York and Leeds lead the pack when it comes to kids. Trundle down a recreated Victorian high street, complete with old-fashioned shops and houses, at Abbey House Museum. Check out the kids’ toys upstairs. Oh, and the undertakers. Or amp up the energy at Oxygen Freejumping, home to over 100 interconnected trampolines.
Feed the Humboldt penguins at Harewood House, visit Thwaite Mills, one of the last water-powered mills in Britain and head out to the island for a walk or just take a picnic by the river. Keep that picnic basket handy for Cistercian Kirkstall Abbey, with its tennis courts, adventure playground (both newly added, obvs) and 900 years of history.
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm serves up alpacas, cows, sheep, donkeys, guinea pigs and rabbits. Take a turn around the bike track, spot birds and bag a bite in the café. Kids love gore, so give it to them in spades at Thackray Medical Museum, full of ancient grisly techniques and the chance to dissect an eye or two.
Take a mile-long ride on the oldest working railway in the world at Middleton Railway. Then dig into the history of railways at the museum, home to old steam, diesel and electric locomotives. Paint your own pots at Jackrabbits Pottery. Or negotiate hairpin turns and speedy straights at Team Sport go-karting.
Leeds is a cornucopia of cosmopolitan fun these days, and it’s just seven miles away. Footie and cricket fans won’t complain, with test ground Headingley and Elland Road, home to Leeds United, bang on the doorstep. Grab your share of gigs and other culture, too, at Leeds Arena, the Grand Theatre and the Playhouse.
Turn the other way and you’ll be in York in no time. Ancient walls surround Roman roots and a Viking past, with world-class shopping in delightful independents an incongruous bonus. For further retail therapy, McArthurGlen comes bursting with brands such as Polo, Reiss and Michael Kors.
Stay around York for ground-shaking, heart-racing action at the racecourse. Keep it equine with the annual Bramham Horse Trials, one of Europe’s leading three-day events. Or move on to Harrogate, home to original Turkish Baths and incredible antique shopping, 17-acre Valley Gardens, and the weird and wonderful Brimham Rocks.
Walk to Lotherton Hall, an Edwardian country estate, hall and wildlife park with 130 types of bird, or Bramham Park, a spectacular home inspired by a Grand Tour of Europe. Liven things up at night with buzzing trips to the HiFi Club, Wire or Club Mission, or just pop out for a pint to the Arabian Horse or the Crooked Billet.
Hen destinations don’t come more iconic than Leeds. Should you for some reason tire of the heated pool, the covered entertainment area, tennis court, play barn and in-house chef (on request), the bright lights of the city sit twinkling in the near distance. But there’s plenty to do before you slip on your dancing shoes.
By day, you can bruise some bottoms with paintballing at Live for Today. Explore Leeds’ 21 nature reserves, venture out to Otley Chevin Forest Park, or trot around the stunning grounds of Temple Newsam. Or pop up to the Dales and yomp over the Three Peaks. Don’t forget your Kendal Mint Cake.
Take a bike ride along the Leeds-Liverpool canal to Saltaire. Play on vintage machines at Arcade Club. Dive into a world of reading at The Little Bookshop. Emmerdale fan? Take a guided tour of the studio. Try a Prosecco with a view in the Sky Lounge at the DoubleTree Hilton. Or play Houdini at The Great Escape Game.
Take a flower crown workshop or go back to school at an old-style sports day. Head out at night for a cocktail class at Las Iguanas, or to the Sneaky Experience, bringing favourite films to life in unique locations such as Kirkstall Abbey or Millennium Square. Or just throw shapes at clubs such as Mint or The Warehouse.