York Minster
A family friendly full fun packed day out is to be had at York for relatively little expense.
York is a truly beautiful & historic city with lots to see and do.  The NRM (or the train museum to me&you!) is probably a full afternoons visit on its own depending on the age range of your 'travel group'.
The museum is enormous and split into two parts stuffed full of trains & rail memorabilia.
I always enjoy a sit in the Japanese Bullet Train & there's a short train ride to be had outside in the yard. There is also a massive gift shop that stocks all manner of train themed merchandise (great for Thomas the Tank-engine products) & I always buy a metal sign for my garden on my visits. The museum entrance is free, unless theres a specified chargable event taking place (check website before visiting). Children will love it, big kids will too!

Treasurer's House during the Illuminating York event
There's the National Trust owned 'Treasurer's House' to be explored. It has a quirky clock has is so long it stretches between 2 floors, a room that is 'outside inside' and the 'haunted cellar' reputedly haunted by a Roman Legion, although it's never seemed to be open on any of my visits! Treasurer's House can be found just behind the Minster & is free admission to National Trust members.
Speaking of the 'Minster'; I've not been inside since a school trip in the 1980 as I refuse to pay the colossal entrance fee. (Durham Cathedral is free, ergo all places of worship should be in my eyes) However its a very pretty building and its fun to spot the gargoyles!
The 'Shambles', a little further along from the Minster, are rows of quirky medieval buildings where the top parts are so close you can allegedly shake hands with people on the opposite side of the street (although why you'd want to I don't know!) The buildings are mainly shops now but its nice to amble along there although it does get very busy and crowded.

step back into the 1960 at the castle museum
The Castle Museum is also another great afternoons entertainment. It has period rooms, a large victorian street & a very funky 1960's reconstruction!
As the museum was used as a prison long ago be sure to check out the York Prison section its absolutely fantastic & you can even search the data base to see if any of your ancestors were criminals! :)  The bonus here is the entrance ticket is valid for a whole year so great for repeat visits to York.
Speaking of castles, the English Heritage owned 'Cliffords Tower' is a great place to view the city. Climb right to the top of the 'keep' and enjoy the panoramic views of the city below. There isn't really a great lot to see inside the castle as its totally hollow inside but its still an interesting place to visit.

the York Eye new for 2012
If you need to rest your legs theres a lovely park nearby that houses the ruins of St Marys Abbey, York Observatory & The Hospitium, its great for a picnic or to feed the squirrels. No trip to York should be complete without a walk along part of the historic city wall. There are several gateways (known locally as Bars) to admire along the way or enjoy a little stroll by the riverside. 
Speaking of bars, I can recomend 'The Maltings' as a place to enjoy a pint of locally brewed real ale, or enjoy a nice glass of fruit wine.
Also new for 2012 the York Eye makes a welcome return to the city. Its located just near the rail station & gives you a fantastic view of the city below.
There are literally hundreds of things you can see&do in York city & its a brilliant place to visit.
You could spend a fortune or take some of my tips & spend a little but have an equally fun day out!

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