There’s nothing like escaping to the UK seaside for revitalising the spirits and making some magical family memories. Yorkshire has a range of lovely coastal towns and villages to explore including Whitby, Scarborough, Robin Hood’s Bay and Sandsend (amongst many others).
There’s no need to wait until the summer either as the Yorkshire Coast is the perfect choice for a May half term holiday – especially as there is a great range of family-friendly cottages near the sea.
From surfing to sandcastles there are lots of seaside activities to try too. Take a look at some of our favourite reasons to visit the Yorkshire Coast this Spring.
#01 Fish and Chips are tastiest at the coast
Fish and chips are a British Institution and you’ll find at least one ‘chippie’ in pretty much every town and village in the UK. The tastiest fish and chips though are the ones you’ll find at the seaside. The fish at the Yorkshire Coast is fresh from the fisherman’s ships and you can eat them from the paper as you take in the view and watch the boats come in.
Our top picks for a classic fish and chips include The Magpie Café in Whitby and The Fish Box at Robin Hood’s Bay. If you fancy something a little different though try Fortune’s Kippers - a Whitby institution that has been smoking fish since 1872.
#02 You can find hidden treasure on the beach
Yorkshire is well known for its Jurassic cliffs (they date back 150 – 200 million years) and there are lots of fossils to be found on the sandy beaches throughout the North York Moors coastline.
Fossil hunting can be a fun activity for the whole family (children will love seeking out hidden treasure) and there are plenty of historic ammonites to be found on beaches including Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay and Saltwick Bay.
Other treasures to be found include shells and Whitby Jet (a precious gemstone synonymous with the area).
#03 Or just build a sandcastle
There’s always something very satisfying about building a sandcastle – whether you go for a simple design or something a little more elaborate. Sandy beaches in Yorkshire that are particularly good for sandcastles include Cayton Bay, Scarborough, Filey and Sandsend.
You’ll find lots of traditional seaside shops too (such as Muir Lea Stores in Robin Hoods Bay) where you can pick up a bucket and spade along with items like a bat and ball for a game on the beach.
You can always reward yourself with an ice cream (or a stick of rock) after you’ve built your sandy creation. The Harbour Bar in Scarborough is particularly good as the ice creams are made freshly on-site each day and come in lots of fabulous flavours.
#04 There’s an assortment of boat trips
You’ll find a choice of boat trips from the harbour in Whitby which range from a 25-minute trip up the coast to sunset cruises and whale watching trips. You can also travel on a steamer from Scarborough or hire a traditional pleasure boat for a row along the river in the pretty Eskdale village of Ruswarp.
Yorkshire Coast Nature also do a range of seabird spotting trips on the coast from Flamborough and run full day whale-watching trips from Staithes.
However, if train rides are more your thing then you can take a trip on the North Bay Railway at Scarborough or catch an NYMR steam train which travels from Whitby through the Moors to Pickering. Stations along the way include Goathland which you may recognise at Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter films.
#05 There are great rock pools to discover
You’ll find a selection of rocky shores on the Yorkshire Coast which makes it a great choice for rockpooling. There are all sorts of interesting creatures lurking under rocks and stones!
Robin Hoods Bay, Saltburn and Boggle Hole are all great choices but make sure you check the tide times first.
Don’t forget to be gentle if lifting creatures such as crabs and make sure you put things back as you find them. A net and a bucket is all you’ll need to get started and kids can get hours of fun from this completely free activity.
#06 Surfs up on the Yorkshire Coast!
The Yorkshire Coast makes an excellent choice for surfing with the dramatic cliffs creating the conditions needed to catch some waves.
Top surfing choices include Cayton Bay which has some of the biggest waves around and you’ll find the Scarborough Surf School in this village. They run a Kids Club throughout the Spring and Summer and you can also try Stand Up Paddle Boarding if you fancy it.
Saltburn is another great Yorkshire Surfing Beach. This pretty Victorian town has the oldest furnicular railway in the world and you’ll find surf hire, lessons and all the accessories you need to get started.
#07 You can follow in the footsteps of Dracula
Did you know that Bram Stoker found inspiration for Dracula while staying at Whitby? Not only was Whitby the place where he discovered the name Dracula but you’ll find nods to the town throughout his famous novel (including the famous 199 steps to Whitby Abbey).
No visit to Whitby is complete without climbing these steps and Whitby Abbey is still every bit as atmospheric today.
If you fancy a scare, try The Dracula Experience on Marine Parade which has a variety of eerie scenes and a terrifying climax. Alternatively try a 75 minute ‘In Search of Dracula’ walk through the town to learn more about the locations featured in the novel.
Browse our range of Whitby Holiday Cottages
#08 Enjoy clifftop views on the Cleveland Way National Trail
The Cleveland Way National Trail takes in much of the Yorkshire coastline – all the way from Saltburn to Filey and the coastal cliffs make this well-marked pathway very scenic.
You can easily walk from one village to another and go exploring along the way. Other coastal walks to try include walking along the cliffs at Flamborough (which is home to lots of nesting birds throughout the Spring) and the Cinder Track is a disused railway line which runs from Whitby to Scarborough.
Take a look at some of our favourite Yorkshire Coast Walks
#09 Discover the setting for Old Jack’s Boat
The pretty fishing village of Staithes is full of winding streets and painted cottages that look out over the sea. This picture postcard worthy spot was also the setting of popular CBeebies series Captain Jack’s Boat.
Children can seek out the locations used in the TV program and there’s a free sticker trail to find some of Old Jack’s friends which is available to pick up in the village.
The sheltered Staithes harbour is still home to a selection of traditional fishing boats and The Cod & Lobster pub is a good choice to stop for refreshments (their speciality is a fresh crab sandwich) as you look out to the sea.
Discover 5 reasons to discover the magical North York Moors Coastline.
#10 People watching with a pint
You’ll find plenty of good old-fashioned pubs at the Yorkshire Coast and I always think they are the perfect place to sit for a while, relax and watch the world go by (especially after the kids have run around and burned off some energy).
There are even some locally brewed beers and gins to try too. The Whitby Brewery (located on the East Cliff near Whitby Abbey) has drinks including Whitby Whaler and Jet Black which are sold in many of the town’s pubs. Bay Town in Robin Hoods Bay produces a range of beers including Smuggler’s Haul and The Whitby Distillery produces gin made with local botanicals from the coast and moorland.
Has this inspired you to visit the Yorkshire Coast this Spring? Gorgeous Cottages have a selection of Yorkshire Coast Holiday Cottages in locations such as Robin Hood’s Bay, Sandsend, Scarborough and Whitby. One thing’s for sure whether you come for a weekend or spend the full week exploring, one visit will never be enough!