By the time I was 18, I’d lived in close to 10 cities across three continents. I always tell people I’m from New York — partly because I spent the longest time there and partly because it’s the most interesting. So, imagine my surprise when the Northern English county I grew up in — the place I never mention to anyone except other people from there — was named one of Condé Nast’s top travel destinations for 2024.
Yorkshire? My Yorkshire?
I grew up in the unglamorous university city of Leeds. As Dex (Leo Woodall) says to Emma (Ambika Mod) in the Netflix adaptation of One Day: “Leeds? What happens in Leeds?” Sure, the North is the home of Yorkshire puddings, Yorkshire teas, and Yorkshire terriers. But is it a destination?
Don’t get me wrong. I had quite an idyllic childhood there. My school was in an old Victorian manor complete with rolling greens. I visited historical gardens and abbeys on weekends. And snow days were far more beautiful than the sludge we got in NYC. But it’s one thing to grow up in a place and quite another to visit it.
After all, I spent so much time escaping to London that I considered Yorkshire a place you travel from, not to.
Yorkshire, England travel tips
In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate the things that childhood made me take for granted. Maybe it’s the post-pandemic appreciation for space and solitude. Maybe it’s the cost of living crisis that now makes me raise an eyebrow at London prices. Maybe it’s the Northern pride I get when listening to Sam Fender or, God forbid, watching Saltburn.
For tourists hailing from the United States, the North offers a Saltburn-like countryside escape that’s a fraction of the cost of the Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, or the Lake District. Whether you’re seeking a stoic Spring trip filled with bubble baths and fireside tea; or a summer getaway filled with family-friendly adventure, immersing yourself in nature, and exploring historical landmarks, there’s something for everyone in Yorkshire.
No wonder it was named a bucket list destination for 2024. If I was visiting for the first time and seeking Yorkshire, England travel recs, here’s what I would do:
All Day Activities to Do in Yorkshire, England
Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage Museum: The most famous people who grew up in Yorkshire? Not me, unfortunately, but the Brontë sisters. Visit the picturesque village of Haworth to explore the Brontë Parsonage Museum and learn about the literary sisters and their lives. Channel your inner Wuthering Heights and moodily stomp through the moors like Heathcliff himself.
Saltaire Village: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saltaire Village is a hallmark of Victorian architecture full of art exhibitions, independent shops, and cafes. Skip the bustle of London and enjoy this quaint, charming city.
National Railway Museum, York: Perfect for train enthusiasts and families alike, this museum features a vast collection of trains and tells the story of rail travel in the UK.
The Deep, Hull: The Deep is an award-winning aquarium in Hull that boasts thousands of sea creatures, including sharks and rays. Let the kids run around and see the fish from Finding Nemo come to life.
Harrogate Turkish Baths: These famous Turkish Baths are perfect for our new goal of prioritizing self-care. Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the Victorian-style Turkish baths in this spa steeped in history.
York Art Gallery: York is the city New York was named after. And just like the American version, York is full of culture and art. Visit the York Art Gallery to see its extensive collection of paintings, ceramics, and decorative arts from across history.
Hebden Bridge: The unique, bohemian atmosphere of Hebden Bridge should call to all cultured travelers. This quirky town offers independent shops, galleries, and a unique arts scene full of independent artists.
Harewood House: Spend a picturesque afternoon at the grand countryside manor of Harewood House. It's a delightful escape into history and nature known for its art collections, gardens, and bird garden
Leeds Corn Exchange: Corn is not the main attraction here. Leeds is a bustling city full of young people and a cool cultural scene. At the heart, visit the Leeds Corn Exchange, a vibrant hub for independent boutiques and eateries. It's a great place to discover unique items and savor local cuisine (don’t worry, not just British food).
Nature to Explore in Yorkshire, England
Yorkshire Dales National Park: One of England’s great national parks, the rolling green landscapes of Yorkshire Dales are a mecca for nature lovers. Go for family walks, discover waterfalls, and enjoy the picturesque villages.
Ilkley Moor: There’s nothing more British than a northern moor. Hike or walk on Ilkley Moor for breathtaking views of the picturesque landscape.
Brimham Rocks: Climb, explore, and have fun at Brimham Rocks, a unique collection of natural rock formations that provide a great outdoor adventure.
Exciting Experiences in Yorkshire, England
York Chocolate Story: I’ve done this tour myself, and it never disappoints. For chocolate lovers, the York Chocolate Story is a fascinating journey through the history of chocolate-making with tastings and interactive exhibits.
York Dungeon: Want to learn more about Yorkshire’s history without sitting through a boring audio tour? Visit the York Dungeon, an interactive historical tour through the bloody and gruesome history of Northern England. It’s a unique interactive exhibit with an immersive cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages, and scenes. For kids and adults alike, it’s like Horrible Histories come to life.
Jorvik Viking Centre, York: Step back in time to the Viking era at the Jorvik Viking Centre. It's an interactive experience that the whole family can enjoy.
Flamingo Land Resort: The most popular theme park in the North is Flamingo Land Resort. It combines a theme park, zoo, and holiday resort, offering a variety of attractions full of fun and food.
Best Cultural Landmarks to Explore in Yorkshire, England
York Minster: Visit York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. The architecture is awe-inspiring, and you can climb to the top for impressive views.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden: Explore the historic ruins of Fountains Abbey and the beautifully landscaped Studley Royal Water Garden. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Castle Howard: Visit Castle Howard, a stately home with stunning gardens and interiors. It's a great place for history lovers and those interested in architecture and art.
Whitby Abbey: Discover the haunting beauty of Whitby Abbey, perched on a clifftop overlooking the North Sea. The atmospheric ruins and coastal views are perfect for solo exploration.
Cozy stays: Best travel recs for Yorkshire
Grantley Hall, Ripon: This is a bucket list stay for anyone seeking a country house hotel with quality service and spa-like facilities, exquisite dining, and beautiful grounds.
Principal York, York: Located near York Station, this upscale hotel features elegant rooms, a fine dining restaurant, and easy access to the city's attractions.
Rockliffe Hall, Darlington: A 5-star resort with a world-class spa, championship golf course, and stylish rooms set in a picturesque location.
The Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, Helmsley: A charming hotel with a spa in the market town of Helmsley, offering comfortable rooms and a relaxing atmosphere.
The Crown Hotel, Harrogate: Situated in the heart of Harrogate, this hotel combines Victorian elegance with modern comfort, featuring gorgeous rooms and a popular restaurant.
The Black Swan Hotel, York: A historic hotel in the heart of York, known for its classic charm, comfortable rooms, and proximity to attractions.
Yorebridge House, Bainbridge: A boutique hotel in the Yorkshire Dales with stylish rooms, fine dining, and a tranquil setting.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Harrogate: A chic boutique hotel in Harrogate, offering individually designed rooms and a trendy bistro.
The Grand, York: A unique hotel with a blend of historic architecture and modern luxury, located within walking distance of York's attractions.