We love train travel here, and exploring Great Britain is one of our favourite ways to stay-cay as a family on weekends or for week-long breaks.
We live on the outskirts of Leeds and over a month we hopped on trains and visited York, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester with TransPennine Express Trains, eating, playing, shopping and getting a cultural fix, as we went.
We had a complete blast on the trip and in this first instalment, I share our first stop: the achingly beautiful city of York.
York is a such a delight, rich in ancient history and bursting with open markets, fabulous restaurants and seriously good shops. It’s an ideal location for a fun family weekend away so head there to sight-see, enjoy a picnic in the park, visit award winning museums and take a leisurely stroll down its most famous, the cobbled Shambles.
Here I share what to do and eat in the city!
What to Do:
The Jorvik Centre transports you back in time to live like the Vikings in an authentic recreation of an 8th century village and what’s more, the museum is built on the actual site of an archaeological dig uncovered in York over 30 years ago. Wow!
Newly-refurbished after the York floods, the kids were truly mesmerised with the life-like Viking models on show, and the boys revelled in carving out replica coins of days-gone-by with the help of actors dressed as Norse seafarers.
Bringing history to life with museums like Jorvik makes education fun for kids, and it was a stimulating couple of hours.
After that hit of history, we dashed over to another must-see museum: the multi award-winning National Railway Museum to discover the birth of rail via ornate trains, workshops, films and exhibitions on site.
Both the outdoor and indoor train-themed play areas kept the kids busy too and you can even pay to ride on a steam train during your stay as well. Toot toot!
Note to the mama bloggers, the walls adjacent to the museum are an Instagrammer’s dream so I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity of a bit of posing in my new Topshop tea dress!
Strike a pose!
When it comes to shopping, York provides the best of the high street as well as vintage indie boutiques and antique shops you can while away the hours in (if the kids will let you).
The Shambles is lined with timber-framed buildings, shops that have been around for years and of course, tourist faves such as a shop dedicated to teddy bears and a Harry Potter themed store ‘that must not be named’!!!
Where to Eat:
Bluebird Bakery is a quaint bakers you’ll find on The Shambles serving up traditional spelt loaves, chocolate brownies, pastries and literally anything a carb-fiend could possibly want for brunch, or a light portable lunch so you can take in the views of York whilst you munch.
When it comes to dinner, The Refectory is the one of this family’s favourites, particularly after a busy day in York as the serene setting allows you to rest and relax and being just a stone’s throw away from the train station means it’s the perfect pause before jumping back on the train and home again.
Serving local, seasonal produce in what feels like an al fresco setting (bursting with plants) with a modern aesthetic throughout, The Refectory is both chic and welcoming and caters for families perfectly, offering smaller but no-less flavoursome portions from the main menu the little ones enjoyed.
The roast chicken and eponymous Refectory burgers were honestly out of this world and you cannot miss the creamy cauliflower cheese.
Dessert-wise, the donuts are to die for. Go hungry so you can appreciate every course!
I’m hungry just thinking about it! York, you were a blast!
Don’t miss the vlog of our entire tour of the North where we also visited Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester too: