As a traveling mom, it’s always key for me to incorporate a few ingredients into our family trips: adventure, education, history, culture and solid bonding experiences. A recent trip to England took us to the northern city of York, located in the heart of Yorkshire, England and incorporated all of these elements. Known as one of England’s most historic cities, the experience provided two days of looking up and gazing at medieval architecture, walking down winding cobble streets, learning about its diverse and sometimes troublesome history and wandering into shops and restaurants.
We were relieved that the city was so cut out for family travel, offering an abundance of activity for all of us. It made it fun for our kids to become junior photographers, as they snapped away at the beauty of York. Within its ancient, encircling walls, York’s medieval street and buildings are beautifully preserved. Much of the city is traffic-free, making it easy to walk everywhere on foot. Every which way you look, there is something historical and important to see.
If you’re headed to York, here’s an easy list of what to do, where to stay and where to eat in York, with the kids in tow.
- Stay at the Hampton by Hilton, a cozy, inexpensive hotel that’s just a five minute walk away from all the major sites. Rates come with hot breakfast, free Wifi and kids will be comfortable, most importantly.
- We had so many food options and ended up for sushi at at Yo! Sushi, lunch at the York Castle, Akbars for amazing Pakistani food, chocolate filled lunch at the Cocoa House.
- Walk the city walls, the longest in England, exploring York’s medieval walls. You can circle the city in two hours. Kids will love running up and down, through the mysterious walls.
- Venture into the Yorkshire Museum to learn the history of York.
- Pop into York Minster, the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe and gawk, along with your kids, at its medieval stained glass or roam through the tunnels underground and witness its Roman, Saxon and Norman history.
- Climb the steps at Clifford’s Tower for tremendous views of the city and pay tribute to the Jewish population that was wiped out several thousand years ago in 1190.
- Go Back in time at the York Castle Museum, the ultimate way to truly teach your kids the history of York and show them what life was like back in Victorian and Roman times.
- If your kids are chocolate lovers, take a tour of the Chocolate Story and learn the tale of York’s extensive love for the sweet. York has a long history of chocolate making from Nestle (formerly Rowntrees) to Terry’s (now owned by Kraft).
- Take a stroll down the Shambles, known as the oldest shopping street in Europe.
- Witness the only Japanese bullet train outside of Japan at the National Railway Museum, known as the largest in the world and a treat to kids of all ages.
- York was the trading hub of the Viking world, and kids can learn all about that time period at Jorvik, an attraction based on a real archaeological dig.
- York has more ghosts than any other European city. If your kids can handle a walking tour in the evening, take a guided walk to learn tales of the supernatural. Many pubs are meant to be haunted, too, such as the Black Swan and the Golden Fleece.
- If you’re headed to York for more than a day, think about purchasing the York Pass, a ticket that provides entry to all of the attractions mentioned above (30 total), as well as providing discounts on tours, restaurants and shopping. You can buy one for 1, 2 or 3 days and it will save you a lot of money. We found it really, really useful and a huge help as it came with a handy booklet and maps on what to do and where to go.
Disclosure: I was provided with a York Pass by the folks at Visit York to facilitate this review and others but all opinions are my own, as always.