New favorite city alert. I loved York. Loved, loved, loved it. Let me just say this now: If you’re coming to England for a visit and want to venture outside London, go about two hours north to York.
It’s worth the visit.
When planning a day out with kids, one doesn’t often think of going to a city. With crowds, walking, and little interactive elements, kids tend to get bored in big cities. Fortunately, York is perfectly catered to interested minds of both the young and old variety.
In fact, there’s so much to do in this magical city, my family barely scratched the surface. We regretted not making this adventure an overnight trip and staying longer. So do yourself a favor and book a weekend here!
Jorvik Viking Centre
Hands down the most kid-friendly place we visited, the Jorvik Viking Centre was a treasure trove for keeping curious minds entertained.
Cost: Adults – 13.50 pounds
Kids 5-16: 9.50 pounds.
Kids Under 5: Free
Inside, guests ride an attraction that takes them through several scenes depicting Viking life. There is an audioguide with a children’s version and plenty to look at. My kids loved watching the animatronics and learned more than they ould had they simply walked through an exhibit.
If you go, keep an eye out for the animatronic of an injured lady. Her skeleton that she’s based on is on display after the ride!
After the ride, there is a small collection of artifacts collected through archeological digs conducted in the nearby area. There are a few items that kids would get a kick out of seeing, such as a woolen sock.
Betty’s Cafe and Tea Room
Need a bite to eat and want to treat the kids to something sweet? Betty’s has you covered.
No reservation required, this Swiss inspired restaurant can build up a queue during peak times, so make sure and get there early if your kids aren’t good with waiting. (It took us about 45 minutes to get a table.)
If you’re looking for a savory meal, the Club Sandwich is the route to go. Piled high with bacon and tomatoes, I regret not ordering it for myself.
The kids meals are portioned well, and both the schnitzel and sausages are sure to please a young one’s palette.
Now. On to dessert.
Don’t skimp here, friends.
I cannot recommend the dark chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and the Gooey Rascal. A scone that tastes more like a decadent chocolate chip cookie, indulging in one will make your trip to York memorable.
York Minster and St. Mary’s Abbey Ruins
Landmarks aren’t the most fascinating stops for kids, but a trip to York isn’t complete without seeing these two beauties. Let them be pitstop, a spot to let the kids sit and rest for a minute, while you take in the history.
Have a Harry Potter fan in the family? Then make sure you don’t skip seeing Shambles Market while in York. With its leaning buildings, narrow streets, and colorful shops it is immediately apparent how the Harry Potter films used this street as inspiration for Diagon Alley.
Full of character, the displays in the shop windows and the cobbled streets will make you wonder what year you’re actually living in. It’s easy to get lost in Shambles Market.
And if walking down Shambles is not enough for the HP fan, then be sure and stop inside The Shop That Must Not Be Named and browse the innumerable amounts of Harry Potter merchandise. It really is a must for fans of the series visiting England.
If reading about York’s top spots wasn’t enough, feel free to check out the vlog my family made of our experience. Perhaps you’ll see something in the Shop That Must Not Be Named that you have to add to your HP collection or maybe the sugary sweets at Betty’s will sway you to give the cafe a try.