Things to Do in West Yorkshire: A Curated Guide to The Best Attractions

2 months ago   •   12 min read

By More Yorkshire
Table of contents

Things to Do in West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire, located in England, offers a diverse array of activities for locals and visitors alike. This county harmonises vibrant cities and quaint villages with its industrial heritage, offering a multitude of cultural experiences.

Whether it’s exploring the rich collections of museums and galleries or taking a leisurely stroll through lush parks and trails, there's no shortage of things to do catering to a wide range of interests.

For art enthusiasts, Yorkshire Sculpture Park stands as a pre-eminent outdoor gallery, showcasing a dynamic array of modern and contemporary sculpture set against the backdrop of the 18th-century Bretton Hall estate.

As a significant centre for the arts, it not only provides an engaging visual experience but also insight into the creative expressions of renowned sculptors.

Families can look forward to an engaging day out with numerous family-friendly attractions scattered across the county. From interactive museums to exciting escape games in the heart of Leeds, and sprawling playgrounds, the region assures memorable experiences for visitors of all ages.

West Yorkshire’s compelling mix of educational and leisure activities ensures that every trip can be both informative and entertaining.

Historic Sites and Heritage

West Yorkshire brims with cultural richness, embracing sites from the industrial revolution, medieval castles and abbeys, to the literary landscapes that inspired the Brontë sisters. This section reveals the region's storied past through its monuments and the legends etched in its heritage.

Saltaire and Industrial History

Sir Titus Salt founded Saltaire, a Victorian-era model village, which today stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saltaire encapsulates the industrial heritage of West Yorkshire, showcasing well-preserved architecture, including the grandiose Salts Mill—now home to art, books, and contemporary furnishings.

  • Location: Saltaire, Shipley, Bradford, West Yorkshire
  • Established: 1853 by Sir Titus Salt
  • Key Attraction: Salts Mill
  • Status: UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001

Castles and Abbeys

West Yorkshire's landscape is dotted with the remnants of feudal power and religious piety. Majestic fortresses and serene abbeys tell tales of the county's medieval history.

Haworth and the Brontës

The village of Haworth is intrinsically linked with the Brontë family. The moorlands around this village set the scene for Emily Brontë's classic novel "Wuthering Heights". Haworth's rugged charm continues to captivate those who walk the cobbled streets and visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

  • Brontë Parsonage Museum: The family home of the Brontës, now transformed into a museum dedicated to their lives and works.
  • Surrounding Moorland: Inspiration for "Wuthering Heights" and other works by the Brontë sisters.

Museums and Galleries

West Yorkshire offers a diverse array of cultural venues, from speciality museums that cater to niche interests, to galleries boasting significant art collections, including works by renowned artists like David Hockney and Barbara Hepworth. History enthusiasts will also find museums dedicated to the preservation of the region's rich past.

Speciality Museums

West Yorkshire is home to distinct speciality museums, such as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Vintage Carriages Trust Museum of Rail Travel.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park celebrates contemporary art, featuring an open-air display of works by modern sculptors including Henry Moore. Meanwhile, the Vintage Carriages Trust Museum of Rail Travel allows visitors to immerse themselves in the golden age of rail with its collection of historic carriages.

Art Collections

Art enthusiasts are drawn to West Yorkshire for its renowned art galleries. Salts Mill hosts a significant collection of David Hockney's art, celebrating the local artist's contribution to contemporary visual culture.

The Hepworth Wakefield is another key venue, focussing on modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on Barbara Hepworth, an influential sculptor born in the county.

History Museums

West Yorkshire's history is chronicled in its well-curated museums. The Bronte Parsonage Museum, situated in the picturesque village of Haworth, was once home to the literary Bronte sisters and now serves as a gateway into their lives and the era they lived in.

Museums and Galleries Focus Notable Features
Yorkshire Sculpture Park Contemporary Sculptures Open-air exhibits, Henry Moore works
Vintage Carriages Trust Museum Rail History Historic railway carriages
Salts Mill Art David Hockney art collection
The Hepworth Wakefield Modern and Contemporary Art Works by Barbara Hepworth
Bronte Parsonage Museum Literary History Former Bronte family home

Each institution offers an engaging experience for visitors, combining education with visual delights.

Shopping and Markets

West Yorkshire offers a vibrant shopping scene that caters to all tastes, from the high street retailers to unique local markets dotted around the county. Whether one prefers a mall setting or is on the hunt for artisan treasures, West Yorkshire's diverse options will not disappoint.

High Street Shops

In the heart of many West Yorkshire towns, high street shops line the thoroughfares offering a mix of well-known British and international brands.

Leeds, known for being a shopping hotspot, is clustered with a variety of stores that range from trendy fashion outlets to traditional British retailers.

Shopping Centres

Shopping centres are a hive of activity, combining convenience with experience.

Leeds is home to several impressive shopping centres, such as the Victorian Quarter and Trinity Leeds, which together provide an array of choices for fashion, electronics, and home goods.

In addition, Salts Mill in Saltaire is not only a shopping space but also a cultural venue, infused with history and art.

Local Markets

West Yorkshire's local markets are a delight for those looking for fresh produce and unique finds. They serve as a window into the region's soul, showcasing local craftsmanship and specialty foods.

Artisan markets, such as the Haworth Artisan Market, feature a wide range of handmade products set against quaint backdrops. Bradford Markets, spread across indoor and outdoor venues, offer fresh, world-sourced ingredients.

Additionally, speciality markets like the vegan market at Kirkgate in Leeds cater to specific lifestyles with eco-friendly and sustainable goods.

Nature and Countryside

West Yorkshire's rural landscapes offer a rich tapestry of greenery, tranquil nature reserves, and a network of walks and trails. This region combines historical sites with natural beauty, providing an array of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts.

Yorkshire Countryside

The Yorkshire countryside is renowned for its rolling hills, traditional stone walls, and expansive heaths.

Visitors to West Yorkshire can immerse themselves in the rural settings that inspired the literary works of the Brontë sisters. The splendour of the region's countryside has been meticulously preserved, offering a slice of traditional English rural life.

Nature Reserves

Nature reserves in West Yorkshire are havens for wildlife enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. They provide invaluable conservation work, protecting a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Notable reserves include the expansive wetlands at St. Aidan's Nature Reserve, which is home to a variety of bird species, and the reclaimed colliery site at Fairburn Ings, known for providing birdwatching opportunities.

Walks and Trails

Charles Darwin, known for his significant contributions to the understanding of natural selection, spent time studying the English countryside, which included areas akin to West Yorkshire.

Today, the area offers a multitude of walking trails ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes. Notable walks include:

  • Ilkley Moor: Famous for its rock formations and sweeping moorland.
  • The Calderdale Way: A 50-mile circular route offering diverse landscapes.

These trails allow visitors to explore the picturesque moorlands and the rural charm of West Yorkshire while on foot.

Leisure and Activities

West Yorkshire offers an array of leisure and activities tailored to cater to the adventurous spirit, families in search of entertainment, and individuals eager for knowledge and culture through workshops and tours. This section explores what visitors can expect when looking for an enjoyable and fulfilling experience in the region.

Family Fun

Families visiting West Yorkshire will find a multitude of activities suitable for all ages, including those with kids and toddlers.

Attractions such as the celebrated Worth Valley Railway provide a nostalgic train experience through the heart of Brontë country that captivates both young minds and adults alike.

Additionally, speciality museums and historic sites are not just informative, but they often include interactive elements to keep the younger visitors engaged.

Outdoor Adventures

West Yorkshire's landscape is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

One can traverse the Pennine trails on foot or cycle, absorbing the breathtaking vistas that inspired literary classics like Wuthering Heights.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park invites art lovers to appreciate modern and contemporary sculpture set against the natural backdrop of an 18th-century estate.

These settings offer the perfect opportunity for activities such as hiking, biking, and appreciating art outdoors.

Workshops and Tours

For those keen on immersive experiences, West Yorkshire does not disappoint.

Diverse workshops and guided tours are available and tailored to enrich one's understanding of the county's heritage and the arts.

The National Media Museum in Bradford, now the Science and Media Museum, offers intriguing insights into the worlds of photography, film, and television.

Meanwhile, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds provides dedicated sessions for sculpture aficionados.

Dining and Cuisine

West Yorkshire offers a diverse range of dining options, from traditional British pubs serving hearty fare to contemporary cafes and international restaurants. The region's cuisine scene is a testament to its cultural richness and offers something for every palate.

Traditional Eateries

In the heart of West Yorkshire, one can find a host of traditional eateries, particularly in Leeds and Bradford. These establishments offer classic British dishes, often made with locally sourced ingredients.

The Golden Lion pub in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, offers a charming mix of traditional pub vibes and eclectic features. Visitors can enjoy canal-side seating, a cozy beer garden, and delicious Thai food. It also hosts Tor Beers, a distinctive "pub within a pub." Known as a cultural hotspot, it presents various events and performances, making it a standout destination for those exploring West Yorkshire.

The Queen o' t' owd Thatch is one such place where visitors can enjoy a modern take on pub dining. Traditional eateries are not only about the food but also about the experience, featuring cosy ambience and historical settings.

International Restaurants

West Yorkshire's international restaurants cater to a variety of tastes, with Italian, Indian, and other global cuisines widely available.

Bradford, known for its award-winning curry houses, and Leeds, with its eclectic dining scene, are hubs for food connoisseurs looking for an international flair.

A notable mention is an intimate Italian experience one might find in Sunbridgewells, which is known for its wood-fired pizzas and classic dishes.

  • Italian Dining in Sunbridgewells
    • Specialities: Wood-fired pizzas, Calzones
    • Ambience: Cosy Decor, Authentic Atmosphere

Cafés and Bars

For those seeking a casual dining environment or a place to unwind, West Yorkshire's cafes and bars offer a plethora of options.

From stone-baked pizzas to hanging kebabs and tapas, venues like Harvey's Westgate provide a vibrant setting and a central locale in the region’s food landscape.

Cafes also serve as a daytime retreat, perfect for enjoying a coffee or a light meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

  • Harvey's Westgate
    • Popular Dishes: Stone-baked pizza, Hanging kebabs, Tapas
    • Location: Central West Yorkshire

Arts and Culture

West Yorkshire's landscape is rich not only in natural beauty but in its vibrant arts scene and cultural festivities.

From compelling theatre productions to world-renowned galleries, and a tapestry of music festivals, the region thrives on artistic expression.

Local Theatres

West Yorkshire's theatrical scene is diverse, boasting everything from traditional plays to avant-garde performances.

Leeds Playhouse is renowned for its contribution to the performing arts, showcasing an impressive range of theatrical works.

Another notable venue, the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, offers a mix of musicals, dramas and dance, drawing audiences from across the region.

Cultural Attractions

The county boasts a wealth of cultural landmarks that are must-see destinations for anyone visiting the area.

The Hepworth Wakefield gallery, named in honor of sculptor Barbara Hepworth, showcases a stunning collection of British art, offering insights into the nation's creative legacy.

Adding to the rich cultural offerings, Wakefield is gearing up for its Wakefield Year of Culture in 2024, promising to weave the local cultural narrative into an engaging tapestry of events and exhibitions.

Leeds is also in the cultural spotlight with its Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, a celebration that reflects the city's historical depth and its fervent dedication to the arts.

Music and Festivals

West Yorkshire thrives on a robust calendar of music festivals and cultural events, underscoring the region's deep-rooted affection for the performing arts.

A highlight of this rich cultural tapestry was the Kirklees Year of Music in 2023, which celebrated an array of musical styles and genres, offering something for every music enthusiast.

Following suit, Bradford is poised to capture the spotlight as the UK City of Culture in 2025, aiming to exhibit its vibrant music scene and dynamic cultural landscape.

The annual Leeds Festival is another key event, drawing music aficionados nationwide with its lineup of celebrated performers and up-and-coming talents.

On a more intimate scale, venues like the Trades Club offer a more personal music experience, fostering a sense of community among attendees and allowing for a closer connection with the music.

Events and Festivities

West Yorkshire hosts an array of events and festivities, from seasonal gatherings that celebrate local traditions to community celebrations that bring together residents and visitors alike. These events reflect the vibrant cultural tapestry of the region.

Seasonal Events

Christmas Markets: Come December, West Yorkshire lights up with festive cheer.

Towns across the county hold Christmas markets where one can find handcrafted gifts, local produce, and festive treats.

Visiting these markets has become a treasured holiday tradition.

Leeds Light Night: Held annually in October, Leeds Light Night is the UK’s leading art and light festival.

The city's landmarks are adorned with imaginative light installations, supported by performances that capture the essence of creativity and community spirit.

Community Celebrations

Saltaire Vintage Home & Fashion Fair: For those passionate about retro style, Saltaire Vintage Home & Fashion Fair is a must-visit.

Occurring over two days in April, the fair is set in Victoria Hall, Saltaire, and showcases an eclectic mix of vintage fashion and homewares.

Events across West Yorkshire always consider community guidelines to ensure they provide safe and enjoyable experiences for participants.

Festivals and events are not only reflective of the holidays but are integral to fostering a sense of unity and pride among the people in West Yorkshire.

Visitor Information

West Yorkshire offers a variety of accommodations, travel options, and activities to fit any traveller's budget and preferences. The information compiled below utilises exclusive TripAdvisor data alongside our own insights to ensure reliable recommendations.

Accommodation Guide

Travellers can choose from an array of places to stay, from budget-friendly hotels to luxurious country estates. and TripAdvisor provide platforms with extensive listings, complete with user reviews to help guide decisions.

  • Budget: Guesthouses and hostels offer rooms at an affordable price point.
  • Mid-range: Boutique hotels present a comfortable stay with unique flair.
  • Luxury: Historic manors and high-end hotels provide top-tier services.

Travel Tips

Navigating West Yorkshire is straightforward, with public transport connecting major attractions and towns.

Rental vehicles are recommended for exploring the picturesque countryside.

  • Public Transport: Buses and trains cover urban areas; tickets can be purchased online.
  • Driving: Rental cars are available for more tailored itineraries and rural access.
  • Cycling: Bike trails offer a scenic and eco-friendly touring option.

Budget Planners

TripAdvisor data is invaluable for tailoring a visit to West Yorkshire according to one's budget.

Price comparison tools allow travellers to find the best deals on accommodations and activities.

  • Low Budget: Consider off-peak travel and free attractions like public parks.
  • Mid Budget: Look for combo tickets for museums and galleries to save on entry fees.
  • Higher Budget: Indulge in exclusive experiences and fine dining, accessible through advance bookings.

Frequently Asked Questions

West Yorkshire offers a diverse range of activities catering to different interests, from serene walks to cultural landmarks. Below are common queries people have when looking for things to do in this area.

Couples may enjoy a serene walk along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, offering picturesque views and comfortable spots for a tranquil retreat.

Alternatively, visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park can provide an inspiring outdoor experience, blending nature's beauty with contemporary art.

Where can families find enjoyable experiences in West Yorkshire?

Families can head to the National Coal Mining Museum for an educational and fun day out.

With interactive displays and a well-designed playground, it guarantees an engaging experience for all ages.

Escape Hunt Leeds offers families an exciting challenge as they work together to solve puzzles and escape themed rooms.

What are the top free attractions to visit in West Yorkshire?

Yorkshire Sculpture Park serves as a leading outdoor art gallery, where visitors can enjoy a wide array of sculptures for free.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the region's Pennine trails and cycleways which provide free and invigorating outdoor activities.

Which events or attractions should one not miss this weekend in West Yorkshire?

Visitors should check the local events calendar for the latest information on weekend activities.

From art exhibitions at local galleries to seasonal festivals, West Yorkshire's vibrant culture often has something unique to offer.

For a day out in West Yorkshire, what are the best options for adults?

Adults may appreciate the historical and cultural experiences available in cosmopolitan Leeds, with its extensive shopping centres, museums, and galleries.

Those interested in a more active day can take advantage of the numerous walking and cycling opportunities available across the region.

Can you suggest some notable places of interest in Huddersfield?

Huddersfield, a historic market town, is known for its Victorian architecture. The impressive Huddersfield Town Hall is a great example of this.

The town also boasts beautiful parks such as Greenhead Park. It serves as a perfect locale for leisurely strolls and picnics.

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