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Words: Harry McMullen

A guide to the best free educational days out from across the region…

As the end of the school year approaches, apprehension begins to creep into the lives of parents across the nation. Six weeks of the entertaining children can be expensive but do not worry! We have a compiled a list of the 10 best educational outings in the area. These days out aim to engage and educate the children whilst not burning a hole in Mum or Dad’s pocket.

Map showcasing the best free educational days out from across the region...

Bolton Abbey Estate, Skipton

Bolton Abbey is a 12th Century ruin that sits firmly in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, offering the family a fantastic free day out. The site is home to 30,000 acres of beautiful countryside, giving the children plenty of space to run and play in the fresh air. The abbey will make a nice change from the typical urban museum, giving the family space to explore on the sites 80 miles of footpaths. If walking is not your thing, then a nice relaxing picnic by the river Wharfe may tickle your fancy or maybe a nice coffee in the Abbey’s cafe. Whatever your preference, Bolton Abbey has something for every member of the family and offers free entry for all guests.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 57mins (via A65/ £10 all day Parking).
Train: 1hr 10mins (Train to Skipton and then the 74A bus to Grassington. Depart at Well).
Bus: 1hr 46mins (X64 to Skipton and then the 74A towards Grassington. Depart at Well)
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 09:00-19:00 (Last admission 17:30).
Address: Estate Office, Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6EX
Telephone: 01756 718 000

The National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield.

The National Coal Mining Museum is one of Yorkshire’s most popular children’s attractions. The museum is based at the Caphouse Colliery, Overton, giving children and families a real taste of what life was like down t’pit. The museum will be host to a number exhibitions throughout the summer, including ‘Digging Deep’, a collection of stories from Afro-Caribbean miners who helped to rebuild the country in the post war years. The museum boasts free entry, and more importantly an educational outing, as all guests have the opportunity to learn about the industry which fuelled the world.

Directions From Leeds:
Car: 31mins (via M1/ free parking).
Train: 45mins (Train to Wakefield Westgate and then a Taxi to National Coal Mining Museum).
Bus: 2hrs 05mins (203 Bus to Huddersfield and the 232 bus towards Wakefield, depart at the Old Reindeer Pub).
Opening Times: Mon-Sun: 10:00-17:00.
Address: Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, Wakefield, WF4 4RH.
Telephone: 01924 848806
National Coal Mining Museum

The Discovery Centre, Leeds

The Discovery Centre in Leeds, offers the family a change for the conventional museum outing. Although the museum is free, it is by appointment only. The discovery Centre, is close to the city centre and houses over one million treasures and objects from various collections. Some of the collection categories include dress and textile, social history, natural science, geology, archaeology and world cultures collections. One of the best ways to access and see their collections is to enjoy the free drop in store tours held every Thursday at 11am and 2pm (no need to book ahead with the tours). The Discovery Centre may not suitable for younger children but it will be very interesting for older children and for the rest of the family.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 5 minutes (A large free car park is accessible from Sayner Lane)
Walk: 20 mins (from Leeds station, follow signs for Royal Armories)
Bus: 5 minutes (28 to Liberty dock, the centre is a short walk from there)
Opening Times: Mon-Fri Appointment Only
Address: Carlisle Road, Leeds, LS10 1LB
Telephone: 0113 378 2100

The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

The National Media and Science Museum (NSMM) can be found in the heart of Bradford and is completely free to enter. The NSMM has thrown out the conventional museum rule book, allowing children to burn off steam with the vast range of interactive activities and exhibitions.  The wonderlab is a science exhibition at the Museum which aims to ignite imagination. The exhibition is running throughout the summer and contains a free shows which shows convergent science as well as light and magic, and leaves viewers breathless. The museum also houses the IMAX cinema where the whole family can watch the latest 4D blockbusters, however this is not part of the free entry.  The National Science and Media is a must see for the whole family!

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 28mins (via A647 / P+D Parking).
Train: 30mins (Train to Bradford Forster Square and 10 minute walk).
Bus: 40mins (72/X6 to Bradford Interchange and 10 minute walk).
Opening Times: Mon-Sun: 10:00-18:00
Address: The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, BD1 1NQ
Telephone: 0844 856 3797
National Media and Science Museum

Salts Mill and The Festival, Saltaire

The picturesque Salts Mill can be found sat against the Leeds/Liverpool canal in the sleepy Bradfordian village of Saltaire. The former textile mill is the focal point of the village, which was designed for the mill workers by Sir Titus Salt, a textile mogul of the industrial revolution. The area is a UNESCO world heritage site and has something for the whole family. Although there is no production at the mill today, the mill does house three art galleries, a history exhibition, numerous shops, a cafe and a restaurant. Work of the world renowned artist David Hockney can be found on display in the mill which is free to enter for all ages. If art is not to your taste then neighbouring Roberts Park offers a large green space for the kids to play in whilst you have a nice glass of wine watching the sun glisten on the canal. From the 7th-16th September to village hosts a beer and music festival which is, again, free admission for all.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 40mins (via A647 and A657)
Train: 15mins (Direct Train to Saltaire Station).
Bus: 1hr 15mins (X6/72 to Bradford Interchange and 622 towards Bingley, depart at Saltaire Roundabout)
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 10:00-18:00
Address: Victoria Rd, Saltaire BD18 3LA
Telephone: 01274 531163

The National Railway Museum, York

The National Railway Museum can be found in the York Railway Station. The museum gives all guests a chance to see some of the most iconic locomotives mankind has ever engineered. Visitors will be able to see the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard in action whilst being able to roam the carriages of a Japanese Bullet Train. The museum offers guests regular seminars and talks on how the railways have grown from Stephenson’s Rocket to being the focal point of contemporary society, as well as housing attractions for younger guests such as model railways and children’s play area. There are a number of eateries around the museum for drinks and snacks, but most importantly admission to the museum is completely free.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 47mins (via A64/ P+D Parking)
Train: 22 mins (Train Directly to York)
Bus: 55 mins (The Cityzap Bus travels directly to York)
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 10:00-18:00
Address: Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ
Telephone: 0333 016 1010
National Railway Museum

Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds

Pablo Picasso once said that every child is an artist, the problem is how do we remain an artist once we grow up? The Leeds Art gallery is situated on Leeds’ bustling Headrow and offers the family an opportunity to see works by the likes of Francis Bacon and Stanley Spencer, as well as work from the best local artists the city has to offer. The gallery curators organise regular arts and crafts workshops giving children access to new means of media, igniting original thought and creativity. The gallery comes with a cafe and a shop and most importantly, admission is completely free.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 3mins (from Leeds station P+D Parking)
Walk: 13mins (from Train Station via Park Row)
Taxi: 3mins (from Train Station £3.50)
Opening Times: Tue-Sat 10:00-17:00, 11:00-15:00.
Address: The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AA
Telephone: 0113 378 5350

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) lies 30 minutes south of Leeds and is set against the picturesque backdrop of Bretton Hall. The park champions local and international sculpture, art and natural beauty which converge on the 500 acre grounds. The park also has a range of exhibitions and galleries throughout the park allowing the children to become lost in the world of art and sculpture. The landscape offers hills, woodland, lakes and formal gardens and the park is also dog friendly (providing you bring poo bags!!). YSP was winner of ‘Museum of the Year 2014’, the YSP is a hidden gem and has a little something for the whole family. Cafe’s and small shops can be found throughout the park and entry is free for all.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 32mins (via M1/ P+D Parking)
Train: 1hr 15mins (Train to Sandal and Agbrigg Rd, then 96 bus toward Barnsley. Depart at Archway Lodge)
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 10:00-16:00
Address: West Bretton, Wakefield, WF4 4LG
Telephone: 01924 832631
Email: N/A
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

City Beach at Millennium Square, Leeds

If you cannot go to the beach, we shall bring the beach to you! The city beach is a pop up beach which will be set up on the beautiful costa del Leeds this summer following the success of city beach last year. The urban beach can be found at Millennium Square from mid August till the beginning of September. There will also be games and craft workshops across the summer for children of all ages to get involved. Admission is free, just don’t forget your bucket and spade.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 3mins (from Leeds station P+D Parking)
Walk: 13mins (from Train Station via Park Row)
Taxi: 3mins (from Train Station £3.50)
Opening Times: 11th Aug-2nd Sep 10:30-18:00
Address: Millennium Square, Leeds, LS1 1UR
Telephone: 0113 378 6988

Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

The great outdoors can be an easy way for the family to have fun without breaking the bank. Malham Cove is less than 90 minutes away from Leeds in the car and provides the family with breathtaking scenery and an abyss of green for the children to lose themselves in. Formed by a waterfall at the tail end of the last ice age, the cove is one of the most visited natural attractions in the North of England. Entry to the grounds is completely free and nearby Malham Village is littered with craft stations and coffee shops. Malham Cove may be further afield, but it is definitely worth the journey.

Directions from Leeds:
Car: 1hr 20mins (via A65/ P+D Parking)
Train: 1hr 56mins (Train to Skipton, then 210 bus towards Malham. Depart at the Buck Inn, Malham).
Bus: 2hrs 45mins (X84 towards Skipton, then the 210 bus to Malham. Depart at the Buck Inn, Malham).
Opening Times (Car Park): Mon-Sun 10:00-17:00
Address: Malham National Park Centre
Malham, BD23 4DA
Telephone: 01729 833200 Email:
Malham Cove
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