5 Must-Visit Family Attractions in South Yorkshire

24 February 2022

Parenting is rarely a walk in the park. Whether it’s half term or the six weeks holiday, keeping your kids content and entertained can be a real dilemma. Luckily, should you be willing to take a trip ‘up north’, you will certainly have your choice of some incredible family attractions. To kick things off, here are five places you simply must visit.


1. Jorvik, York

Take a step back into the Viking Era when you’re in the heart of York. Walking through the doors of this well-known family attraction is akin to using a time machine. When you’ve paid your admission — a reasonable £39 for a family of four — you and your kids will be strapped into capsules, ready to take a journey back to the years 866 through to 975.

The trip is guided by TV historian, Michael Wood, and gives you the chance to see and smell what life would have been like back in the day (more on that in a moment!). As the capsule moves around the exhibit, you will meet a whole host of animatronic Vikings going about their business. From blacksmiths and woodturners to leather workers and market stall owners, you will soon meet a colourful cast of characters along the way.

Based on the findings of the York Archaeological Trust back in the 1970s, Jorvik is a fun-filled and educational attraction, ideal for kids of all ages. Aside from witnessing life as it was in the Viking era, the exhibit includes artificial scents so you can smell it too.


2. Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Lions, and tigers, and polar bears… oh my! If your kids are born animal lovers, you can’t go far wrong taking them to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. 

The park’s claim to fame — which any Yorkshireman will tell you upon mentioning it—is that it’s home to the only polar bears in the country. That’s a huge flex. The attraction is also world-leading when it comes to the welfare and conservation of the vulnerable species. Other residents include lions, sea lions, pandas, leopards, rhinos, monkeys, and otters.

Time your visit right and you can catch some of the much-acclaimed ranger shows. From the Leaping Lemurs show to the Wallaby Walkabout, there are countless alliterative options for you and your family to watch. Be sure to check the itinerary before you visit.

Love technology? You can now explore Yorkshire Wildlife Park with the help of a handy smartphone app. Bloomberg Connects is home to a digital guide for the art gallery. If you and your family are planning to visit the gardens soon, you may want to download the app in advance. That way, you can load the guide onto your phone before you get there.

3. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

Next up, it’s time for a touch of culture with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The outdoor art gallery is around seven miles outside Wakefield, but it’s worth the drive. Once you’ve passed through the gates, you and your little ones can wander around the luscious, green gardens, looking at some of the world’s greatest sculptures. Since the exhibits change on a regular basis, you will need to check out the site before you go to see what to expect.

The 2022 line-up is shaping up well with exhibits from David Nash, Robert Indiana, Rachel Kneebone, Yukihiro Akama, and of course Damien Hirst. The latter is the real show-stopper, bringing art enthusiasts from all over the country to the much-loved park. The contemporary artist’s collection includes Charity, Myth, The Hat Makes the Man and The Virgin Mother, all of which make for inspiring talking points and photo opportunities.

4. National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield

Does your little one dream of being a fireman, policeman, or ambulance driver? If the answer is yes, the National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield is the place to go. The small but mighty attraction is in the heart of the Steel City and costs £8 for adults and £6 for children. You will need to plan your trip in advance and then book up. Note that the museum is only open from Wednesday to Sunday during the week.

Set inside a historic building, the family attraction plays host to a selection of high-action exhibits. You can start out with the Fiery Blaze to Fire Brigade collection, which will take you and your family through the birth of the modern fire services. Packed with old school uniforms, fascinating equipment, and more pumps than you can shake a stick at, there’s a lot to little up your little ones’ faces inside this busy and interesting room.

When you’re done there, The Engine House is an obvious next step. Yes, this is where the museum curators keep a colourful collection of fire engines from the last 20 years. Your kids will be able to visualise how the service has quickly changed in a little over a century. Other key exhibits include The Blitz, For King and Country, Guarding the Coast and more.

5. Tropical Butterfly House, Sheffield

Fluttering in at the end here, it would be a crime not to mention the Tropical Butterfly House on the outskirts of Sheffield. Despite its descriptive name, this family attraction has more than butterflies on offer. It’s also a wildlife conservation park, featuring beautiful birds such as the lorini parrots and peacocks. As if that weren’t enough to get your heart racing, you can see some bats and even a lemur or two as you wander around the attraction.

Once you’ve worn the kids out with all that walking, it’s time to stop off at Lottie’s Cafe for a wholesome lunch. There are loads of hot and cold drinks on offer along with cakes and bakes to boot. Are you ready to up your Instagram game? The photo opportunities are plentiful with places for your family members to stick their heads while you snap away.


The Takeaway

With the whole family in tow, there are countless attractions in South Yorkshire. Whether you’re heading to the Steel City or nipping over to York, there’s something to keep everyone busy. Since COVID-19 restrictions still apply in some places, be sure to do some research online when you are planning your trip. You don’t want to be disappointed!