Finding things to keep an active kid entertained, occupied and out of trouble can be pretty challenging, not to mention pretty expensive.
So often I find myself looking further afield for something to do with the kids and forget about all the great attractions I have right on my own doorstep. Even if you’re feeling the pinch and need to tighten those purse strings a little, you can still make the most of the city.
If you’re looking for a free afternoon out with the kids in Leeds, Roundhay Park is an obvious choice. I have spent many happy times at this park, not just with my own little munchkins but when I was a kid too.
The park has plenty of space for picnics and games, so whether it’s football, hide and seek, or just taking a blanket to sit on, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot for it. Take a walk around the lake and let the kids feed the ducks – and when you’re finished there, you still have the adventure playground to let kids go wild in. Liv also never fails to secure an ice cream every time we go: be it 21 degrees or 2 degrees!
You can explore the gardens surrounding it first as it links into Roundhay Park which is right across the road. It’s effectively an indoor zoo. It’s not massive and when I’m in there with both baby and toddler it only takes a little over an hour to walk through. We all know what the attention span of a toddler is like. Make sure you dress the little ones in removable layers, as it can get pretty sweaty in there!
With tropical plants, butterflies, reptiles, fish and crocodiles, there’s lots for your little ones to see. Our favourite part is the meerkats though- they’re so damn cute!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll rush through the gift shop at the end and hope you’re toddler doesn’t become attached to the most expensive soft toy she can find. However if by the end you need a sit down and a caffeine top up, they’ve recently finished some refurbishments and have a decent sized, child-friendly cafe.
Lotherton Hall and bird garden
Lotherton Hall is a stately home near Leeds which houses a ‘bird garden’ within the grounds. Most of the birds aren’t native to England so they have plenty of flamingos, cranes, owls, vultures etc. Not forgetting the emus too: the flightless, devil-eyed beasts that they are. They definitely eye me up for a nibble every time I walk past.
There’s also plenty of others things to see and do if the bird garden isn’t your thing. If you’re bit of a history geek like me, you’ll appreciate having a wander around the house. Although it might be worth mentioning that this is not the same as walking around IKEA and playing with this flat packed furniture will cost more than your large plate of meatballs if your toddler gets too hands on, as I have often come too close to finding out!
It’s surrounded by parkland so there’s loads of space to have a picnic, play games with the kids and if they’ve still not had enough, there’s also the playground.
Home farm at Temple Newsam
It’s a working farm with many rare breed animals, that is open to the public for visits. If you go in the springtime, it will also full of cute baby farm animals. There’s also an additional playground hidden away at the bottom end of the farm for your kiddies to play on and for you to put your feet up for a minute’s rest.
Although you can get into Temple Newsam itself for free there is small entrance fee to the farm. However, as under 5’s go free it’s definitely worth forking out for an adult ticket. (That’s the Yorkshire-man in me coming out).
For the dog lovers out there, it’s also a ideal chance for them to stretch their legs too. Although if they’re as small and cute as our dogs, it’ll take you twice as long to get around as people just seem to be drawn towards you when you have a dog.
Leeds City Museum
When it comes to free things to do with the kids, Leeds City Museum is the first place that comes to mind. It’s absolutely jam-packed with intriguing exhibitions, covering everything from ancient mummies to fossils, so there’s something for everyone. Look out for their temporary exhibitions: they’ll keep the kids coming back. They also often host baby and toddler events, which can be great when you’ve got some spare time to fill.
As you can probably imagine there is lots to see and lots to do. I mainly go to let them go wild and knacker themselves out so Robyn will sleep better during her afternoon nap, and Olivia goes to sleep quicker at bed time so me and Rachel actually get some time together *insert evil laugh.*
So those are my top 5 days out which can entertain your little ones for hours and not break the bank. What do you think? Would I make it as a tour guide? Or is it more a case of “don’t give up your day job”? Let me know below.