Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in South Yorkshire, England

  • Published 2022/08/10

Lose yourself and wander off beaten tracks in South Yorkshire because, come what may, you never seem to run out of places to see or things to do here.

Amidst the awe-inspiring scenery of this cosmopolitan county, let cities, market towns, and model villages seeped in industrial heritage amuse you.

Enchanting historical sites, parks and gardens, and natural attractions are just some of the things that await you in South Yorkshire.

So, what are you waiting for?

This charming destination has something to offer to every type of traveler.

These are the best things to do in South Yorkshire, England:

Bask in Tranquility at the Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Daytime view of Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Angelina Dimitrova /

Care for some enchanting bliss in the lap of nature?

As Sheffield is home to the beautiful Sheffield Botanical Gardens, it is no surprise that it is known as the “Outdoor City.”

The Sheffield Botanical Gardens feature peaceful paths that take you through gardens, fountains, and statues.

The gate of Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Tom_Sanderson /

It is also home to treasures like the Bear Pit, which was used as Yorkshire’s biggest compost pit for many years.

There’s also a fossilized tree stump that will bring you precious moments of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Benches along Sheffield Botanical Gardens' pathway

Angelina Dimitrova /

Have Enchanting Encounters at the Tropical Butterfly House

Tropical Butterfly House

GuyBerresfordPhotography /

Located in Sheffield, the Tropical Butterfly House is home to several meerkats, prairie dogs, parrots, and spectacular birds of prey.

There is a fairy-guided tour for little adventurers to discover fairy hideaways, pixie dwellings, and dragons.

The activity center also has various games and activities like face painting or fairy crafts.

A miniature mushroom house at Tropical Butterfly House

Piranhi /

Meet Adorable Animals at Heeley City Farm

Goats in Heeley City Farm

James Hudson Photography /

Are you looking for a fun place to take the kids?

Heeley City Farm brings you the peace of the countryside right within the heart of Sheffield.

Visitors can get up close and personal with the farm animals, such as poultry, pigs, sheep, goats, and cows.

In addition to the friendly animals and the playground, you may want to visit the Garden Centre or find some healthy yet delicious food in their cafe, The Farm Kitchen.

Heeley City Farm also holds several events throughout the year, including volunteer gardening sessions, Meet the Bees, Herding Garden Social Cafe, iron forging sessions, and more.

Discover History at Kelham Island Museum

Structure of Kelham Island Museum

Elizabethmaher /

There’s plenty for the curious mind at Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield, especially for one interested in industrial history.

It boasts a fascinating display of artifacts that include old cars, steel products, vintage utensils, and tools.

Welcome sign of Kelham Island Museum

Elizabeth Iris /

This place is also home to the River Don Steam Engine, the largest and loudest steam engine in all of Britain and the world.

For refreshments, visit the cafeteria adjacent to the museum and the pub with an in-house brewery.

Visit Wentworth Woodhouse, the Largest Private House in England

Side view of Wentworth Woodhouse exterior

Neil Lang /

Find this hidden treasure in the village of Wentworth.

Wentworth Woodhouse is the largest private home in the United Kingdom and is the epitome of elegance and Englishness.

It may surprise you that the house is twice as wide as Buckingham Palace, in addition to being 150 times the size of a typical home.

Plant bed at Wentworth Woodhouse

Alastair Wallace /

You might want to book a guided tour through the house’s pillars and neoclassical statues to make the most out of your visit.

Before or after touring Wentworth Woodhouse, make sure to stop by the massive stable block that can accommodate no less than 100 horses.

Front view of the Wentworth Woodhouse exterior

Jeanette Teare /

Enjoy a Night of Entertainment at the Lyceum

Exterior of the Lyceum Theatre

Angelina Dimitrova /

Although the Lyceum has had a troubled history, this theater has been standing tall in Sheffield since it was established in 1879.

The historic theater still hosts performances regularly, so be sure to check out their schedule when planning your visit to the city.

Entrance door and building sign of Lyceum theatre

Electric Egg /

Sit back in your reserved seat and enjoy some of the most brilliant productions of pantomimes in Yorkshire with an exceptional cast that includes aerial artists, stunning costumes, singing, and staging.

You can get yourself a nice drink or pre-order drinks for the interval.

Walk around Peak District National Park

Scenic view from Peak District National Park

Daniel_Kay /

Do you love spending time in the great outdoors?

Find calmness and adventure at Peak District National Park, Britain’s first-ever national park.

Landscape of Peak District National Park

Martina Hardiman /

Discover the gritstone ridges and plateaus in the north, especially Kinder Scout— the park’s highest point—and the famous stepping stones and Lathkill Dale in the southern area.

Flock of sheep at Peak District National Park

cally robin /

Shop until You Drop at Meadowhall Shopping Centre

Aerial view of Meadowhall

Duncan Cuthbertson /

Sheffield’s Meadowhall Shopping Centre has a vast array of shops and food courts for you to choose from, along with a cinema.

This place receives over 25 million visitors a year and is, in fact, one of Europe’s largest shopping complexes.

If you plan on giving this place a visit, make sure you come early so you have a good amount of time on your hands to look around.

People in Meadowhall Shopping Centre

travellight /

Experience Shopping like a Local at Doncaster Market

Fresh produce at Doncaster Market

NeilIrvine /

A variety of things will steal your attention once you set foot in the award-winning Doncaster Market, one of the largest markets in the whole country.

The regular market days take place on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

They offer all sorts of things like exotic food, locally sourced produce, snacks, and live music.

Exterior of Doncaster Market

Doncaster Market by Bill Henderson, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every Wednesday, the venue holds a bric-a-brac market, where they sell antiques and secondhand items.

Enjoy the theatrical elements of the outdoor market as you witness traders who will try to compete for your attention by shouting out their prices and deals.

Shoppers at Doncaster Market

Doncaster Market by Jonathan Thacker, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go for a Stroll amid Nature at Endcliffe Park

People at Endcliffe Park

Kristin Greenwood /

One of the best things to do in Sheffield is to spend a leisurely day in the lovely Endcliffe Park.

This 15-hectare attraction is listed on the English Heritage’s National Register of Historic Parks & Gardens.

People enjoying the sun at Endcliffe Park

Kristin Greenwood /

It boasts a range of amenities, which include a children’s playground, a display of statues and sculptures, a riverside walk, woodlands, and a cafe.

After you’ve grabbed a bite to eat, you can stroll around the park and find everything from rivers to waterfalls to a large pond where you’re allowed to feed the ducks.

Spot Amazing Wildlife at Ecclesall Woods

Colorful trees at Ecclesall Woods

Martina Hardiman /

Find inner peace as you walk on Ecclesall Woods’ footpaths past trees that have fallen over the winter and savor the sweet smell of the old woods.

Ecclesall Woods is the largest ancient semi-natural woodland in South Yorkshire.

The attraction hosts various facilities, including a discovery center, coffee shop, and miniature railway.

It’s also home to a wide range of wildlife.

After exploring all that Ecclesall Woods has to offer, treat yourself at the lovely cafe, which offers cakes, toasts, and other snacks and beverages at reasonable prices.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even find a pizza van selling a wide range of pizzas, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Indulge in the Beauty of Nature at the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail

A beautiful waterfall in Rivelin Valley Nature Trail

Jason Wells /

If you’re looking for a little outdoor adventure while in South Yorkshire, you may want to check out the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail.

Open to visitors throughout the year, this nature trail allows hikers to walk by countless plant and animal species, along with the archeological remains of dams that date as far back as the 16th century.

Cobblestone trail at Rivelin Valley Nature Trail

Alexwilko /

Enjoy a walk along this trail, which will clear your head and free you of your woes with its scenic beauty.

Step over the stepping stones and wander on intertwined paths that take you on a beautiful journey along stunning sights of woodland, rivers, ponds, and waterfalls.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Cocoa Wonderland

Devour the sweets you fancy from a wide range of homemade brownies, truffles, and chocolates at Cocoa Wonderland, a chocolate lover’s paradise in Sheffield.

Let your childhood finally return to you with its exquisite treats stored in sparkling glass jars.

Allow this place to bring you some Roald Dahl-esque nostalgia as you find comfort in the sinful sweet indulgences at its cozy lounge.

Marvel at the Last Operating Vulcan Bomber at Robin Hood Airport

Vulcan Bomber in Robin hood Airport

D K Grove /

If you’re an aviation fan visiting South Yorkshire, you won’t miss out on your chance to see the last operational Vulcan bomber in the world, XH558.

The Vulcan Experience is located at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, also known as Robin Hood Airport.

Get the opportunity to take the Vulcan Experience Tour of World War II, and don’t forget to visit the bar afterward to have some Vulcan Bomber Ale.

Exterior of Robin Hood Airport

Tupungato /

Witness Worsbrough Mill, a 17th-Century Water Mill

Aerial view of Worsbrough Mill

Davo Foster /

At Worsbrough Mill, learn about centuries of milling and bread-making in the traditional way.

It is one of the only remaining working water mills in the United Kingdom and still produces fine quality organic flour to be sold to customers.

You will have the opportunity to learn and relax at this place.

Exterior and waters of Worsbrough Mill

Neil Lang /

History comes to life here, and the natural reserve that this mill is set in provides incredible views of nature and wildlife.

Visitors can enjoy these views while savoring traditional Yorkshire cake at the cafe on-site.

A person fishing at Worsbrough Mill's small pier

Neil Lang /

Explore the Picturesque Outdoors around Barnsley

Exterior of Wentworth Castle

Tom Curtis /

Allow the routes in and around the town of Barnsley to take you through fascinating scenery to heritage sites, wildlife havens, and villages.

Make sure you visit Worsbrough Mill Museum, Elsecar Village, Old Moor Nature Reserve, and Wentworth Castle Gardens as you move across the countryside.

There is no better way to experience the joy of being at this place than by exploring the network of trails that connect its significant attractions.

The waters of Old Moor Nature Reserve

Tom Curtis /

Shop for Vintage Goods at Sheffield Antiques Quarter

Welcome sign of Sheffield Antiques Quarter

Elizabeth Iris /

Shop at the quirky little vintage shops, antique centers, cafes, and bars at Sheffield Antiques Quarter.

As you stroll through this gem of a flea market, find retro collectibles, vintage clothing, upcycled artwork, handmade crafts, local artisan produce, and food and beers made in Yorkshire.

There are quite a few places that will provide you with some snacks and coffee and make sure you have a fantastic day out.

Spend Some Time in Sheffield Winter Garden

Exterior of the Sheffield Winter Garden

Nigel Jarvis /

One of South Yorkshire’s most remarkable attractions, Sheffield Winter Garden is the largest urban glasshouse in the United Kingdom.

Spend some time in this green space with tropical plants and beautiful flowers, which not even the weather can spoil.

There’s also a giant garden, an on-site cafe, and arts and crafts gift shops.

Interior of the Sheffield Winter Garden

Tom_Sanderson /

Witness Magnificence at Conisbrough Castle

Exterior of the Conisbrough Castle

david muscroft /

Located in the town of Doncaster, Conisbrough Castle is a medieval fortification made of magnesian limestone.

It is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in Europe.

Close view of Conisbrough Castle wall

Alastair Wallace /

This stunning castle, built by the Earl of Surrey in the 11th century, is known to have inspired Sir Walter Scott’s classic, Ivanhoe.

Before or after touring the place, you can head to the visitor center to learn more about this attraction.

Aerial view of Conisbrough Castle walls

Alastair Wallace /

Watch a Thrilling Horse Race at the Doncaster Racecourse

Exterior of the Doncaster Racecourse

Mick Atkins /

Doncaster Racecourse is known to hold the world’s longest and oldest classic horse race.

Experience the thrill of horse racing and entertainment here with your friends or family.

At the Family Enclosure, you’re even allowed to bring your own food.

Browse through the Displays at the Millennium Gallery

Exterior of the Millennium Gallery

Angelina Dimitrova /

The Millenium Gallery is situated right in the heart of Sheffield.

Walk into this place and take home souvenirs and tokens to remind you of the beautiful time you spent in South Yorkshire.

As you look through the diverse range of exhibitions at the gallery, you will also find information supporting the works on display.

You will surely come across something you will cherish for a lifetime.

Stop by the Village of Worsbrough

The waters of Worsbrough reservoir

Jeremy Alan Baxter /

Worsbrough has been inhabited since the 600s, and in the 11th century, it was listed in the Domesday Book.

Worsbrough Mill, the operating flour mill on the River Dove, still uses its 19th-century steam machinery and its 16th-century water-powered mechanism.

Pathway beside Worsbrough reservoir

Tom Curtis /

A part of the Trans Pennine Trail, which connects both coastlines of northern England, follows the old railway path through Worsbrough.

The 12th-century Church of St. Mary, which has a widespread tomb for the 75 people killed in the Darley Main Colliery catastrophe in 1849, is another place tourists may stop by.

Learn the History of Coals at Elsecar

A church at Elsecar

Peter is Shaw 1991 /

The community of Elsecar, located in the sweeping hills of Rotherham and Barnsley, saw coal mining operations from the 15th century through the 1980s.

Elsecar has a lot of charm due to its alleys lined with old stone houses and the converted remains of iron forges and mine structures.

The 18th-century Newcomen Beam Engine, which was built to extract water from coal pits to allow for deeper exploration, is housed at Elsecar Heritage Centre.

A steam locomotive at Elsecar railway

Tom Curtis /

You may spend some time in the history center perusing the charming little stores and riding the mile-long Elsecar Heritage Railway.

Fly through the streets of villages, coal mines, and ironworks while the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside surrounds you.

The waters of Elsecar

Tom Curtis /

Walk around High Bradfield

The village of High Bradfield

Mick Knapton at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

High Bradfield lies inside the Peak District, in a mountainous setting with views over Bradfield Dale to the Derwent Edge escarpment and a sizable sweep of the Dark Peak.

There are some interesting things to find within a short distance from the settlement.

While Castle Hill was formerly a Saxon camp, Bailey Hill has all the characteristics of a traditional motte and bailey stronghold.

Exterior of High Bradfield church

Mick Knapton at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Church of St. Nicholas is among the few Grade I-listed structures in the Sheffield area.

It makes the most of the grand setting and contains an 800-year-old Saxon cross in the aisle.

Appreciate Architecture at Cawthorne

Cawthorne is a typical English rural community that comprises a charming medieval church, a bar tea room, and a manor home.

Cannon Hall, the neighborhood’s stately residence, is a stunning Georgian mansion in a Jane Austen period piece.

The ballroom, dining room, library, and drawing room all have lavish period furnishings made by some of the most renowned furniture artists of the 18th century, including Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite.

Take the children to Cannon Hall Farm to observe modern farming equipment in action and see vehicles strolling around as if it were any other day.

You may watch Shetland pony and donkey foals, piglets, lambs, and other newborn animals during the spring.

Wander around Penistone

Exterior of a church at Penistone

Jonathan Thacker / Church of St. John the Baptist, Penistone

With a height of more than 220 meters, the charming market town of Penistone is the highest in Yorkshire.

The scenery begins to change dramatically here, near the county’s western boundary, where the Pennines begin.

Starting at Penistone, several excellent local walks go into an area of arable farms and pasture where tough white-faced woodland sheep graze.

The desolate moorland area surrounding the Langsett Reservoir is perfect for those who need some outdoor solitude because you may walk there for hours without running across anyone.

Drop by the Church of St. John the Baptist in the town, which has a tower from the 16th century and a nave and chancel that may date back to the 11th century.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Tour of the Historic Haddon Hall

Exterior of the Haddon Hall

Brenda Linskey /

This Tudor manor house is located in Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Haddon Hall, which is currently home to Lord Edward Manners and his family, has been described as “the most complete and most interesting house of its period.”

Interior of Haddon Hall

Edward Haylan /

This grand home has been featured in many literary and stage works and even in paintings.

If you’ve seen the movie The Princess Bride, you will be surprised to know that the country house used as Prince Humperdinck’s castle was actually Haddon Hall.

The grounds of Haddon Hall

Edward Haylan /

Spend Time in the Lap of Nature at Felley Priory Garden

Daytime view of Felley Priory Garden

Richard Leake / Felley Priory

You’ll find the enchanting Felley Priory Garden in Nottingham, 45 minutes outside South Yorkshire.

Beautiful flowers at Felley Priory Garden

Amanda Slater from Coventry, West Midlands, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its vividly colorful sights of trees, shrubs, roses, bamboo, and irises never fail to leave visitors amazed.

Beautified further with its ancient walls, this hidden spot also provides lovely lunch and afternoon tea in the old-fashioned tea room.

Shaped shrubs at Felley Priory Garden

Amanda Slater from Coventry, West Midlands, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend an Adventurous Day at Diggerland

Perfect for a day trip from South Yorkshire, Diggerland is located in the town of Castleford.

Have a fantastic day with your whole family and enjoy the theme park’s real JCBs and excavators, the Spindizzy, the Diggerland Skyshuttle, the GroundShuttle, the Dodgems, and go-karts.

In addition to its full-size construction machinery, Diggerland has 20 different rides and activities galore to make sure you have a thrilling experience.

Final Thoughts

Let cities, metropolitan areas, and model villages steeped in industrial tradition fascinate you as you take in South Yorkshire’s breathtaking surroundings.

The majority of this cultural county’s tourism attractions connect to history through entertainment, leisure, and recreation.

If you decide to travel to South Yorkshire, prepare for an unforgettable experience!

Read More

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