There are lots of free things to do for families in Hull and the East Riding….
Having a young family is expensive and keeping them entertained on weekends or school holidays can be very costly. Luckily we have lots of free places to go with children in our area. Here’s a Mumbler Guide with our top things to do and places to go in and around Hull for FREE (or at least for only the cost of petrol/a bus fair or an ice-cream!).
1. Visit your local park:
There are LOADS of parks in Hull, most of which are clean and tidy and have lots of play equipment for your kids. You can find a full list of parks on Mumbler here.
Parks in Hull with Paddling Pools! West Park, Pickering Park, Alderman Kneeshaw Recreation Ground, Oak Road Playing Fields, Ings Playing Fields and Bude Park all have paddling pools which are usually open during the 6 weeks summer holiday. East Park has a large water play area which is usually open during most of the summer months, and requires you to book a time slot in advance, call 01482 300300 for more info.
Pickering Park is just off Pickering Road in West Hull. The baby and toddler areas have recently been refurbished (2022) and there is a good range of equipment. There’s also an area for older kids, including a wooden assault course and zip line. Pickering Park has lots of green space to explore including a rockery and pond, a sensory garden with lots of nooks and crannies, perfect for playing hide and seek. There is also a large field which is great for ball games. There are clean toilets near the play equipment, which are open and monitored during daylight hours.
New for 2022, Pickering Park has finally had it’s Aviary refurbished, and it is now home to lots of birds, a gang of meerkats, a tortoise, and a porcupine! There is also an indoor area where you can sit and watch the Meerkats.
Peter Pan Park, also on Pickering Road between Costello Stadium and Warners Gym, recently refurbished there is good quality play equipment (especially for older children), a pond, and large green spaces for running around, playing football and generally exploring.
West Park, near the KCOM stadium in Hull, has lots to do for little ones and older ones too. There is a skate park on the corner of Walton street close to West Park; I spent a lot of time here with my son before he started school – it’s great for balance bikes, and is usually empty during the day in term time. There is also a miniature railway nearby and a small animal enclosure.
Wymersley Park is a nice park located off Willerby Road, near Springhead Golf Course. Plenty of equipment for all ages, as well as a small skate park and a field beyond with a zip line and large swing.
East Park on Holderness Road Hull of course needs a mention as there is lots to do and often special events for families. The splash boat is open for the summer, the new water play area is open too but needs booking in advance. The animal enclosure is good and they often run extra activities too.
There are some great parks in the East Riding too, we like Swanland park, North Ferriby park and North Cave park. The North Cave park has a lovey stream across the road to paddle in if its warm enough and a safe off road cycle path leading up to Hotham so we often make a day of it and do the park, a picnic and a bike ride to Hotham.
2. Go For A Walk
Hull Marina is a good place to start; we often bring the kids down here because there’s plenty of open space for them to run around and play, and there are great views of the Humber.
You can then admire the boats moored in the marina and if you’re lucky watch the lock gates open and close. You can walk all the way to The Deep from here and see the tidal barrier, passing along the newly regenerated Fruit Market at Humber Street where there is often family activities and events running.
Alternatively you can park at Victoria Dock and walk towards The Deep from the other direction, it’s a lovely, safe walk along the Humber Estuary with a great view of the Humber Bridge and plenty of history. I think my kids spent an hour jumping off some steps around there somewhere recently. Head off the path just near the Half Tide Basin and you’ll find a giant sundial and a park.
From the marina it’s a short hop across to the City Centre. For free you can splash in the Queen Victoria Square fountains, picnic in Queens Gardens, explore Hull Minster.
King Albert Dock – Part of the Trans Pennine Trail runs along the front of King Albert Dock, offering fantastic views of the river, with the Humber Bridge in the distance. The start of this walk is quite hidden from view unless you know the area well. It starts on Wellington Street West, which is behind the Ice Arena, a blue signpost will direct you between some unattractive metal fences. Once through the fences, walk on the bridge over the dock, and up some steps. At the top you will see panoramic views of the Humber; the clean and flat path will take you all the way to the Lord Line Building. There are a few benches along the way for appreciating the view, and for tired little legs.
The Humber Bridge is a great walk, and again offers some great views! Take a walk, scoot or bike ride over our iconic landmark. In 2017 the Humber Bridge was given Grade 1 listed status by Historic England, making it the longest listed structure in the UK. Fun fact – there’s enough wire used on the bridge to go around the moon 6 times!
The pavements across the bridge are free to use, flat and safe, even if you don’t make it all the way across the views from it are fantastic. If you get all the way across to the other side there are 2 good nature reserves to visit on the south bank.
Beverley Beck – There are public footpaths running alongside Beverley Beck, these are generally nice and flat with great scenic views along the way. You can start from Beckside North near Beverley Centre and follow the Beck towards where it flows into the River Hull. There you can cross a bridge and walk back on the other side.
Puffins Galore! – This is a new trail which launched on 2nd July 2022. Forty-two artist decorated puffin sculptures can be seen right along the coast from Bempton to Spurn Point. There are at least 3 in Hull City Centre, and a few in Beverley too. You can pick up a Spotters Guide booklet from libraries, leisure centre and local shops. Or you can download a copy here. A Puffin Spotter app is also available on the Apple and Google app stores.
Fish Trail – Pick up a free trail map from tourist information in Paragon station and away you go; with around 40 fishes to spot, it’s great to get the kids involved, and you’ll probably discover some parts of Hull you didn’t know existed.
Larkin with Toads and A Moth For Amy – Many of the moths and toads have gone to private homes now, but there are still quite a few dotted around the Hull and Beverley area. Download the trail here and see how many you can find.
Hull Statue Trail – There are 19 statues located around Hull, follow the trail and take the time to look up, down and around and experience our fine city’s unique blend of art, architecture and inspiring stories. Download a trail map here.
4. Visit the Museums
Hull and the East Riding has plenty of history and plenty of museums, all are free entry. Choose from Streetlife Museum, Wilberforce House and The Hull and East Riding Museum all within the museums quarter. You can also pop in to Feren’s Art Gallery also located in Queen Victoria Square which has a children’s room. All of these are back open but some you need to book a slot in advance, please check before visiting.
Both Streetlife and Feren’s also have weekly playgroups and under 5’s sessions.
New for 2022 – Ferens is currently hosting an International Lego Brick Art Exhibition – Brick by Brick, which you can visit for free from 28th May to 11th September 2022. And at Treasure House in Beverley, there is a Brick City LEGO Exhibition where you can see cities from around the world made in LEGO, and this is free to visit from 16th July to 10th September 2022.
In Beverley Treasure House and the Beverley Guildhall, both have things for children to do and toys to play with, and in Hedon is Hedon Museum.
Sometimes the museums have extra free events on for families, usually craft sessions or trails (you’ll find these on the Mumbler School Holidays page or Events Calendar). The Hull History Centre on Worship Street (near Hull New Theatre) is also worth a visit. They have History Makers, a free family activity once a month and there’s often a historical exhibition in the main foyer (these are not currently running due to Covid restrictions).
Hull has it’s own nature reserve, located on Noddle Hill Way in Bransholme. We took a trip down there last year, there are paths around the reserve and lots of wildlife to see.
Just across the Humber Bridge on the south bank are 2 great nature reserves, Water’s Edge and Far Ings, there’s also Whisby Park which is about an hour’s drive over the bridge. All 3 of these are free entry and have visitor centres, walking trails to explore and bird hides dotted around. Water’s Edge and Whisby Park also have play areas and a café. The paths along the banks of the south bank adjacent to the Waters Edge and Far Ings are well looked after and perfect for bike rides too.
There is also a short nature trail and walk at Bridgehead Business Park, Hessle. Park in the car park and start it from the side that backs onto the East Riding Household Waste site (the tip), you can then walk through a short wooded section looking out for unusual things such as junk models and even a next full of dinosaur eggs!
Beverley Parks is also a lovely little area for exploring. Located on the outskirts of Beverley, just off Long Lane. Nice for a short walk in nature with the kids.
6. Explore Hessle Foreshore
We often bring the kids down here for some fresh air, to collect stones, walk or bike along the river. There’s a nice walk along the path called Jean’s Walk – you can park for free in a carpark off Livingston Road near the small skatepark, then you can follow Jean’s Walk all the way along to the main part of the Foreshore. It’s a very picturesque part of Hull, especially on a sunny day. Or park at Hessle Foreshore and walk to North Ferriby along the footpath that runs alongside the train line.
7. Visit Your Local Woodland
Near to Hessle Foreshore, located within the Humber Bridge Country Park is Little Switzerland, a 48 acre wood with open meadows and wildlife ponds. There are lots of pathways winding through the woods with 3 different trail to choose from, The Meadow Trail (1.25km), The Pond Trail (2.5km), and The Cliff Trail (3km). Along these trails you will find all sorts of wildlife including many species of butterfly and birds and some amphibians in the ponds, we have seen a few newts.
To access Little Swiss park at Hessle Foreshore and walk along the paths from there (all flat and ideal for prams), or park in the Humber Bridge Car park and enter from the top (there are several steps down into the woods from this way). They also do a park run from here every Saturday as well as at Peter Pan Park and East Park (currently not running due to Covid).
Other woodlands in the area which are worth a visit include:
Nutwood at Raywell, a small woodland area located opposite Raywell Hall. It’s good for a short walk and exploring the woods with the kids, and great to see bluebells in.
Millington Woods near Pocklington also provides a good free day out and is picturesque in all seasons. It is now a local nature reserve and has a couple of different walking routes, suitable for all abilities.
Beverley Westwood is a large open area opposite Beverly racecourse, great for walking on a sunny day and sledging in Winter! There is a small area of woodland at the top which great for exploring and spotting wildlife, you might even meet some cattle.
8. Go Bramble Picking
There are lots of wild brambles growing in Hull and they usually ripen mid August to September. This is something we do every year and the kids always ask when is it time to go and pick the brambles! So grab a couple of bowls, or a carrier bag and head to your nearest wild patch (it’s the tenfoots for us – they are in abundance). Pick as many as you like, but make sure you’re not picking from someone’s garden, then take them home and give them a good wash. You can either eat them straight away, put them in a pie or a crumble, make some jam, or freeze them for use later. There are plenty of recipes and hints online about how to use your haul of brambles.
9. Use your local library
Libraries are a great opportunity for a quiet morning or afternoon spent with your children. Most libraries have a children’s area, joining is free and you can borrow books for up to 3 weeks at a time. A lot of libraries also offer free sessions for under 5s, such as story time, craft sessions and baby bounce – you can find a list of all the local libraries here. For older kids there’s the Summer Reading Challenge (and often mini ones at other school holidays) which run through the Summer Holidays and encourages children to love reading.
10. Visit the Coast
During the Summer 2022 school holidays, Active Coast are hosting lots of free family activities at locations all over the East Yorkshire Coast, find out more here.
We are lucky to live close to a beautiful coast line and a trip to the beach should never cost more than the price of an ice-cream (and maybe some fish and chips)! Here is a list of some of our favourite beaches to visit, from the hustle and bustle of the touristy towns, to the more secluded quieter sections of the coast –
Cleethorpes – Lincolnshire, with over 4 miles of golden sand this is the perfect place for a day out with the family. Build sandcastles, play games, or have a paddle in the sea. With plenty of attractions, cafes and arcades, there’s plenty to do.
Spurn Point – Now classed as a tidal island and only accessible on foot (please check tide times) due to a storm in 2013 which washed part of the access road away. It’s a beautiful walk with plenty of birds to spot, a lighthouse to visit, and lots of World War 2 history to investigate including underground bunkers. It’s very mysterious being able to stand on the sand and have the rough North Sea on one side and the opening of the Humber Estuary on the other.
Withernsea & Hornsea – Lovely pebbly beaches perfect for stone skimming, and also good fish and chips. Hornsea is a particularly nice place to go if you like huge waves – they are quite impressive!
Fraisthorpe – A quiet more sheltered beach ideal for children just south of Bridlington. Parking is cheap in the farmers field above but getting down to the beach with a lot of children’s things can be tricky. The beach is used by windsurfers and kite surfers giving children plenty to watch and the sand is also great for sandcastles. There is also The Cow Shed near the car park which is a lovely cafe serving food and drinks and there is also a good, clean toilet block.
Danes Dyke – Near Bridlington. Access to the beach is by a steep surfaced road, manageable with pushchairs or through a lovely woodland trail. If the tide is out the beach is very flat and sandy, with a pebble and rock area closer to the cliffs and plenty of opportunities for exploring and discovering sea life in the rock pools. There is also cafe and toilet block in the car park.
Bridlington – a great day out, whether you go for the typical tourist day out with amusements and rides you just want a quiet day at the beach, then Bridlington has both. Parking at South Shore park & ride is recommended, you can access the quieter part of South Shore beach via good steps where the sand stretches for miles, or you can get the bus or walk to Bridlington’s main South beach. The area has recently been renovated with nice toilets, cafes and a small splash stream running along the promenade. The land train also runs into town from here. From the old harbour you can watch the fishermen, take your own crabbing and fishing equipment and fish from the harbour wall or take a boat ride. Amusements and arcades are located north of the harbour. The Bridlington Spa Theatre also has some good children’s shows throughout the year.
Thornwick Bay – this is a Bay just north of Flamborough. There’s cheap parking on the cliff top plus a small café for refreshments. The climb down to the Bay is quite steep depending on which route you take, and it is not suitable for buggies. There’s a small bay and larger one, but once down you can access both if the tide is out – make sure to check tide times before going as this bay is at it’s best when the tide is out so you can climb on the rocks, see what’s in the rockpools, and explore the caves.
Cayton Bay – a picturesque beach just before you arrive at Scarborough on the coastal road. It’s quite a steep walk down to the beach (just about manageable with buggies) but it’s worth it when you get there to see the vast sweeping bay. This place is perfect for beach games, sunbathing, fossil hunting, paddling, surfing. There are also great facilities including a small shop, cafe and toilets. The last time we went there it felt like we were in a foreign country, we turned left as we got onto the beach and walked for about half mile and found our own little secluded spot.
Scarborough – a popular seaside destination and can be reached in just over an hour’s drive (or direct train from Hull or Beverley). There is loads to do for children from donkey rides on the beach to walking up to the old castle. Driving from Beverley takes you on a very scenic drive past Driffield and over the wolds ending in the dramatic drop down Staxton Hill.
The beaches along the East & North Yorkshire coastline are also rich in fossils, so if you’re after finding a perfect ammonite, belemnite or brachiopod then the best places to go are Cayton Bay, Speeton (near Hunmanby), Runswick Bay, and a bit further north along the coast near Whitby – Boggle Hole and Port Mulgrave. We have found some excellent specimens on our treasure hunts along these beaches.
We hope these ideas have inspired you to have some free days out with your family!
For more ideas, Mumbler has a section dedicated to listing free days out, find it here. If there is anything missing that you love to do and is free for the family please send them in to me here and we’ll add them to the list. Happy exploring!