York is a beautiful city, with its rich history, charming streets, and vibrant culture! It’s become a fantastic destination for families seeking memorable experiences. But not every attraction comes with a big price tag… We’ve rounded up 15 free days out York that families will love and can enjoy the city without breaking the bank.
From exploring medieval architecture to enjoying scenic walks along the river, there’s something here for everyone.
You’ll also find a unique clock there that tells time based on the position of the stars. The study of stars and astronomy is important here at the York Observatory. It’s also part of York Museum Gardens, which you can also check out.
Museum Gardens, York, YO30 7BH
Monday to Sunday 09:00 - 18:30
City Walls Walk
York City walls are some of the best preserved in England, where you can discover and absorb the stunning views of its city centre and surroundings. The walls can be walked in their entirety, or in sections, and are a great way to get a sense of York’s history!
Did you know that Romans built a lot of the roads you’ll find in York? From Roman fortifications to thermal baths and the longest wall barrier in the country! York City is steeped in history!
With beautiful architecture and miles of pathways and cobbled streets to explore, a long walk along the wall is perfect for a family day out.
Explore Yorkshire Museum Gardens
Discover St Mary’s Abbey that dates back to 1294 or explore the crypt of the old St Leonard’s Hospital.
When the flowers are in bloom, it truly is a floral paradise. During Halloween, you can see the return of the dreaded and creepy ghouls… A spooky Halloween-themed walking trail that will certainly delight any family!
Museum St, York, YO1 7FR
Monday to Sunday 09:00 - 18:00
Observe Street Performers
From street performances and theatre to music, magicians and more! You may even spot some truly unique and quirky street performers, which is another reason why sometimes it’s just good to stop and observe your surroundings!
Stop for A Spirit...
Previous guests have noticed things going bump in the night, a woman wandering corridors and up and down the stairs and even a spirit holding a pistol. With numerous sightings here, it certainly holds the number one haunted pub in York.
Of course, it’s free to visit. But we wouldn’t blame you if you needed a drink to calm the nerves…
Golden Fleece, 16 Pavement, York, YO1 9UP
Monday to Sunday 11:00 - 00:00
This historic site is a great spot for children to learn about the city’s past while burning off some energy. You can stop here on your own self-guided tour around York. Why not catch a glimpse of York Castle too? What remains is the last of the castle that was built by William the Conqueror. Super interesting for any history buffs in the family!
Psst…if you have a membership with English Heritage you can visit for free! It’s a family day out that everyone can enjoy!
Tower Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9SA
Monday to Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
Stretch your legs and enjoy a breath of fresh air at this lovely park by the River Ouse. From well-kept and fantastic gardens to feeding the ducks. There’s plenty of light-hearted activities to do here. The kids can even enjoy a mini zip wire and climbing frames at the playground! A bit of family fun for those who love to be outdoors!
Not to mention there’s a mini-golf course and a skate park here. Why not pack a picnic, enjoy a game of frisbee, and simply relax by the water? It’s the ideal school holiday family day out!
Terry Ave., York YO23 1JQ
Monday to Friday 09:00 - 21:30
Saturday and Sunday 09:00 - 21:00
Stroll Through The Shambles
Marvel at the medieval architecture and quirky shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a fab place to wander and soak up the atmosphere.
But, did you know the buildings that line up the iconic Victorian street were for a slaughterhouse? You’ll notice hooks adorning the walls where the meat used to be hung.
Shambles, City Centre, York YO1 7LZ,
National Railway Museum
Did you know it features over 100 locomotives and exhibits on the history of the railways? You can immerse yourself in all things to do with train engineering and how travel went from horses to trains!
With an outstanding collection of displays of rail history, there’s so much you can discover. From the bullet train to the fastest steam locomotive, the Mallard!
There’s something for everyone here!
Leeman Rd, York, YO26 4XJ
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 - 17:00
Stop By York's Markets
It’s a great opportunity to engage with local vendors and artisans. With over 85 stalls set up on the cobbled streets, you’re truly spoilt for choice. From veggie food and delicious baked goods to flowers, books and plenty more.
There’s even seating and free wifi in the street food area! The perfect spot for a break or pick me up. Don’t forget to grab a hot chocolate to warm you up on cold days!
Newgate Market & Parliament Street, York
Monday to Sunday 07:00 - 17:00
It’s an excellent place for families to relax and enjoy some quality time together. With a monkey gym, paddling pool, table tennis and a wide grassy space for football. It’s the place to be in the summer holidays! Not to mention you can explore the wildflower garden and even a Lord of the Ring’s inspired garden with a hobbit home…
40 Water End, York YO30 6WP
Monday to Saturday 09:00 - 19:00
Sunday 10:00 - 19:00
Free Walking Tours
Knowledgeable guides often tailor their free walking trails and tours to engage visitors of all ages. Sign up for The Associated of Voluntary Guides which run exciting tours that start at York Art Gallery! Discover York in a totally brand-new way.
Grab a refreshment to sip as you walk around. Whether you’re in need of a warm drink like hot chocolate or a bottle of water!
Let the kids explore the open space while you appreciate the majestic backdrop of the cathedral, York Minster.
The family can stop for a picnic on the grass or in the seating area. And enjoy outdoor activities like football, frisbee or having a runaround!
2 Minster Yard, York YO1 7JJ
Monday to Sunday 10:00 - 16:00
York Walls Festival
This event celebrates the city walls through various activities, including guided walks, reenactments, and more!
Rowing on the River Ouse
Or you could simply stroll along River Ouse and take in the gentle waters. If the weather is nice, then it’s a bonus!
Walk from Skelergate Bridge to Lendal Bridge, for example, and explore York’s water side.
York offers a plethora of cultural history, beautiful architecture and more for the family to discover. So, we hope we’ve given you your next family vacation inspiration or day trip with our 15 free things to do in York!
Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, walking along historic walls, or simply enjoying the beauty of the city’s parks. There’s something for everyone.