Things to do in Scarborough with kids

Things to do in Scarborough with kids

Whether you’re planning a holiday or looking for an afternoon of entertainment, there’s plenty of things to do in Scarborough with kids. From beach adventures to museum trips and forest explorations to train rides, this traditional seaside town has lots to offer. I grew up in Scarborough and love taking my little adventurers back there now. It’s the perfect place for a family holiday and has lots to suit all ages from toddlers to teens.

Things to do in Scarborough with kids

If you’re hunting for things to do in Scarborough with kids, then hopefully I’ve got you covered. My little adventurers are currently two and five and we are spoilt for choice when we have our holidays at the seaside. Of course, the beaches are the main attraction and we can spend hours there no matter what the weather. (And we have been the only ones on the beach in the pouring rain many times!) 

But what I also think is really good, is that there are plenty of inside options too. (Just in case of that previously mentioned rain!)

So, in no particular order, here are some of our favourite activities and days out in Scarborough.

Best things to do in Scarborough with under 10s

  • Visit the North and South Bay beaches
  • Get up close with the creatures at the Sealife Centre
  • Go for a ride on the North Bay Railway
  • Get your history fix at the Rotunda Museum
  • Check out the art at Scarborough Art Gallery
  • Hire a pedalo and float around Peasholm Park

The North and South Bay beaches

Of course, no one can visit Scarborough without a trip to the beach. Scarborough has two lovely sandy beaches.

On the quieter North Bay you can rent a beach hut and spend the day playing beach games, building sandcastles and eating ice-cream to your heart’s content. Stop for lunch at The Watermark Cafe or cool down with an ice-cream from Peaches ‘n’ Cream.

Beach huts in Scarborough
Colour co-ordinating with the beach huts on Scarborough’s North Bay

If you’re looking for a bit more action, over on the South Bay you have your traditional arcades and fish and chip shops. In the summer there’s donkey rides for little ones. You can also pop into Scarborough Lifeboat Station to see a lifeboat and learn more about the crew.

Stop for lunch at The Bay View Coffee Shop and don’t miss my favourite ice cream at The Harbour Bar, which has been serving ice cream since 1945! 

The South Bay is also where the town’s famous Skipping Day takes place each year on Shrove Tuesday.

Scarborough Sealife Centre

My kids number one choice of what to do during a holiday in Scarborough is visit the Sealife Centre. The indoor aquarium is home to more than 2500 sea creatures, including seals, penguins and otters. It also has a seal hospital, which cares for wild seals which are injured before releasing them back into the wild.

Visiting Scarborough Sealife Centre
Under the sea at Scarborough Sealife Centre

Personally, I find the tickets quite pricey (from £16 adult; £14.50 a child if purchased in advance. Under 3s are free.) However, a good way to reduce the cost is with Kelloggs Merlin Fun vouchers, which allows you to buy one get one free. 

North Bay Railway

Another big hit is the North Bay Railway, which runs from Peasholm Station to Scalby Mills (near the Sealife Centre).

Dubbed as “Britain’s biggest miniature railway” it’s a really fun activity for little and big train enthusiasts alike.

Return tickets are £5.40 for an adult and £4.90 for a child. 

The Rotunda Museum

The Rotunda Museum overlooks the South Bay and is Scarborough’s Museum of Coastal Heritage and Geology. While it’s small, I think it has a great amount for kids to do, including activity trails and hands on activities in a little backpack. During your visit you can check out dinosaur footprints, fossils and some of the sea creatures which once lived in the area.

If you’re visiting in the school holidays and looking for things to do in Scarborough with kids, be sure to check out the Rotunda’s website for special events.

When it comes to admission I honestly think this is one of the biggest bargains in Scarborough, particularly if you live in the town. An annual pass, which gives you access to both the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery is £3. Children are free. 

Scarborough Art Gallery

We recently visited Scarborough Art Gallery for the first time in years and I was amazed at how much it has changed since I used to visit. It now has lots of hands-on activities for kids, including an iPad which brings some of the paintings ‘to life’ with movement and audio. There is also a beautiful felted seaside scene, which my little adventures spent ages playing with.

Visiting Scarborough Art Gallery
Exploring the felted seascape at Scarborough Art Gallery

As well as its permanent art collection, the gallery also hosts regular temporary exhibitions. There is also a large art room, where children are welcome to make their own creations with the materials on offer. In the school holidays special workshops are also held.

Like the Rotunda Museum, annual admission is £3 for both museums. Children are free. 

Peasholm Park

Peasholm Park in Scarborough is another favourite with my little adventurers. It’s an oriental themed park, with lots of little waterfalls and mini bridges to explore. You can venture over to the island in the middle of the lake to climb the walkways or hire a rowing boat or dragon themed pedalo to see the sights from the water.

In the summer holidays there is a Naval Warfare show, where miniature boats battle it out on the water. Plus, for dinosaur fans you can download an app which allows you to spot different species of dinosaurs hiding around the park.

Access to the park is free. There are charges for the boats and Naval Warfare show.

Best things to do with teenagers in Scarborough

  • Step back in time at Scarborough Castle
  • Make a splash at Alpamare
  • Dance the night away at Scarborough Open Air Theatre
  • Ride a wave with a surf lesson
  • Aim for a strike at bowling
  • Make a cute new friend at Scarborough’s cat cafe

Scarborough Castle

Dig into 3,000 years of history at the ruins of Scarborough Castle. Developed by Henry II and King John in the 12th century, this 16 acre site has seen action in some of England’s most defining battes. You can take an audio tour around the ruins and climb to viewing platforms in some of the towers to see the view of the town’s two bays which made its location so important.

The site is now owned by English Heritage and special events are held during the school holidays. Prices vary depending on dates, but family tickets start from £21.


Scarborough outdoor swimming pool Alpamare is sure to be a hit with teens. In fact, if you’re looking for things to do in Scarborough with kids, it’s probably going to be a winner with all ages. It has four water slides, a large wave pool and a warm outdoor garden pool. It also has an infinity pool, which overlooks the North Bay.

It’s pretty pricey, with peak prices £19 for adults, £18 for 16-17-year-olds, £15 for 6-15-year-olds and £9 for 1-5-year-olds. Prices are cheaper off peak though.

Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Nothing is going to get you more bonus points, than getting your teen tickets to see their favoruite band. Performances at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre happen mainly in the summer months and this year Tom Grennan, Olly Murs and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man will perform. Ticket prices vary, depending on the artist.

Scarborough Surf School

If you’ve got an active teen, they’ll be spoilt for choice with the options on offer from Scarborough Surf School. From surfing lessons and stand up paddleboarding sessions to coasteering, a combination of adventure swimming, cliff climbing and jumping into the sea.

Prices vary depending on which activity you choose to do.

Bowling at Olympia Scarborough

A game of bowling is perfect for all the family. Head to Olympia, which has 12 lanes in its bowling alley. It also has a snack bar and balcony overlooking the South Bay.

One game of bowling for a family of 4 is £21 off-peak or £25 peak times.

Steampuss Cat Lounge

If you have animal loving teens, treat them to tea and cake at Steampuss Cat Lounge. This Scarborough cat cafe is home to a number of feline friends and visitors can enjoy being in a relaxing environment with them.

The experience is an hour long and is £6 for adults, £5 for children (aged 4-15; under 3s not permitted.) This does not include food or drink. 

Family-friendly accommodation in Scarborough

There is plenty of family-friendly accommodation in Scarborough, at all price points. So whether you’re looking for a hotel or apartment, or you need somewhere that accepts dogs or has extra room for surfboards, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs. 

Here’s some of the highlights:

The Sands – Sea Front Apartments

If you want to be able to get up each day and roll straight onto the beach, you can’t get much closer than The Sands. These 5-star luxury apartments have received great reviews from previous visitors. Located on the North Bay they are a great option for family-friendly accommodation in Scarborough. We often prefer to stay in apartments with our little adventurers, as it means once they are in bed in the evening we have somewhere to sit and relax. One of the things I love about The Sand’s sea view apartments is that they have balconies, which will be a perfect way for parents to end the day after putting your little ones to bed. The apartments also have free parking and there is a fitness centre guests can use.

Bike & Boot Inn

If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel in Scarborough which also accommodates your four-legged friends, then the Bike & Boot Inn is a good dog-friendly option. Close to the South Bay, it has a range of different size rooms, including suites which have a separate lounge area. The Retreat lounge area offers complimentary hot drinks and cakes in the afternoon. Plus The Film Club shows free movies three times a day, which may be useful entertainment on rainy days! It also has a designated space for storing surfboards, washing muddy boots and sorting out your bike. You can also hire an electric road bike if you fancy exploring the wider area on two wheels.

Park Manor Hotel

Handily located opposite Peasholm Park, the Park Manor Hotel is a good family-friendly option if you’re looking for somewhere with a pool. It offers family rooms for two adults and two children and you can book meals in the restaurant. It also has a games room, as well as a jacuzzi and steam room at the pool. 

I hope this post has given you plenty of ideas for things to do in Scarborough with kids. Plus, if you have time to visit some of the other best beaches in North Yorkshire, check out this post.

As always, if you have any other questions about my hometown then please drop me a line!