A North Yorkshire Holiday – The Perfect Staycation
This summer our little family took a holiday to North Yorkshire. A North Yorkshire holiday is the perfect UK staycation, as far as I’m concerned. As a child I visited North Yorkshire many times, and fell utterly head over heels in love with the place. I’ve been dying to take TD there and introduce him to the sights and experiences that I adored so much. And this year…this year was THE year.
Bizarrely, our North Yorkshire holiday this year was the very first holiday we’ve been on together. TD is almost 5, but we’ve never been away together for an extended period before! I mean, we went to Cornwall when TD was about six months old, but that was a disaster. Both me and my husband came down with the norovirus on the second day. I have never been so poorly, ugh. We cut that holiday short and zoomed home as soon as we could both sit upright.
We’ve had weekends away together, and have been on short breaks with other families, and my husband and I have been away together. But, yep, we’ve never been away as a family for one week together. I’m so glad we chose a North Yorkshire holiday to buck that trend! I’ve written a little about the places we went, because I absolutely 100% think that everyone should visit North Yorkshire. It’s truly one of the best places in the entire UK, with so much to offer. And we had SUCH a good time. Seriously, if you’re considering a staycation in the UK at any point, consider a North Yorkshire holiday. Here are just some of the places you could go…
THE YORK MAZE
We kicked off our North Yorkshire holiday in style (ha, not) at The York Maze. Basically, I was looking for something to do on the way to our first holiday cottage, and up this place popped. (Actually, on that note, does everybody know about Road Trip Radar? It’s an AMAZING website where you can search for attractions or restaurants or shops etc on your route. Absolute. Life. SAVER.). The York Maze is on the outskirts of York and yep, it’s a maize maze type place where everything that can be punned will be punned. I’m talking Cobstacle Courses, Crowmania, and The Kernel’s Kitchen. However, the corn maze is apparently the biggest in Europe, which is pretty impressive. And TD loved the entire place.
It’s fairly pricey (£14.50 per adult and £13.50 per child over 3 when booked online), but I do actually think it’s worth it. There’s a huge sandpit play park, the maize maze (which yep, is massive), massive slides, a tractor ride, pig racing, crazy golf, wild animals…it’s a great day out. And it’s only open from July till September each year, so it’s perfect for summer holidays. 100% worth a day out, although don’t blame me if you’re groaning at the puns 30 feet in.
ROSEDALE ABBEY & SURROUNDINGS
We stayed for the first 4 nights in this lovely little cottage that I found on Yorkshire Cottages. It was the perfect size for me, my husband, TD, and my grandparents. And it was a lovely place to head back to at the end of a long day. Rosedale Abbey is a perfect little village for a quiet wander. And Rosedale itself is a blissfully peaceful valley nestled beneath hills that used to host a hive of industrial iron mining activity. The remains of roasting kilns still line the hills, and we had a quick explore of them and the hillsides on our first full day there. I’m telling you – WHAT a view from up there. The roads are steep, but the views pay off in spades.
There were some great pubs nearby too – everyone but me ate at The White Horse Farm Inn one evening (I was feeling ill). The food was apparently amazing, and the pub had wonderful views over the aforementioned valley. And my husband and I ate at The Coach House Inn on another evening, which was basic pub grub but very tasty. We adored our little North Yorkshire Moors base in Rosedale.
THE NORTH YORK MOORS
Look, this National Park is always stunning and worth a visit, but if you’re going to have a North Yorkshire holiday you should absolutely go in August. In August, the heather blooms, and the moors blaze purple. Even just a simple drive through the moors turns into something incredibly special. Purple and green and blue as far as the eye can see – moorland, sky, and, eventually, sea. We drove around a lot, but it never felt like a chore. The driving and the routes we took were a treat in themselves. The views! The colours! The HEATHER!
I personally don’t feel that any North Yorkshire holiday is complete without a trip to Whitby. If you’ve never been, FIX THAT NOW. Or, y’know, whenever’s convenient. Whitby is a seaside town with SO much more to offer than the standard English seaside town. Yes, it has a fantastic beach. Yes, it’s got the fish and chip shops and arcades. But, it’s also absolutely beautiful. There are boat trips out of the harbour and around the bay. There’s the Captain Cook history. And, yes, there’s DRACULA. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was inspired by Whitby, and in particular Whitby Abbey, which stands ever-present on the cliffs above the town.
OK, it’s busy. And I mean BUSY. The streets can be thickly lined with people on the sunny days, but even with that it’s worth a day trip. You can wander the quaint and vaguely gothic streets, cross the harbour bridge, get takeaway from The Magpie (best fish & chips EVER), play on the beach, and climb the famous 199 steps up to the Abbey. It’s a wonderful place. We visited on a beautifully sunny day and I got to introduce TD and my husband to all of its joys. GO!
ROBIN HOOD’S BAY
Just a fifteen minute drive down the coast from Whitby is Robin Hood’s Bay. Nobody knows quite why it’s called that, since Robin Hood never went there, but it’s a brilliant place nonetheless. It used to be a hive of smuggling activity, and as you walk down the hill to the old village you can definitely see why. Oh yeah, walking down the hill. FYI, it’s not so much a hill as a VERTICAL DROP HOLY CRAP. And there is no easy way back up, because you can’t drive down there. But, you’ll get a huge sense of achievement once you’ve made it back up. Promise.
Anyway, the village boasts beaches and rock pools and gorgeous, gorgeous old buildings on even MORE gorgeous twisty tiny old streets. TD spent a few hours happily exploring the rock pools and spotting a ridiculous amount of marine wildlife. It’s a brilliant place to take kids.
HUTTON-LE-HOLE & THE RYEDALE FOLK MUSEUM
Back inland now, to a glorious little village called Hutton le Hole. What a picturesque place. A clear stream runs through the middle of the village, with sheep grazing freely and casually throughout. Casually being the operative word. They have zero time for your shenanigans and genuinely don’t give a stuff. Which is great, and, sitting on the grass, we began to plan our hypothetical move to a place where sheep graze freely outside your door and children play in the stream right outside your house. Sob. TD had the most fun EVER in that stream. Paddling, splashing, playing with other kids.
Hutton le Hole is also home to the Ryedale Folk Museum, which is an outdoor museum focusing on rural life. I first went there when I was about 10, and it’s exactly as charming as it ever was. There are mock old time shops, and recreations of houses throughout the centuries. There are old vehicles, and wildflower meadows, and farm animals. And there are usually some sort of live exhibits – when we went there was an entire wool workshop showing the process from sheep to yarn. TD got to comb the wool on a huge scratchy wheel and he got a bit too obsessed with it! There were also wandering singers, weapons-crafters, and even homemade sausage rolls, cooked in an old kiln oven while we waited. No North Yorkshire holiday should be without a visit to this fab place.
HELMSLEY CASTLE & TOWN
Helmsley is one of those incredibly cute market towns that really help to sew together the threads of a North Yorkshire holiday. There are quaint shops, adorable little cafes, and, just outside the centre, a MASSIVE CASTLE. Well, not massive maybe, but it’s a very impressive ruin and a great couple of hours of exploration. Helmsley Castle is surrounded by banks and ditches, and has a good portion of stone still standing. We had so much fun exploring the various nooks and crannies, and reading all about its long history. TD adored the place, especially since we treated him to a Knight costume. We ran around playing knights and ladies and kings and queens and, well. It was one of the best days of the North Yorkshire holiday, despite the weather not being as great as on others.
THE FORBIDDEN CORNER
After four days with my grandparents we headed down to our second North Yorkshire holiday cottage on the outskirts of York itself. Well, I say “cottage” – it wasn’t, it was an Airbnb, but it was a lovely Airbnb and in such a good location. It was 45 minutes’ drive to the Yorkshire Dales and The Forbidden Corner – a place I’ve been dying to take TD for years now. Why? Because it’s CRAZY. It’s hard to even describe, to be honest. Basically, it’s a folly/grotto filled with weird and wonderful things, from underground tunnels to watery walkways, and hidden mysteries to creepy crypts. It 100% deserves the streamline “The Strangest Place In The World”, but it is SO much fun! You can get a good 2-3 hours out of exploring and lunch. However, you do have to prebook tickets and can’t just rock up on the day. It’s fairly reasonable though for what’s inside – £12.00 per adult and £10.00 per child with under 4s going free.
Another little gem in the Dales, and a MUST for any North Yorkshire holidays. Aysgarth is a little village that’s worth a visit, but the main attraction are the three sets of waterfalls on its outskirts. The Aysgarth Falls aren’t super high or super huge, but they are all spectacular for their own reasons. The Upper Falls are a series of short steps, all busy and bustling and with beautiful meadows alongside to sit and enjoy the view. The Middle Falls is larger, more powerful, and only viewable from a viewing platform. And the Lower Falls are much larger in length, slightly shallower, and pretty much the best ones thanks to the wide rocky ledge alongside. We paddled in the Lower Falls for ages, soaking up the sun and listening to the roar of the waters. TD took a rather hilarious tumble on the slippy rocks, shortly followed by me doing the exact same. No injuries, don’t worry!
You could spend a perfect afternoon at the falls, just like we did. There is a short woodland walk linking the falls, which is all part of the experience and similarly lovely. And then, just like us, you could roll into The Aysgarth Falls Hotel at the top of the hill (gah another steep hill) and gorge yourselves on their amazing pizza, just like we did.
YORK’S NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM
You could have a North Yorkshire holiday without visiting York, but I’m not convinced it would be a very good one. York is one of my absolute most favourite cities, and I used to visit it every single year. That’s fallen by the wayside since having TD, so it was amazing to take him there this summer. And of course, the very first place I planned to take him in the city was the National Railway Museum. The kid just loves trains, ok?
Yes, it was Heaven for him. So many trains! A working turntable and demonstration! Trains and trains and TRAINS! What a fabulous place. And still free access. This should absolutely be on your schedule for any trip to York, with or without kids.
YORK CASTLE MUSEUM
Another great place to take kids in York is the Castle Museum. This one isn’t free, but at £10.00 per adult and kids under 16 being FREE, it’s worth it. It was a little information-heavy for TD, and we didn’t get to read everything that we would’ve liked, but he was still entranced by the recreation of a Victorian street. There’s also the old prisons to explore now – lots of spooky fun without the gore of the Dungeon. Although believe me, once he’s old enough I’ll be dragging him into there!
York is a fantastic place to just wander, even without visiting any of the attractions. We roamed the streets and alleys, peering in the shop windows and having fun with the random things we came across. We went to the Minster and gazed up at the tower (but were unfortunately far too stuffed from our AMAZING lunch at Betty’s to climb!). And we rode the carousel next to Clifford’s Tower and would’ve visited that if TD hadn’t decided his legs were tired, which, fair enough. Next time I want to walk the walls with him – he’ll enjoy pretending he’s a Knight again, and I’ve never done it!
Phew, that was a lot! Hopefully you’ve seen just why we had such a fantastic North Yorkshire holiday. We all needed the break and the time together, and even with all the activities that we crammed in we still managed to relax HUGELY. I adore North Yorkshire so much. Hopefully I’ve inspired at least one of you to go…it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.
If you have any other tips for great places to visit in North Yorkshire, please let me know! We’re planning on going back soon and need more inspiration.
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