Now that summer’s here, we’re all likely to have a little more time on our hands. We’ll all no doubt be feeling the encouragement that the sun brings to get out of the house and make the most of our days off, but often finding somewhere that will be equally as fun for the whole family, within reasonable distance, and for a reasonable price often proves to be a tricky balance. But alas!

We’ve got you covered with this somewhat alternative list to the usual exhibits, museums, and galleries in Leeds that usually come to mind.   




Originating in our very own city, it would be rude not to pay a visit to M&S’s Marks in Time exhibition, held within the Michael Marks Building in the University of Leeds. Marks in Time celebrates Marks and Spencer’s social impact and the role that the store has had on people’s lives for over 130 years. Here, you can read about battles in the boardrooms and the evolution of staff welfare; from flowers to frocks, this exhibition takes an in-depth look at how M&S led the way in innovation, quality, and welfare.   

Sift through the exhibit’s collection of original artefacts from the 1900’s to the present day and their stock of employee magazines, or have a go cashing up on their original penny bazaar till. And for the kids, the exhibition features a whole host of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, as well as a children’s zone filled with vintage and new dress-up M&S apparel and plenty of toys and games. Even better still, the exhibition is completely free for all to enter!

Michael Marks Building University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9LP




Make the most of your visit to the university by also paying a visit to the Treasures of Brotherton gallery which is permanently held in the Parkinson Building and is also free admission. The gallery displays treasures from the libraries special collections, featuring original material written by the Bronte’s and many other literary pioneers.

Explore the history of physical copies of writing, and follow the entire journey all the way from the use of ancient Babylonian clay, to the more familiar modern artists books. Alongside the Bronte’s, you can discover other pioneers influence and journey in political, medical, and social history through an extensive collection of notebooks, pamphlets, and posters. Although this may be considered a somewhat niche day out, for an unexpected rainy summer’s day, this will be sure to prove a real treasure trove for literary lovers.

Parkinson Building, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9JT



Just a short bus journey out of the centre along Kirkstall Road, you’ll find the Abbey House Museum directly opposite the 12th century Abbey ruins. Hidden away in this grade II listed gatehouse building is an interactive museum which has authentically recreated streets of shops, houses, and pubs that you were likely to see in Leeds during the Victorian era.

Here, you can walk down the street of Stephen Harding Gate, the Victorian equivalent of a modern high street; and even step foot in a traditional Victorian drinking house named Hart to Rover Inn. But that’s not all this hidden gem has to offer; upstairs in the museum are the childhood galleries, a fascinating collection of 19th century toys and games, for you to spot your own childhood toys and see just how much they’ve changed. With a family card costing £11, or even less with a LeedsCard, Abbey House will be sure to take you on a trip back in time for a very reasonable price.

Abbey Walk, Leeds, LS5 3EH




If you like the sound of Abbey House Museum, you’ll be sure to love Horsforth Village Museum. As many of us consider Horsforth to be just one of the many suburbs of Leeds, it may come as a shock to learn that Horsforth was once the largest village in England, so it’s no wonder this sleepy suburb has enough history to fill its own museum.

Opened over 20 years ago, the museum is made up of five display rooms which all display collections of furniture, antiques, and other objects which reflect Horsforth’s   heritage. Have a rummage through artefacts of World War 1 and 2 in the Horsforde room, where you’ll also be told the story of corvette HMS Aubretia and its vital role in apprehending the German enigma machine. Elsewhere in the museum, you’ll also be able to delve into the history of Horsforth in their extensive collection of photographs, newspaper articles, maps, and documents. This is arguably one for a slightly older crowd, but nonetheless, a genuinely insightful day out for couples, families, or even just yourself! 

5 The Green, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5JB



Although a little further out of Leeds, Thwaite Watermill will no doubt prove to be a day out the kids will look forward to for weeks. Here, you can explore not only the large watermill but also the neighbouring Thwaite House, a Georgian grade II listed building packed full of vintage antiques and treasures.

See, hear, and feel how the machinery working inside the watermill, cog and wheels n’ all, and find out how solid rock was originally turned into paint and putty, with live demonstrations in the engineer’s workshop. Head outside for even more fun in the mill’s grounds and nature trail; situated in the stunning riverside surroundings, discover all of the local species of plant life and mini mammals, and see how many you can spot on the nature trail. With £9 family admission, you can’t go far wrong here for a fun packed full day out.

Thwaite Ln, Leeds LS10 1RP


For a family fun packed day, but sure to head to one of these exhibits in Leeds!