Low Cost Summer Holiday Ideas

Blog posted:

26 June 2024

Trying to keep your clan entertained for six weeks over the summer holidays might sound expensive, but there are plenty of free and low-cost days out to enjoy in North Yorkshire.

Check out our ideas below…

Family activities at Peasholm Park in Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Find Your Escape

Explore beautiful gardens in North Yorkshire this summer. You’ll find outdoor playgrounds at the likes of Scarborough’s South Cliff Gardens and Selby Park, while Harrogate’s Valley Gardens and Scarborough’s Peasholm Park are bursting with activities including mini golf and a boating lake.

For a more peaceful escape, discover gardens and parks where you can enjoy a picnic, wander among colourful flowers and plants, and nature trails through wooded landscapes. You’ll also find plenty of historic sites like Wharram Percy, Kilburn’s White Horse and the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct where little ones can burn off energy in these outdoor playgrounds.

Get Outdoors

Sometimes, the simplest activities can be the most fun! With almost 100 miles of coastline in Yorkshire, you can delve into rockpools, hunt for fossils or test your sandcastle skills on vast stretches of golden beaches.

If you want to explore on two wheels you’ll find a range of family-friendly cycling tracks like The Cinder Track between Scarborough and Whitby, the Nidderdale Greenway between Ripon and Harrogate, and the York to Selby cycle route, all of which are largely traffic free and flat. In the heart of the North York Moors, big kids will love the challenge of Dalby Forest, renowned for its mountain bike trails, while little explorers will love following the Gruffalo trails on foot.

Plus, with the Yorkshire Dales and multiple National Landscapes on your doorstep, there’s no excuse to stay indoors with miles of trails to explore, whether you’re up for a hike or a gentle stroll.

Family activities at Peasholm Park in Scarborough, North Yorkshire
South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough<br />

​History and heritage

Bring history to life at stately homes and ancient ruins. You’ll find crumbing abbeys dotted across North Yorkshire, like Whitby Abbey and Byland Abbey, plus the likes of Pickering and Richmond Castles where you can uncover hundreds, or even thousands, of years of history. Many of these properties are run by English Heritage or National Trust, and are free to members.

North Yorkshire is bursting with interesting museums including the Craven Museum, recently shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year, while Ryedale Folk Museum and Eden Camp Modern History Museum make learning fun with interactive displays and exhibitions that bring history to life. Dive into the world of geology and dinosaurs at Scarborough’s Rotunda museum, or discover the history of crime and punishment at Ripon’s museums.

Many museums in North Yorkshire are free to visit or ask for a low-cost donation towards admission.


Food, glorious food!

We all know kids are happiest when they have a full tummy, and you’ll find no shortage of cafés, restaurants and farm shops. Whether it’s fish and chips on the beach, a slice of cake or a family meal at a local pub, the market towns and villages of North Yorkshire serve up a variety of budget-friendly options for even the most selective palates.

North Yorkshire is also packed with independent makers and producers offering local delicacies like lemon buns from Whitby based Botham’s and Betty’s famous fat rascal scones plus, for the grown-ups in the group, a surprisingly large range of locally produced gins, rums and beers from the likes of Whitby Gin and Whittaker’s Distillery – perfect for a sundowner to round off the day.


South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough<br />

Getting around

Turn your journey into an adventure! Take a trip by bus and see where you can explore, with single fares capped at just £2 per adult. It’s a cost-effective way to see the sights, as well as a sustainable way to travel. The Coastliner runs all the way from Leeds to Scarborough or Whitby passing scenic villages along the way, plus there’s a well-connected network of bus – and train – stations across the county.

Check out our Sit Back guide for ideas or pick up a copy from your local Tourist Information Centre.


You’ll find lots of family days out, events and festivals across the county – browse our family page for inspiration.