Ten things to do in Scarborough holiday cottages

Ten things to do in Scarborough

Julie Smith 31 March 2020

As Britain’s oldest seaside resort, Scarborough has attracted visitors of all ages since the 1700s. It’s the perfect mix of old and new and, with a prime position on the heritage North York Moors coastline, it’s easy to see why Scarborough has remained such a popular UK holiday location through the years. 

Scarborough beach

There’s always lots to see and do on a visit to this lovely Yorkshire Coast town and to help you plan your next visit we have compiled ten of our favourite things to do in Scarborough.

👉 Peasholm Park
👉 Alpamare
👉 Scarborough Open Air Theatre
👉 Scarborough Beaches
👉 Scarborough Castle
👉 Sea Life Scarborough
👉 Scarborough Spa
👉 Scarborough Harbour
👉 Rotunda Museum
👉 North Bay Railway
👉 Scarborough SeaFest

1. Peasholm Park

Peasholm Park

The oriental-themed Peasholm Park dates back to Victorian times and in recent years has been restored to its majestic former glory with rare tree trails, serene lily ponds, woodland waterfall walks and a magnificent pagoda that sits within the park’s central boating lake.

Hire a dragon pedal boat to head out on the water, enjoy a round of pitch and putt golf with family or friends and sit down to a scenic summer picnic in the park. Peasholm Park also has a fabulous bandstand so during the peak summer season you may even get to enjoy an open-air concert as you dine alfresco.

Top reasons to visit:

  • The dog-friendly park on Scarborough’s North Bay is free to visit and open all year round
  • Enjoy a range of family-friendly walks and trails around the pretty parkland
  • Choose from canoes, pedalos or the Swan Launch motorboat for a relaxing journey around the boating lake

2. Alpamare


This large Scarborough waterpark has taken inspiration from the alps and combines a tranquil wellness centre and tropically heated infinity pools with some of the longest and most thrilling water slides around.

Alpamare makes a perfect choice for a family-friendly day out, even on a rainy day, as getting soaking wet here all adds to the fun. There are four slides to ride during your visit:

  • The Black Run is a steep and fast traditional one-person water slide (ages 8+)
  • The Snow Storm is a swirling slide that up to four people can ride down on a special boat (ages 8+)
  • The Cresta Run is a thrilling solo mat racer with lots of twists and turns (ages 6+)
  • The Olympic Run is a double-tube ride to tackle together with a friend (ages 6+)  

As well as the various rides, Alpamare also has a huge wave pool that erupts every half hour and a pool garden that’s kept at a lovely 35-degree temperature with whirlpools and bubble recliners to lie back and relax in. 

Top reasons to visit:

  • Enjoy views across Scarborough’s North Bay from the tropical infinity pool
  • State of the art waterpark facilities have been given an alpine wellness twist
  • Ride the slides as many times as you like during a 4-hour visit to Alpamare 

3. Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Scarborough Open Air Theatre

The largest open-air theatre in Europe, Scarborough Open Air Theatre was originally built in the 1930s to take full advantage of a natural amphitheatre in Scarborough’s coastal landscape and reopened after years of disuse in 2010. Now a major Yorkshire venue, a summer music season takes place between June and August each year with previous headline acts including Lionel Ritchie, Elton John, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue. 

Top reasons to visit:

  • The circular design of the theatre means there isn’t a bad seat in the house and there’s a standing section near the stage
  • The theatre is located just a short walk from the beach on Scarborough’s North Bay
  • Scarborough Open Air Theatre attracts world class acts and there’s a range of on-site refreshment facilities

4. Scarborough beaches

Scarborough beaches

Scarborough is a traditional British seaside resort and bringing along a bucket and spade for a day at the beach is one of our top reasons to visit the Yorkshire Coast. There are two stretches of sand to choose from with a Victorian promenade that runs between them:

North Bay is the quieter of the two beaches and includes a sandy area with beach huts available for hire and a rockier section at the tip which is a good choice for rock pooling. Parts of the Blue Flag beach are dog-friendly throughout the year but there are restrictions in places over the peak summer months. 

The livelier South Bay has a wide stretch of family-friendly beach that’s surrounded by an array of sweet shops, ice cream parlours and amusement arcades full of fun-filled games to keep children happily entertained. Head along the promenade and you can pick up beach balls, buckets and spades, and anything else you could need for a day at the beach. If you fancy watching the boats come in, Scarborough’s bustling harbour is also located along South Bay. 

Top reasons to visit:

  • Choose from quieter or livelier beaches with dog-friendly sections available
  • Try out the surf or go rock pooling at Scarborough’s North Bay beach
  • Enjoy traditional seaside sweets and amusement arcades at South Bay 

5. Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Castle

The remains of Scarborough Castle look dramatically out to sea from their spot on a rocky promenade that separates the town’s North and South Bays. 

The castle dates back to the 12th century and has a history that includes housing prisoners from Scottish sieges and Richard III seeking shelter from Henry Tudor during the War of the Roses. Scarborough Castle is now an English Heritage site - take a walk around the large grounds and peer out from the Roman signal station that was once used to watch for invaders.

Things to do Scarborough

Top reasons to visit:

  • Scarborough Castle has some of the best views in town as you can look out over both sides of Scarborough
  • The Master Gunner’s House at Scarborough Castle houses a variety of historic artefacts along with a gift shop and tea room
  • Discover a range of wildlife within the castle’s 16-acre site including butterflies, deer and red kites

6. Sea Life Scarborough

Sea Life Scarborough

Sea Life Scarborough lies at the top of North Bay and is filled with wonderful sea creatures and a range of family-friendly activities. Get up close to sharks, stingrays, turtles and an array of tropical fish with ocean zones that include the Bay of Rays and a Great Barrier Reef exhibit. There’s also a colony of otters, a special seal pool, a rainforest exhibit and a 180-degree walk-through ocean tunnel where you can watch the wonders of the ocean unfold around you. Other Sea Life Scarborough activities include:  

  • Wandering through Penguin Island to meet the 20 adorable Humboldt penguin residents
  • Following the journey to recovery for injured Yorkshire coast seals taken to the Sea Life Sanctuary
  • Helping to feed the sharks and rays at 1pm each day following an informative talk by the team  

Outside the aquarium are the Beach Bites Adventure Playground and Pirate Adventure Mini Golf which are ideal for making the most of warmer summer weather. 

Top reasons to visit:

  • Scarborough Sea Life is an educational and fun day out that’s perfect for school holidays
  • See thousands of fish and other sea creatures up close in wonderful underwater world
  • Hands-on experiences include exploring rock pools and helping rehabilitate a turtle in the interactive Turtle Rescue 

7. Scarborough Spa

Scarborough Spa

Visitors have flocked to Scarborough Spa since the 17th century and the current Victorian building is an iconic landmark on the Scarborough landscape.  The large complex is part of Scarborough’s South Bay and it includes a theatre, the Grand Hall ballroom and a selection of galleries, walkways and cafes.   

Scarborough Spa is well-known for its orchestra which has entertained audiences at the venue since 1912. Daytime visitors can look out to sea from a deckchair in the suncourt while evening concerts are performed in the majestic surroundings of the Grand Hall ballroom.

The Victorian cliff lift at Scarborough Spa was the first funicular railway in the country and is still in operation today. 

Top reasons to visit

  • Scarborough Spa is a magnificent Victorian building that is every bit as impressive today
  • Enjoy a wide range of shows at the theatre with seaview dining available through the day at Farrer’s Bar and Brasserie  
  • After your visit you can take a tram down the cliff to the sandy beaches below

7. Scarborough Harbour

Scarborough Harbour

As you would expect from a popular coastal town like Scarborough, there are a range of boat trips so that you can take to waves and spend some time at sea. Head to the bustling harbour on South Bay and take your pick from the following options:  

  • If you fancy a thrilling boat ride full of high speeds and twisting turns, we recommend the Wave Rider which travels through the Scarborough sea on a superfast speed boat
  • The Queensferry is a more sedate passenger ship that runs daily wildlife watching trips during the peak summer months so you can get up close to Scarborough’s native seal colonies
  • Head aboard the Hispaniola pirate ship, a replica of an 18th-century schooner, and enjoy the views over West Pier harbour
  • Try your hand at fishing on the Skylark - the experienced crew can provide all the equipment you need and guide even beginners into netting a catch of the day

The historic harbour is home to around 300 vessels and if you fancy staying on dry land there’s a range of harbourside cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood as you watch the boats come in. 

Top reasons to visit

  • There’s a range of different boat trips to try from this bustling Yorkshire Coast harbour
  • Scarborough Harbour is close to South Bay beach and you can catch the cliff lift down from the nearby spa complex
  • Catch your own supper on fishing boats that cater for both beginners and more experienced anglers

8. Rotunda Museum

Rotunda Museum

The Rotunda Museum is housed in a distinctive curved building that was built in 1829, making it one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the country.  It’s a fascinating museum that’s full of ancient objects from along the Yorkshire Coast including dinosaurs, prehistoric fossils and original artefacts from the stone age Star Carr archaeological dig site.

There’s also a Georgian gallery with a frieze showing the geology of the North Yorkshire coastline and replicas of some of the creatures that once inhabited the North Sea.

Top reasons to visit     

  • An informative museum that is housed in an original domed 19th-century building 
  • Entry to the museum is just £3 which includes an annual pass and access to the nearby art gallery 
  • There are a number of tours, talks and interactive exhibits to help keep children engaged during a visit

9. North Bay Railway

North Bay Railway

The colourful red and green steam trains of this miniature railway have ferried passengers around Scarborough’s North Bay since the 1930s, running through a scenic mile-long journey from Peasholm Park to the North Bay beach and Sea Life Centre. The trains are a gentle way to travel and you can soak in some of Scarborough’s sights as you make your way along the tracks. 

As well as the miniature steam trains, North Bay Railway has renovated an original 1930s water chute which is available to ride once more. There’s also a high-rope Sky Trail adventure for children to tackle at their Peasholm Park station.

Top reasons to visit

  • The miniature railway is the perfect way to get around North Bay whether you are visiting the beach, Scarborough Sea Life Centre or Peasholm Park
  • Day tickets mean you can ride the train as many times as you (or the kids) want to and there are a range of driver experiences available 
  • There’s lots to do at the North Bay Railway station including the Sky Trail Adventure, a historic water chute and Yorkshire’s smallest pub - The Boatman’s Tavern

10. Scarborough SeaFest

Scarborough SeaFest

An annual maritime festival that takes place on and around Scarborough Pier each July, Scarborough SeaFest is a celebration of the Yorkshire Coast with everything from live cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs to a craft marquee. 

The fun-filled weekend includes a beer and ale festival, children’s storytelling, shopping stalls, live music, and a firework display over the harbour as the dramatic finale.

Top reasons to visit

  • This family-friendly festival has a great atmosphere and is free to attend 
  • Enjoy fantastic maritime demonstrations alongside live music and a bar on a bus
  • It’s one of the of the Yorkshire Coast’s premier events and gets better every year

Where to stay in Scarborough        

Things to do Scarborough

If you have been inspired to pay a visit to Scarborough, you’ll find a wide range of Yorkshire Coast holiday cottages where you can rest your head after days spent exploring.

The Old Jet Works

The Old Jet Workds

A romantic cottage for two with period features and a prime spot close to Scarborough Spa and the Rotunda Museum. Enjoy stunning sea views with the best of Scarborough right on your doorstep.



This stunning architect-designed holiday home has an idyllic location next to a babbling brook in woodland to the north of Scarborough. Highlights of the property include a Balinese-style hot tub in the garden and two huge en-suite bedrooms that both come with super-king-size beds. 

A luxury chocolate-box cottage in a peaceful North York Moors village that’s just a short drive to the delights of Scarborough. A sociable kitchen/diner, three bedrooms and a gorgeous garden make Foxglove Cottage an ideal choice for a family seaside holiday.   

This is just a small selection of the Yorkshire Coast cottages available for your next getaway. Whether you are looking for a cosy romantic retreat or a spacious family-friendly holiday home, browse the full range of holiday cottages near Scarborough on the Gorgeous Cottages website.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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