Whitby is our favourite place to visit as a family because there are so many fantastic things to do there with kids. Ever since Lily was tiny, we’ve been at least a few times a year. Here are 25 things you and the kids will love to do in Whitby.
Climb the 199 steps
You can’t visit Whitby without walking up the famous 199 steps from the town to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey. It is a steep walk, but there are plenty of places to stop and take in the view and even a bench or two for a stop along the way! Once at the top you can visit St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey.
Visit St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Church stands on top of the cliff and overlooks Whitby Harbor. The church is a Grade 1 listed building and a nice place to have a quick look around. Even if you decide not to go in, a walk around the cemetery is really interesting. You can even find a few ‘pirate’ tombstones marked with a skull and crossbones.
Explore Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey is an English Heritage site and a ‘must visit’ when you’re in Whitby. Whitby Abbey began as a 7th-century Christian monastery before becoming a Benedictine abbey. Families can enjoy the small museum before exploring the ruins. The Abbey often have great activities on during school holidays as well. We once caught a performance of Dracula that moved around the site.
Relax in the YHA Cafe & Gardens
The YHA Hostel is just behind Whitby Abbey. The beautifully kept gardens are full of apothecary herbs and plants, and offer a vista of Whitby like you can experience nowhere else.
The YHA cafe is open to the public and is a low, cost, child friendly place to enjoy an afternoon treat or an evening meal.
Places to stay in Whitby
Whitby has an incredible variety of places to stay – from historic fisherman’s cottages to a YHA with incredible views.
Walk Whitby Harbour
Although it can get crowded, a walk along Whitby Harbor is a great way to spend the afternoon. There are plenty of shops full of tourist tat, ice cream, snacks and some great views of the Abbey.
Take a photo under the Whitby Whalebone Arch
Have you even been to Whitby if you haven’t taken a photo underneath the Whalebone Arch? This arch is actually a replacement of the original arch which was put up in 1853.
Ride the North Yorkshire Moors railway
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs for 18 miles through the North York Moors National Park from the Whitby Station. We visited the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with four generations: my grandmother, my mother, myself and my two children. It was a lovely day out for everyone and a great way to the the countryside!
Play on the Whitby Beach
The Whitby Beach is clean, safe and sandy – an all around great family beach. You can get an ice cream, coffee and even take a donkey ride!
Swim in the Whitby Paddling Pool
The outdoor Whitby paddling pool is free to enter but be warned, the water is very cold! The water is below knee height making it perfect for little ones on a hot day.
Eat Fish & Chips
Whitby is famous for its fish and chips. While The Magpie is the most well known place to get a bite, we always visit The Fishman’s Wife as they have great views of the sea!
Enjoy donkey rides on the beach
For a few pounds you can ride a donkey on the Whitby beaches.
Take a boat trip
There are a number of boats parked up in the harbour that will take families on short trips. This isn’t something we’ve done (yet) but we’ve promised the kids that we will on our next visit!
Try afternoon tea at La Rosa
You won’t ever have an afternoon tea like the one you can have at the strange and wonderful La Rosa Hotel La Rosa is located on Whitby’s West Cliff with views of Whitby Abbey over the harbour. The hotel was a favourite of author Lewis Carroll and it still has a very surreal Alice in Wonderland feel to it. It is packed full of curiosities and unique wonders.
Learn at the Captain Cook Museum
To learn more about the history of Whitby, take the kids to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. There you can learn about Cook’s adventures and see letters written by Cook himself as well as maps, and other interesting objects.
Run off steam at Pannett Park
Pannett Park sits on the top of Whitby and it’s a great park to visit with kids. It’s very well maintained with plenty for the kids to play on.
Discover Whitby Museum
Whitby Museum is located at the edge of Pannet Park and it’s full of interesting curios including local fossils, natural history, model ships, carved jet, toys, costumes and social history.
Try Your luck at The Whitby Arcades
In all honesty, the arcades are my least favourite part of a visit to Whitby, but the kids love it! There are three arcades to choose from on ‘the strip’ and you can easily spend your pennies (Who am I kidding? Make that pounds!) winning prizes.
Experience The Endeavour Experience
The Endeavour Experience is a life size replica ship of Captain Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour which remains stationed in Whitby Harbor. Once aboard you can enjoy interactive features and displays to get an idea of what life was like for the sailors.
Enjoy lemon top ice cream
Is an ice cream worthy of a place on the ‘must do’ list? Yep. I never visit the Whitby seaside without a taste of a lemon top, which is lemon sorbet with vanilla. Yum! Trellos have a great little kiosk on the seafront.
Be thrilled at The Dracula Experience
The Dracula Experience states that it is recommend for ages 13+ , but my two have been asking to go since they were about 5 years old. At ages 9 and 10 we finally let them visit along with their 8-year-old cousin.
The experience is supposed to last about half an hour if you walk slowly enough to listen to the ‘story’ being told on your way through and then stay for the short film at the end.
We found the narration tough to listen to as it was difficult to hear and the gang of screaming young teenagers behind us didn’t help much either. In all, I think we were through in it a little more than 10 minutes as the kids didn’t want to stay for the film at the end.
It was dark and there were some animatronic jump scares, but it all felt dated and a little too silly to be properly frightening. The experience is full throttle seaside cheese but the kids both enjoyed it. Lily thought it was hilarious and Leo found it just frightening enough to feel like he’d done something grown-up.
Go fossil hunting
Whitby is famous for fossils but our favourite fossil beach is a mile and a half walk away to Saltwick Bay where we find ammonites and devil’s toenails.
Ride the open top bus
An open top bus tour that takes you from the town centre to the Abbey. It’s a nice way to see the sights and hear about the history of the town. It’s also an easy way to get up to the Abbey without climbing the 199 steps if you have someone with mobility issues or very tired kids!
Visit the Lifeboat Museum
The Whitby Lifeboat Museum is a small museum but well worth a quick visit. You can see photographs, crew kit and mementos from wrecks and famous rescues. According to the museum’s website, “Lifeboats crewed by the people of Whitby have been helping those in trouble at sea since 1802. In that time, 36 RNLI Medals for Gallantry have been awarded to courageous crew members.”
Treat Yourself at Falling Foss Tea Garden and Waterfall
Only a 10 minute drive from Whitby is a tea room with the best view around. The Falling Foss Tea Garden sits on top of the water fall and serves up fantastic drinks and light bites in beautiful woodland surroundings.
Visit Beacon Hill Ice Cream Parlour and Tea Rooms
At Beacon Hill Ice Cream Farm they not only make their own ice cream on site, they also have a fantastic play area! Visiting on a day when outdoor play isn’t a good option? Not to worry, there is an indoor bouncy castle and toys for kids to use. The farm is just a 10 minute drive from Whitby.
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