From whooshing waterfalls to cavernous caves, rolling hills to random rock formations, the appeal of the Yorkshire Dales for families is obvious. But did you know that it also has its own 1950s-style ice cream parlour, complete with diner, indoor and outdoor play areas and an abundance of homemade ice cream options? Billy Bob’s Parlour has become a firm fixture of any visit to the Dales for our family, and here are five reasons why we think it’s worth a visit with kids.
1. It’s a 1950s American diner. In the Dales.
If there’s one thing you don’t expect to see among the dry stone walls of the Dales, it’s a 1950s-style diner that looks as though it’s straight from the set of Happy Days. They’ve really gone to town with it: eat your dinner in a yellow school bus or grab a booth and channel your inner Fonzie, enjoy a soda from the restored 1940s fountain or, if you’re not planning a full meal, order a coffee from the vintage Airstream or ice cream from the counter. It’s a full-on retro experience that can’t fail to make you feel cheerful.
2. The play areas are excellent for all ages
There’s an indoor and outdoor play area, and children of all ages are catered for really well. The rules change on who can use the play areas and how much is charged, so check before you travel. There was more than enough in the outdoor play area to keep our 8, 6 and 3-year-olds occupied with climbing, swinging and hide-and-seeking before our food arrived. Families eating in the diner can also use the indoor play barn (there’s a charge for this) – an absolute godsend on a rainy day. There are two areas: one for under sevens and one for over sevens, which is fantastic. Our two youngest enjoyed all the smaller play equipment while our eldest had a more energetic time, and felt more grown up, hanging out with older children on the other side of the wall.
3. The food’s tasty and good value
As you’d expect, there’s an all-American theme to the menu, featuring diner favourites like burgers, waffles, pancakes and an array of ice cream sundaes. There are veggie options and a separate children’s menu for under 9s. Ours tucked into macaroni cheese and puppy dogs with mini sweetcorn which all went down a treat: this is not the time to worry about them getting their five-a-day. We adults opted for nachos – really simple but so tasty – and Kansas city ribs which were sticky and delicious. It all arrived swiftly and disappeared just as fast. The prices are surprisingly reasonable compared to other places we’ve eaten.
4. Mmm, ice cream
In a summer of ice creams, it’s easy to get bored of eating the same old Cornettos. The Yorkshire Dales ice cream at Billy Bob’s is really good: made on the premises, there’s an array of flavours and a variety of options for jazzing them up. Just what you need after a couple of hours of play or to fuel you for your next Yorkshire Dales adventure.
5. The location is perfect for exploring the Yorkshire Dales
Billy Bob’s Parlour is in the perfect spot for combining with a trip to some of our favourite places in the Dales. Bolton Abbey is very close by: park up and walk across the stepping stones, have a stroll along the river or do the Welly Walk. Brimham Rocks is one of the best places for children who love to climb, and is one of the most beautiful places in the county. The Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway is near, too, and Skipton is a stone’s throw.