big room with every item of railway signage, memorabilia and ornaments you can imagine. Meg (8) in particular loved doing the free object hunts where you can tick off items that you find along the way.

A new one for us this year was the Flying Scotsman VR experience which was an additional cost but VERY much worth it. We put on our headsets and could see the story for Flying Scotsman come to life around us, feel the heat of the engine and feel the rumble of the loco as it comes into a station. A truly immersive experience that the girls (and I!) will remember for a long time.

Even more exciting and coming this summer is the BRAND NEW Wonderlab - it will be open from 27th July it is a ground-breaking interactive gallery exploring the how, what and why that underpin the creation of the railways with 18 interactive experiences based around engineering. You can pre-book tickets for that now here.

💜 Our Mini Mumbler review of the National Railway Museum...

"I loved going to the railway museum with my sister, mum and grandad. I loved seeing the pipes inside the steam train and my grandad explained how it all worked. I also did the VR where we got to go through a train engine and see all of the parts. We felt like we were riding on the train and could see a plane flying next to us. I loved going on that. In another room there was mini books that you could fill in and tick things that you could find in a room full of train things. I found them all! It was one of my favourite days" Megan, age 8.

ℹ️ More information about the National Railway Museum

👩‍💻 Find out more on the National Railway Musuem website.
💷 Main Musuem: Free, pre-book a ticket online.
Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery: £9 per adult/ £7.20 per child/under 3s free. If you have a YO postcode your ticket will be upgraded for free to an annual pass (offer available until 3 Sep 2023). Book tickets for Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery here.
Flying Scotsman VR experience: £7 per person. Book tickets here.
📅 Open seven days a week, 10.00–17.00. Last admission is at 16.30.
📍 Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ

Summer at The York Dungeon

The York Dungeons is a terrifying experience - in all the best ways!

It is no exaggeration to say that my eldest daughter has been bugging me to go to York Dungeons for the last 2 years! Ever since I took her cousins when they were 8 - she has wanted to go. The age recommendation for this is 8+ and there is good reason why... there are times when it is pitch black, some very scary themes (I think the witch show is the most terrifying) so it's not for the faint hearted. It really depends on your child but for mine, it was a little too scary for my 8 year old but PERFECT for my 10 year old. The actors never touch you and as well as the scares, there are some hilarious gags along the way too.

The experience lasts 75 minutes in total and it's totally immersive. There are ten different shows and you're guided through the dungeons through 2,000 years of York’s most haunted history!

This summer at The York Dungeon you will find yourself in 1455, in the midst of The Wars of the Roses. The French Queen Margaret of Anjou is ruling in place of her King and the country is at Civil War – the Yorkists and the Lancastrians are at arms to see who the rightful King should be! 

You can also prepare to meet the infamous faces of York’s dark past including notorious witch Isabella Billington, Guy Fawkes – as although he was caught underneath the Houses of Parliament, his story began in York. Finally, you will face the infamous highwayman – Dick Turpin. Step inside the darkened carriage and be sure to hold on to your valuables

💜 Our Mini Mumbler review of The York Dungeon...

"I went to the York Dungeons, it was SO fun! I was really scared. You can go from age 5 but it's recommended 8+ and I can see why. Definitely not for people who get scared easily (including my sister and daddy) I really loved the execution, It feels like you get real blood splattered on you. When it was the Dick Turpin show, the carriage actually moved. That was REALLY cool. You could hear him walking on the roof when he was coming to rob us. We got some funny photographs at the end which I really liked. I got a squished coin for my collection too. " Edith, age 10.

ℹ️ More information about The York Dungeon

👩‍💻 Summer Show: Rotten Royals: Will you survive the Palace Dungeon? runs from 1 July – 4 Sept and is included with your admission ticket. Find out more on The York Dungeon website.
💷 Suitable for families with children aged 8+ (under 5s not permitted). Tickets from £21 per adult/from £17 per child (8+)
📅 Open seven days a week, 10am - 5pm during the school holidays
📍 12 Clifford Street, York, YO1 9RD

Summer with City Cruises York

There are a few ways to enjoy cruising down the Ouse, including a self-drive boat where up to 8 people from your friends and family can drive - but we tried out the BRAND NEW Fish & Chips Cruises and we loved it!

Sailing on a Wednesday and Friday evening, these cruises last 90 minutes and we got the benefit of having tea on board, courtesy of Mr Chippy, as well as enjoying a sightseeing cruise through the historic city and down to Bishopthorpe Palace.

The girls were super excited to hop aboard.. the tables were all set with gingham table cloths in the indoor dining room and we all had a big window view, We ordered drinks from the well-stocked bar and were served our fish & chips straight away (yummy!) Very generous portions and we'd ordered some extra mushy peas which finished it off very nicely!

The captain was super friendly gave us some very fascinating commentary along the way, including lots of historical facts about the river and City of York as well as the bridges that we passed under along the way.

We were free to flow from the dining room to up on the top deck, where we could enjoy the signs even better.

I always think that the cruise is one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy our City - the fish and chips (and Ice-cream available to purchase!) made it even more special.
Different options for families, Self-Drive, Sightseeing, Fish & Chips Cruises.
Under 5 (Ages 0-4) Free Sightseeing

💜 Our Mini Mumbler review of City Cruises York...

"I loved going on the boat so much. The scenery was beautiful and the fish and chips were very yummy. I would definitely recommend this to any age. My favourite part was when the Captain was telling us stories about the buildings we were sailing past. There was even a little dog on board who was cute!" Edith, age 10.

"I loved the fish and chips cruise because it had such great food and it was very interesting to hear the man. I loved going on top of the boat because I saw amazing buildings and lots of other boats. We waved to people on the way and lots of them waved back!" Megan Age 8

ℹ️ More information about City Cruises York

👩‍💻 Find out more on the City Cruise York website.
💷 Day sightseeing cruise from £13 per adult/£7.50 per child/under 5s free. 1 hour boat ride from £35. Fish & Chip Cruise from £25 per adult/£15 per child/under 3s free.
📅 Open seven days a week, see website for sailing times
📍 King's Staith Landing, York, YO1 9SN and Lendal Bridge Landing, York, YO1 7DP

Summer at York Museums Trust

Yorkshire Museum:

Both of my girls love fossils, having spent many hours searching for them on north Yorkshire's beaches (and even in our own garden during lockdown!) and my youngest, in particular, is a huge fan of the 'Small People, Big Dreams' books where she was first introduced to Mary Anning so we were really excited when we found out that the new exhibition was dedicated to one of her heroines... The exciting new exhibition ‘Mary Anning Rocks’ will celebrates the inspiring story of the renowned palaeontologist. Best known for discovering Jurassic marine fossils in Lyme Regis on the southwestern coast of England, this family-friendly display introduces Mary Anning (1799-1847) and explains how this pioneering woman of science changed the way we view the natural world.

There is a fab trail around the exhibition which kept the girls engaged and they loved digging for fossils too in the interactive zone.

The trail continues around the museum and they could see a full size Sea Dragon as well as do some fossil rubbings and chill out in the sensory zone too. I love seeing these areas pop up around the different attraction in York as it really helps all parents - especially those with children who have sensory needs.
As well as the fantastic Yorkshire Museum, The trust includes 2 other attractions, both of which have great things going on this summer, here is a summary...

York Art Gallery:

Flowers, plant life and gardens have fascinated and inspired generations of artists. York Art Gallery’s new exhibition ‘Bloom’ brings together more than 100 botanical artworks from its collection, alongside loans, to explore the importance of nature and green spaces for enjoyment, creativity and well-being.

Throughout ‘Bloom’, there's an exciting array of creative activities for all ages, including family-friendly artist-led workshops, under 5s storytelling, and fun trails around the exhibition.

York Castle Museum:

This summer to explore over 400 years of York’s history! The popular outdoor Playbox, run by Playful Anywhere, will be BACK at the museum this August. Full of fun indoor and outdoor activities there’s something for everyone to enjoy – whatever the weather!

There will be NEW and exciting ‘imagination’ stations throughout the Museum along with fun cooking demonstrations in the Castle Kitchen!
New for Summer 2023 visit our latest exhibition ‘Celebrating York’s Gypsy and Traveller Heritage’, developed in partnership with York Travellers Trust. Through photography and historical information, learn about their important connections to the city, and then enjoy its activity space where you can create your very own beautiful paper flower.

 💜 Our Mini Mumbler review of the Mary Anning Exhibition at Yorkshire Museum

"I loved going to the Mary Anning Exhibition. There were so many fossils and I sw a giant fossil of a dinosaur. I loved how you could play and dig in the dirt to find fossils and how on the walls there was a description about Mary Anning. She is an amazing little statue that I loved and there was a sketch area where you can do a rubbing of a fossil. There was a trail that had amazing things to see inside it" Megan Age 8.

ℹ️ More information about York Museums Trust

👩‍💻 Find out more on the York Museums Trust website.

York Art Gallery:
💷 General admission - Free. Bloom £8 adult/child free
📅 Open Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm
📍Exhibition Square, York, YO1 7EW

Yorkshire Musuem:
💷 £8 per adult pre-booked/free child entrance for YO/City of York council postcodes.
📅 Open Tues to Sun, 10am-5pm.
📍Museum Gardens, York

York Castle Museum:
💷 14 adult pre-booked/child free . Free child entrance for YO/City of York council postcodes.
📅 Open Mon, 11am-5pm and Tues – Sun, 10am-5pm.
📍Eye of York, York, YO1 9RY

Enjoy hassle-free summer travel into York with York Park & Ride

Getting into York with your family couldn't be simpler with the all-electric Park & Ride!

Forget about hunting for expensive city centre parking and leave your car for free at one of the 6 easy-to-reach sites around York. Hop on one of the zero-emission electric buses and let someone else do the driving. With prioritised traffic lights and dedicated bus lanes, Park & Ride buses can get you in and out of the city quickly and run as frequently as every 12 minutes.

It's a convenient and cost-effective option when you head out to explore York together! An Adult Return ticket is just £3.60 and up to three children can travel with you for free. Getting your ticket is easy too, simply download the First Bus App from the App Store or Google Play. Not only can you purchase your ticket in advance, but it also uses real-time information so you can track your bus live on a map and know when your next bus is about to arrive!

ℹ️ More information about York Park & Ride

ℹ️ Find out more on the First Bus website.
💷 Adult Return is only £3.60 and available to buy on bus or the First Bus App. Up to three children (aged 16 and under) can travel for FREE when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
📍Askham Bar Park & Ride, Designer Outlet Park & Ride, Grimston Bar Park & Ride, Monks Cross Park & Ride, Poppleton Bar Park & Ride, Rawcliffe Bar Park & Ride

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