Things to Do in Yorkshire
This cavernous medieval cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece. Focal points include the 16th-century stained glass Rose Window, which was painstakingly pieced back together following a fire in 1984, and the soaring central tower, the top of which offers panoramic views of York.
An idyllic expanse of grassy peaks, rugged peat moors and stone-brick villages; the Peak District National Park became Britain’s first national park back in 1951 and remains one of the country’s most visited regions. With over 555 square miles (1,438 square kilometers) to explore, it’s an obvious choice for lovers of the outdoors and the vast network of hiking, cycling, horse riding and climbing routes include famous long distance trails like The Pennine Way.
Additional highlights of the Peak District National Park include the Castleton Caves; the 2,087-foot (636-meter) peak of Kinder Scout; and Chatsworth House, the magnificent estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Other popular destinations include the town of Bakewell, renowned for its Bakewell Tarts; the Georgian spa town of Buxton; and the historic village of Eyam, known for its fascinating plague history.
This historic site was discovered by accident, when it was scheduled to be destroyed. The oldest parts of Barley Hall date from about 1360, but until the 1980s the house was hidden under a more modern brick façade.
The medieval house was once home to the Priors of Nostell and the Mayor of York. The building has been fully restored to replicate what it would have looked like around 1483. A living museum, many volunteers work in costume to help recreate history. Visitors are allowed to touch objects, even sit in chairs to get a true feel of life in Medieval England.
Clifford’s Tower, a semi-ruined 13th-century remnant of York Castle, is also one of the few Norman relics in a city dominated by Viking influence. Nowadays, Clifford’s Tower is one of the most popular and emblematic sights in York, and the panoramic views from the tower’s ramparts make it an excellent starting point for first-time visitors to historic York.
Having never been widened to accommodate cars, The Shambles has retained its picturesque medieval form. Timber-framed Tudor buildings host tea rooms, taverns, and souvenir shops, and project out at the upper levels—a medieval building technique used to create extra living space.
Welcome to cheese heaven! At the award-winning Wensleydale Creamery, visitors will learn everything there is to know about the famous British cheese and the art of cheese making. It’s even possible to see the cheese literally being cut, stirred, pitched, and salted by hand at the viewing gallery inside the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience. The creamery is also home to a gift shop (where a vast array of cheese and cheese-related paraphernalia are available), a deli, a coffee shop, and a restaurant with views of the surrounding Yorkshire Dales. There is also a newly refurbished visitor center on-site, which explains the history and heritage of the Wensleydale cheese and where visitors will have the opportunity to taste the stuff for themselves.
Discover an underwater world filled with an array of marine creatures at SEA LIFE® Scarborough. From a face-to-face encounter with sharks to a hands-on rock-pool experience, each step reveals something fascinating, making for a fun and educational activities for all ages, whatever the weather.
Set on the site of a major Viking settlement, Jorvik Viking Centre whisks visitors back in time to ninth-century England. Glass floors reveal remnants of the original village uncovered by archaeologists in the 1970s, while a train ride takes passengers past detailed diorama-style displays that recreate typical scenes from Viking life—complete with animatronic figures, a soundtrack, and more.
A lively market town within the North York Moors National Park, Helmsley is a popular day-trip from nearby York. The cobblestone streets of the town center—as well as quaint teahouses, ivy-covered traditional pubs, and an imposing 12th-century castle—add to the appeal of this traditional Yorkshire destination.
The largest and most northerly white horse geoglyph in Britain, the Kilburn White Horse stands in artificially chalky contrast to the lush greenery of the surrounding Sutton Bank hills. Admire it from a distance or hike alongside the vast equine figure, which was originally designed and completed in the mid-19th century.
More Things to Do in Yorkshire
Despite an association with all things spooky—goth festivals, Bram Stoker, and decrepit abbeys—Whitby remains one of the most popular seaside towns in England. Replete with natural beauty, the town is small enough to explore on foot and boasts numerous attractions that appeal to a cross section of visitors.
Fans of the Yorkshire author and vet of All Creatures Great and Small fame won’t want to miss the World of James Herriot. Now an award-winning, interactive museum, Herriot’s former veterinary office—a fully restored 1940s home—displays a huge collection of Herriot memorabilia.
Castle Howard is one of Britain’s grandest stately homes. Built over the course of 100 years and still home to the Howard family, the castle was famously used as a filming location for Brideshead Revisited. Its 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of elegant grounds are located in the Howardian Hills—an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Once built to protect the medieval city of York, the well-preserved York City Walls have since become an emblematic landmark of the region and an easy-to-access point of introduction for historical York. While only three main sections of these 13th- and 14th-century walls are still connected, following the footpaths and scrambling up the ramparts remains a popular pastime.
The family-owned Bridlington Birds of Prey and Animal Park brings together endangered animals across different habitat zones. You can find everything from alpacas and raccoons to owls and meerkats, as well as many birds of prey; exhibits sit alongside educational exhibits and hands-on experiences.
Step back in time with York Castle Museum, an informative, interactive destination that will charm history-buffs and families alike. Unique in its depictions of everyday life, both past and present, York Castle Museum is best-known for period reconstructions of historic streets—like the Victorian Kirkgate—and costumed actors who help bring the past to life.
Explore one of the original National Trust properties at York’s Treasurer’s House, an opulent and eclectic 2-story mansion set amid landscaped gardens that has a fascinating history spanning 2,000 years. Highlights include the period rooms replete with historical artifacts, including a Queen Anne bedspread and a blown-glass chandelier, as well as the allegedly haunted cellars.
As the name implies, York’s Merchant Adventurers were merchants. They traded along the English coast, northern Europe and sometimes as far as the Baltic and Iceland, bringing back an assortment of desired goods to York. The city was an important river port and the wealthiest city in Northern England, second only to London for most of the Middle Ages, allowing the merchants to make enough money to build the Hall between 1357 and 1361.
It was ahead of the time, built before craft or trade guild halls were common in Britain. There are three rooms in the Hall, and each served a specific purpose. Business and social gatherings took place in the Great Hall, the Undercroft served as an almshouse caring for the sick and poor, and religious events were conducted in the Chapel.
The Hall has a number of collections; everything from paintings, to furniture and silver. The Company of Merchant Adventurers still use the Hall for meetings and events and hold services in the Chapel.
Located in the center of the city, the Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of York. But along with being a home, this historic house is popular with visitors. The Mansion House exhibits an impressive collection of paintings, silver and furniture.
It was designed to entertain distinguished guests and host ceremonies, so a bit of grandeur was a must. Built in Georgian style, the first brick was laid in 1725. But just like building projects today, costs grew. A few craftsmen worked for free in return for citizenship. The Mansion House was completed in 1732, seven years later.
The Mansion House offers a variety of tours tailored to guests’ interests, including a Silver Tour. The Candle Light Tour shares spooky stories and secrets of the house as you explore. Book in advance if interested in a specialized tour.
With a history dating back to 1835, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is England’s most popular heritage steam railway. The 18-mile (29-kilometer) route winds through the North York Moors National Park, stopping at historic railway stations and affording magnificent views of the rugged moorlands.
Step inside the only bullet train outside of Japan, peer into royal carriages, and watch model trains chug around a small-scale landscape at the National Railway Museum. With over one million pieces of railway memorabilia—including steam locomotives and vintage posters—the museum provides an immersive insight into the British rail industry.
In the 17th-century Whitby residence he once called home, take a voyage through the life and times of Captain James Cook at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. Highlights are the attic room—complete with period furnishings—as well as artifacts Cook brought back from New Zealand and original letters penned by the man himself.
Located at Micklegate Bar, one of the four principal gateways of York’s medieval city walls, the Henry VII Experience transports visitors back to medieval era York, following the fascinating story of Henry VII. Housed in the restored 14th-century gatehouse, the museum features exhibits on the legacy of Henry VII, England’s first Tudor King, who defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and went on to rule for twenty-four years.
Highlights of the experience include interactive exhibitions on the Battle of Bosworth and the Tudor ascent to the throne, and a special Tudor Camp for children, with costumes, props, and narration by Horrible Histories author Terry Deary.
With one of the country’s most important regimental collections, York Army Museum offers visitors an immersive insight into 300+ years of Yorkshire military history. Learn about the Royal Dragoon Guards and Yorkshire Regiment through interactive exhibits, centuries-old artifacts, and audiovisual displays.
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