The Skipton Press Guide to… Child-Friendly Days Out


by Alexis Wilson-Barrett

With the cosmopolitan city of Leeds just a short train journey away and the idyllic Yorkshire Dales on our doorstep, we’re never short of options when it comes to days out with children.  On fine days there are plenty of outdoor places to explore and wonderful areas to enjoy family picnics, but where can we entertain our little ones on a rainy, autumn day?

Fun on the Farm

Thornton Farm


Thornton Hall Farm at Thornton-in-Craven is well worth a visit whatever the weather.   As most of the animals and activities are contained within their large barn, there’s much to see and do without braving the elements.

The barn itself provides plenty of open space for children to toddle around whilst mums and dads enjoy refreshments from the on-site cafe.  A giant slide takes pride of place in the centre of the barn and – if you can persuade them to get off! – you’ll also find areas for children to ride around on pedal-powered tractors or explore large sand pits with mini JCBs.

Of course, the animals are the main attraction and you’re bound to fall in love with Thornton’s adorable fluffy bunnies and their extremely inquisitive goats – whose appreciation of your visit is always evident!

The Perfect Play DateLittle Munchkins

Mamma J’s Café and Little Munchkins is a joint venture between Jo Jennings and her daughter-in-law, Sara.  Jo – aka ‘Mamma J’ – runs the spacious café which offers a hearty range of home-cooked food.  Meanwhile, Sara manages Little Munchkins, the play area upstairs, which features a ball pool and large array of toys and activities suitable for babies and toddlers.  The play area is nice and secure with an electronic security gate to prevent little ones from running off, whilst the toilets, as well as being spotlessly clean, have a training seat and step available for those with potty training tots.

Little Munchkins often plays host to toddler activity groups, such as Diddi Dance and Messy Play, so it’s always worth checking what they have planned before paying a visit.

Eating Out

Calico Jack

Finding somewhere to enjoy an evening meal with children can often be difficult.  Some establishments in town don’t welcome children, some don’t have a separate children’s menu and some don’t provide high chairs and changing facilities.  More often than not, those with children feel obliged to dine in places where soft play and child entertainment takes priority over food quality.

However, Calico Jack on Water Street has created a fun and child-friendly pirate-themed atmosphere with an ambience that allows the grown-ups to enjoy mouthwatering pork ribs, burgers, steaks and burritos without feeling as though they’re on a fast food party bus!

Fun in Skipton – it’s Child’s Play

You don’t need to venture out of town to give your mini Skiptonians a fun and memorable experience.  The above is just a small selection of local, child-friendly places the whole family can enjoy – allowing you to avoid the expense of train fares or the petrol pump, not to mention the inevitable travel-induced tantrums!

And if you’ve got any child- and family-friendly places you love to visit in and around Skipton please let us know in the comments below!


A bit about the author: Alexis Wilson-Barrett lives in Skipton with her husband and their 2-year-old son.  Her passion for Classic Literature led her to study Literature and Creative Writing at Bradford University, where she graduated with BA(Hons) Combined Studies in 2010.  Having spent the past 5 years in Marketing, Alexis now works as a Freelance Copywriter, offering web content and advertising copy to local businesses – you can learn more about Alexis at her website here.



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