Family days out are priceless, but they can be pricey too. In our experience, annual memberships are really worth having: you’ll save on admission and sometimes get other benefits too. You’ll probably go more places and see more things, too, when you know that it’s covered by your membership card. Here are the memberships we’d recommend to families in and around York.
1. National Trust membership
Local attractions – Treasurer’s House, in York city centre, is worth a visit and has a pretty garden. The cellar ghost tours are intriguing, and it’s particularly lovely during the festive season when it’s all decked out. On Tadcaster Road, Goddards is the former home of the Terry family (of Chocolate Orange fame); the house isn’t open to visitors but you can explore the gardens. Our top National Trust pick for York, though, is Beningbrough Hall, which is incredibly popular with families. With acres of gardens to explore, an adventure playground, regular holiday activities, a cafe and more, it’s a lovely place to spend the day. Nunnington Hall, Fountains Abbey and Brimham Rocks are further afield but all excellent for families. There are over 300 historic houses, gardens and coastline spaces across the country so if you’re staycationing somewhere in England, there’s bound to be a National Trust property nearby. En route to a holiday, we often stop at Clumber Park (fantastic adventure playground) and Woolsthorpe Manor, birthplace of Isaac Newton, which has an inspiring little science centre aimed at kids.
Cost – Joint membership from £127.50 (under 5s go free), family membership (2 adults) from £133.80. Visit the National Trust website
2. English Heritage membership
Local attractions – Locally, Clifford’s Tower is a must-visit, especially since its £5m transformation (read our review here). Further afield, English Heritage membership will get you into the fabulous Scarborough Castle, Whitby Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey, Helmsley Castle, Brodsworth Hall and over 400 other historic sites, from castles to ruins and abbeys.
Cost – Family membership (2 adults and up to 12 children) £111. Visit the English Heritage website
3. Friends of Castle Howard
This new annual membership gets you entry to the house, parkland, gardens and adventure playground of Castle Howard (including the fabulous Skelf Island). Free access to daytime events is included, as well as invitations to previews and fast track access on bank holidays and selected event days. Choose from gold or silver tiered membership.
Cost – Family membership (2 adults and up to 3 children) from £130 for silver membership. Under 4s free. Visit the Castle Howard website
4. Historic Houses Association
Local attractions – Beautiful Fairfax House is a bit of a hidden gem but well worth a visit (our children love it). Further afield, Newby Hall is a lovely day out with its stunning gardens, miniature train and fantastic adventure playground. Burton Agnes Hall and Sewerby Hall on the coast also welcome members. Membership gives access to over 300 houses, castles and gardens.
Cost – Double membership £94, additional child aged 3+ £27 – Visit the Historic Houses website
You can also turn your day ticket into 12 months of visits to these family-friendly attractions in and near York.