From interactive museums to outdoor fun and more besides - there’s no such thing as ‘boredom’
Mid October can only mean one thing - another school holiday and another week (or two) to keep the kids entertained over half term. But, while tempers and energy levels might start to fray a little, your bank account doesn’t have to. In fact, there are several worthwhile Leeds and Yorkshire-based family-friendly activities you can explore without spending a single penny (food, petrol and accidental breakages notwithstanding). Here are some of the best, in no particular order…
THE ROYAL ARMOURIES
Kids love weapons and The Royal Armouries is full of them, from the ground floor up. It’s impossible to get through everything in a day, but that does mean that there’s plenty of square footage to tire out energetic young legs. And with live demonstrations including sword fighting in full suits of armour, a temporary maze and a royal treasure trail to boot, there’s never a dull moment.
The Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT. Open daily 10am-5pm
LEEDS DISCOVERY CENTRE
Perhaps better described as the Museum of Stuff, the Discovery Centre is reportedly home to over a million different artefacts, art pieces and randomly acquired items. You can get in during the week by appointment, but once you do, you’ll find so many things to look at, you’ll need a spare pair of eyes. They also provide a range of educational resources and activities to keep the kids stimulated.
Leeds Discovery Centre, off Carlisle Road, Leeds LS10 1LB. Open Monday-Friday, visits by appointment (free drop-in tours on Thursdays)
LEEDS URBAN BIKE PARK
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a serious mountain biker, there’s a route for everyone at the Urban Bike Park, from green trails all the way up to black. Run by the not-for-profit Cycle Pathway CIC, you can bring your bikes (and helmets) and get going. Alternatively, you might find you uncover a new interest in one of your kids - in which case bike, equipment hire and paid training sessions are available.
Leeds Urban Bike Park, Ring Road, Beeston Park, Middleton LS10 3TN. Open daily (various times)
The stunning twelfth century abbey is the focal point of the Bolton Abbey estate, but there are 30,000 acres to explore - including Simon’s Seat, Strid Wood, Barden Tower and The Laund Oak - and there’s a conveniently located café just across the bridge. The estate charges £10 for cars, but you can avoid that by parking in Addingham or Barden and incorporating a beautiful walk alongside the River Wharfe into your day.
Bolton Abbey, Skipton, BD23 6AL. Opening hours vary by season, check the website
Salts Mill is home to a gallery, David Hockney, shops, a bookshop and a couple of cafes but it’s worth a limited attention span if you’re a kid. Saltaire village has more to offer besides the mill itself, however: the canal, Roberts Park and Hirst Wood Nature Reserve are all well worth a visit too. Just one piece of advice? Under no circumstances should you try and drive there - it’ll result in divorce.
Saltaire, Victoria Road, Shipley BD18 3LA. Salts Mill open daily 10am-5.30pm (6pm weekends)
YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK
Another one where it’s completely free if you’re willing to park down the road, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a stunning place, housing exhibitions and a range of temporary and permanent fixtures, some of which are massive. Several of the structures are interactive and there are plenty of educational resources for the kids too. Then again, you could just let them run themselves out on the 500-acre grounds.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, WF4 4JX for main car park. Open daily 10am-6pm
CHEVIN FOREST PARK
There’s plenty of running around to be done up at the Chevin, with nature, wooden sculptures and incredible views from the rocks. On the other side of the road, Surprise View is surely the best panoramic view in Yorkshire to require absolutely no climbing whatsoever, and you can head down into Otley afterwards for some lunch and a pint.
Chevin Forest Park, Otley, LS21 3DD
SCIENCE AND MEDIA MUSEUM
Exhibitions, stunning high-definition visuals, family shows and a huge IMAX all await you within Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum. The facility is currently running an exhibition called ‘Hello Universe,’ featuring some incredible space images and visuals, but there’s plenty for youngsters to be getting on with including daily Lego challenges.
Science and Media Museum, Pictureville, Bradford BD1 1NQ. Open daily 10am-6pm
What else have you found that’s free and worth a visit? Nature reserves? The Railway Museum? One of Leeds’ many beautiful parks? Let us know your favourite
Images: svenshaw.com (Saltaire), James Dolan (Chevin Forest Park)