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The best places for swimming, paddling and splashing about near York

beningbrough beach

If there’s one thing that most children adore, whatever their age, it’s splashing about in the water. Whether they’re a toddler dipping their toes in the water or a slide-loving tween, swimming and paddling are one of those activities that everyone usually enjoys. There are lots of places in York and nearby where you can paddle, go for a swim, splash about or – for kids who are more confident in the water – even bounce about in the water at an aquapark. Here are some of our favourite places to swim, paddle and splash about in York and beyond, from swimming pools in York to North Yorkshire’s outdoor swimming pools, swimming pools with slides, waterparks near York and lovely streams and rivers to dip your toes into.

Family-friendly swimming pools in and near York

York Leisure Centre Swim

York Leisure Centre – The new York Leisure Centre is one of our favourite spots for a family swim in York. For young children, there’s a warm 0.9m deep learner pool and toddler splash zone, with a little slide and some interactive elements. Alternatively, take older children along to a general swim session in the 25m pool. They run swimming lessons for all ages too. Pre-book online and you’ll need a £1 coin for the lockers. York Leisure Centre, Kathryn Avenue, Monks Cross Dr, Huntington, York YO32 9AFVisit the York Leisure Centre website

York Sport swimming

York Sport Village – York Sport Village is a lovely modern facility near the University of York campus where families are welcome to swim. There’s an 18m training pool where they run award-winning swimming lessons, and a 25m pool for stronger swimmers. York Sport, Lakeside Way, Heslington, York YO10 5FG – Visit the York Sport website

energise york

Energise Leisure Centre – Located in Acomb, Energise Leisure Centre boasts three swimming pools: a 25m pool, a warmer learner pool and even a hydrotherapy pool. Energise, Cornlands Road, Acomb York YO24 3DX – Visit the Energise website

Alpamare Scarborough

Alpamare Scarborough – For a holiday vibe and slides, slides, slides, Alpamare in Scarborough is a popular choice. With a wave pool, warm outdoor pool and splash area, there’s loads for kids of all ages to enjoy. There’s even an infinity pool that’s perfect for a bit of parental me-time if you’re very lucky. Pre-booking is strongly recommended. Alpamare, 28 Burniston Road, Scarborough YO12 6PH – Visit the Alpamare website

Bridlington Leisure Centre

East Riding Leisure Centre Bridlington – A more budget-friendly option than Alpamare, we’re big fans of East Riding Leisure Centre on Bridlington’s seafront. There’s enough to keep most kids happy, with a couple of fun slides, waterplay and a small pool. Lots of fun for the price. Booking in advance is recommended.  East Riding Leisure Centre, The Promenade, Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, YO15 2QQVisit the website

Helmsley Open Air Pool

Helmsley Open Air Pool – For a family swim with a difference, Helmsley Open Air Pool can’t be beaten. This volunteer-run facility offers the chance to swim outdoors in a heated pool with a view of the North York Moors. It’s a one-of-a-kind Yorkshire experience and we love it – you can read our review here. Seasonal opening; pre-booking required. Helmsley Open Air Pool, Baxton’s Sprunt, Helmsley, York YO62 5HT – Visit the Helmsley Open Air Pool website

Swimming at Rudding Park Holiday Park – Situated within Rudding Park’s caravan and campsite, this heated outdoor swimming pool is open to non-residents too. It’s a relaxed place to hang out on a sunny day: pack a picnic or refuel at The Deerhouse Pub, right next to the pool. Pre-booking is required and it does get busy at peak periods and on sunny days. Rudding Park Holiday Park, Follifoot, Harrogate HG3 1JH Visit the website

Places for paddling, wild swimming and waterplay near York

pool bridge farm york wild swimming

Wild swimming at Pool Bridge Farm – Pool Bridge Farm, a family-run wild swimming spot and campsite just outside Wheldrake, just a 15-minute drive from the city centre. There are three stunning swimming lakes, and families are welcome. It’s a beautiful, pared-down swimming experience in the glorious Yorkshire countryside. Read our review to find out what to expect. Pool Bridge Farm, Wheldrake Lane, York YO19 4SQ – Visit the website

Creepy Crawlies Little Vikings

Water zone at The Web Adventure Park – While The Web Adventure Park is best known for its massive indoor soft play area and, more recently, its fairground rides and outdoor adventure playground, there’s also a fun waterplay zone. It’s pocket-sized, perfect for toddlers and primary school aged children to splash about in. Don’t forget your towel! The Web Adventure Park, Cliftongate Business Park, Wigginton Rd, York YO32 2RH Visit The Web Adventure Park website

beningbrough beach

Paddle at Beningbrough’s ‘beach’ – The circular riverside walk at Beningbrough is a popular one with families, partly thanks to the little beach on the way around. During the summer months, it’s a good place to dip your toes. Do be careful, though, and avoid swimming. The current is surprisingly strong and people have got into trouble there – keep it safe, shallow and close to the edge. It’s a great place to look for York’s elusive but beautiful tansy beetles (there are tons of them on the tansy plants around the sand) and a nice spot for a picnic.

Falling Foss paddle

Paddle at Falling Foss – On a warm day, there’s nothing more refreshing than kicking off your shoes and paddling in a stream, and Falling Foss near Whitby is one of our favourites. Combine it with a walk through the woodland and a look at the pretty waterfall, as well as a cup of tea or simple lunch from the lovely Falling Foss Tea Garden. Read our review of Falling Foss hereFind a map for the Falling Foss walk here

Newby Hall

Water play at Newby Hall – It might seem odd to take a towel on a day out to a stately home, but Newby Hall’s water play area is a magnet to children determined to get as wet as possible before heading home. It’s a relatively small area with water fountains, but offers plenty of entertainment – and soaking potential – for younger children. Newby Hall, Ripon, HG4 5AJ – Visit the Newby Hall website

Bolton Abbey beach

Paddle at Bolton Abbey – It might not be the Mediterranean, but Bolton Abbey’s beach area brims with holidaymakers on sunny days. Pack your buckets and spades for sandcastle building and paddle in the river. It’s a really pretty place to relax, so why not pack a picnic and make a day of it? Don’t forget to brave the stepping stones before you leave! Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6EX Visit the Bolton Abbey website

Dalby Forest Things to do for free York

Paddle at Dalby Forest – Most visitors head to Dalby Forest to enjoy a walk or bike ride through the stunning woodland, but it’s also a good spot for a little paddle. You’ll find easy access to the stream at Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, where there’s also a brilliant adventure playground. Admission to Dalby Forest is free, just pay to park. Dalby Forest Dr, Low Dalby, Pickering YO18 7LT – Visit the Dalby Forest website

Aqua parks and water sports near York

Allerthorpe Lakeland Park

Allerthorpe Lakeland Park – A short drive from York, Allerthorpe Lakeland Park is the ideal destination to take energetic children. Set in 53 acres of grounds, it’s THE place to visit for watersports near York, with a brilliant aquapark, kayaks, pedaloes and more. Even if your little ones are too young to enjoy the pleasures of falling off a paddleboard, there’s still plenty for them to enjoy around the lake including paddling in a cordoned off area. Allerthorpe Lakeland Park, Melbourne Road, Pocklington, York YO42 4RL Visit the Allerthorpe website

North Yorkshire Water Park – A short hop from the Yorkshire Coast, North Yorkshire Water Park has a whole host of watersports and other activities for the whole family to enjoy. The aqua park, complete with a dedicated area for younger children, is one of the main attractions, but there’s also a zipline, climbing wall, kayaking, paddleboarding, electric boats and sailing. North Yorkshire Water Park, Long Causeway Rd, Wykeham, Lakes YO13 9QU – Visit the North Yorkshire Water Park website

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