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Family-friendly things to do at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal

Summer holidays exploring the Studley Water Garden
The perfect place to run jump and explore in the outdoors this spring | © J Shepherd

There are acres of space where little legs can explore and imaginations run riot here at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal. Find out more about what to expect if you’re planning a visit with babies and children.

Planning your family visit

Fountains Abbey is open 7 days a week and there’s no need to book in advance - just come along and spend a full day exploring, running and playing.

  • There are accessible toilets and a dedicated baby change at the visitor centre, by Fountains Hall and at the Studley end of the estate.
  • There are accessible concrete paths on a circular walk around the estate. Paths inside the abbey ruins and deer park vary from gravel to grass and hard standing. You can find a map here.
  • Children under five are welcome to bring balance bikes and bikes with stabilisers to help them get around. Larger bikes and e-scooters are only allowed on the long drive through the deer park.
  • There is a ball games area next to playground at the visitor centre, ball games are not permitted beyond this point.

Exploring safely

The abbey ruin is nearly 900 years old and while it looks tempting to climb on, it's much safer to have fun discovering all the secret doorways and staircases instead. The river Skell runs through the site and it a great place for spotting wildlife. Please do keep those wellies out of the water though as it is deep and fast running in places.

Plan your summer holiday adventure

Children exploring the columns of Fountains Abbey nave in the summertime
Explore the grand columns of the abbey ruin | © J Shepherd

Become an abbey adventurer

Don your adventure cap and set out to discover all the hidden corners of the abbey. See if you can find the last of the white marble and all the ruined alters in the nave. Can you hear an echo in the cellarium and how many staircases can you find throughout the ruins? Be sure to look up to find carved figures and faces.

A family explores the Studley Royal Water Garden in the summer time
Don't stop at the abbey - carry on your adventure in the World Heritage Site water gardens. It was a Georgian playground after all! | © Chris Lacey

Be a water garden explorer

Don't stop at the abbey. The water garden is full of straight lines and symmetrical curves but there are many corners to discover, too. Climb up to the Banqueting House lawn and have fun, can you spot Octagon Tower in the distance?

Explore woodland on the High Ride path - but you'll need to walk through the dark Serpentine Tunnel to get there! Once you're up, you're up and there are three follies to find. One has an underground kitchen, one is made out wood and one has a wide view down to the abbey. See if you can find them all.

We're famous for the abbey ruins but find out what else you can explore on your visits

A young boy enjoys the swings in the play area at Fountains Abbey
Little ones will be full of beans and out of puff by the time they've whizzed round the play area | © ©Chris Lacey

Discover the play area

Less than two minutes from the visitor centre there's a huge play area where inquisitive little minds can be let loose to play. There are things to wobble along, jump over and climb'll find a wooden abbey, a woodland lookout, scramble nets and posts, swings, fireman's poles, a slide and a gigantic rope bridge for the most daring adventurers of all. There’s also a five-point harness swing for our younger visitors with additional access needs. Parents can keep an eye out from picnic tables dotted around or come and join in with building a den. 

1 of 3

'I love coming to Fountains Abbey with my family. My favourite bits are the zip line in the playground and the secret upstairs room in the abbey. I like to chase my big sister through the tunnel in the garden too. We always race through the middle bit where it’s really dark.'

A quote by Daisy, age 11

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