Days out do not have to be expensive! In fact, they can be free. Here are 57 great free things to do and days out for you and your family in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond. Researched and chosen by me, there are some hidden gems and fantastic must-sees on this list. You’ll be spoilt for choice, whilst your wallet stays happy!
Take a picnic/packed lunch and as we say up here, “jobs a good’un!”
In the centre of Sheffield, Millennium Galleries is a modern gallery attached to Sheffield Winter Garden. Open daily and with 3 galleries to explore along with cafe, activity room and special exhibitions. Visit the Metalwork Collection room which has a steelworks play set for children to use.
This is the largest urban glasshouse in Europe and is definitely a must-see. Perfect for whatever weather, lots of space to explore and home to more than 2,000 plants. There are regular family events, a great coffee shop, gift shops and benches for picnics.
Feed the animals at Graves park animal farm, have fun in the playgrounds and explore 87 acres. The playgrounds are fantastic with a sand play area and adventure play equipment. There’s a lovely cafe, ducks, parking and accessible by many buses from Sheffield city centre.
Visit the hidden gem that is Heeley City Farm for animals, nature play, garden centre and play area. Just a stone’s throw from Sheffield City Centre. There also is a small animal house, home-coked fresh vegetarian cafe and just across the road is Heeley Park with a large playground.
Western park museum in Sheffield has loads to keep kids entertained with 5 galleries to see. Learn all about sheffields story from prehistoric to present day with interactive exhibits and hands on learning. There are opportunities to play in each gallery from picnic sets and dressing up, to pirate ship reading corner and igloo building. Have a stroll and picnic in the park. There’s ducks to feed and Crookes valley park with playground is nearby.
Cross the stepping stones, find hidden places, hide under trees, explore the playground, feed the ducks and enjoy Endcliffe park, Sheffield. The cafe is a great place to eat local and there are funfair rides, too.
Norfolk Heritage park, just outside of Sheffield City Centre has an adventure playground, toddler playground, ancient woods, historic parkland and an indoor centre with cafe. Make it a full day out as part of the Norfolk Heritage trail.
Open to the public on weekends, Bishops House in Sheffield is a grade II listed ancient historic building and museum. Combine with the playgrounds in Meersbrook park for a fun day out to keep the kids entertained!
Millhouses park is fantastic in summer. In the S8 area of Sheffield. Water play equipment and picnic areas conveniently next to the splash zone, good playgrounds and boating lake.
Find Boggarts at Longshaw Estate! A beautiful location for good nature play. Find the boggart holes and hides along in the trail at Longshaw Estate. Peak district location but on the edge of Sheffield means Longshaw is easy to find, accessible and picturesque. It is maintained by National Trust with good facilities. Take in the sights, feed the ducks and just cexplore. A stroll down to Padley Gorge is a must.
Watch our video and blog on what to do at Longshaw Estate is here, along with details how to find it, bus information and photos.
Clifton Park and museum in Rotherham has fantastic adventure play areas for all ages. In summer, the park comes to life for children with an amazing water play area with fountains. There’s adventure playgrounds, sand and water play, plus a modern history museum, fun fair, walled garden, golf, cafe, and lotsof parkland to enjoy.
Check out The Victorian kitchen at Cannon Hall Museum in Barnsley which is great role play for kids. The country house is open to explore with all of the grand rooms furnished and decorated. It’s fascinating for all ages. There’s 70 acres of gardens to explore, acres of space to picnic and play. Definitely check out the fairyland folly!
A fantastic modern art gallery, The Hepworth in Wakefield is for kids as well as adults. There’s regular family free activities such as sensory art and creating projects, plus a playground.
Leeds City Museum is one of Leeds best attractions and a great family day out for all ages. There’s lots to learn at this city museum with an impressive collection, current and special exhibitions and a busy schedule of events and workshops. There is a specially designed toddler town play area, a natural history gallery which is hands-on, interactive, with a colouring and reading corner for kids.
A magnificent national museum with collections of arms and armour, Leeds Royal Armouries is a museum which everyone should visit regardless of age and interest. There’s six galleries, over 8,500 objects, all with interactive and educational displays and information. I always learn a lot when I visit and there’s too much to fit in just one day! Especially for kids the Jesters yard play area is loads of fun, check before you go for opening times.
Home to Robin Hood and his merry men, Sherwood Forest has 450 acres to explore, is home to the Major Oak and part of Sherwood Forest Nature Reserve. There are waymarked trails, a visitors centre, restaurant, yearly festival and wildlife.
The Sherwood Arrow from Worksop and Nottingham go to Sherwood Forest, there are many buses from Nottingham which stop by Edwinstowe just a short walk away.
Buxton, a 14th century old spa town in Derbyshire makes a beautiful day out in itself. There are nice shops to browse, charity shops aplenty for bargain hunting, cafes, pubs, coffee shops, many shopping and dining possibilities. But for me, the star of the show is the Pavilion Gardens. 23 acres of pleasure gardens to please the eye, a land train, lovely colourful playground, café with play area, nature, gift shops and events make this the “jewel in the crown” of Buxton.
This free large museum in Manchester is a must visit. When I went recently for the first time, I couldn’t actually believe that it was free. So much to see and do for all ages! For young children, try the free Treasure Baskets, Blanket Bags and Power packs. The Experiment! gallery is fantastic with science experiments, illusions and games to play and use. There is a small soft play area in the Experiment! Gallery. The Den! is a quiet, sensory area for children to explore and there’s so much to see in the rest of the museum too.
One of the biggest parks in Europe, Roundhay Park in Leeds has 700 acres of woodlands, parkland, gardens and lakes. There are playgrounds, wildlife, many gorgeous gardens, lakes, a castle and much more to see and do.
Indoor shopping centre in Sheffield with cinema, over 250 shops, soft play (not free, but worth a mention), Oasis dining court and playground outside. There is a parent club which meet once a month; “Mini & Me” and regular free family events.
22. Worsborough Mill and Museum
A 17th century working mill in Barnsley with grounds to explore, parkland and museum. You can see milling demonstrations, watch history come to life, spot wildlife and enjoy 70 acres of space. Entry to the mill and museum are free, some tours do cost a small fee.
23. Cusworth Hall Museum and Park, Doncaster
A local history museum housed in a restored Georgian house. With beautiful interiors, landscaped grounds, pleasure grounds and acres of picnic space in historic parkland.
Both the heritage centre and historic railway in Elsecar are fascinating and worth a visit. A whole day can be spent in Elsecar. The small museum in the heritage centre is free to visit, there are shops to browse, and historical streets to wander. There’s a soft play “Playmania” (free under 1’s and has lots of activities!), antique shops, cafes and event space with regular festivals and fairs on. Whilst some of this does cost, visiting the heritage centre is free and you can see the trains in action at the railway without spending a penny. A stroll around the area and down to Elsecar Park is another cost-free option, as well as many local walks in the area.
On the edge of Rotherham, Thrybergh is open November-March and is free to visit. There is a fun outdoor play area, 2 mile circular walk, cafe, nature and wildlife, welcome centre and is all accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Dogs are welcome and essentials for barbeques and picnics can be purchased from the camping shop.
This green flag award park has loads going on. Animals and wildlife (including over 260 birds to spot and farm animals), water sports, picnicing and barbeques, biking, golfing, walking, relaxing, playground… the list goes on! Kids can have fun in the Adventure Valley play area (unfortunately costs for over 1’s, there are other free playgrounds there), miniachure train, lotsof ducks to feed and acres of space to explore. Check openingtimes before you go as some things are seasonal.
The witch had a cat and a very tall hat… and long ginger hair which she wore in a plait! This adventure trail from Julia Donaldson’s “Room on a broom” brings the book to life. Children (and adults!) get to meet characters along the way, solving clues and puzzles. Activity packs (charge) can be bought from the welcome centre at the park, but are not needed to enjoy hunting the sculptures around the trail. There is a good cafe, picnic areas, ducks and birds, and a nice playground, too.
Be a gruffalo spotter! Another adventure book trail providing tons of fun for families; the Gruffalo Spotters trail at Dalby Forest is open from 18th Fbeurary 2017. Visitors should recommend the app before going which brings characters to life along the trail as you solve clues on the 2 mile walk. An activity kit for £3 can be purchased, and the app is free.
A national trust park near Worksop, this historic parkland has 20 miles of trails to explore. Open from 7am and an impressive 3,800 acres with a lake that covers 87 acres you won’t be stuck for adventuring in the woods, that’s for sure! There are playareas, woodlands, farmlands, walking opportunities, wildlife spotting and bike trails. There are indoor options too with a walled kitchen garden, discovery centre and soft play.
Wollaton Hall was one of our favourite free places we found last year. The impressive elizabethian mansion and park in Nottingham is set in beautiful surroundings with gardens and deer. There is a good playground, and indoors a brilliant Natural History Museum! The museum interests all ages, with an extensive collection of taxidermy, free activities and interactive displays for kids and a curousity corner.
This free museum in Bradford is one of Yorkshire’s best free, family attractions. The new Wonderlab is sensory fun for toddlers and intriging for adults, too. There are 8 levels jam packed of things to explore. The museum is interactive and educational, there’s sure to be something to suit everyone. The magic factory is a must visit that will entertain kids with it’s illusions and lights. Video gamers will appreciate the games lounge.
Home to UK’s rail collection, the National Railway Museum in York was prized winner of VisitYork tourism awardsin 2014 and tripadvisor travellers choice in 2013. The museum is has 2 huge halls; the Station hall and Great hall which really inspire the imagination with platforms, historic railways and trains. It’s so fun to go inside real trains from all over the world. The outside South yard features a miniachure railway and childrens play area and there is much more to see inside. Don’t forget the kids indoor play area with a fantastic train set and role play ticket office, dress up and toys.
Perhaps a little broad, so maybe I’m cheating with this one; but the Peak District really is free. It is my favourite place in the UK, and this national park has so much to do, see and experience. On the edge of Sheffield and close to Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Yorkshire; it can easily be reached. There is something for everyone from National Trust, the best picnic spots, ancient woodlands and historical villages, country pubs, quiant villages and towns, vast open spaces and heather moorlands, hidden gems, lovely cafes, walking trails, cycle hire and so much more. The Peak District is very accessible with many buses and train stations to get around. It is best explored on foot.
This art gallery in Shipley, Saltaire is a lot more than an art gallery! This beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site is free to visit, park and enjoy. The grounds are beautiful, Saltaire village is a living postcard and truly picturesque. Inside Salts Mill are galleries, gift and bookshops ,cafes and espresso bars, an exhibition and lots of space to stroll around and take it all in! Kids will like the big, spacious galleries and rooms and the outside canal walk.
Situated in the Peak District but only 5miles from Sheffield is Damflask Reservoir, close to the village of Bradfield. A 3.5 mile circular walk around Damflask Reservoir is on flat path and accessible for all.Damflask is easy to access by bus from Sheffield (61 and 62, TM travel). Along the shore, it is fun for kids to spot wildlife and play with rocks and stones. It is a quiet area and in Low Bradfield there are many facilities for eating and drinking.
Whilst it may cost to see inside Chatsworth House, the gardens, farmyard and playground; there is so much of Chatsworth estate that can be enjoyed free of charge. The grand home to the Duke and Dutchess of Devonshire is set on around 1,000 acres of parkland and 35,000 acres of estate to go out and explore. There is so much to see out in the parkland and estate; it is up to you how far to go! This is a walk I highly recommend with lots to see and suitable for prams. Chatsworth House makes the perfect picnic spot and good facilities mean you can be reassured of places to eat, cafes, toliets, etc,.
Bus 218 to Chatsworth house from Sheffield go directly into the carpark and take only around 45minutes.
In Wakefield, the National Coal Mining Museum is a good option for year-round family fun. The museum boast a busy calendar of events, Wacky Wednesdays; a free children’s group, exhibitions and underground tours. Visitors have the chance to go 140m underground and experience whatit would be like to work down in the mines.
A limestone gorge with a lot of history! At Creswell Crags, families have a variety of things to do. Choose from the visitors centre and museum, caves, country park and wildlife reserve. Open every day, offering geological sights, walks and trails, see their what’s on for special exhibitions and events.
There are 15 different garden areas in Sheffield Botanical Gardens, and together with the Glass Houses include plants from all over the world. From Asia and the Mediterranean, to the Bear Pit where kids can imagine this life-like sculpture come to life, these gardens in Sheffield make the perfect escape from the city. There are so many friendly squirrels which kids love, too!
40. Ilam Park Hall and Dovedale
Dovedale and Ilam Park in the Manifold valley is a vast area managed by National Trust in the Peak District. The famous Dovedale stepping stones make an amazing photo opportunity, with beautiful landscapes surrounding them. You’ll be spoilt for choice with picnic spots. Visit the hall to see ancient historic ruins, nice walks, gardens, a graveyard, tearoom and activities run by National Trust.
More than one, as there’s actually a handful (and then some!) of things to do in Hull. There are plenty free museums are situated all in the Museums Quarter. All of these museums don’t cost a penny. You can see Wilberforce House, the Hull and East Riding Museum, Streetlife and the Arctic Corsair trawler. There’s also Ferens Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum. All of these atrractions are in Hull City Centre so can easily be found within short journey of each other.
This fine art gallery have a busy calendar of events for families. A vibrant art-space in Barnsley, home to the Cooper trustee’s collection. There are over 400 works from famous artists and temporary exhibitions. Try these tots sensory play sessions on Wednesdays during term time for little ones.
The history of Barnsley is told in this museum and discovery centre which includes intereactive displays, artefacts and films from local people. This museum was created by the people, for the people and offers a unique way to uncover the history of Barnsley, its stories and heritage.
Twee and Drie, the water taxi’s which sail on Leeds Dock to and from Royal Armouries Museum have come all the way from Amsterdam. The free service runs daily, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday and 10am-7pm on weekends. It’s such fun for all the family, especially for kids who will be fascinated with the boat and it adds a special touch to a day out at the Royal Armouries museum!
Bolton Abbey takes its name from the 12th century Augustinian monastery. In modern times, it is now known as Bolton Abbey and is one of the best family attractions in Yorkshire. Fantastic fun for a summer day out in the yorkshire dales, but suitable year-round and open daily January-October. If 80 miles of walks isn’t enough to keep the whole family busy, there is a sandy beach, paddling, woodlands, tons of picnic, BBQ and games space, plus seasonal activities, trails and events.
A hidden gem in Sheffield, Manor Oaks Farm and Sheffield Manor Lodge are both free to visit and are good to combine as a day out as one, being both situated next to each other. The farm is small but community-run and home to a very nice cafe; Rhubarb Shed cafe, there is plenty outdoor seating and high chairs, a toy shed with bikes, scooters and balls for children to play with. The lodge and ruins have sand play areas, a lavendar maze, ruins and the lodge which can be explored through guided tours.
UK’s only open air art gallery and winner of the Artfund museum of the year 2014, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is loved by many for a free day out outdoors. Pick up a map from the visitors centre and choose how you would like the day to go by visiting galleries and finding sculptures. This special Yorkshire attraction is in the Yorkshire sculpture triangle; that’s four free venues for you to enjoy all connected by a free shuttle bus.
A 4.8 miles sculpture trail where you can find 18 pieces of art around Firth Park and Wincobank. This project was a collaboration between local people and artists, completed in 2011, and is a permanent public feature open to all. The trail takes you through ancient bluebell woods and to discover an iron age fort. There’s lots to see for everyone.
Formerly Sheffield Canal Basin, Victoria Quays is part of the Tinsley Canal in Sheffield, S2. You can take a stroll all the way to Meadowhall alongside the water, or grab refreshments from Quay 1819 Cafe / bar and enjoy the view. There are always lots of interesting boats parked on the quays and it is a quiet place to relax and enjoy with family and friends, only a stones throw away from the city centre.
A beautiful park in the Rivelin Valley area of Sheffield,home to the water play which dates back to 1909 when it used to be an open air swimming pool. Rivelin Park has a playground as well as the water play area, cafe, and is on the nature trail route. The nature trail is 2 miles and very pictuesque.
Hillsborough Park, in north-west Sheffield is a great park for families. Adjecant to the park is the Hillsborough Library, which includes a public children’s library (they have baby and toddler sessions, as well as other activities). There’s a large playground, duck pond, acres of parkland to explore and a walled garden. Hillsborough Park sees community events and festivals throughout the year, and is very acccessible on bus and tram routes (Sheffield Supertram Yellow routes).
This large park in North Sheffield includes a sports centre and is next to Woolley Woods. The park has a large golf course, playgrounds, country park and historic barn.
Loads of funto be had at this adventure playground! Highfield adventure playground is open and staffed throughout the year, is open to private hire and is suitable for toddler through to school-age children. There is a large adventure playground and a separate woodland play area with wendy houses, mud kitchen andtoddlere quipment. The community centre runs activities, clubs, arts and crafts, and has all the facilities you need.
When you need to relax in Sheffield City Centre, Peace Gardens should be your first point of call. Right next to the Town Hall, the Peace Gardens offers a good place to relax, have picnic and watch your kids have fun in the fountains. In summer months, there’s a great atmosphere and the gardens are jam packed of all ages chilling, sun bathing, having lunch breaks and taking advantange of the good weather!
At the end of West Street in the city centre, the Devonshire Green is a small open space to relax and enjoy. There is a skate park, cool architecture, lots of cafes, bars and restaurants surrounding it, and the small open space that is is makes it easy to see little ones without them getting lost! There is also a playground just around the corner behind WestOne Plaza. Click here to read my blog post and find that!
That’s a lot of free days out! And I could keep going, but I would never get this blog posted! Haha. I would love for you to recommend your own free things to do in the comments below. I hope you found this list helpful, please share this blog if you did. And don’t forget to save it for future reference.
Thanks for reading!