It might be raining in York, but there’s no reason to stop play. Even if the heavens open, there are loads of fun things to do in York as a family under cover. Here’s our top pick of things to do in York on a rainy day with children.
Stop the kids bouncing off the walls at home and let them bounce off some energy at York’s only indoor trampoline park instead. New for 2016, Energi is a great place for kids. Book a one-hour session – as well as standard jumping sessions, there are toddler sessions, family sessions and sessions for children with additional needs – and let them jump to their heart’s content. Our eldest kids (6 and 3) love exploring the various zones, like the foam pit, dodgeball area, basketball and assault course. It’s a cracking way to tire them out.
Food and drink: The spacious café overlooks the jumping area so you can keep an eye on older children while they jump. It serves hot and cold food and drink.
Birthday parties: Yes. Energi’s children’s birthday parties are very popular – book early so you don’t miss out.
Opening hours: Open daily – Sunday to Thursday 10am to 9pm, Friday 10am to 10pm, Saturday 9am to 9pm.
Ceramic painting is a hit with adults and children alike, and just happens to be a dry and warm activity too. Rainbows Ceramics is our favourite place to paint plates (and other things) in York, and we often visit with our own kids to make Father’s Day gifts, Christmas presents and other creations. They also specialise in baby foot/hand prints and will happily help you get a good print from your wriggly little one. Choose what you’d like to paint – from bowls to tiles, mugs to ornaments and much more – and get cracking. Pop in a week or so later to pick it up once it’s been fired.
Food and drink: There’s a small but very welcome selection of hot and cold snacks to feed your creative juices.
Birthday parties: Yes. Rainbows Ceramics won the Little Vikings Award 2016 Best Party Provider.
Good to know: Not local? Your finished masterpiece can be sent out to you. Can get busy at weekends and before days like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc so plan your visit wisely.
Rainbows Ceramics, 15-17 Bootham, York YO30 7BW
Affectionately known as ‘York’s umbrella’, the NRM is an ideal rainy day choice. There’s loads to do and see, with children very well catered for. It’s free, too. There’s a small indoor play area for younger children and an outdoor play area too. Take a ride on the miniature train (small charge) or even take the road train into town (small charge). Children’s activities run during the school holidays.
National Railway Museum, Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ – open daily 10am to 6pm
There’s no shortage of museums in York to take cover in. The National Railway Museum is excellent, free and can keep a family occupied for a good few hours. If that’s not your thing, there are lots of other options, from the Yorkshire Museum (dinosaurs, Romans, Vikings and more) to York Castle Museum (visit the Victorian street and learn about times gone by) to DIG – An archaeological adventure (one of our favourites). The world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre has opened after the terrible flooding, and it’s fab. York Minster also has more for children now than ever before and is under cover (except if you go up onto the roof of course). Kids can borrow an Explorer Backpack (free), packed full of fun stuff to capture their imagination during your visit. York’s Chocolate Story is a fab chocolate attraction full of fascinating facts and hands-on activity. Further afield, Hull aquarium The Deep and children’s museum Eureka! are indoor attractions that we love.
With three cinemas in York to choose from, you should be able to find something to please the family. City Screen is a lovely city-centre cinema with a fab café and riverside views. It has a regular Saturday morning kids’ club, toddler time (usually a short 30-minute show), Big Scream viewings for parents/carers with babies under a year old and autism-friendly showings (City Screen Picturehouse, 13-17 Coney Street, York YO1 9QL). Everyman York is a sumptuous cinema showing mainstream and arthouse films. There’s a Baby Club so you can take your little one and enjoy a hot drink and cake with your ticket (Everyman York, Odeon Buildings, Blossom Street, York YO24 1AJ; visit the website). Vue is an out-of-town, multiscreen extravaganza showing all major new releases (Vue York, Clifton Moor Centre, Stirling Road, York YO30 4XY).
Soft play can be every parents’ worst nightmare, but it’s the stuff of dreams for kids. And the good news is that Creepy Crawlies (part of the Web Adventure Park) is actually really good for soft play, outdoor play and more, so it’s great for all weathers. There’s a great selection of indoor frames, slides and ball pools, as well as a mini disco and pretend village, with family activity areas like the football arena. The café is also far better than most soft play places, with good offerings for children and adults (prepare for a wait at peak times). The big outdoor area is open all year so when the rain eases off you can pop out to explore the rides, play areas and animal zone. Even on the rainiest of days, families leave happy, stress-free and well fed!
Food and drink: Licensed café with an extensive menu of drinks, snacks and meals for children and adults as well as ice cream bars. Plenty of seating indoor and out. Separate ice cream kiosks.
Birthday parties: Yes. There are lots of birthday party options, from high ropes to animal parties and more. Take a look at our birthday parties section for more details.
Opening hours: Saturdays to Thursdays 9.30am to 7pm, Fridays 9.30am to 8pm
Creepy Crawlies, The Web Adventure Park, Wiggington Road, York YO32 2RH
Who doesn’t love bowling? It’s fast and fun and gets everyone involved. Tenpin is the place to bowl in York. There are plenty of lanes and they’ll happily add bumpers so that younger bowlers don’t get too frustrated. Expect the usual pool tables and arcades as well. There’s also a small café serving standard fast-food fare. It can get busy at weekends and school holidays, so consider booking ahead. The best discounts are online, anyway. Plenty of free parking, so you can bowl to your heart’s content without worrying about the time.
Tenpin, Stirling Road, Clifton Moor Centre, York YO30 4WZ
Okay, so you’ll still get wet, but swimming will help the kids burn off some energy even if the weather is poor. There are plenty of swimming options to choose from in York: Energise (Cornlands Rd, York YO24 3DX) and York Sport (Lakeside Way, York YO10 5FG) are very popular with families as they’re fairly new, purpose-built centres with good pools and decent changing facilities.
York Designer Outlet is popular for its covered outdoor play area. It might not be huge, but it’s dry and has a good range of play equipment. Parking is free. St Nicholas Avenue Fulford, York, North Yorkshire YO19 4TA. Explore York Library is a good place to take shelter if you’re in town and it’s pouring down. The children’s section is well-stocked and is a good place to let crawlers loose. If you can time it so you arrive for a storytelling session, even better. There’s a cafe, too, and free internet access for library card holders. Waterstones is a great book shop that also just happens to have a fab children’s section complete with a little slide. Lovely café upstairs too. 15 Coney St, York YO1 9QL.