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Medieval York with a Two-Year-Old

Author: Sherry B.
Date of Trip: July 2006

A week in medieval York, England doesn’t sound like a vacation for toddlers, but we saw the Roman-walled city through the eyes of a two-year-old and willingly recommend it.

Our GNER train from London pulled into the York Railway Station with young Tate fast asleep in his stroller. Next door is the National Railway Museum and the Yorkshire Wheel, which we visited toward the end of our stay — and wish we hadn’t waited.

While the adults were interested in viewing trains like the chunnel’s EuroStar, the historic Flying Scotsman, and the Queen’s Royal Train from the 1880s, Tate was giggling just to see them up close, getting a chance to touch them and make choo-choo sounds. Afterward we went outside to let him ride the child-sized trains and cars. The museum also has a sit-down activity center for kids and their parents, with arts and crafts and coloring pages.

The Yorkshire Wheel looks much like the London Eye, except that it’s half the size and half the price. Affectionately called the “Yorkshire Aye,” it’s an observation wheel — technically not a Ferris wheel — which makes three five-minute rotations in fifteen minutes. Each pod is air conditioned and seats up to eight people. We had five members of our family, so we got the pod all to ourselves, which made it easy for Tate to look down, then light up at the sight of boats on the river, and railroad tracks below. We adults enjoyed the view of York Minster, where Don and I had renewed our wedding vows three years earlier.

One morning we took a walk along the Roman Wall, although I wouldn’t advise it for toddlers. Tate was in his stroller the entire time, but Dad and Granddad had to hoist the thing up stone stairs then down again, and many parts of the wall have no handrail — with a sheer drop off one side. Ack!

I’m sorry it wasn’t Viking Festival time, but Tate enjoyed a walk along a well-tended pathway beside the Ouse River, bus rides, taxis, and a sunset cruise on our last night, ducks and all. All week long he wanted to return to the railway station just to watch the trains come and go. During visits to my daughter’s former college friends, Tate played in the garden and enjoyed the flowers, rocks and bugs.

All told, adults can enjoy the historic city of York, even with a toddler who was born in the age of planes, trains and automobiles.

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