Whether you’re looking to take the kids outside for a good run around to burn off some excess energy, enjoy an educational day out or go on an exciting adventure, Leeds is a one-stop shop when it comes to great family days out. With a range of activities suitable for all ages, there’s something for everyone from the little ones to the grandparents. Read on to learn more about our favourite family days in Leeds.
How to get to Leeds by train:
Getting to Leeds by rail is easy with CrossCountry, as Leeds station is connected to a wide range of stations on our network. Hop on board at stations like Newcastle, Aberdeen, Darlington, or even as far as Plymouth and beyond!
Middleton Historic Railway
Visit the oldest continuously working public railway with your brood and be amazed by history. Run entirely by volunteers, you can take a ride on a fully functioning steam train and learn about the fascinating history of trains in the area. You can even sit in the locomotive cabs to get a feel of what it would be like to drive the train. The train takes you to Middleton Park, where you can run around in the beautiful countryside and have lunch in the café by the lake, before returning to Leeds. If you're planning to take a longer journey, be sure to check their timetabled operations, so you make sure to enjoy your ride on the historic rails.
Buses run from the Corn Exchange near Leeds station to Middleton Railway.
Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills
The Leeds we know today was born in the Industrial Revolution. An epicentre of manufacturing and production in the North, it’s possible to explore the history of the city in the Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. The Mills used to be the largest wool mill in the world. The interactive exhibits of the museum are great for kids of all ages, and there’s space outside for little ones to burn off any extra energy they might have. Grown-ups, you can treat yourself to a hot drink from the café and admire the waterside scenery while the little ones play and explore.
Buses operate between Leeds station and Armley Mills Museum. Those with older children might enjoy the 30-minute walk along the canal towpath.
Leeds City Museum
For those looking to stay in the heart of the city, the Leeds City Museum offers a great chance to explore both local history and world history. This includes everything from natural history to exhibits from the ancient world. There’s also an engaging range of temporary exhibits sure to amaze and inspire. Younger children may enjoy the weekly Saturday crafts club held in the museum. There are also family activities that run throughout the school holidays. If your little ones love art, you might also want to visit the Leeds Art Gallery just around the corner and add in a café stop for drinks and cake. With no entry fee, it is one of our favourite free things to do in Leeds.
A short 10-minute walk from Leeds station, it’s easy to reach Leeds City Museum.
Tropical World Leeds
Did you know you can spot tropical species without leaving Leeds? At Tropical World, you can meet beautiful butterflies, colourful clownfish, curious meerkats, and more. Wander around the different habitats and learn about the fascinating (and cute!) creatures who make each area their home. If you’re lucky, you might be able to make friends with some of the reptiles over in Critter Corner. Once you’re in Tropical World, it's worth stopping by the gift shop where you can pick up a new fluffy friend to take home from their impressive array of toys.
Hop on a bus and reach Tropical World within 30 minutes from Leeds station.
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is a hidden gem in Leeds. There’s always something going on, and you can pitch in to help with the garden or counting local wildlife. Make friends with the residents, including sheep, cows, donkeys, and smaller furry pals like the guinea pigs and rabbits. There’s plenty of open outdoor space to explore as well. Run around seemingly endless footpaths to discover the woods, meadows and ponds, which are home to some fantastic creepy crawlies and other wildlife. If you love farm days out, you will surely enjoy a visit to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm.
Catch the bus from New Market Street for a short 15-minute bus ride to Meanwood Road Ridge Grove to reach the Urban Farm.
One of three excellent theatres in Leeds, we recommend the Leeds Playhouse because of its fantastic programme of excellent family-friendly shows. Across its three stages, they show a wide range of exciting performances, and something always appeals to a young audience. The theatre aims to reach a diverse audience, and there’s every chance that when you decide to visit there’ll be something for your little ones to enjoy. There’s also a good café in the theatre for those all-important interval ice creams, and parents can indulge in a glass of something stronger from the on-site bar.
Leeds Playhouse is just a short 15-minute walk from the station.
Bowling at MFA Bowl
Bowling is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy together, whether you decide to make a day of it or enjoy it as part of an activity-filled day out. MFA Bowl provides you with all the gadgets and gizmos you need for a fantastic party atmosphere with all the family. Make the most of the fully automated scoring system, the pop-up gutters, and the ramps, so even the family's littlest members can participate. If all the fun gives you an appetite, you can grab some of your favourite snacks at the on-site restaurant. With an extensive children’s section, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
MFA Bowl is a quick 15-minute walkthrough Leeds city centre from the station.
Indoor Climbing at The Climbing Lab
If the weather is less than stellar, but you still have a sense of adventure, why not try indoor climbing? There are plenty of choices when it comes to wall climbing, but our favourite for convenience from the station is the Climbing Lab. It’s been specifically designed with families in mind: the open plan layout means that parents can keep an eye on the little ones while they climb. However, if you’d instead take part as a family, there are a bunch of different courses available. A bouldering wall is a wonderful place for the whole family to learn how to climb together. Another big draw for parents is the café, serving tasty coffee made from a delicious blend specially created by the local Maude Coffee Roasters.
Regular buses run between the Climbing Lab and Leeds station taking between 10 and 15 minutes.
Go-Karting at TeamSport
If your family has a need for speed, then go-karting makes the perfect activity. TeamSport has an excellent location in central Leeds, as it’s readily accessible from the station. The track is the longest indoor track in Yorkshire, with 580m of perfectly primed tarmac for you to take on; spin around twelve corners and test your speed on the exhilarating straights. With specially designed karts for kids aged 8 and up, the whole family can get involved. However, if anyone wants to sit out, there’s a spectator gallery where you can cheer your family on. With a fully licenced bar serving a range of hot and cold snacks, it’s also an excellent way to fuel up after an adrenaline-packed day.
TeamSport Leeds is a 20-minute walk from the station.
Written by Seb