Now that the lockdown restrictions have eased, lots of family-friendly places in Yorkshire that were closed are now starting to open. Here’s the current status of some of our favourite places in and near York for families – please do keep checking back as we will update this list regularly, and do check before you travel as things can change at short notice. Wherever you decide to go – whether it’s local to your home or otherwise – remember that the government’s social distancing measures will apply to keep your family and everyone else safe.
WHAT’S OPEN IN YORK CITY CENTRE
Run about in York Museum Gardens
The glorious York Museum Gardens are now open seven days a week, from 10.30 am to 6 pm, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Why do we love it so much? Well, it’s beautiful – with lovely views of the river – and there’s lots of wildlife to spot (if you don’t see a couple of squirrels, you’ve been unlucky). It’s a stone’s throw from the shops and close to lots of great options for takeaway food. It’s also near some of our other favourite places to take the kids (Explore York Library, York Art Gallery and York Theatre Royal – when they’re open, of course) and it’s free for us all to enjoy. Social distancing is in place, and there are two takeaway food and drink options. Find out more about the re-opening here.
Enjoy the river with City Cruises York
City Cruises York has reopened for sightseeing cruises and self-drive boat hire. If you are planning to sail with City Cruises York, you can find out about the new measures for social distancing pre-boarding, and whilst on board, along with their cleaning procedures and hygiene facilities supplied on board, by clicking here. They have also acquired the ‘Good to Go’ mark from Visit Britain. Visit the City Cruises York website for more details and to book
Peace and a picnic in Dean’s Park, York Minster
One of the most popular green spaces in York city centre – Dean’s Park, just in the shadow of York Minster – is now open. Social distancing is required, of course, and ball games, dogs and smoking are prohibited. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, and it’s just around the corner from some lovely takeaway options (Brew & Brownie and Mannions, among others. Find out more about the Dean’s Park reopening here.
Play at Rowntree Park
Rowntree Park is hugely popular with families, so it’s great news that it has finally re-opened. The play areas are now open, as are the tennis courts, skate park and basketball court. There’s a new tree trail too.
Swing and slide at Homestead Park
Another popular York park, Homestead, is open again for exercise. It’s open from 10am to 5pm daily, and the Homestead Park Cafe is also open for takeaway drinks and snacks. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for the latest updates
Enjoy the views from York’s City Walls
We are SO looking forward to the re-opening of York’s city walls. It’s the best way to see the city, with amazing views and lots of history to drink in along the way. Hop on and off whenever you feel like it, and rest assured that you’re never too far from a tasty coffee, ice cream or slice of cake. The city walls have reopened and are one-way (clockwise) for the time being (if you’ve ever tried to squeeze past a group of people coming in the opposite direction, you’ll know why – social distancing is impossible!).
Discover York’s sweet history at York’s Chocolate Story
York’s Chocolate Story has reopened with new safety and social distancing measures in place. You need to book your visit online in advance, so there’s no queuing required. There’s reduced capacity, cardless payment and a one-way system among other measures. Visit the York’s Chocolate Story website for more information and to book your tour. We have visited York’s Chocolate Story since lockdown – read our review of a visit to York’s Chocolate Story with kids here.
Meet the Vikings at JORVIK Viking Centre
The JORVIK Viking Centre opened on Saturday 11th July and tickets must be pre-booked. Visit the JORVIK Viking Centre website for more details and to book your tickets.
Get archaeological at Jorvik DIG
Jorvik DIG is a great place for kids to learn about archaeology and history through fun activities. It reopened on 11th July and tickets need to be pre-booked – visit the Jorvik DIG website.
Visit the Victorians at York Castle Museum
York Castle Museum has reopened, offering visitors a unique perspective on its famous displays and fantastic collections through a series of guided tours of the famous recreated Victorian street, Kirkgate. See the shops, sample the wares and hear all about its fascinating history from one of the museum’s experts as you wander the cobbled streets as part of one of the new socially distanced tours taking place at the museum. A second tour offers you a glimpse into life in the cells of York Castle Prison, while a longer, more in-depth tour led by a curator explores the museum’s outstanding fashion and textile collections.
Ticket booking – To find out more about the tours and to book tickets visit www.yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk
Be inspired at York Art Gallery
York Art Gallery has reopened and requires pre-booking, so you will need to be organised. Initially, the gallery will be free in support of the citywide Our Heroes Welcome Campaign. From August 20, the permanent collections Centre of Ceramic Art and Aesthetica Art Prize will be free to all, while two new exhibitions, Views of York & Yorkshire and Your Art Gallery: Paintings Chosen By You will introduce a new paying concept of ‘pay as you feel’ with suggested amounts. The gallery is open 11am – 4pm, five days a week from Wednesdays to Sundays.
Ticket booking – Visitors will need to book their free timed tickets online
WHAT’S OPEN BEYOND YORK
Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park
The animals are ready to see you at Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park! There are lots of new safety measures in place, and tickets must be pre-booked. Visit the Askham Bryan Wildlife Park website for more details and to book.
Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens
The car park, garden, parkland, restaurant and toilets at Beningbrough are now open, but you need to pre-book your visit. There’s lots of space to roam, beautiful gardens to explore and nature galore. Find all the details about Beningbrough’s re-opening here.
Northwood Trail – England’s Fairy Sanctuary
Escape to the woods and hunt for fairies by embarking on the Northwood Trail. England’s Fairy Sanctuary has reopened with a reduced capacity and safety systems in place. Visit the Northwood Trail website to pre-book your slot.
PYO at The Balloon Tree
The Balloon Tree is a wonderful place to go and pick some fruit, with lots of sensible social distancing and Covid-safe measures in place. Do book your fruit-picking before you turn up or you will be disappointed – you need to choose a time slot online, and the amount you’ve paid is redeemable against the fruit you pick. Visit The Balloon Tree’s website for more info.
Wolds Way Lavender & Nature Farm
As well as the lovely lavender, there’s a lot for children to enjoy from a trip to Wolds Way Lavender, from the willow maze to mini football golf, den zone, miniature railway and lots of nature to spot. Pre-booking is required. Find out more about the re-opening here.
Murton Park has re-opened, with 16 acres to explore outdoors. You can enjoy the outdoor museum exhibits, farm animals, nature trail, Viking village, Roman fort and railway station platform. The playground is also open. Visit the Murton Park website for more information.
Yorkshire Air Museum
Explore the world of aviation as Yorkshire Air Museum has reopened. There’s a huge amount of space to play, lots of incredible engines to see and fascinating history to discover. Visit the Yorkshire Air Museum website for more details.
Most of the attractions at Lotherton have reopened, including Wildlife World. More info on the Lotherton Facebook page.
Newby Hall has re-opened to the general public, and the adventure playground and miniature railway are open too. Find out about Newby Hall’s opening here.
The car parks, toilets and trails are open at Dalby Forest. Due to government advice, some of the play areas are closed, as is the bike hire. Toilet facilities are limited to allow social distancing measures. If the site becomes full, it may need to be closed. Visitors are asked to be kind to staff, respectful of residents and fellow visitors. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
Castle Howard’s grounds are now open, with new procedures and restrictions. Skelf Island is open, as is the house (pre-book), garden centre and certain catering outlets. Follow the Castle Howard Facebook page for more details.
Fountains Abbey is now open, but you’ll need to book in advance or you’ll be turned away. The car park and toilets are open, and there will be the opportunity to buy refreshments. Visit the Fountains Abbey website to pre-book your tickets.
Moorlands Nature Reserve
Moorlands Nature Reserve is a lovely place for a walk, especially when the rhododendrons are in bloom. It’s the ideal size for little legs, with enough interesting things to look at and do to keep moaning to a minimum. It’s currently open for social distanced exercise. Note that there are no toilets or other facilities, and parking is on the road. Check the website for more details
Mother Shipton’s, England’s oldest tourist attraction, is now open and you can enjoy their new Pixie Trail this summer. The playground is open, as well as the museum, gift shop, petrifying well and cave. Ice cream, hot drinks and ice cream for dogs are on sale too! As always, you will need to be organised by pre-booking your tickets. Find out more here.
Scampston Hall & Walled Garden
Scampston’s walled garden, hall gardens, parkland and plant nursery are now open. Initially it will be open four days a week (Thursday to Sunday inclusive) plus bank holiday Mondays. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm (last entry 4.30pm). Visit the Scampston website for more information.
Yorkshire Arboretum has re-opened, and the cafe is now open too. See our feature for everything you need to know about their re-opening here, including booking information.
North York Moors
The car parks at Newton under Roseberry, Sutton Bank and Saltergate have re-opened, and the toilets at Sutton Bank are now open too, as is the Sutton Bank National Park Centre. The North York Moors National Park Authority have reiterated that visitors must keep apart and that there must not be any large gatherings at beauty spots. Follow the North York Moors National Park Facebook page for more info.
Wonderful Whitby Abbey has reopened! There’s tons of space to run around, and unrivalled views of the gorgeous town of Whitby. You’ll need to pre-book your visit online before turning up. Visit the Whitby Abbey website for more information.
Treetop Nets Yorkshire (Ripon)
Bounce off all the energy of the last few months at Treetop Nets in Ripon. They re-open on 18th July with smaller group sizes and other safety measures in place. Read our review of Treetop Nets here (from a visit pre-Covid). Find out more about the re-opening by following the Treetop Nets Ripon Facebook page.
Allerthorpe Lake has reopened for day visitors, camping, open water swimming, fishing and boating activities. You need to book in advance online. Follow the Allerthorpe Facebook page for more details.
The Bolton Abbey Estate is now open. There are various social distancing measures in place and you MUST pre-book your visit. Read about the restrictions and guidance on visiting Bolton Abbey here. Keep an eye on the Bolton Abbey Estate Facebook pages for the latest developments.
Burnby Hall Gardens
Burnby Hall Gardens has re-opened. You will need to pre-book, and more details will be released soon. For more updates, follow the Burnby Facebook page.
York Footgolf is now open. There are strict social distancing rules in place and pre-booking is essential. Find out more on their Facebook page.