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Last week whilst my gorgeous other half was on his half term holiday, we decided to go on some days out. With Elizabeth we went on A Trip To Sea Life Manchester. But on one of the days when Elizabeth was at nursery we decided to go on a day trip to York.
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A Day Trip To York
We are very lucky to live in Leeds, which is about 20 miles away from York. We are even on a direct train line, with trains departing many times a day. There is a brilliant bus service from central Leeds. But on this occasion we decided to drive. York has a great park and ride system, and there are also plenty of car parks in and around the city.
Really a day trip isn’t long enough to see all of York’s attractions. If you need a longer stay you may want to visit a website and rent a flat in York. Or see Northumberland Family Diaries post on what to look for in a family friendly hotel.
It was a beautiful day. Not too cold and the sky was cloudless and sunny. We parked up and made our way into the centre of the city. Having been to York on many occasions together we didn’t really have a set plan, just to see a few different things.
We have been to a lot of the museums in York in our time together, so where did we go this time?
York Art Gallery
We have never been, and so we decided that it might be a nice idea to visit. Unlike Leeds Art Gallery, it is not free. However, for a set price, you can get access to York Art Gallery, The York Castle Museum, and the Yorkshire Museum.
Downstairs has mainly modern art, with several large media installations taking up large sections of the ground floor.
Upstairs however, has a much more tradition set of galleries. There is a large gallery of classic portraits and landscapes, a ceramics gallery, and a feature gallery.
The whole of the museum is quite hands on, and very geared up to younger visitors. Some of the exhibits do quite obviously expect to be touched! There are lots of questions dotted around designed to provoke young interest and interaction. And the gift shop of the museum is filled with excellent learning resources and quality art materials.
It is almost impossible to take a day trip to York and not do any kind of shopping! York has such a brilliant selection of high street shops, niche shops and designer brands (including my favourite Mulberry factory shop on Swinegate). I almost but not quite got away without a purchase!
A Walk Around The Walls
No trip to York is complete without a walk around the walls. Or at least a section of the walls. York has the most intact walls of any city in England. Most of them date from 1200-1400, but some of the foundations are Roman (when York was called Eboracum) and when the Danes took over in the 10th Century AD they made the defences their own.
A full walk of the walls takes about 2 hours. We walked the section between Peasholme Green and Bootham Bar (behind the Minster) on this occasion. You get some amazing views of the Minster, and some lovely glimpses into peoples gardens! There are even some museums on the walls, and it is quite emotional to think that you are walking in the footsteps of so much history.
See more about the walls and find a map on the brilliant Visit York website.
We also had an amazing lunch. There are just so many places to eat. But a particular favourite of mine is Betty’s Tea rooms. Just be prepared to wait at busy times. (Please do try their ‘Fat Rascals’.)
This of course is just a small selection of the attractions on offer in this wonderful historic city.
But what if you want to spend more time than a day trip to York?
What are my top recommendations of other things to do in York?
York Minster is one of the world’s greatest cathedrals. A church has been on this site since 627AD, but the current Minster was begun in the 12th Century.
A breathtaking space with some amazing features, it has survived fire and lightening. Definitely worth a visit. But there is a charge.
Visit its website here.
The York Dungeon
The York Dungeon is an attraction that takes your back in history to some of the darker and more grizzly days of York’s vast history.
Using some great live action and recreations you will meet and find out more about some of York’s more notorious characters. The Vikings, Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes all have a very close association with York. They are all represented in this thrilling experience that is not for the faint hearted. Definitely not one for the children!
Book ahead, as it does get busy. Be prepared to queue on busier days.
The website is here.
The York Castle Museum
This museum is placed upon the foundations of the ruined York Castle. It even has a section of the museum devoted to the prison part of the old castle. It even possibly housed Dick Turpin in his final days.
The museum brings history to life, with lots of different sections including a full reconstruction of a Victorian Street. I would certainly suggest that you devote a good 3-4 hours to visit here.
Find the York Castle Museum website here.
Jorvik Viking Centre
This is one of the most exciting recreations of the past. You travel back in time to when the Danes took over York – or Jorvik as it was then called. The sights and smells of the times are totally brought to life before you.
In 1978 they wanted to build in the Coppergate area of York. But then they discovered the ancient remains of a settlement. They had discovered some great finds from the viking age, an age that had only previously had a few very chance archaeological discoveries under its belt.
Such was the richness of the dig that they made a whole museum to preserve the site. Jorvik was born.
Find out more here.
The York Railway Museum
The Royal Armouries are in Leeds. The National Railway Museum is in York. Both are free to visit. If that isn’t enough evidence that you need to visit Yorkshire then I do not know what is!
We visited with E on a separate day. See what happened on our trip to the railway museum.
Find out more about the museum and its exhibits here
One of the saddest stories of York took place within the walls of this tower, which is situated opposite the York Castle Museum, and forms the keep part of the original York Castle.
It was an important part of the Norman defences of the city. But in 1190, 150 local Jews died within its walls, committing suicide so as not to fall into the hands of the mob surrounding them. A very sad tale.
It stands on a mound. Be prepared to climb a lot of steps, and then some!
Now owned by English heritage.
A Boat Ride on the Ouse
Why not take a boat ride along the River Ouse that runs through the centre of this beautiful city? It is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours relaxing and learning more of its history whilst the city floats by.
The Yorkshire Museum
This museum is set in the grounds of the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, and part of the ruined walls. It has beautiful free to enter gardens that you can sit in and have a picnic (I have done this many times), but the museum itself houses dome brilliant exhibitions. Again, it is part of the Museum Trust.
The museum website is here
A Ghost Walk
Lastly, I would love to go on a ghost walk in York. Sadly I have never managed to do one. There is so much rich history in this beautiful city that it is plain to see why there are some brilliant ghost stories associated with the buildings and people that have lived there. Dare you do a ghost walk?
Reading this post back, it does sound like I have been sponsored by the York tourist board to write a glowing report. I wish this were so, but actually these are all my own thoughts and I wasn’t paid to write this post in the slightest. I can just totally recommend a visit to Yorkshire. And York in particular.
Want even more ideas for your stay in York? Why not read this post from a local Nikki at YorkshireWonders, which has so many more places to visit.
And See my post here for more ideas on Free Things To Do In York – for if you are on a tight budget.
Fancy a day trip to York?
We had a fabulous time. Have you ever been on a day trip to York? Have I spoken about your favourite attraction or is there something new that I could visit next time I go? I would love to find out if so! Do tell me below, or contact me on social media.
Need a longer stay? See Northumberland Family Diaries post on what to look for in a family friendly hotel.
Enjoyed this? How about more ideas for Days Out in Yorkshire?.