Scarborough is the biggest seaside resort on the North Yorkshire coast. We prefer it to Whitby as even at its busiest it still feels less busy. It has more to do and is much easier to walk around. It can be hard to park though so in the summer months we recommend the park and ride on the south side of town. There is so much to do in Scarborough with kids something to suit all ages.
Get Your Bearings
The two bays in Scarborough are split by a headland which has Scarborough Castle at the top of it. The centre of the town is located above the south beach and some Victorian lifts can take you to the top. We rarely visit the shops at the top of town as there’s plenty to do down at the beach.
On the south side of Scarborough, there is a relatively small sandy beach which has more sand at high tide. This is where all the amusements are which stretch out alongside the beach road. Plus there is a good choice of places to eat. A bit further along is the harbour from which you can go on several boat trips including sea fishing.
Up from here is the castle and then on the other side is the bigger north beach. This beach stretches on and on although a lot of it can be covered at high tide so it’s worth checking the tide times before you visit. At the north end, there is a surf school, a few cafes, crazy golf, Peasholm Park and North Bay railway which can take you to Sea Life Scarborough.
Things To Do in Scarborough
Visit the Amusements
In Scarborough on the south side, there is a long stretch of amusement arcades. You are certainly not short of places to spend your money. The arcades run along the main road which also runs alongside the beach here.
From the harbour on the south side, there are a number of boat trips. There are speedboat rides and a pirate ship for short trips. Plus Queensferry Cruises and Becca-Mari Sealife Safaris for longer trips. You can also book on fishing trips.
Scarborough is a great place to go crabbing. There are rockpools on the north beach which are great for when the tide goes out. The best place to go crabbing though is at the harbour. If you have arrived with nothing there are plenty of shops that sell crabbing nets, buckets and bait. We always have success catching crabs from the harbour in Scarborough and on the north beach as the tide is going out.
Scarborough Castle sits at the highest point in Scarborough. Located on the peninsula it has great views down over both the south and north side. It is owned and maintained by English Heritage and although mostly a ruin you can spend around an hour there exploring. The castle sits on a 16-acre site and you can walk around the walls with different parts to explore along the way. Find Out More
South Bay Beach
The beach at South Bay is the smaller of Scarborough’s two beaches. At low tide, there is more than enough sand to sit and play on. It is ideally situated alongside the amusements and there are public toilets nearby. In the summer months, there is a large Ferris wheel plus an adventure golf course. There are also plenty of places to eat nearby. Find Out More
North Bay Beach
The beach in the north of Scarborough is vast at low tide. It is a huge sandy beach that stretches on and on. There are facilities at the top end of the beach including cafes, a surf school and some brightly coloured beach huts. It’s a great spot for rockpooling especially as the tide is going out. The tide can come in as close as the road at high tide but there is usually a sandy section in front of the beach huts. Across the road, there is a crazy golf course plus the beautiful Peasholm Park is a short walk away. Find Out More
I have such fond memories of visiting Peasholm Park as a child and it’s still just as lovely today. Built in the Victorian era the park has an oriental theme with a pagoda, a large cascade waterfall, lanterns and colourful lights. Make sure you take plenty of food for the geese ducks and swans plus the tame squirrels which will eat out of your hand. On the lake, you can hire dragon pedalos which fit in nicely with the theme of the park. There are a couple of places to play mini-golf and pathways to enjoy a short walk. A highlight in the summer is their Naval Warfare event which is played out for half an hour three times a week. Find Out More
At the north end of Scarborough close to the beach, there is a crazy golf course. This has 9 fun and challenging holes.
North Bay Heritage Railway
Located close to Peasholm Park is the North Bay Heritage Railway. It first opened in 1931 and other on-site facilities include a historic water chute, water walkers, pedalos and a high ropes course. This mid-size steam railway travels on a return journey to Scarborough Sea Life Centre. The train journeys alongside the park and then enjoys views of Scarborough’s North Bay. Find Out More
Scarborough Sea Life
You can either take the North Bay Railway to Scarborough’s Sea Life Centre or park in their large pay-and-display car park. Located by the sea you can spend a couple of hours here. There are daily talks and feeding times plus a good range of tanks including native sharks, rays and jellyfish. Our favourite is the interactive Turtle Rescue for kids and you can walk amongst the penguins at Penguin Island. There is also a small outdoor play area, an Ocean tunnel, interactive rockpools and a pirate adventure mini-golf (additional charge). Find Out More
For just a small entry fee you can visit the Rotunda Museum at the far end at the south of the town. First opened in 1829 there is a fascinating Georgian gallery and original cases that tell the history of the museum. You can learn about dinosaur footprints, fossils, 11,000-year-old artefacts and more.
This is the largest entertainment venue in Scarborough. It has a modern 12-lane ten-pin bowling alley and a bar with sea views. They also have one of the best arcades on the seafront with the latest machines.
Open Top Bus
With services running up to every 20 minutes down the North and South bays between the SEA LIFE Centre and Scarborough Spa on weekends and school holidays from Saturday, 1 April, there’s no better way to see the Yorkshire coastline.
Luna Park is located close to the harbour in Scarborough. Their rides are open in the high season and are mostly aimed at younger children alhough they often have one or two thrill rides. To use the rides you need to purchase a Luna Park ride card that you can add credit to. You can top it up as you go along or save your credits for another visit.
Things To Do Near Scarborough
The following are a short drive or bus ride away from the centre of Scarborough.
Cayton Bay Beach
This is one of our favourite beaches on the North Yorkshire coast. It is just a short drive away from Scarborough and it is located between Filey and Scarborough. Access down and back up again is via a steep walk but it is worth the effort. The beach here is where you will find the Scarborough Surf School (see below). There is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, some pillboxes from WWII and opportunities for rockpooling. There is a pay-and-display car park at the surf school or you can park on the road for free. Toilets are about halfway down the beach near the kiosk that sells beach goods. Find Out More
Scarborough Surf School
Located at Cayton Bay and operating all year round is the popular Scarborough Surf School. They pride themselves on their professional, highly experienced and fully qualified instructor-led sessions. They aim to teach you the basics quickly and safely regardless of your abilities.
The Secret Realm Soft Play
This is a soft play centre located in the Eastfield area of Scarborough. Their main play frame is suitable for children aged 4-16. It has plenty of slides and obstacles plus they can host your child’s birthday party.
Scarborough Fair Collection
This is a great indoor day out on the southern side of Scarborough. It is one of the most unique museums I’ve ever visited and it has some excellent fairground rides, vintage rides and transport of the past. We love the penny arcade and the hall full of vintage organs. You can usually see some of these in action. Find Out More
Summer Season Circus
From just before the schools break up for summer to when they go back the circus comes to Scarborough. The Planet Circus OMG comes year after year for its summer season situated a short drive away from the centre of Scarborough. We have been 3 times and each year it is slightly different. The highlight though is always their circular metal cage which a number of motorbike riders cycle round and round in. It’s edge-of-your-seat scary. Find Out More
Located close to the village of Cayton is a dedicated Footgolf attraction. It has a regular 9-hole footgolf course with maintained holes with some set at quite some distance. Plus there is a 9-hole adventure course. This is rather challenging and has lots of hazards dotted around the course. We have been known to stop counting the kicks after a few holes. Find Out More
Playdale Farm Park
The Yorkshire coast has a very small number of places to visit with animals. Playdale Farm Park is a great family day out and has attractions both indoors and outdoors. Indoors there is a large animal barn with animals you can feed plus guinea pig handling sessions. There is also a small soft play area with a toddler play frame and a hay barn. Outdoors there are a couple of play areas, go-karts that even adults can have a go on, a wooden sledge run and frisbee golf. Find Out More
Bridlington is a day out, possibly more. There is plenty to do there including two wonderful beaches, a leisure centre, fairground rides and amusements. Plus boat trips, a land train, crazy golf and more. Find out about everything there is to do in this post.
Filey is another option for a family day out. There is a long seafront with a promenade. You can have a game of crazy golf or take your kids to the paddling pool. Plus there is a large beach and some gardens with fun things to do. Find out more in this post.
Visit Robin Hoods Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay is our favourite place to visit on the Yorkshire Coast. It is the most picturesque and beautiful place. One thing to know before you visit is that Robin Hood’s Bay is set on a very steep hill. Only village traffic is allowed down so you have to park at the top. Make sure you check the tide times if you want to spend any time on the beach. If you are lucky you may even find some fossils on the beach. There are also lots of rockpools to hunt for crabs and other creatures of the sea. Find Out More
Hayburn Wyke Waterfall
Hayburn Wyke Waterfall is a short drive north of Scarborough. If you turn off the Whitby road and follow signs for Ravenscar there is a right-hand turn for Hayburn Wyke off this road. Hayburn Wyke is a natural cove and part of a National Trust nature reserve. The beach has almost no sand and there are a great number of pebbles and large round rocks but my goodness is it beautiful. Plus the highlight is the waterfall on the beach. Find Out More
Falling Foss Waterfall
Inland heading towards Whitby you will find one of our favourite places to visit. Falling Foss Waterfall has the most wonderful outdoor tea garden. Make sure you order a scone as they are divine. You can enjoy a view of the waterfall from above and there is plenty of opportunities for paddling near the tea garden. Find Out More
Finally, one last attraction located just on the outskirts of Scarborough is Alpamare UK. This is a fantastic waterpark but it is sadly currently closed as it went into administration. The council is hoping to reopen it sometime in 2024. I hope this happens as it would be a shame to lose it.
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