Travelling with even a small family can be a costly business. And so if you are trying to save money, are on a budget or are just wanting some great ideas for where to go around the region, here are 10 free places for families to visit in West Yorkshire! Written by guest blogger, Jo Boyne.
10 Free Places For Families To Visit In West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire is full of fun places to explore. But paying entrance fees when you have a family is no fun. So these free places can save you a load of money while still giving you great days out for the whole family.
I love West Yorkshire as you are never really far from a town or city. There are a tonne of brilliant shops and markets to visit, whether you choose Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield or Halifax. But for me, the history in the region really shines. And so I’d like to introduce you to some of our favourite places that don’t cost a penny. And some of them have free parking too!
The Royal Armouries – Leeds
The Royal Armouries in Leeds is completely free to visit. The Armouries is set over 3 floors, and it showcases the history of weapons and armour.
With over 60,000 items on display including guns, swords, armour and daggers, there is plenty to explore. Some of these objects date back hundreds of years, and there are galleries devoted to different historical times and locations where the weapons were used. It is such an interesting place. Check out the armoured elephant and see Henry VIII’s ornate armour.
Parking at the Armouries however is not free. There is a large multi-storey car park nearby. And you can also access the Armouries from the centre of Leeds on foot, though it is quite a walk.
Kirkstall Abbey – Leeds
Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall, just west of Leeds.The Abbey was founded by Benedictine monks from the nearby Burley-on-the-Hill Priory in 1152.
The first Cistercian abbey in the north of England, it soon became one of the most successful and influential monasteries in the region. Kirkstall had extensive land holdings and owned coal mines, grist mills and lead mines.
These days the Abbey is an impressive ruin, but it is set in gorgeous grounds by the side of the River Aire. Free parking is available at the opposite side of the road from the Abbey. And here you can also find a large children’s play area, and the Abbey House Museum. The museum is not free, but has quite a modest entrance fee. So it is a great place to spend a day.
Leeds City Museum
Found right in the heart of Leeds in Millenium Square, Leeds City Museum is a great free attraction. Set on about 5 floors you can find a huge range of artefacts, from a real Egyptian mummy to stuffed tigers! There is a gallery dedicated to the story of Leeds and the region. And a large display of ancient greek, roman and middle eastern artefacts.
As this is in the centre of Leeds there is no free parking. But it is very close to the city centre for the main car parks and bus routes. And you may not want to spend more than a couple of hours here, but there are so many shops and eating places nearby that you can make a day of it. And maybe consider visiting the next attraction whilst you are here…
Leeds Art Gallery
Just around the corner from the city museum and right next door to Leeds Town Hall is the city’s main art gallery. And this is also totally free to visit. Discover many top works of art from the likes of Anthony Gormley, Damien Hirst and David Hockney set alongside new and upcoming artists and period masters. It is a lovely mix of art. And even the cafe is worth a visit to see the architecture and decor!
In fact the whole building is an absolute gem for history lovers, with stairwells of Victorian tiles, ornate brickwork and busts of past Leeds dignitaries. It is well worth a visit.
Bolling Hall – Bradford
Bolling Hall is actually a bit of a hidden gem. Set in the suburb of Bolling just south of Bradford city centre, this Elizabethan Manor House is a small but perfectly formed glimpse into how life used to be for a noble family in Bradford.
The house has rooms filled with period features and furniture, has its own tower (which has sadly been closed during covid as it is such a small space, and may even have its own ghosts!
Bolling Hall played a part during the English Civil War. And the fate of the family was definitely tied to their allegiance to the Royalist cause. But it remained in use as a family home until the Edwardian era, so there is a lot of history packed into this small stately home.
The hall has a free car park. And even though the hall may not take much time to explore, there is a public park and children’s play area just down the stairs and across the main road.
Cliffe Castle – Keighley
Further afield from Bradford is Keighley, and here you can find Cliffe Castle. Cliffe Castle is a stately home built by the Butterfield family. The Victorian textile millionaire Henry Butterfield who built and owned the house was a voracious collector. He travelled all over the world bringing back all manner of objects to add to his collection.
Now his collection forms the basis of a wonderful display, that also has many items of local heritage interest. From stuffed animals to period clothing displays, you are sure to find something to marvel at. And at the centre of the collection is a stunning display of Morris & Co. stained glass.
Furthermore, the house is set in gorgeous grounds, with a large greenhouse, aviary and cafe. And there is also a play park for the children with probably one of the best views in Yorkshire!
A small but free car park is on the site, but you may have to park on the side of the road in one of the nearby streets as it does get busy.
National Media Museum Bradford
Right in the heart of Bradford overlooking City Park you can find the National Media Museum, which opened in 1983.
The National Media Museum Bradford is an institution that was set up to educate the public about the history of film, television and sound. You can find so much wonderful TV and film nostalgia in its galleries, and learn about how TV programmes are made.
The museum has many interactive exhibits which are targeted at different age groups. The museum offers tours for families and schools as well as workshops which can be tailored to suit different needs. Plus on site here is the first IMAX screen that was built in the UK. For an additional cost you can watch a 3D or standard film on this massive cinema screen.
There isn’t a free car park available at the museum, but it is right in the centre of Bradford so close to the many car parks and bus routes in the city.
Lister Park And Cartwright Hall – Bradford
Just to the north of Bradford city centre is Lister Park, a Victorian era public park opened on 14 September 1870 by Lord Mayor of Bradford, William Henry Brook.
Lister Park has a children’s playground, a cafe and a bowling green. But it also houses some wonderful public gardens with stunning water features. And has a large boating lake where you can hire a family pedalo. It is a lovely place to spend a summer day.
Right in the centre of Lister park is Cartwright Hall. This purpose built Victorian gallery was a gift from Samuel Lister – after whom the park was named. And it now homes both contemporary and traditional art, from Old Masters right up to the present day. So it is the perfect place to discover some art and local history too.
Free parking is available on the roadside of the streets nearby. Again be aware that these roads do get busy.
Saltaire is a suburb to the north of Bradford. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once a village built specifically to house the workers in the mills and factory of the Victorian philathropist and mill owner Titus Salt.
The centre of Bradford during the Industrial Revolution of the mid to late 1900s was a dirty, smoky and hazardous place for factory workers. So Titus built his mill in the cleaner air far removed from the city. He founded Saltaire on the banks of the Aire and Leeds-Liverpool canal. Which was also perfectly sited on the railway lines of the times. And he created the perfect housing for his workers, complete with schools, library, gym, concert hall, hospital, churches and meeting places.
Nowadays you can stroll around the village and visit all the lovely shops you find there. The showpiece however is Salt’s Mill itself, a massive mill that has been converted into shops, a cafe and art gallery. Here you can find many stunning artworks from a local artist that became famous around the world – David Hockney.
And if you visit on a lovely day there is Roberts Park right next door, with its large park and children’s play area.
There are some free parking spaces available, but also pay and display car parks in the village.
The Piece Hall – Halifax
Finally on this list of 10 free places for families to visit in West Yorkshire is the Piece Hall in Halifax.
The Piece Hall in Halifax, England is the only remaining example of a piece hall. It was built in 1779 and was originally owned by John Taylor & Son. The Piece Hall is used to sell goods which are made up of different amounts of fabric.
Piece Halls originated in Europe in the medieval era, when they were known as “cloth halls”. They were used to store and sell pieces or bolts of cloth that came in various sizes which made it easier for merchants to buy the correct amount. The Piece Hall in Halifax, England is one of two remaining buildings with this function; the other one being located at Cloth Hall Street in York.
Each gallery on the 3 levels has many doors that would have originally led to a small selling area for each of the merchants using the hall. Now, many of these small spaces have been knocked through to create larger shops and spaces, but a few of them are still kept in their original condition to show how this hall would have originally been used. The central square hosts many markets and displays through the year, and it is a lovely space to explore. Need more? Then Eureka! The museum for children isn’t too far away. There is no free parking, but the hall is very close to the bus and train station in the town.
A Rose Tinted World is a lifestyle blog by Jo Boyne. After 22 years of being a dentist, Jo had her first child in her mid forties, and decided to take a bit of a career break. She discovered a new love of sewing, and decided to start a blog about her parenting, sewing and travel experiences. You can find her over on her
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/arosetintedworld and
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