North Yorkshire is a peaceful county with uninterrupted views of fresh green fields as far as you can see. National Parks cover around 40% of the county, so if you are after a relaxing break in the countryside, North Yorkshire is a great place to go.
It may be a peaceful area, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be bored. There are plenty of attractions to visit and days out to keep you entertained. Here are some of our favourites.
Theme Parks & Attractions
Sea Life Centre
The Sea Life Centre in Scarborough has many residents, including seals, turtles, seahorses, jellyfish, sharks, penguins, and otters, as well as fish and smaller sea creatures.
Make your way round at your own pace, or follow the talks and feeding times that take place every half hour.
Beach Bites Adventure Playground
If you are visiting with young children, the Beach Bites Adventure Playground gives them a chance for some active playtime. The conveniently located Beach Bites Kiosk serves hot drinks and speciality donuts, so you can treat yourself to something tasty and have a little break whilst the kids burn off some energy.
If you are looking for a unique day out or a special way to celebrate a Birthday, Sea Life Centre has several Premium Experiences to choose from.
The Breakfast with the Seals experience includes a VIP tour before the centre opens, followed by an opportunity feed the seals their breakfast. Afterwards you can head to the café for your own breakfast.
Or try your hand at being a Marine Biologist for the Day. Shadowing a member of the animal care team, you will learn more about the marine animals, their habitats and feeding habits, and have a chance to help feed the seahorses, otters, or seals.
For a truly memorable experience, you can even have a VIP Sleepover at the Sea Life Centre – a rare opportunity to fall asleep with sea creatures swimming above you and water from the tanks casting calming, rippling shadows over you.
Flamingo Land in Malton is a fantastic destination for a day out. It is probably one of our favourite places in North Yorkshire. And it is much more than just flamingos.
Part zoo, part theme park, there is a lot to explore at Flamingo Land. We would definitely recommend planning your day a little before you go to make sure you have time to fit everything in. And if you are able to stay longer than just one day, it is well worth doing so. You can book accommodation at the holiday resort.
The theme park at Flamingo Land does a fantastic job at catering to all age groups and fear levels. Unlike other theme parks where there are often two options: terrifying or tame; there are lots of in-between rides here that are suitable for different ages and allow you to dip a toe out of your comfort zone without having to leap out of it head first wearing a blindfold.
For younger children, there are several junior rides to choose from. From small carousels and roundabouts, all the way up to junior coasters. These scaled-down rollercoasters allow younger children to try out something a little more daring. Perfect for if they are a little too grown up for carousels, but not quite big enough to ride the full-scale rollercoasters.
Thrill seekers will not be disappointed either. There are plenty of adrenaline pumping, high speed rollercoasters, including Velocity – the UK’s first motorbike rollercoaster.
There are also some fun activities to do if you are visiting as part of a group. Depending how competitive your friends or family are, you can either work as a team or against each other. Group attractions include Crazy Combat laser tag, Splash Battle, and racing cars.
Flamingo Land is also home to many animals such as lemurs, lions, hippos, tigers, baboons, penguins, and of course, flamingos.
There are Keeper Talks throughout the day and you don’t have to book in advance, just look out for the ‘Keeper Talk Meeting Point’ signs as you make your way around.
Say ‘hi’ to the flamingos for us, and feel free to send us a souvenir.
Lightwater Valley Theme Park
Lightwater Valley in Ripon is a good choice for a hot day, as there are several rides which will help you to cool down (by drenching you in water). Splash Falls and Wild River Rapids are a lot of fun, just don’t wear anything that you don’t mind getting soaking wet.
For children, the Young Fun area has gentle rides that are suitable for little ones under 1 metre in height, such as the Ladybug Ride.
Daring visitors can try out the high-speed rollercoasters and rides, including Apollo, The Twister, and The Eagle’s Claw. Those who aren’t feeling quite so brave can tour the Eagles Creek Farm on a tractor and see the Shetland Ponies, pigs, donkeys, and pygmy goats.
If you get hungry there are lots of different places to get a bite to eat, including the Pirate themed Hungry Harbour, and Cuppa Jo’s Coffee Shop which is next to the indoor soft play area.
And don’t forget a souvenir – get a ride photo to serve as evidence of your bravery, or if the photo is really unflattering, you can always visit one of the gift shops for a souvenir instead.
Gardens & Outdoors
North Yorkshire has a classic countryside landscape, with far reaching green fields and hills, making it a brilliant destination if you want to spend some time in nature. Whether you prefer rugged, windswept hikes or sipping tea in a beautifully manicured garden next to a stately home, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Deep valleys, known as dales, make the perfect terrain for hiking and outdoor exercise in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Follow a walking, mountain biking, or horse riding route to take in the scenery.
If you use a wheelchair or you have mobility difficulties, you can follow one of the many Miles Without Stiles routes or hire a Tramper – a four wheel drive, all-terrain electric buggy that can be used on rough ground, grass, and even mud.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden
Studley Royal Water Garden in Ripon is a beautiful Georgian Water Garden set in the vast area next to what used to be Fountains Abbey. Spend an afternoon meandering along the winding walkways, taking in the quiet of the ornamental lakes and statues. Then stop for a break at the Mill Café or Studley Royal Tea Room before making your way back.
Helmsley Walled Garden
Built in 1758, the Helmsley Walled Garden in York spans five acres, and is divided into individual gardens such as the Kitchen Garden, the Orchard, and the Garden of Contemplation. After touring the gardens, visit the Vine House Café for lunch.
Those with a green thumb will be keen to visit the Plant Centre & Gift Shop, where you can buy plants, gardening supplies, and locally produced jams, honey, and chutney.
Scampston Hall in Malton is a regency country house with a contemporary Walled Garden set within its grounds. The garden was designed by Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf, as his largest private commission in the UK.
The garden is divided into different ‘rooms’, each reflecting Oudolf’s naturalistic approach. When creating his designs, Oudolf is more interested in the structural characteristics and the seasonal life cycles of plants than decorative aspects such as flowers and colours.
After exploring the Walled Garden, head to the Garden Café for afternoon tea, or visit the shop to pick up some plants for yourself or a gift for someone else.
Ripon Walled Garden
Ripon Walled Garden is a Victorian kitchen garden with an emphasis on its community. After exploring the garden, orchard, and plant nursery, you can stop for lunch at the tea room, or browse the shop which sells garden themed gifts, as well as apple juice & jams made from fruits from the orchard.
Jorvik Viking Centre
If you are looking for something different to do, Jorvik Viking Centre in York is a great choice for a day out.
The inspiration for the Viking Centre came about by chance. In the 1970s, when the city council were planning to create a new shopping centre, the York Archaeological Trust unearthed a huge collection of Viking artefacts on the site.
To honour the heritage of the site, it was transformed into an immersive attraction that would allow people to learn more about Viking Life in York.
A trip to Jorvik Viking Centre is a unique experience. You begin by hopping aboard a ‘time machine’. When the doors close, you will be whooshed back through time, stopping in a Viking-Age York, 6.5 metres below today’s street level.
From your seat inside the time machine, you are taken along a route through the Viking city, seeing first-hand what life was like for Vikings in York.
National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum in York stands out from other museums of its kind due to its refreshingly modern approach.
Entry is free, and with interactive exhibitions, events, and demonstrations, there are plenty of opportunities to learn through getting actively involved.
For those wanting to know more about how steam engines work, you can attend a talk and see a demonstration of the inner workings of a sectioned engine. Or go behind the scenes in the Workshop to see the engineers in action working on rail restoration projects.
Children can take the lead in the Imagination Station storytelling sessions, or try to win badges using the Treasure Hunters app. Suitable for ages 5 and up, the app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or the Google Play store. Work as a team using the app to interact with the museum and see who can earn the most points.
When it is time for a break, visit the Café for some locally sourced food or a speciality tea. Then hop on board the miniature railway for a ride, before stopping by the gift shop for something to remember your day by.