Weekends, long summer days and school holidays are all about spending time with the family and entertaining the little ones on adventures of discovery and play. At a time when many of us need to tighten the purse strings, you can still plan a great day out while not breaking the bank. So here are our Top 5 ideas of things to see and do in Harrogate and beyond that are free or can be done on a budget. Look forward to great days out with us this summer.
Explore green open spaces and gardens
Harrogate is surrounded by the magnificent Stray, a large expanse of green open space, which is the perfect place to play ball games, walk your four-legged friend or picnic on warmer days.
The grade II listed Valley Gardens, located in the centre of Harrogate are perfect for families too, with a great play area and skate-park to enjoy. In the summer months, have fun splashing about in the paddling pool!
Discover the different areas of the garden before finding more to explore in the Pinewoods. Follow the footpath all the way to RHS Garden Harlow Carr for more garden adventure.
A little further afield the stunning gardens at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens and the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park are full of different flowers, trees and open spaces that are just waiting to be explored.
The magical Stump Cross Caverns is a subterranean network of caves underneath the Yorkshire Dales with amazing formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
From 3pm every day the caves are bathed in ultra-violet light for an even more enchanting visit. A child ticket includes a trail quiz and prize plus you can follow the fairy door trail along the passageways. Admission is £9.75 for adults and £6.75 for children.Stump Cross Caverns
Enjoy great days out on two feet, two wheels and even one boat.
Try your hand at crazy golf, pitch and putt, tennis, disc golf and table tennis in the Valley Gardens and pitch and putt and bowls on the grounds of Knaresborough Castle.
Walk along the riverside in Knaresborough underneath the magnificent viaduct before hiring a rowing boat and having an hour of fun floating along the River Nidd. Tickets are £8 for adults and £6 for children.
There are a number of cycle paths from Harrogate that take you out into the open countryside – take the Nidderdale Greenway to Ripley or the Beryl Burton Cycleway to Knaresborough.
Cycle out beyond the towns using the quieter country lanes or for very active families, tackle one of the killer climbs or mountain biking routes.Find your perfect route
Learn something new
The Royal Pump Room Museum tells the story of the spa history of Harrogate. Find out what visitors did in Harrogate when they came to ‘take the waters’ and smell the pong from the sulphur well. A family ticket for two adults and three children is £10.
The Mercer Art Gallery always has exciting exhibitions taking place including items from the Harrogate collection and guest installations from acclaimed national artists including Turner Prize winners and works held by the Tate Modern.
On a visit to Knaresborough Castle and Courthouse Museum, you can learn about the history of this once Royal Castle. See the original Tudor courtroom and the dungeons in the Castle where prisoners were kept before trial. A family ticket for two adults and three children is £10.
The three museums in Ripon tell the story of crime and punishment. Children can take their fingerprints and see what it would have been like to be locked in a cell as well as seeing a day in the life of a Victorian workhouse inmate.
Try something different
Studfold Adventure Trail in Nidderdale offers lots of fun and adventure. Discover the hidden codes to unlock the gateways and reveal the magical wood and hidden treasure boxes. Between May and August see if you can spot the little fairy houses too. There are lots of other activities for children including go-karts, ride-on tractors and den-building. A family ticket is £25 for two adults and two children.
Visit Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well in Knaresborough to learn about the famous prophetess, Mother Shipton who foretold some of the most famous historic events and see the cave where she was born. Wonder at how items hung up underneath the petrifying well magically turn to stone, enjoy a stroll through the woodland by the river and visit the small museum. Admission is £33 per car for up to five people and £12 per pedestrian.
In Boroughbridge visit the Butter Museum and the Neolithic standing stones known as the Devil’s Arrows.Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well