Yorkshire is England’s largest county and arguably its most diverse. Huge post-industrial heartlands combine with quaint villages and coastal conurbations to offer something different at every angle.
One of England’s most famous counties, Yorkshire hosts thousands of holidaymakers each year. Curvy country roads take you from the hustle and bustle of the county's large towns and cities through lush countryside towards household names of the seaside. With areas of immense beauty like the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors National Park coupled with the likes of Filey and Whitby, the county is a treat to savour. There are hordes of hidden gems too, and we feature some of these in this article of our favourite things to do in Yorkshire. They’ll entertain and enthral, and one of our prestigious parks is never far away.
Eden Camp Museum, Malton
A walk around Eden Camp in Yorkshire is undoubtedly one of the most interesting things you can do in the county. A former prisoner of war camp, the museum is formed of 33 huts that use to house enemy soldiers during their incarceration. Today, the same huts are home to a variety of exhibits that take you through some of the key events around the Second World War. Broken down by year, theme and weaponry, they provide incredible context behind the dramatic battles that led to the freedoms we cherish today.
The human torpedo weaponry on show here gives you an idea of the secrecy involved in intelligence gathering, with them commonly used as a covert naval weapon. There are tours that take you round the museum, adding incredible eyewitness accounts of what played out. A series of heritage restorations mean that the site is constantly evolving at this, one of the country’s largest museums dedicated to military history.
Flamingo Land, Kirby Misperton
Flamingo Land combines three of the greatest forms of entertainment into one fun-filled package in its own little corner of Yorkshire. A theme park, zoo and resort come together to offer visitors an array of experiences for the whole family. A place that has been entertaining the public since 1959, the name is taken from the colony of flamingos that were one of the first species to inhabit the then zoological gardens.
Amusement rides were added a couple of decades later, with Mumbo Jumbo being one our present-day favourites. Twistosauras and Cliff Hanger come a very close second! The zoo of today houses dozens of different species, and there is a fantastic learning hub for little ones which showcases some of the fantastic conservation work undertaken by the park and its owners.
Filey is a lovely little town on Yorkshire’s east coast. Quieter than the likes of Scarborough and Whitby, it’s a great location for families, combining all the credentials of these seaside favourites with a slightly more relaxed feel. Previously a fishing village, it’s become a popular tourist resort and is close to several of our Yorkshire caravan parks.
Head for the seafront where you’ll see fishing boats dot the shallow waters, with the town’s beach providing uninterrupted sand for an impressive five miles along the North Sea. It also extends out for nearly a mile at low tide, giving you plentiful playground to stretch the legs and let the kids explore. You’re likely to see a huge range of recreation going on, perfectly illustrated by the kite flying and horse riding that are popular pastimes here.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
There is no better way to see the North York Moors National Park than on a ride on this railway. First open to trains in 1836, after over 100 years of serving the community, the line fell victim to the infamous Beeching cuts of the 1960s. After a short period of housing HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Train, the route was purchased from British Railways and made into the heritage line it is today.
It carries more passengers than other of its kind in the UK, and is said to be amongst the busiest steam train lines in the world. These lovely locomotives ferry you 18 miles along scenic countryside between the coast at Whitby and Pickering’s picturesque terminus inland. Along the way, each station parades its own unique charm as you look out the comfortable carriage’s window, enticing you to make a pit stop. Our favourite is Goathland station, which you may recognise through its appearance in the classic TV series, Heartbeat.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay owes its name to the legend himself. Nestled between Whitby and Scarborough, the bay is one of the most beautiful in what is one of the best counties for beautiful beaches. The bay marks the edge of the North York Moors National Park, backing onto lush greenery and craggy cliffs as you look inland. The tide varies massively in this secluded space. The sea encompasses the beach when the water is at its highest, exposing attractive rock pools and shallow puddles as it migrates outwards as it gets lower.
Sitting on what’s known as the Dinosaur Coast, the area is particularly popular with fossil hunters, with many a discovery being made over the years. This whole coastal area is fantastic for a breath of fresh air, and you’ll sample this as you head into the village, which reveals some subtle signs of its history as a centre of smuggling. This is one of the best coastal areas in Yorkshire.
Having been namedropped a few times already in this article of things to do in Yorkshire, it would be unfair not to dedicate a section to Whitby, one of our favourite towns in the county and a bastion of seaside staycations. The home of some of the finest fish and chips in the country, Whitby pays homage to its fishing tradition by serving some of the most stunning seafood we’ve ever tasted.
Cafes and tearooms add to the classic culinary experience, and the option of a pint or two is never far away at the array of lovely pubs in the town. There are several places you should visit, namely English Heritage’s Whitby Abbey and the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. The man himself learned his seamanship here in the 1700s. That maritime tradition continues today through Whitby’s place in the hearts of tourists far and wide.