We discovered The Balloon Tree a few years back when it was nothing but a great farm shop. Back then we’d never have imagined it would be somewhere that our kids would nag to go, but that’s what it’s become. It’s a lovely countryside destination just outside York, with just enough to keep everyone happy. They are constantly winning Little Vikings Awards – voted for by our audience of York families – for their cafe, so it’s a popular spot. Here are our top five reasons to visit The Balloon Tree as a family.
1. You can pick your own fruit and veg
During the spring and summer months, our number one reason to visit The Balloon Tree is for fruit picking. It’s famous for its bright red strawberries, but there are also gooseberries, raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants and loads more. It’s a great reminder for children about where their food actually comes from, and it tastes a lot better than the stuff from the supermarkets too! It’s all seasonal, of course, so best to check what’s ready for picking before you travel. In the autumn, we love picking our own pumpkins to carve. You can even pick your own Christmas tree during December! They don’t chop them down for you, but they do have an epic selection of beautiful trees to choose from.
2. The play area’s a hit with kids
It’s not an adventure playground of epic proportions, but The Balloon Tree’s play area has enough equipment and space to keep children happy. If you choose a table outside, they can slide, jump and play in the wooden house while you enjoy some peace and quiet (in theory). Be aware that the outdoor tables are popular on sunny days, for obvious reasons, so pick your time wisely!
3. The cafe is a great place to meet friends or have a family lunch
The cafe seems to grow each time we visit, and is perfect for families. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, making it a good option for meeting friends and family. Food is served all day, and there’s an emphasis on home-cooked meals using seasonal ingredients. The kids’ menu has plenty of choice to please even the pickiest eater (although our children always insist on a gingerbread person over everything else), and highchairs are available. The Balloon Tree has won the Little Vikings Best Family-Friendly Lunch award AND Best Sunday Lunch award several times, so they must be doing something right!
4. The shop is full of tasty treats
The Balloon Tree’s farm shop is fantastic, with a huge range of delicious things to eat and drink. There’s fresh fruit and veg from their own fields, as well as a big bakery selection, meats, cheeses and deli options. Their cakes and traybakes are legendary, and the array of sausage rolls and savoury treats is mouthwatering. You definitely won’t need to stop at the supermarket on the way home.
5. It’s probably closer than you think
We’re always amazed that it only takes us 15 minutes to get to The Balloon Tree (terrible York traffic permitting). It might not be the Dales, but The Balloon Tree is in a very pretty spot just a hop, skip and jump from the city. Pick some fruit and then refuel at the cafe – the children can play while you work out what on earth you’re going to do with all those strawberries…
Address: The Balloon Tree, Stamford Bridge, York YO41 1NB
Approximate travel time from York: 15 mins
Website: Visit The Balloon Tree website