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Things to do on rainy days in York with kids – The ultimate guide to the best activities

Wonderlab railway museum york

Don’t let rain stop play! There are plenty of things to do in and around York when the weather turns northern, and these are some of the best things to do on rainy days in York with kids, whether you fancy visiting an attraction, losing yourselves in a movie or getting creative and making something lovely to take home with you. There are a lot of activities in York that are indoors, which is great news for families. But before you plan a whole day inside, be assured that York is a fantastic place to visit with kids even if the weather isn’t on your side. Here’s our guide to the best walks around York. Wrap up warm, grab your coats and get exploring! Without further ado, here are our favourite things to do in York when it rains.


💰 The best free and cheap things to do in York

🧙‍♂️The best Harry Potter things to do in York

🛌 The best places to stay in York with kids

🥴 The best unusual things to do in York

👶🏼 The best things to do in York with a baby/toddler

📗 Read the Little Vikings Family Guide to York

😎 The best things to do with older kids and teens in York

💰 Save money with the Little Vikings Family Card

The Best Rainy Day Activities in York

Explore, learn and play at the National Railway Museum

railway museum york

Explore, learn and play at the National Railway Museum, unofficially York’s umbrella as it’s the perfect rainy day spot in York. There’s lots for children to see and do, with incredible engines and hands-on activities galore. There’s a small indoor play area for younger children and you can 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. Admission’s free, too, but you can pre-book your tickets in advance. Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ – Visit the Railway Museum’s website

Paint something lovely at Rainbows Ceramics

Rainy days York  - Rainbows Ceramics York

Paint a pot, tile, mug, piggybank or anything else at York’s popular ceramic painting place on Bootham. Refreshments are available, too, if you need some fuel for your creativity. They also host Little Vikings Award-winning birthday parties. Rainbows Ceramics, 15 – 17 Bootham, York YO30 7BWVisit the Rainbows Ceramics website and book in advance. Use your Little Vikings Family Card for a 10% discount at Rainbows Ceramics.

Head to one of York’s indoor attractions and discover chocolate, Vikings, Victorians and more

Rainy days York  - Yorkshire Museum

There’s no shortage of museums and attractions in York to take cover in. The Railway Museum is excellent, free and can keep a family occupied for a good few hours – book your free ticket in advance. 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, Kirkgate, and learn about times gone by) to JORVIK DIG where children can get hands-on with archaeology and even dig in the pits. The Hole in Wand is a fun minigolf experience in York city centre that’s perfect for young wizards. Head along to the Coppergate Centre for a round or just relax with a potion in the Wizard Tavern (use your Little Vikings Family Card for a special perk).

JORVIK Viking Centre

The world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre is world-class, and its younger sibling, Jorvik DIG lets children channel their inner Indiana Jones. York Minster also has more for children now than ever before and is under cover (except if you go up the tower and 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. York Explore Library is a good place to seek shelter, too, with a great children’s section and cafe. We’re fond of its younger, smaller sibling, Hungate Reading Cafe, too: it’s spacious, has easy access, good coffee, cake and light food options and children’s books. Chocolate lollipop making at York Cocoa Works is a fun thing to do, too: no need to book, just drop into the Chocolate Cafe and get creative while you have a cup of something. Use your Little Vikings Family Card for 10% off in the shop at York Cocoa Works. Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park is another great option on a rainy day, with plenty to see that’s undercover.

askham bryan wildlife park

Further afield, The Deep is a fantastic aquarium in Hull that all the family will enjoy, and it’s perfect on a rainy day (just allow time to queue as it gets busy on wet days). Over in Leeds, the Royal Armouries is a good day out and admission is free there too. Tropical World is a good option too – see the butterflies, meerkats and other exotic creatures. Over in Halifax, the children’s museum Eureka! is hard to beat.

Play at The Web Adventure Park

Web Adventure Park York

Let them climb, slide and play to their heart’s content at the Web Adventure Park (also known as Creepy Crawlies). There’s a huge indoor climbing frame, play village, football zone, fairground rides, ninja warrior course, animal area, dedicated baby zone and loads more to keep them occupied indoors and out. It’s basically heaven for children, and you can easily stay all day. If the weather perks up, head outside for the massive outside adventure play area, to meet the animals and to enjoy the fairground rides (check if they’re open before you travel). The Web Adventure Park, Wigginton Road, York YO30 7BW – Visit the Web Adventure Park website and book your tickets in advance

Catch a movie at one of York’s cinemas

City Screen York

With four 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). Brand new to the York cinema scene is Cineworld York with thirteen state-of-the-art screens, IMAX and more. Community Stadium, Kathryn Avenue, York YO30 4XY – Visit the Cineworld York website

Swim, climb, bowl or clip and climb! More active things to do in York on a rainy day

York Leisure Centre Climbing

Rainy days don’t have to mean lazy days: there are plenty of active indoor options in and around York so everyone can run, climb and jump their energy off. Here are some of the best places for family sport and leisure in York.

1. Agility York

Rainy days York  - Agility York 2

Agility is an exciting and unique centre, with two ninja warrior style obstacle courses catering for the whole family as well as a small soft play area for younger children. They also have fitness classes (including buggy fit and family fit), parkour and a lovely cafe, The Shack. Their birthday parties have even won a Little Vikings Award. Visit the Agility York website for more info and to book.

2. Hollywood Bowl York

If bowling’s your thing, Hollywood Bowl – relatively new to the York Stadium complex – is guaranteed to please the whole family. It’s an all-singing, all-dancing experience with arcade games, American diner, and 24 lanes of tenpin fun. There’s even a VIP experience if you feel like splashing out. Visit the Hollywood Bowl website. Just along the road, Tenpin York is another bowling option, and they do laser tag too.

3. Swimming at York Sport

Rainy days York - York Sport swimming

With a 25 metre pool and small training pool, York Sport is very popular with families in York looking to swim. They have Little Vikings Award-winning swimming lessons and host birthday parties too. Visit the York Sport website for more info. Energise and York Leisure Centre are also popular choices for families in York looking for swimming, climbing, netball, hockey and much more.

4. Climb the walls at the Clip ‘N Climb Arena at York Leisure Centre

York Leisure Centre

Families used to have to travel out of York for a clip and climb experience, but not anymore! The new Clip ‘N Climb arena at York Leisure Centre at Monks Cross is fantastic, with a huge variety of climbing challenges for all ages from 4+. Book it for an hour or even book a birthday party for some active fun with a difference. They also have swimming, soft play and other activities such as badminton and football. Visit the York Leisure Centre website for more information and to book.

5. Jump around at Oxygen York

oxygen york

Oxygen York is York’s premier trampoline park, which also features a diverse range of attractions including parkour bounce zones, inflatable obstacle courses, an interactive sports pitch, a multi-challenge climbing zone, open bounce trampolines, a giant airbag, trapeze, strike arena, and a dedicated sensory baby and toddler park. For those seeking a more serene experience, Oxygen York offers peaceful play sessions in a separate, tranquil environment. Oxygen York, Clifton Moor Centre, Hurricane Way, Rawcliffe, York YO30 4XU – Visit the Oxygen York website

Please always check opening hours, prices and other details before you travel, and always pre-book where necessary.

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