When the rain taps on our windows and outdoor plans seem dashed, entertaining the family without breaking the bank becomes a delightful challenge. Fear not! Our money-saving blog is here to unravel a treasure trove of free and engaging indoor activities across Yorkshire. Whether you’re seeking historical exploration, hands-on experiences, or a journey through the wonders of nature, we’ve curated a list of destinations that promise a day of fun without spending a penny. Join us as we navigate the fascinating world of museums, cultural hubs, and tropical rescues, turning rainy days into memorable and budget-friendly family outings. So, grab your umbrellas and explore the enriching possibilities hidden within Yorkshire’s indoor gems.
National Coal Mining Museum, Overton, West Yorkshire
Caphouse Colliery, New Road WF4 4RH
Explore Caphouse, a modern colliery that witnessed more than two hundred years of coal production. Hear stories directly from former miners about their careers and understand the roles men, women, children, animals, and machinery played in mine operations. Investigate the mechanical workings of the pit through interactive models and the giant machinery. Strike a conversation with our blacksmiths, then relax and reflect in the Miners’ Memorial Garden. Explore acres of woodland, spotting plants and wildlife and find out how the excess water from the mine is cleaned and pumped back into a local river. Every tour ‘darn pit’ is led by an ex-miner with loads of experience; he’ll take you 140m underground through 180 years of mining. Then, let off some steam in the Adventure Playground. Older children can go on an underground pit tour (for a fee), and visiting the Museum is free, including the Little Diggers indoor soft play.
Some attractions, like the Paddy Train, are only open at peak times. The Beach and Snap Tin Café are generally only open during summer school holidays. It’s a full day of exploration without spending a penny! https://www.ncm.org.uk/
Events are held during school holidays. Keep up to date on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/NCMME
Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley
Spring Gardens Lane, BD20 6LH
Cliffe Castle is a local heritage museum with galleries dedicated to the geology of rocks and minerals and natural history. There is also a cafe, a small petting zoo, and an adventure play area. There are lots of minerals on display. Smaller kids can “build” with large soft blocks and dress up with hard hats and hi-viz jackets. Many things are displayed from past rooms set out as they would have been back in the day, and a small gallery of paintings. There is an ancient Egypt section with a mummy, other artefacts, and many other curiosities. You will find Lots of old farm equipment and some interactive activities to keep the kids busy. It’s wonderful, and it’s free. https://bradfordmuseums.org/cliffe-castle/
Royal Armouries, Leeds
Armouries Drive LS10 1LT
Car parking charges apply.
Visit the Royal Armouries museum, home to the national collection of historical weaponry., Explore the fascinating world of arms and armour without breaking the bank.
The Royal Armouries is a fantastic, family-friendly, and FREE day out in Leeds. It has five galleries across five floors for you to explore. Over 8,000 objects from all over the world and throughout history are on display. You can see armour from the 15th century to today, weapons from ancient times to World War II, and much more! They hold daily combats and shows. https://royalarmouries.org/
Tie this in with the return boat trips from the train station to the Museum. The water taxi is £2 per person under 5’s FREE. https://www.leedsdock.com/whos-here/watertaxis/
National Railway Museum, York
Leeman Road, YO26 4XJ
Car Parking charges apply.
Visit world-changing inventions like the Japanese Bullet Train and stand face-to-face with the world’s fastest steam locomotive, Mallard. They hold extra events during school holidays, such as special Wonderlab activities and an unforgettable Flying Scotsman experience.
Winter Gardens in Sheffield
90 Surrey St, Sheffield City CentreS1 2LH
Parking charges apply
One of the largest temperate glasshouses built in the UK during the last hundred years has created a stunning green world in the city’s heart. More than 2,500 plants are worldwide, creating a superb display. The building is 70 metres long and 22 metres high (large enough to house 5,000 domestic greenhouses!). It is small but sometimes has events, so look for future events on its website and Facebook. https://www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/
Danum Gallery, Library and Museum, Doncaster
Waterdale, DN1 3BZ
Regular events are held, such as Free craft and learning activities in the half-term! Suitable for 4 to 11-year-olds, but all ages welcome! Free, no need to book. Every other Tuesday, the Chess club aims at children aged 8 to 13. See the website for more details.
The site contains a Museum, Art Gallery, Rail Heritage Centre, and library—a journey through Doncaster’s past as a Roman settlement, market town, and industrial powerhouse.
The objects in this space change regularly and currently share the story of local people’s experiences of 2020. visitors can explore Doncaster’s fascinating rail history. Alongside the objects on display are two Doncaster-built locomotives which have returned home to take centre stage in the Danum. The Regiment’s history is told through weapons, uniforms, medals, and more. https://www.dglam.org.uk/
159 Mulberry Way, Wakefield WF1 2UP
Parking charges apply
Visit Wakefield Museum to discover our city’s fascinating history at work and play! Learn about Wakefield’s growth from a Tudor wool trade centre to the capital of Yorkshire’s West Riding. Experience Merrie City’s nightlife and relive Wakefield Trinity’s rugby league triumphs. For more information on this museum, events, and other museums and castles in Wakefield, look here: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/museums-and-castles/
Leeds city museum
Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH
Parking charges apply
Leeds City Museum is located in the heart of Leeds City Centre and is accessible to families. It offers activities for kids and shares the history of Leeds. It has a small soft play area, interactive exhibits, and a child-friendly cafe. Craft space interactive screens. https://museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/leeds-city-museum/
Bradford Industrial Museum, Bradford
235 Moorside Rd, BD2 3HP
The Bradford Industrial Museum has permanent displays of textile machinery, steam power, engineering, and motor vehicles. It hosts temporary exhibitions annually on World War I, trench warfare, or early cinema. For more information on this and other museums in Bradford, check their website. https://bradfordmuseums.org/bradford-industrial-museum/
Wakefield Library, Wakefield
Burton St, WF1 2EB
Wakefield Library runs regular storytimes, has plenty of play space for kids’ activities, and even has a nice little cafe on-premises. For children under 5, they offer twice-weekly storytimes throughout the year and the Bookstart Bear Club, where tots can earn paw prints in their passports for sharing books and visiting the library. They also offer a code club for school-age children to learn simple computer coding. They offer activities during school holidays for various ages and a weekly family board games session on a Saturday morning.
Wakefield Museum, Wakefield
Burton St, Wakefield WF1 2EB
Discover the fascinating history of the city at work and play! Follow Wakefield’s growth from a Tudor wool trade centre to the capital of Yorkshire’s West Riding. Soak up the Merrie City’s nightlife and relive Wakefield Trinity’s rugby league triumphs—a café with a great kids’ lunch offer.
Knaresborough Exotic Rescue
78 High Street, HG5 0EA
An attractive free visit is a tropical animal rescue centre. The owner will bring out exciting animals for you to look at and hold, such as lizards, snakes, and spiders; he is full of knowledge. The point is to hope you will adopt an exotic pet—it has a warm, friendly, and welcoming vibe. Ultimately, they ask for a donation, which helps with the upkeep of the animals. You can find them on Facebook for more information. https://www.facebook.com/knaresborough.rescue
Cannon Hall Museum, Barnsley
Bark House Lane, Cawthorne, S75 4AT
The Museum collections of fine and decorative arts are displayed in a beautiful house with a long and rich history. Here, you will find events in the school holidays throughout the year, such as the February half term, where you can make your marvellous mouse or fantastic fairy friend using pinecones and other materials in this eco-friendly workshop. This free drop-in session is open to all ages and will take place in the North Glass Training Room, which is located in Cannon Hall’s Walled Gardens; for more information on this museum and other Barnsley museums, see their website. https://www.cannon-hall.com/
Woolaton Hall Museum, Nottingham
2 Wollaton Hall, NG8 2AE
In 2012, Wollaton Hall was chosen by Warner Bros as the set of Wayne Manor in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
Step inside Wollaton Hall for a behind-the-scenes look at the hidden rooms and corridors. You will discover the Prospect Room, Tudor Kitchens, and other popular hidden parts of the Hall. The county’s largest dedicated Natural History Museum, Wollaton Hall, houses 750,000 objects, from fascinating fossils to surreal ‘spirit’ jars. On Saturday, February 10, 2024, there will be science stalls, interactive activities, and presentations from scientists in the Education Room at the Hall. Find out more on their website. https://wollatonhall.org.uk/
Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham
Clifton Lane, Clifton, S65 2AA
Encounter the weird and wonderful as you discover the remarkable collections and exhibits. Learn about the Regiment’s 250-year history through colourful displays and interactive learning. The Lion’s Den focuses on the most beloved exhibit, Nelson the Lion. He has been given his own gallery, focusing on families and young children. Crawl through our baobab tree or listen to Nelson’s Roar, one of the most popular exhibits. Find out more here ; https://www.cliftonpark.org.uk/
Cusworth Hall Museum, Doncaster
Cusworth Lane, DN5 7TU
A mix of exciting exhibits in each room with a local social commentary brings the past to life with videos running in black-and-white footage of Doncaster and surrounding areas. You can enter the Great Kitchen, where many feasts were prepared, or view the paintings on the chapel’s ceiling. From setting up home to working and socialising, the collections reflect people’s daily lives in Doncaster from the 18th century to the present. https://www.cusworthhall.co.uk/
Weston Park Museum, Sheffield
Western Bank, Mushroom Lane, S10 2TP
You’ll discover everything from archaeological treasures to zoological wonders, meet visitor favourites Spike the Woolly Rhino and Snowy the Polar Bear, and learn more about the people and events that shaped the city we know today. It’s also home to a programme of changing exhibitions and events for all ages. In the Beneath Your Feet gallery, you can explore life in Ancient Egypt and unearth unique artefacts spanning centuries. Over in What On Earth, you’ll learn more about the city’s changing wildlife and environment. See the Sheffield Museums website to learn about all the museums Sheffield has to offer. https://www.sheffieldmuseums.org.uk/visit-us/weston-park-museum/
York Castle Museum
Not free for everyone
Free York Resident Child, Free Under 5s, Free Concession (means-tested benefits and specific disabled criteria and free carers). See the website for more information.
Car parking charges
The Museum’s exhibitions include Kirkgate (a real-life street), Moorland Cottage (life in the nineteenth century), life in the ’60s, and much more. The buildings that now house York Castle Museum used to be York County jail, the central prison for Yorkshire. You’re in the oldest surviving prison building, which opened in 1705.
Kirkgate is like visiting a real street as it would have been many years ago. To give visitors the experience of returning to a bygone age. The shops in Kirkgate are based on real shops and businesses that operated in York between 1870 and 1901. Like a real street, Kirkgate is made of buildings from different periods. The objects around you are original items from the Victorian period and earlier; even the carriages and nearly all shop fronts are original. Find out more here: https://www.yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk/
Many museums are free and offer special holiday events and activities. Check their Facebook pages for updates. Also, visit local libraries, which usually host fun, free events like arts and crafts and storytimes.
Churches, Minsters and Abbeys.
We have found that many large churches and cathedrals offer free admission and can be a magical visit, exploring stained glass windows, interesting structures and architecture. Doncaster Minster, Selby Abbey and Ripon Catherdal are just some of the many in our region that offer free entry.
Our little blog has given you some ideas for entertaining the kids when the weather improves. Check out our other money-saving blogs, including “Kids Eat Free or Cheap in February” and “Free Days Out,” which include outdoor activities on sunny days.
See our other money-saving blogs, including;-
Free outdoor days out https://thesouthyorkshirescoop.com/2024/02/09/free-days-out-in-yorkshire/
Kids eat for free or cheap https://thesouthyorkshirescoop.com/2024/02/09/kids-eat-free-or-cheap-in-february-2024/
Do you have another enjoyable free rainy day activity or day out you’d like to share with us? Contact us, and we will add it to our list. https://thesouthyorkshirescoop.com/get-in-touch/