Days Out York

Free activities

Featured Listing

Free Activities

Look below for some fantastic free days out in York and there’s plenty more free activity ideas listed in the sections below:

Walks & the Great Outdoors

Paddling, Sand & Seasides

Parks & Playgrounds

Out of York

Featured Listing

National Railway Museum

What will your family discover at the world’s greatest railway museum? From Mallard, the world’s fastest steam locomotive, to the replica of Stephenson’s world-changing Rocket, explore giant halls full of railway legends. Get on board awe-inspiring locomotives and watch our engineers at work in the Workshop.

Kids can let off steam in the outdoor play area, enjoy lively science shows, take a ride on the miniature railway and learn through the interactive exhibits. With daily demonstrations, talks and a special events programme, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Soak up the atmosphere in our Station Hall. Climb on board historic carriages and travel back in time to experience working life in a station. From the opulent carriages of Queen Victoria to the armour plated war transport of George VI, there’s plenty of incredible history and fascinating stories to discover with our stunning collection of royal carriages.

Free entry
Plan your visit at

“National Railway Museum is amazing, decent places to eat as well”

AC,Sept 18

I took my dad to the countess of York at the National railway museum today for his birthday, and I can highly recommend it. Food was lovely and in an amazing setting (an old railway dining carriage) Also a bonus if eating there you get to park free at the museum car park”

KF, March 18

N.B: The outside playpark has been removed from the NRM unfortunately. However there is still plenty to enjoy for kids of all ages so don’t let this put you off!!

NRM York, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ

T: 03330161010

Free activities

Do you know of a great free day out or activity in or around York?  If yes, please tell us about it here so we can add it to the list.

10 Brilliant Parks & Playgrounds in York

We’ve compiled a list of ten great parks and play areas in York so you can add some variety to your days out and enjoy even more of the many beautiful green spaces that York has hidden away.

Fruit & Veg Picking

There are some great groups in York such as Edible York who map out edibles around the city and you can join in with Abundance York who pick and distribute surplus fruit growing on common land & private gardens. Both links will take you to other fruity projects like Friends of Dormouse OrchardFulford Community Orchard (loads more if these aren’t local to you).

Lots of free treats if you know where to look!

(Thanks to LC for the tip!)

Library – 15 to choose from in York!

Explore York Libraries and Archives Regular Times and sessions

Acomb Explore Library

Front Street, York, Y024 3BZ Tel. (01904) 552651 E-mail:
Opening Times
Monday: 9.00am – 7.30pm
Tuesday: 9.00am – 7.30pm
Wednesday: 9.00am – 2.00pm
Thursday: 9.00am – 7.30pm
Friday: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 3.00pm
* Under 5s Storytime: Thursday 10:30-11am.
* Play Morning: Wednesday 10:30-11am.
* Knits and tots: Monday 10:30am-12pm.
* Lego Club: Saturday 11am-12pm.

Bishopthorpe Library

Main Street, York, YO23 2RB Tel. (01904) 552678 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 2.00pm -7.00pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10.00am -12.30 pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Thursday: 10.00am -12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Friday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 12.30pm
* Under 5s Storytime: Thursday 10.30 – 11.00 am
* Fun Friday craft session (all ages): Fridays 15.30 – 16.30pm ( term-time only)

Clifton Explore Library

Rawcliffe Lane, York, YO30 5SJ Tel. (01904) 552662 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Tuesday: 10.00am -1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Wednesday: 10.00am -1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Thursday: 2.30pm – 7.00pm
Friday: 10.00am – 1.00pm & 2.00pm -5.30pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 1.00pm
* Under 5’s stories & rhyme time: Tuesdays & Fridays 10.30-11am
* Play morning: Wednesdays 10-11am
* Yorky Dads Lego: The last Saturday of the month 11.00am-12.30pm
* Code club: Tuesdays fortnightly 4-5pm (next one 13/11)

Copmanthorpe Library

Village Centre, Main Street, York, YO23 3SU Tel. (01904) 552672 Email:
Monday: 9.00am – 1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Tuesday: 2.00pm – 6.30pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Friday: 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 1.00pm
* Under 5s Story Time: Thursday 10.30 – 11am
* Fun Fridays: Friday during term time 3.30pm
* Tech Free Time: Tuesday during term time 3.30pm
* Children’s Crafts: the first Saturday of each month 10am

Dringhouses Library

Tadcaster Road, York, YO24 1LR Tel. (01904) 552674 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 2.00pm – 6.00pm
Tuesday: 9.30am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 9.30am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Friday: 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Saturday: 9.30am – 1.00pm
* Under 5s storytime: Thursday and Saturday 11-11.30am
* After-school craft club: Thursday 3.30-5pm(for primary age children)

Dunnington Library

The Reading Room, Church St, York, YO19 5PW Tel. (01904) 552668 Email:
Monday: 10.00am – 1.30pm
Tuesday: 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 9.00am – 12.30pm
* Under 5s storytime:
o Thursday 2.15p.m.-2.45pm throughout the year,
o Monday 9.15a.m.-9.45a.m. term-time only.

Fulford Library

St Oswald’s CE School, Heslington Lane, YO10 4LX Tel. (01904) 555444 Email
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Friday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 12.30pm
* Under 5 storytime: Tuesday 2.30 – 3 pm
Saturday 11:00 – 11:30 am from 1 Dec 18

Haxby Explore Library

Station Road, York, YO32 3LT Tel. (01904) 552660 Email:
Opening Times
Ethel Ward Playing Field: Monday 9.30am – 6.30pm
Haxby Memorial Hall: Tuesday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Wigginton Recreation Hall: Wednesday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Thursday Closed
Oaken Grove Community Centre: Friday 9.30am –5.00pm
Oaken Grove Community Centre: Saturday 9.30am – 12.30pm
* Under 5 Storytime at Oaken Grove: Fridays 2.30pm-3.00pm
* Play mornings at The Memorial Hall: Tuesdays 10-11am,
* Youth team monthly drop in: Ethel Ward Playing fields: Mondays 5-6pm
* Coding Club fortnightly at Oaken Grove: Saturdays 10-12 noon

Huntington Library

Garth Road, York, YO32 9QJ Tel. (01904) 552669 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 9.30am – 12 noon & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Tuesday: 9.30am – 12 noon & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 9.30am – 12 noon & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Friday: 9.30am – 12 noon & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Saturday: 9.30am – 12.30pm
* Story time, Songs and Crafts: Thursdays 2pm – 3pm.

New Earswick Library

Folk Hall, Hawthorn Terrace, York, YO32 4AQ Tel. (01904) 552629 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 9am – 12.30pm
Tuesday : 9am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 4.30pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 1.30pm – 5pm
Friday: 1.30pm – 5pm
Saturday : 10am – 12 noon
* Under-5s Rhymetime: Tuesday 10 – 10:30am followed by refreshments and chat.

Poppleton Library

The Village, York, YO26 6JT Tel. (01904) 552680 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 10.00am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10.00am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Thursday: 10.00am – 12.30pm
Friday: 10.00am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
* Under 5 story tim:e Fridays 2.30 – 3.00pm.

Rowntree Park Reading Cafe

Rowntree Park Lodge, Richardson Street, York, YO23 1JU
Tel. (01904) 551489
The opening hours change throughout the year according to the seasons & the opening hours of the park itself.
Roughly: Summer 10.00am – 7.00pm,
Autumn & Spring 10.00am – 5.00pm
Winter 10.00am – 3.00pm.
See Explore Library webpage for precise dates and times
* Lego drop in sessions: Friday 3.30 – 4.40 pm every week until 14th December.

Strensall Library

19 The Village, York, YO32 5XS Tel. (01904) 552677 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Tuesday: 10.30am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Wednesday: closed
Thursday: 9.30am – 12.30pm & 2.00pm – 4.00pm
Friday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 12.30pm
* Under 5 story time: Tuesday 11 – 11 .30 am

The Centre @ Burnholme

Tang Hall Explore Library, Mossdale Avenue, York, YO31 0HA Tel. (01904) 552655 Email:
Opening Times
Monday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Tuesday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Wednesday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Thursday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Friday: 9.00am – 6.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 4.00pm
Sunday: 10.00am – 4.00pm
* Story/Rhyme time for under 5s:
o Weekdays 10 am and on Thursday there is a play session afterward.
o Saturdays 10.30
* Chatterbooks: alternate Fridays 3.45 – 4.45pm
* Lego sessions: Last Sunday of the month 11 am – 3 pm drop in.
* Minecraft sessions: 3rd Thursday in the month at 3.30 pm
* Young Adults Book Club: ages 11-14. Thursdays 5-6pm.

York Explore Library

Library Square, York, YO17DS Tel. 01904) 552828 Email:
Opening Times
Mondays: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Tuesday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Wednesday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Thursday: 9.00am – 8.00pm
Friday: 9.00am – 6.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday: 11.00am – 4.00pm
* Story and Play: Monday 10am-10.45am Storytimes: Tuesday 10.30am-11am, Thursday 1.30pm-2pm Rhymetimes: Wednesday 1.30pm-2pm, Friday 10.30am-11am.
* Explore a story: ages 2-5 every 4th Thursday (The next is November 29th )
* Code club: Saturdays 2.30pm
* Chatterbooks: Saturdays 10.30-11.30am

Solar Way – Cycle Ride

This scale model of the Solar System is spread out along 6.4 miles of the old East Coast main-line railway. Along it you can find scale models of all the planets in our solar system as well as  models of the Cassini and Voyager spacecraft. The track is a wonderful nature reserve with many different species of trees along the way, and an abundance of wild life to see and hear.

Route goes via Brunswick Organic Nursery & various pubs for refreshments. for more information.

St Nicks Nature Reserve

The Nature Reserve is open all year round, just come and wander round. Come and explore 24 acres of unique green space on the site of a former rubbish tip. Many birds live on or visit the nature reserve and just under 20 species of butterflies have been recorded. There are all kinds of other insects and some mammals too. There is a great variety of plant species, trees and shrubs.

St Nicks Environment Centre is open: Mondays – Fridays 9am-4pm and during our on-site events

St Nicks, St Nicks Environment Centre (formerly York Environment Centre), Rawdon Avenue, York, YO10 3ST

T: 01904 411821

The Fabulous York Cat Trail

Cats have played a part in York’s history and luck has been linked with them since records began. Cats always land on their feet and having nine lives is a piece of luck that we can all relate to.
York Glass is the home of York Lucky Cats where we celebrate the York Cat story. Statues of cats have been placed on buildings in York for around two Centuries, although statues since removed or rotted are thought to date from medieval times. The original cat statues were placed on buildings to frighten away rats and mice which can carry plague and illness. They were also thought to ward off wandering evil spirits and generally to bestow good luck and good health on citizens who needed feline friends to ensure a good nights sleep in old and temptingly chewy timber framed buildings!

“If you have kids that love treasure hunts and looking for things I can highly recommend the York Cat trail. For FREE you can pick up a map from the Cat gallery shop on Petergate or download it from the internet. It has clues and a map of where cats are on buildings around the city of York. There are a few questions to answer whilst going round and when complete you hand the form in to the Cat gallery shop and child receives a little free gift. My 4 yr old and I loved it today. Highly recommended.”

Mumbler JK, June 17

You can pick up a leaflet from the shop on the Shambles.

34 Shambles, City Centre, York, YO1 7LX

T: 01904 541122

The Squirrels Trail Quiz – Museum Gardens

Explore some of the hidden treasures of York Museum Gardens.

Follow The Squirrel’s Trail of 10 fascinating fact points! Follow the interactive trail by clicking the points on the map above and take part in our online quiz at the end.

Find the Questions at…

How many answers will you get right?

Museum Street, York, YO1 7FR

Walks and Woods in York with Kids

There aren’t many better things to do with kids than get out into the great outdoors for a walk. York has lots of great walks and woodlands and we’ve got some of the best options listed HERE

York City Walls Walk

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!

“Goodramgate to Bootham is my favourite too. Often lots of different flowers to see and benches along the way to rest (but its not far). Sometimes can see squirrels as the big trees grow close to the walls. Carrier is much more suitable than pushchair though (there are steps into and off the walls and the odd one or two on the way around. It’s also very narrow).”

Mumbler VB, March 16

York University – AstroCampus

The Astrocampus is open to the public once a fortnight throughout the winter months (October-March) and monthly throughout the summer (April-September). Our visits are designed to be suitable for all ages, with the earlier session timed for those with younger children.
At each event, you will have a tour of our observatories and an introduction to the night sky. When possible, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the Moon, planets, and stars with our telescopes and binoculars. If the weather lets us down, our team will equip you with some handy hints and tips for finding your way around the night sky, so the events go ahead whatever the weather.

University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD
T: 01904 32220


Local Residents can qualify for discounted or free entry to a number of local places if they have a York Card. You can get them from the libraries for a small fee (or free for under 18’s)

Every member of the family needs a card but they get you discounts in lots of attractions such as the Yorkshire Museum, York Castle Museum, York Chocolate Story and York Sport swimming. You also get free entry to the Minster.

Find out more HERE