Recommended: a free day out at the National Railway Museum

Miss Thrifty5 February 24, 2014

If you worked last week around having the kids at home for half-term, AND you did it on a budget, I tip my hat to you. Thrifty Kid isn’t even at school yet and already we get bombarded by lovely-but-expensive-sounding ideas for things to do during the holidays. 

That said, last week I took Thrifty Kid on a free day out to the National Railway Museum in York, where there were a fair few holiday activities being laid on for kids. The National Railway Museum is already his favourite place in the whole world, so the addition of lots of free mini-adventures was a welcome bonus.

chuggington national railway museum

The Chuggington play area for children aged six and under was a hit: toy trains and track as far as the toddler eye could see (above). The children in this part of the Museum’s Great Hall were split into two groups: those who were playing happily, and those who were hurling toys out of prams left, right and centre while being dragged away from the Chuggington toys.

national railway museum half term

There was also lots of dress-up. There were rails of Chuggington outfits in the play area, but also opportunities to dress up as station announcers, wave flags and make practice announcements on microphones.

teddy at national railway museum

My child’s proudest moment on the day was when he got to dress up as a driver and stand in the cab of a steam locomotive called Teddy. As you can probably tell from the picture, he was pleased as punch. (What you probably can’t tell, despite the shaky camera, is that I was standing on the platform praying to God that he didn’t fall off the edge of the cab and down onto the track.)

 Many of the special kids’ activities are on at the National Railway Museum until 28 February 2014, and I got the sense that many of them were regular holiday events. If you are in the north of England and planning any free days out now or in the future, this place comes highly recommended by Thrifty Kid and me. And if the orderly queue to play driver on Teddy the steam locomotive was  anything to go by, big kids like it there too…

Two bonus ways to save money at the National Railway Museum:

1. Park and ride. Although the National Railway Museum is free, parking costs a rather steep £9 per vehicle.  If public transport isn’t a viable option, consider York’s Park and Ride scheme instead. Park for free in one of the five car parks on the city’s outskirts, then catch the bus into the city centre. The bus fare is £2.70 for one adult plus up to two children aged under 16. Details of the car park locations and other scheme details can be found here.

2. Take your own food. The cafes at the National Railway Museum serve delicious food, but they ain’t cheap. (Well, not by my skinflint standards.) There is an outdoor picnic area, but it backs onto one of the cafes, so I don’t know if it’s ok to eat your own sandwiches there.  However once the weather is warm enough to eat outside, I’d recommend strolling down the road for a few minutes, under the railway bridge and into the pretty Memorial Gardens.

I’ll bet my bottom dollar that there are Miss Thrifty readers who know the National Railway Museum like the back of their hands, and have plenty more ways to save money or make the most of a cheap day out there. If you are one of them, please make yourself known. 🙂



Did you enjoy this post?

Free Daily Digest

5 Responses to “Recommended: a free day out at the National Railway Museum

Alyssa says:

I love york . Myself and my husband always visit the rail museum. We will definitely be taking our son now aswel

February 24, 2014 at 9:02 am

Anne says:

If spending free time in York and maybe have luggage use the storage lockers at the Nationsl railway museum rather then at railway station… much cheaper!!

February 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

Alyssa – I love York too. Also, I know it seems like some distant hinterland for people in the south, but you can get from London to York on the train in just 2 hrs. Not bad!

Anne – great idea! Although I should warn you that even today, I get flamed in the comments for a post I wrote a few years about using the lockers at the British Library instead of the expensive Left Luggage service at Kings Cross next door! Maybe National Railway Museum users are less territorial…

February 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Oh, I remember these days with very warm feeling. Now it is snowboarding down very steep slopes, and Call of Duty (My son has this idea that since you need 10,000 hour to master any subject I should allow him to play as long as he wishes. Then he’ll become a professional gamer and make millions before he is in his mid teens – internet wealthy youngsters eat your heart out). Also, it was much more fun to do things together when he was young!

February 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *