It may be known to most by the Simon & Garfunkel song, but Scarborough has been providing Brits with a sandy holiday destination for nearly two centuries
The town still retains many of the features that first attracted Victorian revelers to its sandy beaches – an imposing 12th-century castle perched on its headland, a funicular train still running between the town centre and the south bay, and the famous fair still featuring chintzy dodgems and a carousel. The status of the place as a long-established holiday destination means it’s well set up for those on a short break, and there are many fun activities to do here.
Head to Scarborough Fair
The Scarborough Fair Collection, set in pretty grounds between the coast road linking Scarborough and Filey, offers more than just a turn on the bumper cars (although there are plenty of those too) – it has a magnificent collection of vintage cars, steam engines and an impressive Wurlitzer Organ in its ballroom. This is a museum of vintage recreation, a charming glimpse into steam-powered Victorian fun. Its old-fashioned carousel, bumper cars and quirky caterpillar ride cost just £1 a go – and children’s rides are all free.
See a show at the Scarborough spa
Don’t come expecting to have your nails done – the Scarborough Spa was built around Scarborough’s springs by the Victorians, but these days the grand Grade II-listed complex is home to a wide variety of cultural performance spaces rather than pampering facilities. Its grand hall hosts concerts by the Scarborough orchestra, jazz gigs and visiting shows from the likes of Jools Holland, and a network of lounges, open-air concert halls and other entertainment facilities mean the place runs to nearly half a mile long. Make like a Victorian visitor and take the original 1873 tramway to the south Cliff esplanade – the first seaside cliff lift in the UK.
Spend a tranquil afternoon in Peasholm Park
Peasholm Park is often voted one of the top five parks in Britain. It was laid out in 1911 to emulate oriental gardens and among its many attractions is a tranquil lake with a pagoda-topped island. In the summer months, visitors can hire all manner of boats to traverse the lake – from old-fashioned rowing boats and canoes to chauffeured vessels that allow you to sit back and take in the lovely scenery. Look out for the concerts that take place on the bandstand in the middle of the lake – the music drifts out across the water, serenading summer picnickers for free. If you fancy exploring the park, there is a natural valley, many waterfalls and ponds, rare wildlife and old tree stumps that have been carved into animals. There are cafes to eat, drink and slurp ice-cream in, but the best way to dine here is al fresco – pack up a picnic and enjoy a feast on the grass.
Hit the beach
Scarborough’s sandy bays are a great example of British beaches at their best. On Scarborough beach, you can wander along the seafront, with the bustle of gift shops and arcades on one side, and surfers riding the waves on the other. Scarborough’s beaches are clean and pretty – they’re well looked after and cleaned every morning. A bit further south is Cayton Bay, which is harder to get to but worth the effort. Those who aren’t put off by the steep walk down to the bay will be rewarded with a very well kept beach, with clean sand and lifeguards watching over the swimmers.
Another great family friendly feature of the beach is it’s sealife. Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary will take you on a fascinating journey from the coastline to the depths of the ocean through 12 themed zones. Every step will reveal something new, from a face to face encounter with sharks to a hands-on rock-pool experience. Don’t miss walking with our penguins, visiting Yorkshire’s only seal hospital and our meeting our adorable otters! For more info visit https://www.visitsealife.com/scarborough/. Travelodge guests enjoy an exclusive 40% discount for up to five people! Simply present your current Travelodge booking confirmation at the welcome desk.
All aboard the North Bay railway
Anyone who has ever fancied themselves at the wheel of a whistling, chugging railway can get their chance at the North Bay Railway. This is a miniature railway built in 1931, which runs between Peasholm Park and Scalby Mills. You can drive one of four authentic, original 1930s steam trains that chug along the line. Or you can simply hop on for a ride – it’s a charming way to see a little stretch of North Yorkshire.
Head into Scarborough’s own Jurassic Park
If you have dinosaur enthusiasts in the family, the Rotunda Museum is a must. It’s a quirky place – one of the first museums in the world, built in an unusual circular building designed by William Smith, the man commonly known as the ‘father of geology’. It’s a spectacular old building, dating back to 1829.. The museum is densely filled with dinosaur fossils found on the north Yorkshire coastline, and other fascinating exhibits – don’t miss the Gristhorpe Man, a unique Bronze Age skeleton found buried in a tree trunk in Scarborough, or the Speeton Plesiosaur, a marine reptile from the lower Cretaceous period, found near Filey.
Whether you fancy a stroll along the beach or a day at the fair, this town is the perfect weekend getaway destination. So check out the hotels we have in Scarborough and see it all for yourself.