Put that passport away: if it’s beautiful beaches and seaside activities you’re after, look no further than the stunning Yorkshire coast. From the winding streets of Whitby to the wide expanses of sand at Hunmanby Gap, there’s a huge variety of places to go and adventures to be had for families with children of all ages. It’s not all rock pools and sticks of rock: here are ten great things to do at the Yorkshire coast with kids, just a hop, skip and jump from York. And remember – there are lots of lovely things to do on the Yorkshire coast all year round so don’t just save it for the summer! Go off-peak and you’ll avoid the traffic too – bonus.
1. Go fossil-hunting at Robin Hood’s Bay
For dinosaur-mad children, there’s nothing more exciting than hunting for fossils. Robin Hood’s Bay is a popular spot, and we found handfuls when we last visited Runswick Bay. Other good spots include Boggle Hole, Saltburn and Staithes. Health and safety alert: be sure to heed the warning signs and don’t get too close to the cliffs. Take a look at the National Trust’s Beginner’s Guide to Fossil-Hunting for some top tips before you set off.
2. Go bodyboarding at Hunmanby Bay
We love the simplicity of Hunmanby Bay, with its vast expanse of sand and lack of crowds. It’s a great place to learn to bodyboard – just take your wetsuits to avoid complaints about the water temperature! Park up on the hill and walk down past the beach cafe which serves breakfast, lunch, hot drinks and even chips in a bucket that you can take home! It’s a wholesome, no-frills, seaside experience and we love it. If you fancy staying longer and exploring everything on the doorstop, The Bay Filey is a family-friendly holiday village with a huge selection of high-quality self-catering accommodation, indoor swimming pool and other facilities.
3. Visit a castle in Scarborough
If you stay at the beach when you visit Scarborough, you’ll miss out on one of our favourite places: Scarborough Castle. The views are spectacular and children can let their imaginations run wild. Read our review of a day out at Scarborough Castle here. While you’re there, spend the coins from your change jar at the South Bay arcades, or take a walk to North Bay to watch the waves crashing against the rocks while you enjoy your fish and chips.
4. Splash about at Bridlington Leisure Centre
A great wet-weather option, the Splash Zone sessions at Bridlington Leisure Centre are great fun and good value. Book your 90-minute session in advance or on the day (prepare to wait at busy times) and enjoy two big water slides and smaller slides and attractions for younger ones. There’s a 25-metre pool and a smaller pool that’s good for non-swimmers and their parents. Kids who like to climb will enjoy the climbing wall activities, too. Visit the Bridlington Leisure Centre website.
5. Ride the waves at Alpamare waterpark
For that we-could-be-on-holiday vibe, Alpamare Waterpark in Scarborough is just the place. If your children are old – and brave – enough for the slides, they’ll have a whale of a time. Don’t miss the lovely outdoor pools with views of the sea. It’s not the cheapest way to have a family swim, but it’s certainly fun and considerably less expensive than a family trip to Majorca. Visit the Scarborough Alpamare website for more details.
6. Visit Whitby by steam train (or car!)
If, like us, you think that there’s no more romantic way to arrive at the coast than by steam train, then the North York Moors Railway is just the ticket. Climb aboard a vintage engine and watch as the Moors whoosh by. There are various journey options, but we usually travel from Pickering to Whitby for fish and chips and a stroll by the beach. Whitby Abbey is well worth a visit, too, with lots of holiday activities for children and the spectacular annual Illuminated Abbey event. Visit the North York Moors Railway website for more details.
7. Head to Flamborough Lighthouse
Flamborough is a stunning place to visit, with incredible views of the sea. Take your binoculars and you might even see a seal. As well as the lighthouse – which you can take a tour of if you’re feeling strong enough to tackle the steps – there’s a family-run cafe serving good ice cream. Take a stroll out across the headland or walk down to the pretty cove. It’s a steep walk down (impossible with a buggy so take a carrier if you have a little one) but it’s worth the effort. Last time we went there were lots of seals playing by the shore – lovely!
8. Meet some sea creatures at SEA LIFE Scarborough
Dive into an underwater adventure at SEA LIFE Scarborough. Meet spider crabs, rays, sharks and much more. There are interactive rock pools and even a play area. Visit the Scarborough Sea Life Centre website for more details.
9. Do some puffin-spotting at RSPB Bempton Cliffs
The cliffs at Bempton have to be seen to be believed – so many birds! If you’re lucky, you might even glimpse a pretty puffin posing for the bird-watchers. Read our five reasons to visit Bempton Cliffs.
10. Visit Sewerby Hall
There’s a lot for children to enjoy at family-friendly Sewerby Hall, perched on the clifftop above Bridlington. As well as the play area, there’s a huge garden and parkland and even a zoo! Families are at the centre of Sewerby’s offer, with plenty of activities for children to enjoy (especially during the holidays). Combine your visit with a trip down into Bridlington: take a short stroll down the hill or catch the handy land train. Visit the Sewerby Hall website for details.