view of scarborough from South Bay beach

All the best things to do in Scarborough with kids

If you’re after a real authentic British seaside town experience then Scarborough should definitely be on your bucket list. Home to heaps of family friendly activities, miles of beaches and beautiful parks, there are so many things to do in Scarborough with kids.

In this post I’m going to detail all the best Scarborough activities splitting them out by free things to do in Scarborough, things to do in Scarborough when it rains and also some things you have to pay for. I’ll also give you some ideas for day trips from Scarborough that the kids will love, where to stay in Scarborough with kids and where to eat. If there’s a section you’re particularly interested in just skip to that part in the table of contents below.

view looking down on scarborough spa with the beach and sea behind

This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you book from one of them at no extra cost to you. 

List of Contents

Free things to do in Scarborough with kids

selection of fishing ropes on the harbour edge in scarborough

Hit the Beach

The first thing the kids will want to do on a visit to the British seaside is to hit the beach. Scarborough is home to some great beaches with all the facilities you’ll need for a full day in the sand. The waves in Scarborough are brilliant for boarding or surfing but the sea can be chilly so bring your boards and wetsuits so you can enjoy a splash. You could also purchase a super cheap bucket, bait and line and try your hand at crabbing in the harbour.

boats moored in scarborough harbour

North Bay Beach

North Beach in Scarborough is probably my favourite. It’s slightly more rugged than other beaches in town as it’s quiet a walk from the centre and is backed by cliffs and sea defences. North Bay Beach also tends to be quieter giving the kids more space to run around.

view from high up on a hill looking down at white apartment block next to a yellow sandy beach is scarborough

There are plenty of facilities at North Bay with toilets, cafes and restaurants a plenty. When the tide comes in the sand pretty much disappears so this is a popular place to hire a colourful beach hut. There is a dog ban on parts of North Bay over the summer months so just check which area they are allowed in before you let them run free.

row of brightly coloured beach huts

South Beach

South Beach tends to be more commercialised making it a bit busier with even more facilities. Here you’ll find the famous Scarborough Spa and plenty of boat trips, a harbour, donkey rides and amusement arcades.

small group of people walking along damp sand with cliffs and sea in the background on south bay in scarborough

There are also a few more brightly coloured beach huts overlooking the beach. They are absolutely delightful!

brightly coloured beach huts with white railings

Peasholm Park

Peasholm Park is a brilliant place to take the kids in Scarborough. The park has an oriental theme with bridges, ponds, manicured gardens and play areas. Over the summer months you can hire a pedalo or row boat on the lake and you might even catch a concert on the bandstand. Make sure you walk up the hill to see the delightful Chinese pagoda at the top. Although it’s easily walkable from the town centre Peasholm Park feels like a peaceful oasis of green calm. Dogs must be kept on a lead in Peasholm Park.

oriental style lake in peasholm park

Take a walk along the Cleveland Way

Even kids love a good view and there’s no better than from the top of the cliffs across the North Sea coastline. The Cleveland way is a 109 mile hiking trail along the Yorkshire coast and across the moors. It begins in Helmsley and finishes in Filey although you can walk as much or as little as you like as the trail runs straight through Scarborough.

wooden sign pointing in both directions to the Cleveland Way on a beach wall with the sand and sea in the background

Scarborough Lifeboat Station

Having opened in 1801 Scarborough lifeboat station is one of the oldest in the UK although the current building is a lot more modern than that. It has won 17 medals over the years and saves numerous lives. You can visit the visitor centre between 10am and 4pm each day or book a group visit if you’re a large party.

scarborough lifeboat station

Explore the stunning South Cliff Gardens

Another beautiful patch of green in Scarborough is South Cliff Gardens home to many hidden paths and formal Italian Gardens. The rose gardens when in bloom are an absolute must visit. This one can be a bit tough on the knees as the walk up to the top from the beach is pretty steep but I promise the views from the top are worth it. You’ll find them located behind Scarborough Spa where there’s also a lovely little cafe for the kids to enjoy an ice cream.

section of green grass and round trees with a beach and coastline in the background

Check out the architecture at Scarborough Spa

Once the highlight of town where visitors would flock to experience the restorative power of the local spring water this is no longer an actual Spa. It’s a gorgeous work of Victorian architecture and is a must visit in Scarborough. The building is now used as an events venue so it’s well worth checking their schedule before your visit.

black and white bandstand at Scarborough Spa with black and white check floor. You can see the sea behind the black curved roof

Walk across the Spa bridge

Scarborough’s cliff bridge is another of my favourite photo spots in town. It’s eye-catching turquoise colour is the first thing you’ll notice as you cross but make sure to stop halfway across for some gorgeous views of South Bay.

view along bright turquoise railings under a bright blue sky with the scarborough grand hotel in the background

Take the stairs at St Nicholas Gardens

Yet another lovely park space in Scarborough is St Nicholas Gardens, the entrance to which you’ll find opposite South beach. This is a fab place for a picnic as there are plenty of benches and colourful flowers. Any kids full of energy will love the many steps up to the Town Hall.

entrance to st nicolas gardens with steps behind going up a hill

Check out the sculptures

Scarborough is home to some really great pieces of art and a few outdoor sculptures which cannot be missed. The Bathing Belle located in North Bay nods towards the Victorians love of this seaside town and is a young girl wearing long bathers about to enjoy a swim.

bathing belle sculpture in scarborough

The Tunny sculpture located towards the lighthouse on the harbour walls pays homage to what was once the towns favourite sport, Tunny (or tuna) fishing.

the tunny fish sculpture in scarborough

Walk out to the Lighthouse

The pretty white lighthouse is located at the end of Vincent pier. The tower was rebuilt in 1931 after it was destroyed in the war. The lighthouse is attached to the Scarborough Yacht Club meaning it is a still a busy part of town to this day.

view out to scarborough lighthouse from up high by the castle

Take a selfie with a traditional blue phone box

I have no idea why this tardis style phone box has popped up in Scarborough near the harbour and have struggled to find any info on it I’m afraid. It is still a pretty cool photo spot in Scarborough plus it’s Grade II listed!

blue old style police phone box like doctor whos tardis in scarborough

Visit a literary great’s grave

Author of Agnes Grey and the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë is buried in St Mary’s Church and Scarborough has featured heavily in many of her books. You’ll find the church just below the castle looking out to the old town of Scarborough.

Things to do in Scarborough when it Rains

Explore the Sealife on dry land

The Sealife centre in Scarborough is the ideal thing to do in Scarborough when it rains. Located in the north of town it’s a huge space full of amazing sea creatures from all around the world. It has a rainforest area, penguin island, seal hospital and shark area. Kids will love the interactive zones where they can meet the residents and burn off some energy in the outdoor play area.

Pre-book your tickets to Scarborough Sealife Centre.

pyramid shaped tent of scarboroughs sealife centre

Hit up the Arcades

It’s practically the law to visit an amusement arcade during a visit to a British seaside town. Scarborough has plenty to choose from and it can be a relatively cheap way to spend a few hours. Coney Island is one of the most popular but there’s also Shaws Amusements, Henry Marshalls and the Silver Dollar Arcade.

red exterior of henry marshals amusement arcade next to a souvenir shop in scarborough

Go bowling at Olympia Leisure

For some wholesome family fun head to Olympia Leisure, a brilliant bowling complex. It also has plenty of arcade games, a go kart track and small kids play area.

Catch the latest film at the Hollywood Plaza cinema

If you fancy watching the latest Blockbuster movie then Scarborough has a sweet little cinema with only one screen but plenty of old school charm. Check out the film schedule at Hollywood Plaza to find out whats on.

exterior of vintage style hollywood plaza theatre in scarborough

Hop on the North Bay Railway

The super sweet North Bay Railway has been running for almost 100 years and takes you from Peasholm Park to Scalby Mills. The whole journey is less than a mile but it’s a lovely little train and the views out to sea are delightful. This is another thing to do in Scarborough that most definitely won’t break the bank.

green train at north bay station between the trees

Hire a beach hut

If you still want spend time at the sea on a rainy day in Scarborough you can hire a perfectly cosy and sheltered beach hut for the day. These are located along the North Beach and are all painted vibrant colours with deck chairs, a sink and kettle. Plus there’s power if you need to charge up your devices. pop over to their website to hire a chalet.

row of beach hurts all painted a very vibrant colour. There is red, yellow, green, blue and red
Have you ever seen such colourful beach huts?

Check out the local artwork

For just £3 you can spend a lovely few hours exploring the Scarborough Art Gallery . It has a constantly changing series of work so there’s always something new to see. You wont need to spend too long in the gallery so it’s the perfect place to escape a shower and kids are free!

Great value things to do in Scarborough with kids

Visit Scarborough Castle

This one could probably be included on the list of things to do in Scarborough for free. A walk up to the castle to view it from outside or a stroll along the castle walls is a must. Plus you can spot the castle from most coastal areas around town. But if you want to explore the castle closer you’ll have to buy a ticket. The castle is over 3,000 years old so it’s a great place for the kids to soak up a bit of history but they’ll also love the space to play and sweet little cafe full of tasty treats.

Ride the many funiculars and tramways

The walk from town down to South beach in Scarborough can be pretty steep, especially on little legs. Luckily there are plenty of tramways and funiculars to get you from the sand to the top. The journey is super cheap and speedy and I always find that kids love a unique way of travel. In fact they’ll probably enjoy it so much they’ll want to go up and down several times.

victorian style entrance to the vistorian tramway in scarborough

Have a go at surfing

There are several surf schools lining the beaches in Scarborough. We loved Dexters Surf School in the North Bay, you can hire everything you need and the instructors are brilliant with kids and beginners. They also offer paddle boarding, coasteering and kayaking if you don’t fancy surfing.

a group of people surfing at north bay beach in scarborough

Have a game of mini golf

Mini golf seems to be a very popular pastime in Scarborough. There are several courses dotted around town but Captain Jacks Adventure Golf located on the promenade is one of the best. It’s a super cheap way to spend a few hours in Scarborough and kids will love the themed holes.

mini gold course outside north bay beach

Swing through the trees

Little monkeys will love a chance to swing through the trees at Scarborough’s Skytrail next to the North Bay Railway station. It’s a two level rope and bridge course, very similar to Go Ape. Kids must be over 5 to use it, over 1 metre tall and accompanied by an adult.

Spend the day at Alpamere water park

The Leisure Centre in Scarborough is an excellent place to bring the kids. Located at the top end of North bay it has an amazing heated outdoor pool, slides, a splash area and a wave pool plus a little spa and outdoor bar for the adults.

yellow building with colourful water slides coming out of the sides. The sign says Alpamare water park

Ride the big wheel

Who doesn’t love a big wheel?! And the one in Scarborough has to be in one of the best locations in the country. It’s 35 metres high and takes just ten minutes to complete the ride. This one is only open over the summer months.

red and white exterior of coney island amusement arcade with the scarborough big wheel behind

Take a trip on a pirate ship

There are plenty of boat trips to try around the harbour area but I think kids will like the pirate ship “The Hispaniola” best. Walk along the harbour edge and you’ll find the ticket booth.

See a show in the open air theatre

I just love an open air concert and Scarborough’s open air theatre in the North Bay is a brilliant venue. Built in the 1930’s it has hosted some huge names over the years and this year looks set to be no different. They’ve got Crowded House, Frankie Valli, Bryan Adams and a-Ha over the coming months.

blue archway entrance to scarborough open air theatre

Take the open top bus around town

Whilst Scarborough is a very walkable town sometimes it’s nice to be driven around. You’ll see loads from an open top bus and it’s a great way to understand the layout of town. Day tickets are really cheap and you can hop on and off as many times as you want.

Use your outdoor voices at the funfair

Yet another British seaside must do is a visit to the funfair. The one in Scarborough is located down at the harbour below the castle. It has plenty of traditional rides and which are all pretty good value.

Great Day trips from Scarborough

Whilst Scarborough can feel super busy and touristy the small Yorkshire towns around it are not. There are plenty of quaint villages, miles of stunning coastline and beautiful beaches all pretty close to town.

Robin Hoods Bay

Just an half hour drive, Robin Hoods Bay makes for an excellent day trip from Scarborough. It’s super sweet with narrow cobbled streets winding down to the fishing harbour and beach. The town has plenty of pubs, independent shops and a coastguard museum.

old style narrow street leading down to the coast at robin hoods bay

Take a hike at Ravenscar

Just 20 minutes from Scarborough is a delightful stretch of coastline at Ravenscar. Managed by the National Trust you’ll find a fab cafe and several trail options ranging from an hour to several. One of the shorter routes include the old ruins of the Peak Alum works, a great place to develop an understanding of industry in the area. There’s also a fantastic beach at the bottom which is quite tricky to reach but worth it.

yellow gorse bushes bordering a path down to the sea

Whitby

Just over half an hour’ drive is another tourist favourite. Whitby is a great place to visit with kids, they’ll love the vibrant atmosphere, tales of Dracula and views from the Abbey.

the ruins of whitby abbey as seen through a stone arch

Runswick Bay

Just under an hours drive but well worth the trip for the fabulous beach, Runswick Bay is another charming town on the Yorkshire coast. It’s so good in fact the Times named it Beach of the year in 2020. This is not the place to visit for arcades and fancy restaurants so pack a picnic and enjoy a play in the sand and a walk along the coast.

runswick bay beach one of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire

Staithes

About an hours drive away from Scarborough is another lovely town just slightly larger than Runswick Bay. Staithes again has a  lovely sheltered beach and a fishing harbour close to the sea. This is another one where you’ll have to navigate narrow cobbled streets past colourful houses to the coast. This is a particularly good place in the area for fossil hunting.

bouys hanging outside a house in Staithes, england

Filey

15 minutes drive South of Scarborough is Filey, another popular seaside town in North Yorkshire. it has a lovely beach and village feel but kids will love Filey Country Park. It has loads of parking, plenty of play areas and a fantastic cafe. There’s heaps of space to run around and you may even see some dolphins whilst taking in the view out to sea.

view of the seaside town of filey taken across the countryside from above

Where to stay in Scarborough with kids

Self catering at the Sands

It’s always good to have a bit of space when visiting a new place with kids and having a kitchen makes preparing meals and picnics so much easier. Thats why I loved our stay in a luxury apartment at The Sands Scarborough. Located overlooking North Bay Beach it had everything we could possibly need plus a stunning balcony with view of the North Sea.

Check prices for your stay at the Sands on Booking.

curved building with balconies and windows overlooking the sea in scarborough

Crown Spa Hotel

The Crown Spa hotel offers amazing views over South Bay and is just 15 minutes walk down to the sea. It has a fitness centre and Spa and is located in a quieter part of town. Mini Suites also have a sofa bed, ideal for little kids.

Check prices for your stay at the Crown Spa Hotel on Booking.

the crown spa hotel in scarbrough

Scarborough Grand Hotel

Probably the most famous hotel in Scarborough is the Grand. Its elegant exterior is as pretty as the view from inside although it is a little dated these days. It’s located right in the town centre making it easy to walk to everywhere in Scarborough. It has a nightly live music, bingo and family sized rooms.

Check prices for your stay at the Grand in Scarborough.

victorian style facade of the grand hotel in scarborough

Scarborough Premier Inn

We love a good Premier Inn, there’re great value with rooms that fit the whole family and you know exactly what you’re going to get before you arrive. The Premier Inn in North Bay is located right next to the Alpamere water park and has a great pub attached.

Check prices for the Premier Inn in Scarborough.

outside of scarborough premier inn

Where to eat in Scarborough with kids

Ask Italian

Staring with one that is guaranteed to keep the kids happy with its selection of pizza and pasta Ask Italian is centrally located by the harbour. Scarborough is not really the place to be snobby about your food and there really is something comforting in the known.

ask italian restaurant in scarborough

Fish and chips

You cannot visit a British seaside town and not enjoy a takeaway chippy. There are loads located around Scarborough but the Lifeboat fish bar in the harbour regularly ranks as the best. Slather your order in salt and vinegar and take your dinner down to the seafront to enjoy while you’re watching the waves.

Flamingo Bay ice cream parlour

You can’t visit Scarborough with kids and not enjoy at least one or two ice creams. Flamingo Bay is one of many ice cream parlours in town, you can’t miss it due to its vibrant painted facade. They also serve amazingly decadent hot chocolates for when the weather is cold and delicious pancake deserts.

flamingo bay ice cream parlour. It's a tall building completely covered in street art of ice cream balls and a flamingo

Beachcomber cafe

My favourite spot for lunch in Scarborough is the Beachcomber cafe on South Bay beach. This is basically just a kiosk with outdoor seating overlooking the sand. It does a small selection of hot and cold food and staff are always super friendly.

colourful beach equipment for sale outdoors next to the beachcomber cafe outdoor seating area

Food Stalls

If crab sandwiches and buckets of prawns are your thing, be sure to visit one of the many food stalls lining the sea front. It’s all locally caught, super fresh and absolutely delicious.

ice cream food stall on scarborough harbour

Where to park in Scarborough

Whilst parking in Scarborough isn’t as bad as many British seaside towns you still may have a walk a way from your car to get anywhere. Whilst there are plenty of car parks to choose from it can get pretty busy over the peak summer holidays so aim to arrive good and early. Inside Our Suitcase has a great blog on where to park in Scarborough.

view along building of scarborough victorian spa

Have you been to Scarborough with kids? What are your favourite things to do in this British seaside town. Let me know in the comments so I can keep this post updated.

Make sure you pin for later

things to do in scarborough with kids pin image

Share :

Twitter
Telegram
WhatsApp
Facebook

Leave a comment