Leeds is a culturally rich city known for its industrial heritage, top Universities and diverse job market. It’s also the home of well-known celebrities like singer Mel B, broadcaster Jeremy Paxman and Olympic boxer Nicola Adams. On top of that, Leeds has plenty to see and do for both children and adults – whether you’re visiting or a resident. From its many museums and art galleries to green spaces, sports facilities and music venues, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Not sure where to start? Here are some of the best things to do in Leeds.
The best things to do in Leeds for all ages
Enjoy browsing historic exhibits? Then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Leeds. Discover the UK’s largest assortment of arms and armour dating from ancient to modern times at the renowned Royal Armouries. Explore 800,000 natural history exhibits, including the famous Leeds Tiger at Leeds City Museum or the region’s manufacturing heritage at Leeds Industrial Museum. Looking for something a bit different? How about journeying through the history of medicine at the Thackray Museum? It may be a tad gruesome, but it’s certainly fascinating!
Prefer studying works of art at your leisure? That’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Leeds! The Tetley is a contemporary gallery featuring eclectic pieces by local, emerging artists. They also offer hands-on workshops for children. Alternatively, Leeds Art Gallery houses an impressive 20th century art collection, including paintings, sculptures and more.
With 5 miles of shopping streets, Victorian arcades and a shopping centre with 120 big-name retailers, Leeds has it all. Visit historic Kirkgate Market or the striking domed Corn Exchange for records, clothing and home accessories you won’t find anywhere else. Or if you have a taste for luxury goods, the stunning Victoria Quarter has many independent boutiques and designer stores. It’s definitely worth a visit – even just for window shopping! Otherwise, Trinity Leeds has a vast array of chain and independent retailers. Feeling peckish? You’ll also find coffee shops, cocktail bars and award-winning street food here too.
Parks & gardens
Not sure what to do in Leeds at the weekend? Why not visit a park or garden? Roundhay Park is one of the biggest in Europe, with 700 acres of parkland, lakes, woodland, sports pitches, playgrounds and more. Tropical World is also based here, housing a host of tropical plants, butterflies, birds, terrapins and meerkats. Other options include Golden Acre Park with arboretum and rock gardens, and Temple Newsham – a Tudor-Jacobean house and estate. Here you’ll find nature trails, formal gardens and a rare-breed farm for the kids.
Whatever sport you follow, Leeds has venues to put you at the heart of the action. Home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Headingley Cricket Ground has hosted test matches since 1899. You can also catch Leeds Rhinos’ Rugby League games at this dual-purpose stadium. Prefer football? Join 30k Leeds United fans at lively Elland Road. Or for something more laid back, give Moortown’s 18-hole golf course or Cookridge Hall’s driving range a try.
Music & entertainment
The annual 3-day Leeds Festival at Bramham Park is one of the most popular things to do in Leeds. People travel from all over Yorkshire and beyond every August to see international indie and rock bands perform. You can also see live acts year round in the city centre too. First Direct Arena hosts huge concerts, comedy shows and sporting events. Historic Leeds Grand Theatre, meanwhile, stages West End musicals and a variety of touring shows. Love soap operas? Take an Emmerdale Village Tour of full-scale sets, props and more in Eccup.
Want to learn more about Leeds’s heritage? Step back in time at Kirkstall Abbey – one of the country’s most intact Cistercian monastery ruins, with interactive exhibits. Or experience 18th century grandeur at Harewood House on the edge of the city. Ranked amongst the 10 most important stately homes in England, it also boasts 100 acres of manicured gardens to explore. Alternatively, hop aboard a vintage locomotive at Middleton Railway. Originally a coal wagonway built in the 1700s, it is the oldest continuously working railway in the world!
Kid’s activities in Leeds
Wondering what to do in Leeds with kids? From hands-on activities and puzzle challenges at MathsCity to indoor bouldering at The Climbing Lab, they certainly won’t get bored! The city is also home to Gravity Active – an indoor trampoline park with dodgeball court and battle beams. If you’re after an even more exhilarating day out, TeamSport Indoor Karting is the longest indoor go-karting track in Yorkshire. And their junior karts reach speeds of 25 miles per hour! Want to get outside? Why not visit Meanwood Valley Urban Farm? You can meet cows, sheep, donkeys and even alpacas, and take part in nature activity hunts too.
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