There’s more to Yorkshire than crispy puddings, pints of best and weather-beaten landscapes this autumn. From the bustling cities of Leeds and York to the quainter towns of Whitby and Harrogate, the county has a packed calendar of activities guaranteed to sate the appetites of culture vultures and drain the batteries of the most inexhaustible children.

It boasts the best museums

If the late Barbara Hepworth herself is fast ascending to national treasure status, her eponymous gallery in Wakefield isn’t far behind. In July, the Hepworth Wakefield beat stiff competition from London’s Tate Modern and Sir John Soane’s Museum to win 2017’s Art Fund Museum of the Year award – and a fat cheque for £100,000 – for their pioneering and ambitious modern art exhibitions. Their current Howard Hodgkin show is not to be missed.

As they relaunch their successful Future Engineers programme of activities and events, where better to get inventive than York, the former beating heart of the 19th-century railway revolution? Leave T-squares and protractors at the door: hands-on, family-friendly games and workshops abound in the Victorian train shed-turned-museum.

Kids endure years of schlepping around ‘boring’ museums at the behest of ‘mean’ and ‘evil’ parents. Not so at the Eureka children’s museum in Halifax. The museum’s mission statement is to “inspire enquiring minds” from ages 0-11, and their superhero weekend (September 23-24) – two days spent flying around the museum’s interactive exhibits accompanied by legends pulled straight from the pages of Marvel comics – looks set to do exactly that.

Travelling by chauffeured hire

Ripon Cathedral provides the sublime backdrop to a Classical schedule of opera, ballet and theatre as the Ripon International Festival launches into its 20th year. Festivities start with an evening of Russian opera, while the world-famous Purves Puppets close the festival with a psychedelic retelling of Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

To get around Yorkshire you could of hire your standard taxi. But a far better option is to make use of a chauffeur service so you can tour in comfort and style. A chauffeur service such as Cars Exec will customize short or long city tours, and they of course handle Yorkshire airport taxi transfers (as well as transfers to and from all major UK airports).

The 18th-century Piece Hall had fallen into disrepair, but four years and £19 million since renovation work started, the former merchant’s hall now boasts a rooftop skatepark, bouldering tunnel and recording studio. Older folk might prefer to peruse the on-site museum, or to sample the complex’s parade of restaurants and cafés. Entry is free.

Outdoor play area, William’s Den, only opened a month ago but has already proven a hit with kids and adults alike. Gorge on stone-baked pizza between a swing on the monkey-bars and a whizz on the zipwire – ‘mud kitchen’ optional.

It’s been almost two years since The Jorvik Centre closed following serious flooding but in April the Vikings returned to York thanks to a multimillion pound refit. Fans of the notoriously pungent museum won’t be disappointed – the revamped attraction may have repainted their waxworks with a glossy varnish but the sights, sounds and, most famously, smells of early York remain as vivid as ever.

Plenty more to see and do

If you missed the recent Leeds West Indian Carnival, fret not, feathered samba dancers once again bring a flavour of the Caribbean to the city as part of Light Night Leeds. See the city in a completely new light as its landmarks are brought to life by specially commissioned illuminations and streets are overrun by pop-up musical performances. Why not swing by the newly outfitted Leeds Art Gallery whilst there?

After 100 years of serving London’s celebrity elite, The Ivy Group is finally creeping beyond the M25 and planting two new brasseries in York and Harrogate. From November, Northern foodies can sample the kind of sophisticated dining made famous by the group’s headline-grabbing namesake restaurant in Covent Garden, a review of which can be read here.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park will commemorate its 40th anniversary this year with a series of events for people of all ages. If its permanent collection – featuring large-scale installations by Ai Weiwei and Anthony Gormley among others – isn’t enough of a pull, events such as ‘Dawn Yoga in the Chapel’, ‘Twilight Art Tour’ and their arts and crafts workshop for ‘little explorers’, should have you running for the hills. You can read more about this park at the UK travel page.

It doesn’t get more quintessentially English than Skipton. But as well as cobbled streets, timeworn pubs and indeterminate weather, the town is officially home to the UK’s politest residents, according to a recent poll, not to mention the UK’s best small outdoor market. To witness Skipton in full glory, head t’ market on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday.

“The manorial Swinton Park, in Masham, stands in 200 acres of lake-filled grounds, offering cosy rooms, superb cooking and a charming nine-hole golf course,” writes our hotel inspector, Fiona Duncan. “The service is excellent: great dollops of Yorkshire warmth underpinned by professionalism.” But be warned, it’s expensive. “You are paying for the atmosphere, not the mod-cons,” adds Duncan.