21 things to do in Scarborough

Known as one of the oldest and most famous seaside resort towns in the country, Scarborough is blessed with historic charm and beauty.

Situated on the Yorkshire coast, the town has a palpable Victorian flair, visible through the impressive architecture of the Grand Hotel, perched atop the cliffs or the Scarborough Spa, located by the esplanade.

But despite its rich architecture, Scarborough also boasts a low-key, friendly atmosphere which makes it a great destination for summer or even a quick autumn escapade, with plenty of activities and cool places to discover. Seriously, we are going to get you smitten with this town thanks to our list of the top things to do in Scarborough.

 Explore the Old Town

Steeped in history, Scarborough’s Old Town is nestled behind the harbour. The area is a maze of cobbled winding streets and alleys lined by a selection of charming houses, quaint shops and cafés and lovely pubs and inns. Walking around this part of town is a certainly a treat for the eyes, with little boutiques selling unique finds and local specialties.

Use the Old Town Trail itinerary (https://scarboroughcivicsociety.org.uk/Old_Town_Trail.php), which includes valuable information about the historical landmarks worth seeing while exploring the town, such as the Town Hall, the Trinity House or the Grand hotel.

Visit the Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary

For an activity that will surely please all members of the family, including your smartphone-addicted pre-teens and teens, the Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary is an excellent idea. Spread across 12 themed sections home to a different environment, the sanctuary will please everyone. Get up close with penguins in their walk-through home, make new friends at the shark tank, with its ocean tunnel and its own shipwreck and drop by the new turtle rescue centre where visitors can learn hands-on the entire process of rescuing these friendly sea creatures. But undeniably, the highlight of the sanctuary is the seal hospital with its adorable patients receiving treatment on-site. Make the visit even more special by making a special booking so you can help serve breakfast to the resident seal population.

Address: Scalby Mills Road, Scarborough YO12 6RP, UK.

Phone: 01723 373414

Grab an ice cream at Harbour Bar

If you are visiting Scarborough in the summer, you may be lucky enough to enjoy a sunny afternoon at South Bay, the local beach. And if you need a break, head to Harbour Bar, a retro ice cream parlour in operation since 1945. Owned by the Alonzi family since its opening, this family-run business is known for its mouth-watering ice cream flavours, including the award-winning Harbour’s hazelnut ice cream, scrumptious banana splits and Knickerbocker Glories, delicious sundaes served with layers of fresh fruits. And even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, it is definitely worth a visit.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: 1-3 Sandside, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 1PE, UK .

Phone: 01723 373662

Rotunda Museum

Explore the Rotunda Museum, one of the world’s first purpose-built museums

As one of the oldest purpose-built museums still in use in the United Kingdom, the Rotunda Museum features an interesting collection of artefacts covering the ancient history of the area, including fossils found on East Yorkshire’s Dinosaur Coast and the remains of the Gristhorpe Man, which dates back to the Bronze Age. In the Ancient Seas of the Yorkshire Coast, visitors get to discover the fascinating creatures that used to populate the area through fossils and reconstructions of marine life. Furthermore, the building itself is quite fascinating. Indeed, the circular, grade-II-listed building was constructed in 1829 and includes features that will surely captivate architecture fans.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: Vernon Road, Scarborough YO11 2PS, UK

Phone: 01723 353665

Enjoy the views at Café View

Whether you are looking for a place for a coffee break, breakfast & brunch, afternoon tea or if you need to take refuge from the elements, pop by Café View. This lovely café boasts fantastic views as the name suggests, of the harbour, the beach and the sea. But also, a welcoming staff and a menu filled with yummy goodies and treats that makes it a favourite spot among locals and recurring visitors. The food is fresh to order and includes vegetarian options and the coffee is known to be excellent.

Rest assured, even if you don’t get a table right by the window, you can still enjoy the show from pretty much anywhere in the café.

Information: Click here for more information/

Address: 57 Eastborough, Scarborough YO11 1NH, England.

Phone: 01723 449542

Visit the Alpamare Scarborough waterpark

Get ready for a day of fun at this state-of-the-art, Alpine-themed waterpark!  A treat for the entire family, Alpamare Scarborough is more than a simple swimming pool. Instead, you will find heated outdoor pools open all year round, a wave pool, an infinity pool with massage jets and four water slides.

But that’s not all, the fun is not limited to children, as adults can indulge in some relaxing and pampering moments at the Alpine-style wellness centre which includes saunas, steam baths and a variety of treatments.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: 28 Burniston Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO12 6PH, UK.

Phone: 0172 386 1431

Scarborough Castle

Enjoy fantastic views over Scarborough at the Castle

Located between North and South Bay, the Scarborough Castle is a 12th-century castle overlooking the town. The medieval structured survived five sieges, but was left in ruins during the English Civil War. And yet, it continues to attract visitors daily and reward them with impressive views across the town. After your visit, make your way to the nearby St Mary’s Church and its small graveyard where is buried Anne Brontë, the youngest of the famous sisters. And if you want to get spooked, take part in the ghost evening tour of Scarborough Castle, available at specific dates, including Halloween. This is a great opportunity to travel through time and hear tales of ghosts and learn more about the gruesome history of the castle and the town.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: Castle Road, Scarborough YO11 1HY, UK.

Phone: 01723 372451

Peasholm Park

Take a break at Peasholm Park

Located in Scarborough’s North Bay, Peasholm Park is great stop when exploring the town. The park, which was designed according to an oriental theme, has recently been restored to its original splendour, and includes a tranquil lake where visitors can hire small rowing boats and pedalos to explore the area. There is even a small island in the heart of the lake, connected via a small bridge leading to an impressive Chinese-style pagoda.

There are two highlights you shouldn’t miss. First, the Battle of Peasholm Park Naval Battle, where model boats pretend to fight each other. The second is the North Bay Railway, a 20-inch gauge railway running from Peasholm Park to Scalby Mills since 1931 (actually one of the oldest seaside miniature railways in the country). Along the way, you will see several family-friendly attractions, including the Sky Trail and the Lake Adventures, which your children will definitely want to try.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: Columbus Ravine, Scarborough YO12 7QZ, England.

Phone: 01723 383636

Scarborough Brewery

Discover the small Scarborough Brewery

Nestled on the outskirts of town, the Scarborough Brewery is a small, family-owned brewery worth discovering if you are a lover of craft beer. Though the brewery is not always open to visits, it may good to contact them if you are in the area and want to tour the premises. That being said, the brewery does open its doors for special events (inquire in advance or follow them on social media). Their creations include pale and golden ales, IPAs and porters. Want to try their products out? Head to Indigo Alley (https://www.facebook.com/indigoalley/) in Scarborough.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: Unit 21 B, Barry’s Lane, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO12 4HA.

Phone: 01723 367506

Scarborough Spa

Listen to the orchestra at Scarborough Spa

Built on the cliffs overlooking the beach during the Victorian era, the Scarborough Spa, despite its historical look, is fitted with modern facilities. It is also home to one of the last seaside orchestras in the country, which plays classical music just like during the town’s glorious past, when visitors were flocking to Scarborough to experience the healing properties of the waters.

Since the orchestra only plays during the summer months, we recommend you plan your trip accordingly so you can experience this historic tradition that dates back to 1912. And if you happen to visit Scarborough outside the summer months, rest assured the spa is still open for a variety of events.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: South St, Scarborough YO11 2HD, UK.

Phone: 01723 821888

Stop by the Stumble Inn for a delicious ale

Open since 2014, The Stumble Inn is actually the town’s first micropub. Located in Westborough Street, right opposite the train station, this small and dog-friendly pub serves a variety of real ales, including local breweries, ciders, perries, wine and prosecco. Sit by the bar or in one of the little tables and rest assured that you will soon be joining the banter happening around you, as the regulars and staff are usually known to make everyone feel at home while there. Be aware that if you are travelling with the family, children aren’t allowed in.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: 59 Westborough, Scarborough YO11 1TS, England

Catch a show at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

Despite its quiet atmosphere, Scarborough has quite a lively theatre scene. Indeed, the town boasts several great venues, including the Stephen Joseph Theatre. With its convenient location near the Scarborough Spa, the theatre showcases a combination of classic and modern shows.

The venue also includes a small art gallery and a bar on-site, while numerous restaurants are located nearby. The theatre also shows classic movies and sometimes even streams major events on a big screen.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: Westborough, Scarborough YO11 1JW, UK.

Phone: 01723 370541

The Falcon - Glamping

Unwind at Falcon Forest Glamping

While there are several great lodging options in Scarborough and around, we cannot help but include this unusual option on this list. If you want to give glamping a try, Falcon Forest Glamping is the perfect solution. Offering elegant and contemporary quality pods and log cabins, this glamping site is located within a lush woodland near the North York Moors National Park, a few kilometres from Scarborough on the road to Whitby.

Perfect for anyone looking for an alternative accommodation, Falcon Forest Glamping welcomes families, solo travellers and couples looking to reconnect with nature. Slow down and enjoy coastal walks in the area, enjoying delicious food in local pubs and restaurants or discovering enchanting tearooms before returning to your luxurious quarters.

Information: Click here for more information

Address: Whitby Rd Bridge, Cloughton, Scarborough YO13 0DY.

Phone: 01723 870717

Coastival

Be part of Scarborough’s Coastival.

Want to discover the local music, dance, art, and theatre scenes? Make sure to visit Scarborough for the Coastival. This three-day celebration includes a varied programme of top-notch performances and gigs, including comedy shows and theatrical plays.

This annual event attracts thousands of visitors to town while popular artists, from hip hop to jazz and soul bands, perform on the stage of the Spa, while comedians put a smile on spectators’ faces next to impressive art installations and in between screening of old movies. In short, Coastival is an unforgettable event that you shouldn’t miss.

Information: Click here for more information.

Attend the Scarborough Jazz Festival

Did you know that Scarborough was home to an annual Jazz festival. Held in mid or late September, this annual event draws huge crowds to the area, thanks to an eclectic programme that covers a wide range of jazz styles and includes notable musicians and bands such Jim Mullen or even the Ray Charles Project.

The event usually lasts three day and is another opportunity for visitors to discover the Scarborough Spa venue. Another excuse for music lovers to hang around the Yorkshire Coast in autumn.

Bowling

Have fun at Olympia Leisure

If you happen to visit Scarborough on a rainy day, don’t worry. There are plenty of things to do, including having fun. Scarborough boasts several great arcades where the whole family can have a good time and Olympia is definitely one of them.

The complex includes a wide collection of arcade games on the ground floor, including penny pushers, slot machines, video games and children rides while upstairs, the bowling alley with its 12 lanes and the go-kart track are perfect for teens (and adults too). The bar on the premises is perfect for a small break from the madness, if necessary.

Information: Click here for more information.

Address: Foreshore Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 1NU, UK.

Phone: 01723 377960

Scarborough Market Hall & Vaults

Recently renovated, the Scarborough Market Hall is another interesting place to visit. This historic market hall is a great place to score fresh vegetables and fruits, bread and other goodies, but also for a nice lunch or coffee too. The market also hosts pop-up stalls and special events at the mezzanine level, which makes it a must-visit destination all year round.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the vaults too, where you will be able to roam through shops selling a plethora of things, from antiques and crafts, books, jewellery and even clothes.

Information: Click here for more information.

Address: St. Helen’s Square, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 1EU, UK.

Phone: 01723 373579

Take a paddleboard lesson

Want to enjoy some time on the water? Why not try paddleboarding? Scarborough is home to a few SUP and surf schools where visitors can take lessons and hire equipment to enjoy the clean waters in the area. One of the fastest-growing water sports in the UK, SUP (or Stand up paddle boarding) is an excellent excuse to get active and have fun at the same time.

And even if you are a beginner, you will quickly pick up the basics and be able to cruise along the coast and have some family fun on the beach.

Lifeboat Fish and Chips

Grab some Fish and Chips at Lifeboat Fishbar

A must-visit fish and chips spot in Scarborough is undeniably Lifeboat Fishbar. This small fish and chip cafe is conveniently located off the waterfront, a few meters from, you guessed it, the lifeboat station.

The family affair is known for its welcoming and friendly service and delicious fish. You can eat inside or take away. In fact, we definitely recommend you pop by, order and take your meal away to enjoy on the beach. Because why not…

Information: Click here for more information.

Address: 76 Eastborough, Scarborough YO11 1NJ.

Phone: 07970 091083

Spend the day at the beach

Scarborough is blessed with several beaches, with South Bay Beach (or South Beach) being the busiest of them all. And for good reasons. Sheltered from the north thank to the castle, the beach is blessed with soft sand, calm and clean waters and is easily accessed from the town centre.  A variety of shops and businesses and entertainment are available as well, including donkey rides. That being said, it is North Beach that has earned the Blue Flag title. In fact, unlike South Beach, the beach here is away from the road, and features a chalet-lined promenade leading to the Sea Life Sanctuary. Low tide is the perfect moment to explore rock pools though caution is needed as the tide rises rather quickly.

For those looking for more tranquil areas, Cayton Beach is perfect, with its lush woodland and serene waters. For even more isolation, Cornelian Bay Beach is what you need, nestled somewhere between South Bay and Cayton Bay. Here, the beach hardly gets crowded even on a hot summer day, which may be great news for those seeking tranquillity.

Art Gallery

Visit the Scarborough Art Gallery

If you are looking for a way to get acquainted with the historical and cultural heritage of Scarborough; make sure to visit the Scarborough Art Gallery. This place features works by local artists, such as paintings and photographs; which take you on a journey into the town’s past.

Even if you’re not an art lover, you will certainly appreciate the visit, as well as the building. Indeed, the gallery is housed in a stunning Grade-II listed villa situated on The Crescent, a street known as one of Scarborough’s grandest avenues. Besides the permanent collection, the gallery often hosts temporary exhibitions.

Information: Click here for more information.

Address: The Crescent, Scarborough YO11 2PW.

Phone: 01723 374753

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