Last Updated on June 18, 2023 by Suzy McCullough

It’s not just about visiting local attractions. For us, we love to support the cities and towns of Yorkshire and celebrate everything that’s great to do there. Recently, they’ve needed us as much as everyone else. Knaresborough is a pretty waterside town located in the northwest of North Yorkshire.

Our favourite part of Knaresborough is down by the river. You can see from the photo below just how pretty it is. On one side of the river, there are a couple of places where you can hire rowing boats or enjoy a meal by the waterside. On the other, there is the historical attraction of Mother Shipton’s cave.

10 Great Things To Do In Knaresborough Family Friendly

Mother Shipton’s Cave

Mother Shipton’s Cave is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the UK. You can visit by car or on foot. Parking for a car with up to 5 people in one car costs £25-30. Your visit is limited to 2.5 hours and after that time you must exit with your car. We usually spend just over two hours there.

They hold fun family-friendly events during school holidays and you can see the small cave where Mother Shipton was born. Plus the highlight for us is the water that turns everyday objects such as teddy bears into stone. You can also make a wish in a pool of water hidden in the rock.

There is a good play area with the kids with a wooden pirate ship, a zip wire plus things to climb and slide on. For us, it’s a really magical place to visit and it is certainly somewhere a bit different. As a visit to Mother Shipton’s cave doesn’t take too long to visit we love to explore Knaresborough as well. There is plenty to do in the town, please keep reading for ideas. Find Out More

Boating on the River Nidd

Depending on where you park in Knaresborough the centre of town is situated high on a hill. We like to park at the bottom of the hill by the water and hire a rowing boat (see parking suggestions below).

There are two places to hire a rowing boat, Blenkhorn’s boat hire and Marigolds Cafe and boating. We hired from Marigolds and I paid £10 for myself and my son. I had a few problems with the oar so I think next time we will try Blenkhorn’s, even though it costs a bit more money.

We hired the boat for an hour. There are public toilets near Marigolds Cafe. The cafe is a lovely place to enjoy a meal by the water. Be warned that it gets very busy though and you may have to queue for some time for a table.

Knaresborough Castle & Museum

It is a really steep climb up to the castle with many steps, although it is worth it for the views. Knaresborough Castle is very small but you can actually pay to have a wander around. You can also join on a tour, visit the dungeon and go through the secret underground exit.

You can also visit the Courtroom Museum and see an original Tudor courtroom and learn more about the history of the town. There are public toilets in this area. There is a small charge to visit.

Putting Green

Close to the castle, there is a pop-up putting green. 18-hole putting green and crown green bowls are available from March to October. An adult costs £2.90, under 18’s £2.30 (prices may increase)

Paddling Pool – Bebra Gardens

Bebra Gardens is a small park close to the castle but down on lower levels. The gardens are on a steep slope and there are sloping paths around the park. The paths lead to the paddling pool which is at the lowest point of the park. The gardens are off Brewerton Street, HG5 8AZ. The paddling pool is open from the spring bank holiday until the first week in September.

Conyngham Hall

In the opposite direction to Bebra Gardens and along the river past the viaduct, you will eventually come to Conyngham Hall. There is charged parking here and the hall is surrounded by an area of open parkland, woodland and riverside walks.

There is a series of sculptures on the theme of “along the riverbank” inspired by the book The Wind in the Willows in the woodland close to Bond End. From March until October, they have two tennis courts, 18-hole putting, 18-hole pitch and putt-golf, 9 holes of crazy golf and a small adventure trail plus public toilets.

Painting Pots

Near Castle Yard car park and Knaresborough Castle, you will find Painting Pots. This is a ceramic and craft studio where you can find pottery painting, foam clay modelling and teddy mountain bear laking. They are also home to the Great Knaresborough Bunny Hunt that takes place in Knaresborough every Spring.

Knaresborough Swimming Pool

There is a swimming pool in Knaresborough that has a four-lane 25m standard pool. There is also a leisure pool that is suitable for children learning to swim plus a water slide for children and adults. The entrance fee is around £5 for an adult and just under £3 for a child.

10 Great Things To Do In Knaresborough Family Friendly

Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag and St Robert’s Cave

Set in the old quarry rocks in Knaresborough is this early 15th-century chapel. It is a tiny chapel just a stone’s throw from the River Nidd and about half a mile from the centre of town. They are open Sundays from 2-4 p.m. throughout the summer months (April to September).

The remains of St. Robert’s Cave are located near the chapel. The cave dates back to the early 13th century and it is a rare surviving example of a medieval hermitage.

10 Great Things To Do In Knaresborough Family Friendly
Photo credit Rosser1954

Knaresborough Exotic Rescue Centre

They are an exotic rescue centre taking in large and small exotic animals. No appointments are needed available to call in. They usually have around 50 animals in their care and many are looking to find permanent homes. The centre is only small but it is open to visitors and donations are always more than welcome. The centre is located in the centre of Knaresborough on the High Street.

10 Great Things To Do In Knaresborough Family Friendly

River Nidd Waterside Walk

This is a lovely walk with some great views alongside the River Nidd. The walk is around a mile long and you can extend the walk by continuing on to Nidd Gorge. The walk is on the opposite bank to Mother Shipton’s cave and takes you up to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag.

River Nidd Lido

The River Nidd Lido is a popular beauty spot in the summer with a safe swimming area, a small beach area and a cafe. While people do swim here this website in no way should be taken as proof that it is ‘safe’ to swim here. Swim at your own risk and err on the side of caution. Water shoes are recommended especially as there are some slippy rocks. You can access the Lido by entering from Wetherby Road by the river at the sign for the Watermill cafe.

Extra things to look out for – tips:

Quite a few people have recommended the Bed Race to me. The Great Knaresborough Bed Race has been held almost every year since 1966, always on the second Saturday in June. They are planning on holding this event in 2022.

Another reader’s top tip is that if you are walking around the town please keep looking up as there are some lovely painted windows.

St John’s Church is worth a look round as one reader has said that it is absolutely beautiful.

Parking in Knaresborough: Connyngham Hall car park is often very busy but there is one on York Place which is usually quieter, that’s near the swimming pool and only a few minutes walk from town. Mother Shipton’s cave no longer allows you to visit Knaresborough from their car park.

We parked down by the waterfront and although the access road is narrow we didn’t struggle to park around lunchtime on a summer’s day. The Castle Yard car park is very small and the York Place car park can get very busy.

Toilets in Knaresborough: There are public toilets down near the waterside not far from Marigolds Cafe. Plus more up near the castle and a few others around the town.

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