What do you have in mind when I say a perfect affordable day out with kids? I think: easy to navigate, reasonably sized, reasonably priced indoor space with lots of children’s activities, toilets, baby change, cafe, convenient car park and an outdoor play area. Bingo! The place I will be telling you about is perfect in that respect, a great day out with kids in Yorkshire for all of us to enjoy. Carry on reading this post to find out why we enjoyed it so much and why you should visit it too.
A few weeks ago Ben suggested we go to Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds. I usually research things beforehand but I didn’t have time to do it so just relied on him to judge whether it is suitable for children considering it’s 55 minutes drive from our house and in a different city. When I lived in Kazakhstan I used to spend 50-60 minutes going to work in the morning and 50-60 minutes coming back in the car. That’s 2 hours a day, 10 hours a week, 40 hours a months, about 420 hours a year with holidays and bank holidays. This is one of the reasons why we downshifted and moved to York. I did not want to waste my life stood in traffic, we wanted a better lifestyle. Nowadays if we go somewhere that is further than 20 minutes away in the car I consider it a trip out, but I suppose, in the past I just needed to take myself and a lunch pack up if I was organised, now I have to take spare clothes for two children, nappies, wet wipes, nappy bags, snacks and drinks multiplied by two, pushchair, sling and all sorts. So it is a trip out after all. Obviously, Alma fell asleep on the way there, just to be awkward of course, so we had the dilemma of either waking her up once we were there and dealing with a grumpy toddler or sitting in the car for ages with a grumpy bored preschooler. Another option, was carrying round a 99 percentile child in a sling: not kind on mummy’s back. Turned out neither was necessary. First things first, the car park was free. How often do you get a free car park in a city within a walking distance of local sights? Not often. Next pleasant surprise that there was an outdoor playground right next to the car park, Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey house Museum. I don’t mean park a car and walk for 10-15 minutes, I mean right next to it. 1 minute walk to the museum and the abbey and 15 seconds walk to the playground, no dragging heavy bags and stroppy children round for ages, getting tired, sweaty, hating every minute of it, and being tired before you even start your main sightseeing event. Nothing like that. Easy. So Ben took Askar for a play while I sat with sleeping Alma and lurked over people’s Instagram and Facebook profiles. When she woke up we went to the museum. We could have gone to the abbey but it was a bit chilly and we weren’t dressed appropriately. Every now and then I forget that I live in the North of England and should have a section of a wardrobe dedicated to summer jumpers and summer jackets. Something I didn’t use to have in Kazakhstan. We paid £10 for two adults and a 3 year old and a 16 months old. Please check out the website for prices, so you don’t end up having a shock regarding the entrance fees. Excuse my lack of preparation, but the museum took me by a surprise too. It is similar to York Castle Museum if you’ve ever been, if not it is designed as a Victorian era street. It is a lot smaller than Castle Museum so a lot easier to navigate with two little ones running opposite directions. There are places you can go inside, Victorian style costumes to try on, things to sit on, including outdoor toilet which our three year old loved. I would love to tell you more but I can’t because I didn’t have a chance to stop for a second and note down things I saw or any interesting historical facts. Children still needed supervising but it was manageable, I didn’t feel that it was too much work at any given moment. Then we had to have a food break. The cafe was nice, it didn’t have anything fancy, but their little menu looked good: selection of hot and cold sandwiches, kids lunch boxes and cakes. I think it was enough for a small museum like that. Alma had her own food from home because we had failed the first rung of the milk ladder a few days before that so I wasn’t willing to risk cross contamination issues. Then we went to explore the first floor. Now, that was even better for children. We spent 1.5 hours just playing in there. First we encountered a playroom with various role playing toys: outfits, medical instruments, building equipment, kitchen, plastic foods and a pop up house. There was also a little sofa for parents to sit down and a TV screen that was showing women in history slideshow. Kids loved it. It took me a while to convince them to go anywhere else. Finally, when they gave in and we went in the next room we found a kid’s tea party set up with mini furniture, mugs and tea pots, wooden cakes and dolls, a rocking crib and teddy bears in the corner. It was like kids heaven. Honestly. I am not finished though, we walked into the next room and it had a reading corner with a great selection of books and what looked like a den with cushions, beautifully decorated and very cute. And in the next room… I know, you are thinking: what? even more? Yes, a room with wooden cars and people figures. And, tadam, in the next room two wooden dolly houses. Please, excuse my ignorance, I would love to tell you about local history of women’s rights movement because that’s what the actual exhibition was about at the time, but I just sat down and enjoyed watching my kids having a great time. When we eventually managed to get kids out of there we went across the road, remember the 1 minute walk to Kirkstall Abbey from the car park, sat down on the grass, shared some leftover lunch snacks and enjoyed the scenery. Blissful.
Have I convinced you to go visit? Please do, and remember this post is not an ad (not sponsored by any of the places I have reviewed in here), and I am doing it because I want other fellow mummies and daddies to have great affordable days out with kids in Yorkshire.