The Roman-founded city of York has an interesting past involving Vikings and adventure, and today it's a lively place that's known for its festivals and events. There's plenty of history in York's ancient walls as well as lots of modern attractions, eateries and shops to be found within the City Centre. York is quite unlike any other city in England, with more intact walls surrounding it than any other. It boasts close to 30 world-class museums as well as countless other family-friendly activities that make it a popular attraction for people many people visiting the UK.
Despite everything there is to do inside the city, it's nice to take a step back and enjoy the nature around you every now and then. The beautiful gardens, green spaces and parks in York provide the perfect locales to do just that, as well as a bunch of other activities that both locals and tourists can enjoy. From Burnby Hall Park with its concerts to Rowntree Park and the waterfowl present there, York parks boast a variety of experiences.
Ready to participate in some of these outdoor activities? Download the Bounce app to find a luggage storage facility in York close to your chosen park. Stow your stuff, whether it's shopping bags from an excursion to High Street in the City Centre or your briefcase after a day at the office. Then, watch a concert, take a stroll or play a game of rugby in one of the best parks in York.
West Bank Park
Located on Acomb Road in the heart of Holgate, York, is a family-friendly green space called West Bank Park. It may seem small when you arrive but actually spans about 20 acres and has lots of facilities that people of all ages can take pleasure in discovering. The next time you're looking for somewhere to enjoy the great outdoors with the kids, come here.
Inside the park, you'll find two children's play areas, one that's aimed at kids aged 11 and younger and another that's perfect for older children. They'll have a blast using the play equipment like slides, swings and jungle gyms, and there are welcoming shaded areas where you can throw a ball or play catch. There are toilets on site as well as fields with goalposts for soccer games.
After you're done at the playgrounds, go for a stroll on the woodland walk or explore all of the trails that meander throughout the forests. There's also a pergola walk and a rose terrace, and the open meadow is a great place to have a picnic. The nicely paved path that goes around the fields is suitable for jogging, too.
Rowntree Park is on Terry Avenue near York City Centre and covers 30 acres of land close to the River Ouse. It's a fantastic spot to bring the little ones since there's lots for them to do and plenty for the grown-ups to enjoy, too. While the kids get their energy out in the play area, sip on a coffee from the Rowntree Park Reading Cafe. Or before settling down in the playground, browse the small library for something to read while the younger children play.
Aside from a large playground, there are toilets and sporting facilities making it a popular choice for athletes as well. Six tennis courts, a skateboarding area and a basketball court can be used for friendly games with your companions, and you can rent equipment and scooters inside the grounds. You'll also see two tennis tables and a couple of bowling greens on site.
If you'd rather relax, find a comfortable spot by the large lake, home to geese and ducks. The walkways and paths are great for strolling and if you want to join in on an activity you can see if there's anything being put on by the Friends and Young Friends of Rowntree Park. Fun fact; this green space was the very first municipal park in the city and was given to the community by Rowntree & Co, the sweets company. They gifted the public area in commemoration of the 200 staff members who gave their lives during World War I.
Families, couples and individuals all enjoy spending time at Homestead Park which features a variety of plants and flowers throughout the seasons. It covers 14 acres of space and was also given to the city by the Rowntree family. In an accessible-friendly space, you'll find play equipment for younger and older children alike to investigate.
Visitors to this popular park like the pop-up Cafe available between March and October. If you want to go on a picnic or are searching for a cozy spot to read a book, make your way to the small pond or find a picnic bench located all over the grounds. Wander through nature and try out the tree trail to see how many different types of trees you can identify.
The formal gardens, wildflower meadow and rock garden are fun to explore, too. Want to bring your favorite plants home with you? There's often a plant sale where you can buy different flora to remind you of your time at Homestead Park.
Although it's fairly small, Glen Gardens is still a lovely place to spend a couple of hours outside. Located near a bowling green, it's a terrific choice for families who are looking for a park to visit. You can easily take a short walk around the whole space and it has a good range of attractions to entertain children.
You'll find a small hill that has a long slide, plus plenty of other amusing equipment in the kid's play area. Bring along a picnic basket and settle down for a bite to eat. If you don't want to pack a lunch, head to one of the cafes situated nearby; there are quite a few to choose from since the park is located near the Heworth shops.
York Designer Outlet
The York Designer Outlet doesn't have beautiful flowers or wide-open green spaces, but it's one of the best playground parks in York. Here you'll find a large playground that's covered so you'll be sheltered from the sun or rain, making it the ideal place to go no matter the weather.
Under the big white tent, you'll see climbing equipment, slides, crawl spaces and more. You can find it by heading to the east entrance of the Designer Outlet and it's a pretty popular spot for families with kids of all ages. With such a good range of things for the kids to do, they'll easily be entertained for an hour or more.
Parents can take this opportunity to go shopping in the outlet once the kids have finished playing in the park. There's a free car park at the mall as well.
Burnby Hall Gardens
This is one of the best parks in York and is a fun place for everyone to discover. It's a quiet spot situated not too far away from Pocklington, a quaint market town, and features beautiful displays of nature all around. As you explore the grounds you'll notice trees, rock formations and flowers.
The Burnby Hall Gardens also has two lakes that are full of fish and decorated with water lilies. If you bring fish food you can feed them and watch as they swim up to the surface, always a fun activity for the kids. Afterward, take them to play on the playground or just throw a ball or frisbee on the wide-open fields.
One of the most exciting things about Burnby Hall is the special events roster. Some of the festivities that this park is used as a venue for include the Tulip Festival as well as band concerts on Sundays. On top of that, staff often put on activities targeted toward children like arts and crafts, group hikes, or outdoor theater performances.
Ashkam Bog Nature Reserve
The Ashkam Bog Nature Reserve was formerly one of Yorkshire's ancient fenlands which means that it dates back nearly 15,000 years. It's a significant place for wildlife and is said to be one of the UK's most ecologically diverse areas. Some of the animals that you might be able to spot include frogs, newts, roe deer and foxes.
As a bog, most of the land is made up of fen peat and boulder clay but there are still quite a few plants that grow here. Keep an eye out for gingerbread sedge and royal ferns on the land, and if you follow the river you'll definitely be able to admire water violets.
There are quite a few trails that you can follow for a peaceful hike and, being situated so close to the city centre, it's easy to get to so you don't have to search far for a place to escape into nature for a while. The space is always well taken care of because it's maintained by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
Dean's Park is situated on the north side of the York Minster and features a lovely green space where you can put down a blanket and relax. Depending on what time of day you visit you might be able to hear the bells which ring on the hour. The space was formerly only open to members of the church, although today people from all over the community can enjoy the oasis. The public park is usually quiet and offers nice views of some beautiful buildings like the Minster Library and the Gothic Cathedral.
On top of that, inside you'll find ancient ruins which were most likely part of the Old Palace and are estimated to date back to the 12th century. Go for a walk around the grounds to explore all of the historic landmarks or just take a seat on a bench to enjoy the fresh air.
You can easily find a comfy area to have a picnic in Dean's Park but if you don't have food you can find eateries nearby. Choose from several cafes, restaurants and markets where you can find pastries, coffee or tasty dishes. The main highlights of this park are the fun events and celebrations that are often held on the grounds. Some of the local favorites include the York Mystery Plays and the Illuminating York Festival.
Copmanthorpe Recreation Ground Play Area
The Copmanthorpe Recreation Ground Play Area covers 6 acres of land in York and is a marvelous place to spend any day of the week with the family. You'll find all sorts of activities suitable for young and older children, plus there are picnic tables where parents can sit and watch the little ones play.
This park has fun areas that have recently been renovated to provide even more spaces for kids to move around. There's a sensory area and many more spaces with play equipment that smaller children will love, like swings and a wooden boat with a captain's wheel.
Older kids can still have a blast here with exciting toys like a zip wire and some challenging climbing walls. See if they can make it through the whole course which includes ladders and monkey bars. There are also fields and pitches where you can play football.
Parks, gardens and playgrounds in York
Although people know York for its impressive architecture, great food and cultural attractions it's also home to some fantastic public parks. Not only do these places offer play areas and sports fields but they are also quite beautiful with lovely places to go for a walk.
For history lovers, another park to add to the list that has both architecture and fabulous grounds is the York Museum Gardens near York Station. Now that you know about some of the best parks in York you can start exploring them yourself.
If you really want to get out into nature, plan a local trek. Read our guide on the best hikes in York and don your hiking boots. If you're more of a beach lover, the picturesque beaches near York are sure to interest you.