Free and low cost activities in and around Leeds
There’s so much to do in Leeds for families, you’re spoilt for choice! But we know it can get expensive, so here we’ve picked out 30 of our favourite FREE things to do with kids across the city. Click here for the full round-up.
Look below for some fantastic free days out ideas in Leeds and there’s plenty more free activity ideas listed in the sections below:
Our young generation have been so inspirational over the past few difficult months, but how much of this do they understand, and are they able to express their thoughts or feelings? To give them the opportunity to do this in ways they will enjoy and that will support their understanding of what they are going through, Music and Creative Inspirations CIC have developed a project using the medium of the arts. Having an outlet to express themselves and to explore their experiences in visual or abstract ways, using art, drama and music will in turn support their mental health and well-being, which is vital at the moment.
We are delighted that the importance of this project has been recognised and funded by the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund. #Communitiescan
We are starting with the song-writing element of the project, with our very talented teacher and singer songwriter, Lisa Glover. During the 1st lockdown we invited children to write lyrics about their experiences and feelings of lockdown and Covid and Lisa has used these lyrics to inspire the beginning of the song. If your child would like to be part of the writing of this song we are running the second lyric writing workshop on Saturday 21st November at 10am through Zoom. Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request the zoom link.
As we progress through the project there will be more opportunities of song-writing and lyrics writing workshops for primary and secondary age children, resulting in their very own recorded CD.
Bebra Gardens is open all year round, 24 hours a day. The paddling pool is open from Spring Bank Holiday (at the end of May) to the first week in September.
All-day parking at Waterside Car Park, HG5 8DF, the gardens are sign posted from there.
Child Friendly Leeds have been consulting with children and young people in Leeds to find out what they would like to see on a city centre map. They have helped to co-produce an amazing map with lots of useful features and activities to do in our amazing city!
Clifton Park in the heart of Rotherham is a wonderful place for the whole family. With parks, gardens and sport, rides and games and even an amazing museum, Clifton Park has everything you could need for the perfect day out!
Clifton Park has 2 car parks:
Dalby Forest, managed by the Forestry Commission, offers over 8,000 acres of woodland to explore, enjoy and discover, including the Grand Father Oak play area for children, family BBQ and picnic areas, adrenalin activities for the thrill seekers and walking and cycling trails for all.
Admission free, just pay to park (£9 per car)
Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, YO18 7LT. Tel: 01751 460295.
Elsecar Heritage Railway is South Yorkshire’s only Heritage Railway. Currently operating on a one mile section of track, passengers are pulled by a selection of steam and diesel engines, with a variety of coaching stock.
Run entirely by a team volunteers, the main operating day is a Sunday. Day ticket prices are £5 adult, £4 concessions and £2.50 children (3-16)
(Different prices may occur for special events)
The Railway Office, Wath Road, Elscar, Barnsley S74 8HJ. Tel: 01226 746746
Eureka! is a unique place for families to visit, where children aged 0 to 11 are inspired to learn all about themselves and the world around them by playing, imagining, experimenting and – above all – having fun. Accessible site. Cafe, toilet facilities & shop.
Closed Monday’s Term Time, check website opening times before visiting.
Eureka, Discovery Road, Halifax, HX1 2NE. Tel: 01422 330069
This popular park is renowned for its wonderful gardens, popular tea rooms and circular lakeside walk. Ideal for a family walk, scooter/pushchair friendly (on paths) and a great place to feed the ducks, play ball games and have a picnic
Off Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds LS16 8BQ Tel: 0113 261 0374
Hemsworth Water Park has two lakes; the largest lake is available for pedalo rides and has sandy beaches; the smallest lake is in a more secluded area to attract wildlife. There are also plenty of grassed areas for picnics and games.
Playworld is an outdoor adventure playground within the Water Park and is suitable for children of all ages with a tower slide, climbing frames, toddler’s sandpit area.
Hoyle Mill Road, Kinsley, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF9 5JB
Simon Dowling with the help of the local community has created two Fairy Door walks in Horsforth! There are 50 doors in Hunger Hills woods and 49 in Hawksworth wood. For more details join the Horsforth Fairy Doors Facebook group.
Hunger Hills – Park in the car park nearest the children’s playground at Hall Park and cross over the road and walk up the footpath entrance there. The doors are all in one specific area near the rope swing.
Hawksworth Woods – Park near the Bridge Inn and cross over into the woods there. The doors are along the footpath
Explore the remains of the King’s Tower with its eerie dungeon and climb the winding staircase to the upper chamber. Stroll around the castle grounds, following the information signboards, and enjoy the stunning view down to the river Nidd. You are welcome to picnic in the castle grounds.
The Castle grounds are open all year round, 24 hours a day. The Castle and Museum are open to visitors from Easter to September.
Castle Yard, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire HG5 8AS. Tel: 01423 556188
Leeds Art Gallery reopened its doors (Autumn 2017) following the extensive refurbishment of the original Victorian roof and renovation of the Central Court. For the first time in a generation, visitors can see the stunning glass ceiling that has been transformed into a new gallery.
Family friendly workshops run throughout the year.
Covid Update: Re-opened 19th August 2020, Open Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5pm. Leeds City Museum Cafe is open Tuesday – Sunday 12 – 4.30pm. More info here http://bit.ly/lcmreopening
A great family day out with 4.5 billion years of discovery. If you love Leeds history, the ancient worlds, natural sciences, there’s plenty to enjoy. Cafe & toilet facilities. Accessible site. Free admission, closed Mondays.
Join Rory, the Leeds City Museum tiger for regular craft activities at the Museum every Saturday between 11am and 12.15pm. Also offers free craft activities for children under five during Tiny Tigers sessions at 10am – 11.45am on Fridays. (Post lockdown, currently not running)
Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH. Tel: 0113 378 5001
Enjoy a fantastic day out at Lotherton Hall, a charming Edwardian house and country estate with extensive grounds, bird garden zoo, Red Deer Park, nature trails, gardens, café, shop and two children’s play areas. Themed events run throughout the year. Accessible site. Admission fee applies.
Lotherton Hall, Collier Lane, Aberford, LS25 3EB. Tel: 0113 378 2959.
Discover 300 years of history and over 1 million objects that changed the world in the UK’s largest railway museum. Explore opulent carriages of the royal family including Queen Victoria and her ‘Palace on Wheels’ in Station Hall. Watch engineering work in progress in the Workshop, discover previously unseen artwork, papers, reports, photographs, and small artefacts at the Search Engine research centre and blow off some steam in both the indoor and outdoor play area.
Opening times: 10am – 5pm daily. Closed 24, 25, 26th December.
NRM York, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ
Explore the science and culture of light and sound technologies and their impact on our lives. The museum aims to inspire our scientists and engineers of the future to see more, hear more, think more and do more.
The galleries and exhibition spaces help illuminate world-famous collections in photography, film and television and the team of Explainers create learning activities that fuel the imagination.
Three cinema screens—including an IMAX theatre—showcase the magic of moving images
Little Horton Lane, Bradford, BD1 1NQ. Tel: 0844 856 3797
A family run farm, providing an excellent farm shop. You can take a walk around the outside animal area and feed the animals (charge applies), they even have Alpacas!. There is also an indoor sandpit and small play area with ride-ons and Little Tikes slide etc for children. There is lots of free parking and a special picnic area.
Closed on a Monday January – April.
None Go Bye Farm Shop, Otley Old Rd, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5HZ. Tel:0113 284 2206
A little known, and very scenic, route from Granary Wharf to Leeds Dock. Jump on board one of the yellow water taxis, for a 15 minute trip down the canal, from the train station to the Royal Armouries Museum.
Mon – Fri: 7am-7pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am-6pm
£1 per person, per journey.
Children 5 and under travel free.
Cash and card (including contactless) payments accepted.
At the bandstand side of the river, you can paddle in the shallow side water near the bridge. There is also a pebbled area to sit/sunbathe. Also great for feeding the ducks.
Loads of picnic tables and seating. At certain times of the year, the brass band is playing.
You can also enjoy a walk alongside the river.
Plenty of free car parking in the Wilderness (bandstand) car park.
Covid Update: Currently open Wednesday and Saturdays 1-5pm
Rodley Nature Reserve is designed to bring wetland wildlife back into the Leeds area.
Lots of activities for families: quiz trail guide, pond dipping (April – Oct), mini beast hunt, bird watching, moth trapping….and if the weather should spoil itself colouring sheets and quizzes are available in the Education Room at the Visitor Centre.
The Visitor Centre is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and most Bank Holidays from 10am until 4pm.
Rodley Nature Reserve, Moss Bridge Road, Rodley, Leeds LS13 1HP. Tel: 0113 2040441
The Royal Armouries is home to the United Kingdom’s national collection of arms, armour and artillery. Look out for special seasonal & school holiday events. Free entry. Family friendly. Accessible site. Cafe & toilet facilities.
Royal Armouries, Leeds, LS10 1LT. Tel: 0113 220 1999.
Covid Update: House, Farm Playground now open. Pre-booking for House and Farm required, find more details here museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/temple-newsam/visit/temple-newsam-reopening-information/
Explore Temple Newsam house, enjoy a picnic in the grounds, have fun in the adventure playground or meet the animals on the farm. Don’t miss the special school holiday and seasonal events throughout the year. Accessible site. Cafe & toilets facilities.
House Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am -4pm, Home Farm, Daily, 10am-5pm (closed on Mondays during term time and bank holidays)
Admission charge for house & farm. Pre-booking now required.
Temple Newsam Estate, Leeds, LS15 0AE. Tel: 0113 336 7461.
**Closes for re-development 1st May 2019**
Through nine interactive galleries go on a journey of discovery to explore the incredible world of medicine. Travel from the Victorian age to the present day to explore the fascinating world of surgery and find out how breakthroughs in science have changed all our lives for the better.
Exciting family activities take place at weekends and during every school holiday. Car park and cafe.
Thackray Medical Museum, Beckett Street, Leeds, LS9 7LN. Tel: 0113 244 4343
Extremally spacious and secure children’s play area, giant sandpit and outdoor picnic area.
Pop up family events will be running throughout the year.
Family friendly cafe.
Garden shop & plant nursery.
Christmas Shop and stockist of Stockeld Park Christmas Trees
Accessible site with plenty of parking.
Tel: 0113 378 9985 Facebook
The site is close to the A64 end of Thorner Lane. If you turn off the A64 onto Thorner Lane, it’s the second turning on your right (after the cemetery).
The gallery brings together work from Wakefield’s art collection, exhibitions by contemporary artists and rarely seen works by Barbara Hepworth. Regular special events & kids art sessions. Cafe, shop, outdoor play area. Free. Closed Mondays.
Contemporary art centre with galleries, learning studio, workspaces for creative industries, restaurant and bar, in the heart of Leeds’ South Bank. Special events and school holiday activities.
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds LS10 1JQ. Tel: 0113 320 2323
The premier play park in Harrogate! The equipment is fantastic here with loads to do for all ages including a zip wire, fortress, plane, paddling pool as well as the usual slides, swings etc. There is also the recently completed skate park for the older kids.
There is a kiosk selling ice creams and light refreshments in the play area and further down the gardens there is a café which sells Ripley ice-cream as well as a boating pond and bandstand.
The park also offers pitch and put, crazy golf, Frisbee gold and tennis courts.
At the top of the Gardens lie the Pine Woods.
Valley Gardens, Harrogate HG1 2SZ
On a nice day, there isn’t a much better way to see the beautiful city of York than walking around the walls.
Children can enjoy following the route via the golden disks on the floor and remember to take some paper and crayons so they can complete the map rubbings at each of the bars.
The walls go most of the way around the city, just having to get down to street level a couple of times. Not strictly buggy friendly but I know many who have managed it fine. Always a friendly visitor or local on hand to help!
The only one of its kind, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an international centre for modern and contemporary art, experienced and enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year.
West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4LG. Tel: 01924 832631