Things to do in Scarborough
There’s all the fun of the seaside and more to explore at Yorkshire’s premier beach resort.
Promenade between the beaches
Scarborough has not one but two sandy beaches to enjoy! The quieter, wilder North Bay is popular with surfers. The sandy southern end is backed by colourful, rentable beach huts and during low tide, rock pools appear at the north of the beach, perfect for entertaining little explorers. From the North Bay, it’s a 20-minute walk along the Victorian esplanade to the bright lights of South Bay Beach. This popular sandy beach is backed by amusement arcades, cafes and ice cream parlours and features the classic seaside pastime of donkey rides.
Enjoy a fun family outing at the wonderful Peasholm Park. The main attraction in this magical, forested park is its boating lake, and the themed oriental gardens at its centre. But the park is perhaps most famous for the long-running summer spectacle of ‘Naval Warfare’ where for half an hour, three times a week, replica boats manned by council employees battle it out on the lake. The park also features a putting green and some very tame resident squirrels, and its historic Bandstand hosts afternoon concerts every Sunday afternoon.
Scarborough North Bay Railway
This seaside attraction, at Northstead Manor Gardens, has been delighting families for decades. It’s home to a vintage water chute ride that has been thrilling (and soaking) riders for over 80 years. While you’re there challenge yourself to complete the Skytrail ropes course or forego the pedalo and try walking on water in a Zorb on the boating lake. For even more family fun, ride on the miniature railway out to Sea Life Scarborough to meet sharks, penguins, otters and seals.
Eating and drinking in Scarborough
Fish and chips and other classics are still firmly on the menu here, with vibrant international restaurants adding to the mix, and of course, lots and lots of seafood.
Treat yourself to a spectacular ice cream sundae at the unique and charming Harbour Bar Ice Cream Parlour. Located right by the harbour, this family-run Scarborough institution has been making and serving up award winning ice cream since 1945, and the parlour is like a time capsule back into the ‘50s. Choose one of the high stools set around the bright counter and watch as the friendly canary yellow-uniformed servers make you a mouth-watering Knickerbocker Glory!
Fish and chips at the seafront
No staycation at the British seaside would be complete without a trip to the local chippy. And where better to satisfy your desire for fish and chips than at one of the cafes and takeaways backing the Scarborough harbour? You have quite a few options to choose from. Will it be the popular Lifeboat Fish Bar, or perhaps the famous Winking Willy’s? Or how about Papa’s Fish and Chips? If you really can’t decide you can try them all and pick your favourite!
Enjoy a romantic meal at this intimate family-run Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant and discover a menu of deliciously flavoured and authentic recipes handed down through generations of the Mehmet - Hassan family. Choose from hot and cold mezze to charcoal grills and speciality dishes, with plenty of vegetarian options to boot.
Shopping in Scarborough
People have been coming to Scarborough to shop since the time of its famous fair. Combine your holiday with a good dose of retail therapy and discover some surprising finds among Scarborough’s bustling streets.
Self-styled as the Covent Garden of the North, this 19th century market has been given a modern revamp, and now features three floors of independent shops and pop-up stalls. Discover an eclectic mix of the freshest local foods, unique gifts and crafts, collectibles, clothes, toys, books and more. When you need a break, enjoy a cuppa in one of the cafes in the galleries above, for views of the castle and the hustle and bustle of the market below.
In Scarborough’s bustling town centre, you’ll find a generous mix of the high-street names you know and love, independent retailers, and cafes to refuel at while you admire your purchases. Step off the main street to find the quaint and quirky boutiques on Bar Street, Huntress Row and Hanover Road and take home a one-of-a-kind gift or souvenir.
Love a vintage find? Scarborough has a few excellent antique stores to explore. The Antique and Collector’s Centre stocks an ever-changing treasure trove of jewellery, old money and collectables, sure to impress avid collectors. Meanwhile The Vintage Window, stocks an array of old annuals, records, military medals, and quirky ceramics. Even if you’re a not a collector per se, you never know what you might find.
Culture and history in Scarborough
Discover Scarborough’s proud, vibrant culture with one foot in the past, and one foot firmly in the present.
Standing on a promontory overlooking the North Sea, between the North and South Bays, Scarborough’s iconic 3,000-year-old castle is a prominent feature of the landscape. Take the audio tour through the castle grounds to learn about its role in some of England’s defining battles and explore artefacts discovered here in the Master Gunner's House exhibition. Even if you’re not a history fan it’s worth a visit to walk along the ruined castle walls (for free!) and take in the impressive views.
The Scarborough Spa Orchestra
Once a mainstay of English beach resorts, Scarborough’s is the last remaining professional seaside orchestra in the UK. During the summer season you can enjoy live concerts from the comfort of your deckchair, in the elegant pavilion right on the seafront. And what could be more charming than arriving for a seaside orchestral performance via the historic Spa Cliff Lift, the country’s first cliffside funicular of its kind.
Take in a show at Scarborough’s internationally renowned theatre. Celebrated playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn was the theatre’s artistic director from 1972 to 2009, and during this time 75 of his plays premiered here, turning the theatre into a cultural beacon of Yorkshire. The theatre still stages plays, including Ayckbourn’s latest and greatest, alongside arthouse and independent cinema, live music, and comedy performances.