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The Best Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

17 March 2023


Author: Carolyn Frank

The Coast & Country hotel collection is privileged to incorporate some of the finest destinations the UK has to offer within its portfolio.

Given this, we’re keen to not just shout about this but actively promote the best things to see and do in each particular location. With this in mind, we’ve been on a hunt for ‘county champions’ across the country to share with us the best things their respective areas have to offer.

The first of these, Carolyn Frank, was introduced in an earlier blog, and here she outlines the best places to visit in her home county of Yorkshire – with an emphasis on North Yorkshire, the area she knows best.

Yorkshire is the largest county in the UK, and more than twice the size of its nearest size rival, Lincolnshire.

As you can imagine, there’s an enormous amount to see and do when you visit.

Helmsley, Yorkshire

Its sheer scale means I have too many favourite places and certainly couldn’t choose just one to recommend! However, for me, Helmsley is a really special place that truly encapsulates what Yorkshire has to offer.

When you visit you get a chance to live like a local – chatting with regulars in Helmsley Brewing Company‘s tap room, enjoying a show at Helmsley Arts Centre or The National Centre for Birds of Prey in Duncombe Park, or enjoying a walk in Riccal Dale, or by the river Rye.

Grabbing a picnic from ‘Auntie Anne’s’ Castlegate bakery and sitting to watch the world go by from the grassy banks of Borobeck or the steps of the Feversham monument. It’s idyllic but vibrant and great for a people watch! 

My all-time top tip here though is the Helmsley Lido, Yorkshire’s only 25m heated outdoor pool. Open May to September, it offers just the best bright blue water to dive into, especially when it’s raining and you might have the pool to yourself.

It’s a truly magical feeling. Head along on a Wednesday night, and you can even join in with aqua aerobics, sing-a-long to Abba and wave your hands in the air while you burn off some of those Yorkshire puds. 

Whitby, Yorkshire

Whitby is another special place where we always take our friends when they come to visit. We look to arrive by steam train on the NYMR heritage line from Pickering before popping into the Quayside or the Magpie for some fish and chips and then crossing up into the old town and browsing the jet shops before the breath-taking climb to the Abbey, where the new brewery has great views of Saltwick Bay. 

You can make a day of it by walking up to Sandsend on the beach and having a cup of Yorkshire tea at the Wits End Café. There are many dog-friendly beaches all year round, too, especially Cayton Bay and Reighton Sands, which are our favourites and totally unspoilt with wide sands and space to let your dog off the lead safely. 


Other Yorkshire gems are Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales national park, and the recent location for All Creatures Great and Small filming, while you can find out more about James Herriot in the James Herriot Museum in Thirsk too.

Ryedale Folk Museum is a lesser-known museum of rural living in the fabulous Hutton-le-hole, which is a great place for families to let off steam and learn about the history of the area.


When in Hutton, an easy walk along to Lastingham with its Roman crypt in the church and the Blacksmith’s Arms opposite (said to have a tunnel to the crypt from when the landlord was also the vicar in days gone by!), is a perfect day to make memories and switch off from the real world for a while. 

The Cleveland Way Route

Keen walkers who are looking to embrace longer distances can plan to conquer The Cleveland Way, which takes in 110 spectacular miles of Yorkshire. Ask any local here for their favourite walk, and you will have some instant recommendations for any distance. The National Railway Museum in York is a free to enter national museum and must be on everyone’s list to visit. 

There’s so much to explore though, that I would say to fully enjoy a Yorkshire break, plan another! You will never see or do everything in one go as there’s just too much here – and having a follow up stay in mind helps to take the pressure off. I’m still finding new cake shops, new walks, and fascinating history, and my family have lived here for generations.

The sheer size of the county helps you to understand why that is, but as it’s split into north, west, south, and east constituent parts offers you a handy divider if you want to explore it one part at a time. For me though, nothing beats North Yorkshire.

Find the Best Places to Visit in Yorkshire

What I will add, though, is to make any break here your own. Do some research but go where your mood takes you each day – the unplanned discoveries are what makes it special here. Explore the little bakeries for your lunch – Hovingham tearoom, Terrington stores, Graze on the Green in Rosedale. 

Park further away from town centres and wander in, looking up to spot blue plaques, or in York city centre, admire the towering Minster’s Rose window, or the black cats on buildings with their own story. Book a guided tour to find out why they’re there! Jorvik or Eden Camp are also great rainy-day activities and highly recommended.

I could continue, but I’ll save that for my next instalment…

In her next blog, Carolyn will focus on some of the best ‘types’ of holiday – so you know where to dedicate your efforts if you have particular passions and interests.

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