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!
The Best Rainy Day Activities in York
Explore, learn and play at the National Railway Museum
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 currently need to pre-book your tickets in advance. Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ – Visit the Railway Museum’s website
Paint something lovely at Rainbows Ceramics
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. 15 – 17 Bootham, York YO30 7BW – Visit the Rainbows Ceramics website and book in advance.
Head to one of York’s indoor attractions and discover chocolate, Vikings, Victorians and more
There’s no shortage of museums 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 (especially designed for children and one of our favourites). The Hole in Wand is a fun new 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!
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 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.
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, children’s museum Eureka! is hard to beat. All of the attractions have Covid-safe procedures in place, and you will need to pre-book your tickets in advance.
Play at Creepy Crawlies (The Web Adventure Park)
Let them climb, slide and play to their heart’s content at Creepy Crawlies at the Web Adventure Park. There’s a huge indoor climbing frame, play village, football zone and regular activities. See if you can persuade them outside for some fresh air and to play in the adventure playground too. 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
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, but is closed until further notice. 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
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
Agility is an exciting and unique centre, with two ninja warrior style obstacle courses catering for the whole family. They also have fitness classes, parkour and a lovely cafe, The Shack. Visit the Agility York website for more info and to book.
2. Tenpin Bowling York
If bowling’s your thing, Tenpin York is the place. A classic bowling alley for the whole family, there are 28 lanes to choose from, as well as arcade games, laser quest and birthday party options. Visit the Tenpin York website
3. Swimming at York Sport
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
Families used to have to travel out of York for a clip and climb experience, but not any more! 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. Visit the York Leisure Centre website for more information and to book.
Please note that things are changing fast due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please always check opening hours, prices and other details before you travel, and always pre-book where necessary.