We’ve just come back from a fabulous family holiday in Whitby. Yes, you did read that right: North East England in March. It wasn’t the warmest holiday ever, but we had a brilliant time, and it was a fantastic place to go with a baby and a preschooler.
Tim loves the North East coast, and will take up any opportunity to get over there. So when I realised that this year, for the last year in a very very long time, we aren’t restricted to taking our holidays in term time, he suggested a week in Whitby. It’s a good travelling distance from us, and we knew that we would find enough to keep us entertained there. Plus, we’re a bit partial to some good fish and chips.
We stayed in a new-build home, which was perhaps a bit different to what we’d have gone for before children. The quaint cottages are very picturesque, but not so good if you’ve got young children toddling around and needing space. The house did mean that we had to drive into town, and parking charges apply everywhere, so it’s worth considering your priorities when you book.
With it being out of season, we had to look hard for things to entertain us. We were lucky enough to get good weather most of the days, but bear in mind that most things don’t open for the summer until Easter, so some of the farm parks were closed, and the North York Moors Steam Train wasn’t running. We still managed to find lots to do though.
So here are the best things we discovered in and around Whitby…
- 1. Whitby Beach
- The beach at Whitby – and all along that coast – is just gorgeous. Clean, sandy, and almost deserted in many cases. We spent hours playing football and cricket and just running around on the beach. I honestly think Ben would have been happy to spend every single hour of daylight on the beach.
2. Sandsend Beach
- Just down the road from Whitby is Sandsend Beach. This is a gorgeous beach, with lots of rockpools and opportunities for fossil hunting.
- 3. Dalby Forest
- This was probably one of the best things we did. The Great Yorkshire Forest is brilliant, and had trails suitable for all ages and abilities. With a pram and a preschooler, we did the Stick Man trail. We also discovered the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Child on route, before spending at least two hours playing in the best adventure playground ever! A bonus of going out of season what that the forest, and the play area, were really quiet. I’d highly recommend this as a day out, although it wasn’t really advertised anywhere.
4. Lunch at The Harbour in Whitby
This is a really nice restaurant – not one that you’d think would be suitable for children. But we had a gorgeous lunch where Tim and I both ate lobster, and Ben was very happy with his children’s menu and games provided. They have a great lunchtime meal deal, although if we’d had the chance to get a babysitter I’d have happily gone there for an evening as well.
Whitby is about a 45 minute drive from Scarborough, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to get over there. There are some lovely independent shops and cafes – I had really good coffee in Greensmith and Thackeray, and could have spent a fortune in Prilly’s Pantry (both on St Nicholas Street). There’s also a few museums, an art gallery, and, of course, the beach.
6. Fish and Chips on the sea front
We went to The Magpie for our fish and chip lunch, which was really delicious. They had a good children’s menu, and even provided a bouncy chair for Samuel. However, it is probably the least accessible restaurant I’ve ever been too, as there are so many steps! Probably best for when you don’t have a pram or pushchair with you – Tim carried Samuel all the way from the car, and I fetched the pram afterwards.
7. A boat trip out in Whitby Bay
I hadn’t really thought about it, but Ben had never been on a boat in his memory. So on the first morning, we took a 20 minute trip out into the harbour. This was an absolute highlight for him. Although it was a bit windy and cold, the views were spectacular, and 20 minutes was about the perfect amount of time for him.
8. The Rotunda Museum
Ben loved The Rotunda Museums so much that I thought it deserved it’s own entry in the list, although it is in Scarborough. The reason? It was full of dinosaurs, including an almost complete Plesiosaur fossil. It had a great play area, and even a dinosaur costume which he wore to look around. We accessorised with the explorers’ hats.
9. LilMonsterz Soft Play
When you go on holiday in the UK in March, you have to expect rain on one day. And we did have one day of horrible, misty rain. But we discovered this brilliant soft play. The strange thing is, it doesn’t really seem to be advertised anywhere. It’s on the outskirts of Whitby, and during the day, even a rainy day, it was deserted. Ben had the whole run of the place, and declared it was the best soft play every.
I didn’t really take any toys to entertain Samuel away with us – he mostly was content to lie on a blanket and wriggle. But after 5 days of that, he was so happy to be put on a play mat in the baby area!
10. The 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey looks over the harbour and out to sea. The architecture really dominates the skyline. So heading up there to have a look is definitely worthwhile. If your children can count up to 199, counting the steps will be fun as well.
We loved our holiday to Whitby – we’ll definitely be heading back again.