A dad’s day out in York: history, adventure and fun

By: Andrew
Family day out York


As a dad on the lookout for family adventures, York proves time and time again to be an absolute gem for a day out with the kids. Being based nearby, we’re lucky enough to spend time here often – and it’s always worth the trip. Here’s a possible itinerary for a day in this wonderful city:

Historical marvels: York Minster

We kick off with a visit to the awe-inspiring York Minster. I may not know much about architecture, but I can’t help but be impressed by the grandeur of this medieval masterpiece. The kids are wide-eyed as we explore the towering cathedral, and the view from the top is worth every step (and there are quite a few – 275, to be exact). There are also plenty of other things to discover inside the cathedral, but be warned: sometimes they have special services or events going on inside and they don’t let in visitors, so to avoid disappointment plan your visit.

Viking voyages: Jorvik Viking Centre

Jorvik Viking Centre is great for a dad trip with the kids

For a taste of the past with a splash of interactive fun, the Jorvik Viking Centre is a hit. The kids get a kick out of the reconstructed Viking village, complete with the sights, sounds, and yes, even smells of a bygone era.

Trains and Tunnels: The National Railway Museum

The National Railway museum is great for a dad trip with the kids

The National Railway Museum is always popular with our family. We marvel at the impressive collection of locomotives and carriages, and the kids have a blast climbing aboard some of the historic trains (including a 1960s bullet train that has been shipped in from Japan). I feel like a kid myself as we explore the old-fashioned carriages and learn about the evolution of rail travel.

Dad tip: try the virtual reality experience. It’s ace.

If the virtual reality experience is still on when you visit the National Railway Museum, then you have to try it. When we were there it was a completely immersive dive into the life of the Flying Scotsman, one of the world’s most iconic trains.

Spooky fun: York Dungeon

The York Dungeon: great for a dad's dad out with the kids

For a dose of thrills and chills, we venture into the York Dungeon. The theatrical performances and interactive exhibits bring the darker side of York’s history to life. The kids are equal parts scared and excited as we navigate through the spooky tales.

Sweet tooth satisfaction: York’s Chocolate Story

York's chocolate story: great for dads who want to treat their kids (and themselves)

A day out isn’t complete without a sweet treat, and York doesn’t disappoint. York’s Chocolate Story is a delicious journey through the city’s chocolate-making history. We indulge in tastings, discover the secrets of chocolate production, and leave with satisfied taste buds and smiles. York’s Chocolate Story is great for dads who want to treat their kids (and themselves). Highly recommended.

Outdoor ambience: the Museum Gardens

York has a fantastic river for dads who want to get out and about with their kids. In fact, no dad day trip is complete without a visit

To balance out the history and indoor stuff, we take a leisurely stroll through the Museum Gardens. The kids run around, we eat our packed lunch, and it provides a refreshing break before our next adventure. It’s also worth strolling along the river and soaking up the atmosphere. In summer, it’s a great place to have an ice cream.

Step into history: the Shambles

The Shambles is a shopping street that's great for dad shopping trips with the kids

No family day out in York would be complete without a wander down the historic Shambles. This narrow shopping street is a feast for the senses, with its timber-framed buildings that seem to lean in and whisper tales to each other of centuries past. Our kids are always captivated by the unique shops lining both sides, reminiscent of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley (there are even a couple of shops specialising in all things Harry Potter).

You are guaranteed to see:

Busker in york, a great place, full of atmosphere for a dad and kids day out

There are usually loads of street performers in York, all adding unique layers to the atmosphere. An undiscovered Jimi Hendrix strums a guitar in one corner, while a magician captivates a small crowd in another, while a singer covers Frank Sinatra numbers over on the other side of the road.

Still on our wish list of things to do:

There are various open-topped boat tours that travel along the river. Every time we’ve gone to York we’ve looked at these, been interested but somehow never committed to spending time on them.

The Official Dads of the World review of York

York is an amazing city for dads to visit with the kids. Highly recommended.

Overall, York is a fantastic destination for a family day out. It mixes loads of history with modern entertainment, and plenty of good dining options, ensuring that both kids and adults have a memorable time. Whether we’re climbing cathedral towers, reliving Viking sagas, or getting spooked in dungeons, York has something for every member of the family. It’s a day out that has our kids talking about history, trains, and chocolate for weeks to come. 10/10, would recommend for dads who love a good mix of education and excitement.

Find out more

To find out what’s on in York and what else there is to do, check out the official Visit York site >