My home city of Leeds is only a 2.5 hour train journey from London Kings Cross. It is the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, where you will find the most breathtaking scenery in the country and is a short journey to other great northern cities like York.
Here are my five favourite places in Leeds.
I will start off by mentioning my favourite Leeds attraction for 2011. It is a must visit, especially if you have children. Harewood House is a stately home, has magnificent gardens and a huge estate to let the kids run free.
For kids, there’s a play area and bird garden – make sure you watch the penguins being fed. You will find flamingos and birds from around the world. Walk around the estate, over the river, through the gardens and try and spot the local wildlife.
Millennium Square is home to a number of really good restaurants including Spice Quarter and Casa Mia. You will also find drinking venues including Revolution, and Cuthbert Broderick pub. The square is on the doorstep of the Leeds City Museum, which has free entrance and is great fun for kids and adults, alike.
You could also treat the family to a production at the Carriageworks Theatre. Leeds Civic Hall sits on Millennium Square, with its golden owls. Mandela Gardens, at the bottom of the square, is a nice place to go and read a book and relax.
This is my favourite park and very popular with families and walkers because of its vast area of open parkland. There’s nothing better than relaxing in the sunshine (yes, we do get sunshine in Leeds!) and enjoying a picnic next to the lake. The park has plenty of walking routes and bandstands where local brass and classical bands play in the summer months.
Walk around Canal gardens, and then spend some time at Tropical World which is home to meerkats, tropical birds and fish. Have a bite to eat and a drink at the lakeside cafe, or sit and have a drink in the beer garden of the Roundhay Fox pub.
Leeds Town Hall
Leeds Town Hall was built between 1853 and 1858 by Cuthbert Brodrick after a competition to build it was held in 1852. Through-out the year various events take place including concerts, craft fairs and the Leeds film festival. It is an impressive Grade 1 listed building and its lion sculptures look over the city.
Next door you will find the Leeds city art gallery, home to the best collections of 20th century British art outside London. Make sure you look up at the ceiling before you sit down to have a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the impressive Tiled Hall café.
The Leeds waterfront is split up into three main areas, Clarence Dock, Brewery Wharf and Granary Wharf. You will find a plethora of bars, restaurants, local independent markets and walks along the Leeds & Liverpool canal.
If you visit the city in July, the Leeds waterfront festival will be in full flow (pardon the pun!) with dragon boat racing and live music. It is amazing how many people visit Leeds and do not realize that we have a canal and a river running through the city centre.
What are your favorite things to do in Leeds, England?
Darren Cronian is the founder and editor of My Life in Leeds, a guide written by local people for locals and tourists. You will find guides like this on attractions in Leeds to help you plan your visit and discover Leeds.