22 fun things to do in South Yorkshire with kids

If you’re looking for things to do in South Yorkshire with kids then this list of attractions, activities and places to go is for you.

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South Yorkshire was the stomping ground for most of my kids growing up years so we spent a lot of time exploring the area and looking for new and exciting kid friendly days out.

There’s so much history here and in amongst the industrial landscape there’s a surprising number of outdoor things to do and countryside attractions. It’s often an area that’s overlooked when searching for days out so let’s change that!

Family days out in South Yorkshire can range from museums to castle visits, woodland walks to animal parks. There’s a lot to see in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster!

This is not an exhaustive list of family friendly attractions in South Yorkshire (yet!) – if I’ve missed anything that you highly recommend do let me know in the comments or by contacting me.

I’ve also given weight to outdoor activities that encourage kids getting fresh air and active!

Prices correct as of February 2022. Covid has had an effect on some of the running of children’s attractions in South Yorkshire so I advise checking the attraction website before travelling.

Things to do in Sheffield with kids

You’ll be pleased to know that all these Sheffield family days out are actually free. I didn’t set out for it to be that way but Sheffield is pretty awesome for free things to do. If you can, consider donations where applicable, they really help the museums and attractions, especially lately.

Winter Gardens and Peace Gardens

If you’re in Sheffield city centre and wondering what to do with your kids and where to take them then I suggest heading to the Winter Gardens or the Peace Gardens that are right next to it. Where you go might depend on the weather!

The Winter Gardens are a covered garden with lots of tropical plants indoors. It’s a great place to find a bench and take a picnic if the weather isn’t being kind to you. There are a couple of shops inside and you’ll also be able to visit the Millenium Galleries too for some Sheffield metalwork history and paintings to look at.

The Peace Gardens are a large open space next to the Town Hall and if you happen upon it on a nice day then it’s a really good place to let kids have a run around and play in the fountains. Bring a spare change of clothes!

Open daily. Free Entrance.

Weston Park Museum

Situated near the Children’s Hospital is the Weston Park Museum. It’s a really good museum, free to enter and look around, and has a lot of exhibits from local history to natural history.

We spent lots of hours here over the years and always learn something new. It’s very child friendly and has lots of accessible exhibits and clothes to dress up in.

Outside you have the large Weston Park which is great to let the kids run around in, play games or just let off some steam too.

Closed Mondays. Free Entrance.

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet

Explore what the making tools in Sheffield looked like in the 18th century. With a waterwheel, grinding tools, a dam and restored cottages to look round it’s a really interesting place. Anyone with kids learning about industrial revolution times will also enjoy it.

There are lots of hands on exhibitions and things to explore. A cafe is on site for tea and a light bite to eat.

Open on Saturdays and Sundays and in Sheffield School Holidays. Free entrance.

Graves Park and Animal Farm

Located in the South West of the city Graves Park Animal Farm is a piece of the countryside in the city. They have all sorts of animals to see and feed from pigs to chickens, sheep and even llamas!

Away from the animal farm, the park is also large and good for running around, nature walks, ball games and there’s a good playground for kids too. Watch for ducks and waterbirds at some of the lakes at the south of the park.

Animal Farm is open daily 10am – 3.30pm. Free admission. No dogs in the Animal Farm

Wyming Brook Nature Reserve

Heading out towards the Peak District is the wonderful Wyming Brook Nature Reserve. If you’re looking to get out in nature and away from the city this is the place to come.

It’s a great place for kids with streams, babbling waterfalls, lots of nature to spot and of course an abundance of fresh air. We used to come here a lot with our kids to practice photography – there’s a lot of different things to catch their eye.

Open daily. Free entrance and Parking

Ecclesall Woods

An ancient woodland in the city and one of the best places for a woodland walk with kids. Definitely try coming in the spring months when the bluebells are out.

The visitor centre sometimes runs family activities which is worth checking especially in summer holidays.

Open daily. Free entrance

Kelham Island Museum

Finally in Sheffield centre we have another museum, this time Kelham Island Museum. It’s centrally located and easy to get to by tram and public transport.

You can learn all about the industrial heritage of Sheffield and steel making here and how it transformed from a small industry to the one that shaped the city. There’s lots for inquisitive kids to learn about here.

Closed Saturdays and Mondays. Free admission

Things to do in Rotherham with kids

Magna Science Adventure Centre

Based in an old steel works between Rotherham and Sheffield, Magna is a really fun day out for kids and it combines science, adventure and hands on learning. We used to go here constantly and always had a great day out.

You can visit the water, air, earth and fire pavilions where there are lots of hands on activities.

Outdoors they also have a water park (open in Summer) and outdoor adventure playground.

Open weekends and School holidays. Entrance is £13.95 for adults and £11.95 for children. You can also choose to just visit the outdoors play parks.

Rother Valley Country Park

This was just on our doorstep for many years so we spent A LOT of time here. Your day out here can be as simple as you like and can just be a lovely nature walk around the lake or you could consider upping the stakes and trying out some watersports. They do water zorbing, pedal boats and rowing boats.

You can also hire bikes, explore the adventure play ground, go on a miniature train ride or just relax in the cafe.

Open daily. Free entrance however car park is charged.

Gullivers Valley

Gullivers Valley is a new attraction in the area with lots of dinosaur themed rides and areas. It’s already proving popular with families for a day out in Rotherham and since it’s just off the M1 it’s really easy to get to as well.

Kids under 90cm are free and you only pay for the adult tickets after that. There’s options to stay here too if you want to have a family weekend away.

Various opening times through the year.

Aston Springs Farm

Just across the road from the new Gullivers attraction in Kiveton Park is Aston Springs Farm. It’s a small attraction but a really nice one for kids who love to walk round and enjoy seeing animals.

They have goats, pigs, alpacas, sheep and lots more. You can buy food to feed them as you go around too.

Open daily 10am – 4.30pm. Entrance is £5.50 for adults and £4.50 for a child

Tropical Butterfly House

One of our favourite places to go with kids in Rotherham was always the tropical butterfly house. It’s more than just butterflies that you can see though.

In the main tropical area you have lots of butterflies but also some birds to see too. Outdoors you have otters, meerkats, lemurs as well as some regular farm animals. There are birds of prey and they sometimes do flying displays too.

They also do animal experience days and my daughter did a couple of these when she was younger – very much recommended!

Open daily from February half term (winter opening hours before then). Adults £13.75, Children £12.50, Under 2 free. Family tickets available.

Roche Abbey

A ruined abbey out in the countryside of Rotherham, Roche Abbey is a great family day out. You can explore the ruins, learn about life as a medieval monk with all the information boards or go for a walk in the surrounding foot paths (a good idea if coming in winter when the abbey itself is closed – you’ll still be able to see it).

I recommend packing a picnic and enjoying the stunning countryside!

Roche Abbey is an English Heritage site so entrance is free for members.

Open from Spring. Entrance is £5 for adults and £3 for children.

Clifton Park Museum

Finally in Rotherham we have Clifton Park which is a really large park in the centre of town. As well as the park itself which is great for a day out you also have the free water park, mini golf and the museum to keep kids happy.

There’s a big car park there so nice and easy to get to and close by to town if you want to look round shops on your day out too.

Open daily. Water park open in summer months. Free entrance.

Conisbrough Castle near Doncaster

Doncaster

Conisbrough Castle

Located in a village just outside Doncaster is the really impressive Conisbrough Castle. It’s a medieval ruined castle that is perfect for any kids obsessed by knights, princesses and similar tales.

As well as exploring the old castle walls and climbing the keep to get a view over South Yorkshire there’s also a visitors centre for learning a little bit more about the history and of course a chance to dress up!

They do lots of events in children’s holidays so definitely look out for those.

This is another English Heritage site so if you’re a member then you’ll get free entrance but it’s a fairly inexpensive day out if you don’t

Open weekends in winter and daily from Spring onwards. Entrance is £6.90 for adults and £4.10 for children.

Brodsworth Hall

The stunning gardens of Brodsworth Hall make a great day out with kids. There’s loads of space for them to explore outside in the formal gardens and find lots of special features. In summer they often have outdoor events on too.

You can also look around the historic house too and explore the Victorian style of the place. This is owned by English Heritage so members can visit for free.

Open daily in summer with reduced opening outside of those months. Entrance is £9.70 for adults and £5.90 for children
Dogs not allowed

Potteric Carr

Just off the M18 is Potteric Carr, a wonderful and large nature reserve that’s great for a day out with nature loving kids.

There’s a great circular walk around the reserve, plenty of bird hides to do some bird watching.

Younger kids might like their story trail which combines a worksheet trail with a special web page online to find the end of the story once home.

This is a Wildlife Trust site so if you are a member of that charity you’ll get free entrance.

Open daily from 9.30am – 5.30pm. Entrance £4.50 for adults and £3.00 for children. No dogs.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

This wildlife park in Doncaster has been growing a lot recently. I remember when it first opened with just half of the animals to see!

With lions, polar bears and tigers (oh my!) there are some really impressive animals to see here. It’s a full on day out with kids and you’ll spend a good few hours here. I loved watching the ranger talks too, especially the Lemur one.

As well as regular entry they do special experiences which would be great for animal mad kids and special events too.

Open Daily. Entrance £24 for adults and £22 for children (cheaper if you book online)

South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum

Finally in Doncaster we have a bit of a different museum but one that my son loved so has to be included! The South Yorkshire Aircraft museum is a family friendly attraction in Doncaster that has lots of things for kids to see, climb into and touch.

For any kids who love aircraft whether that’s planes or helicopters this is a must do day out. It’s a good rainy day activity with a mixture of indoor and outdoor exhibitions.

Open Tuesdays – Sundays and daily through school holidays. Entrance £6.50 for adults, £3 for children.

Barnsley

nature reserves with kids

RSPB Old Moor

One of our absolute favourite places to go for a day out as a family was Old Moor RSPB reserve.

There’s a few different trails you can walk around to different areas of the reserve, plenty of bird hides and a large play park. Don’t miss the bird hide by the visitors centre where they have lots of garden birds – great if you want to get your kids birdwatching.

There’s also a really nice cafe for a bite to eat and a shop.

Open daily. Entrance is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. RSPB members are free.

Elsecar Heritage Centre

Based in an old heritage village this is a unique shopping area that both kids and parents will love for a fun family day out. At Elsecar Heritage Centre you’ll find antiques and quirky shops in the courtyard as well as some interesting restored engine and ironworks.

There’s a park nearby and access to canal walks to to make the most of your day visiting here.

Keep an eye out for family friendly events. The heritage railway that also is located here is currently closed but hopefully might reopen in future.

Open daily. Free entrance

Cannon Hall Farm

This isn’t just any old farm for a day out, Cannon Hall Farm has really taken the ‘fun day out’ seriously and they provide a lot of fun activities for kids when they visit.

You’ll find a wide variety of animals from your domestic farm animals to more exotic species like meerkats, llamas and reptiles. They have lots of activities like seeing goats be milked and ferret racing too.

They have a big indoor playground as well as a large adventure playground outdoors too so it’s a great day if you’re concerned about the weather.

Open daily. Entrance prices vary due to season. Must be booked online.

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