72 hours in York with kids

72 hours in York with kids

There are two things that are a pleasant surprise about York.

1. It’s actually just 2 hours from London by train
2. You can easily walk everywhere when you're there.

My husband acted as expert guide on our 3 night mini-break with the girls (both under 4).

He could easily identify with the three young guys swaying down the road in 70s get up for he was once a student there himself.

17 years later and with two pre-schoolers in tow, would York offer a good respite after a hectic Christmas?

The answer is a definite yes.

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What to see

In our short few days in York we visited the breathtaking York Minster - the biggest of its kind in Northern Europe immense in scale and with some stunning stained glass. The closer you peer, the more you notice. The detail is incredible. The kaleidoscopic ceilings are something to behold and admire.

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We also visited the Jorvik Viking Centre. In slow-moving cars (a bit like the waltzers at the fairground but about 200 times slower) you get taken on a 16 minute tour through life in a 10th century Viking city. With animatronic people and animals, the ride offers in insight into life back then - complete with sounds and smells. It’s something for all ages to enjoy.

The National Railway Museum is also a must. An impressive collection of old locomotives showing how people used to travel (spoiler alert - it was a hell of a lot nicer than now). We timed our visit perfectly as Tim Peake’s spacecraft is currently on display there - a reminder of one hot and (I imagine) uncomfortable journey back to Earth (the Soyuz Descent Module is tiny for three men to be cramped inside).

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Where to Stay

We stayed at The Grand Hotel which was perfectly placed close to the train station and a short walk to York city centre with all its restaurants and shops. The Grand offers large rooms - perfect for a family of four and a big highlight for our 3 year old was an indoor pool. ‘We wanna go back the room’ became a familiar sentence from our two girls. After a hectic morning of walking more than they normally would, the girls were more than happy to arrive back at the hotel for a swim and a movie in the room (the hotel kindly provided a DVD player.)

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For the best coffee...

Head to Spring Espresso (named one of Britain's 30 best and buzziest coffee shops by The Daily Telegraph). This stylish and relaxed cafe (child friendly) served up a delicious marmite toast. The marmite is pre-mixed into the dough with a sprinkling of cheese. The coffee was the best I’ve had for ages. This place will offer a great caffeine hit to start your day and they also serve babyccinos for the little ones. Brownie points for mum and dad.

 

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Restaurant-wise we ate at the family-run Mamma Mia in Gillygate. A simple spicy Arrabiatta hit just the right spot washed down with a chilled glass of Pinot. There is a children’s menu with pizza and pasta options to choose from.

Gusto in Little Stonegate is a lovely, atmospheric brasserie we ate at, offering an extensive range of pizza, pasta, steak, salads and more. Again they offer a good selection for children.

So while the temptation in January may be to hop on a plane and escape the rain and drizzle - we wrapped up warm and embraced it. York has lots to offer for a few days away. Only last night we were chatting about how relaxing it was being out of London. The kids clearly loved a change of scene and being somewhere new. I’m sure it won’t be long before we head back - I miss it already.

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