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The spa town of Harrogate combines leafy parks and rolling countryside with cosmopolitan cocktail bars and stylish shopping: the ideal combination for long summer days, weekend getaways and mid-week adventures. Here at Harrogate Holidays we have compiled ten of our favourite summer activities. Take a look at start planning your summer break to Harrogate!
1. Head to the Great Yorkshire Show
The three-day Great Yorkshire Show is one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK with shopping marquees, spectacular displays and farmyard animals galore. It’s a celebration of the best of the Yorkshire countryside and takes place during the second week of July at the Great Yorkshire Showground. There’s so much to see at the Great Yorkshire Show that it’s impossible to do it all in one day. We recommend staying for at least a couple of days so that you can take your time exploring the marquees and stalls and really get the most out of this fabulous event. Why not take a look at our Harrogate cottages to find a place to stay?
Find out more in our guide: Getaway to the Great Yorkshire Show.
2. Pack a picnic and eat it on The Stray
The Stray is a majestic 200-acre stretch of parkland that’s free for anyone (including doggies) to enjoy during a visit to Harrogate. It’s particularly popular during the warm summer months when you can take a gentle stroll along tree-lined paths or set down a blanket and catch a bit of summer sun.
If you are feeling particularly energetic, you can play a game of rounders or, for a more sedate afternoon, simply watch the world go by while enjoying a picnic.
Weetons Food Hall is just a short walk from The Stray and is the perfect choice for picking up some delicious local goodies for a tasty picnic. Our top picks include Harrogate Blue Cheese, Botham’s of Whitby Biscuits and some Bracken Hill chutney.
3. Enjoy the gardens at RHS Harlow Carr
There’s always something gorgeous to see at RHS Harlow Carr but the summer season at this beautiful Harrogate garden is particularly stunning.
The site of this Royal Horticultural Society garden covers 68 acres of Yorkshire countryside so there’s a variety of landscapes to enjoy including pretty wildflower meadows and peaceful woodland walks. The Streamside Garden is the longest of its kind in the UK, covering the whole length of RHS Harlow Carr, so makes a great choice for a stroll along the water.
RHS Harlow Carr is just one of the many gardens to visit in Harrogate. For more inspiration, read our guide to Glorious Gardens in and around Harrogate.
4. Walk through the Nidderdale countryside with (or without) a llama
Harrogate is surrounded by the rolling hills of Nidderdale: an area so gorgeous that it’s been officially deemed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There’s an array of scenic walks to try but one of our favourite ways to travel through Nidderdale believe it or not, is alongside a llama (or an alpaca). Nidderdale Llamas offer the chance to trek through the countryside with a friendly llama or alpaca by your side; you can choose from various options including half day walks, full day treks or shorter strolls.
If you prefer to walk minus the llama, there are plenty of Nidderdale routes to try including the Nidderdale Way, a circular 53-mile walk that starts and finishes in Pateley Bridge, and the Blubberhouses Tree Trail.
Discover more trails in Walk the wilds of North Yorkshire
5. Witness a miracle at Mother Shipton’s Cave
Mother Shipton’s Cave is the oldest visitors’ attraction in England and people have flocked to this Knaresborough park since the 17th century. Once the home of famous prophetess ‘Mother Shipton’, the magical waters at its Petrifying Cave turn everyday objects into stone and are said to have healing powers.
Today this dog-friendly attraction near Harrogate is as popular as ever. Visitors can discover the history of Mother Shipton, make a wish in the magical waters and see some of the historic items that have been turned to stone - the most famous of which is one of Queen Mary’s shoes from 1923.
The woodland setting of Mother Shipton’s Cave includes plenty of scenic walking paths and the park includes an adventure playground for children.
Take a look at our great selection of holiday cottages near Knaresborough.
6. Have some summertime family fun
Taking part in a treasure trail around Harrogate is a fun way to discover many of the town’s historic locations. There’s something really satisfying about solving the clues in a treasure hunt and it’s a great way to bring the whole family together
Alternatively, you can go a bit more hi-tech and try a bit of geocaching around Harrogate - all you need is a Smartphone and the Geocaching app.
If you’re looking for some fun summertime activities to keep children entertained, The Valley Gardens in Harrogate includes an adventure playground, a boating pool and crazy golf: perfect for spending some quality outdoors time together.
We can't always guarantee the weather in the UK so if you're faced with rain - or you want to get out of the summer sun - then Everyman Cinema is stylish way to catch a film. The cinema seats come with little wooden tables where you can keep freshly made food and drinks while enjoying the latest blockbuster.
7. Browse quirky boutiques and shop till you drop
Whether you like big-name stores or quirky boutiques, Harrogate comes with a range of shopping choices. The Montpellier Quarter has a cosmopolitan feel and its cobbled streets and pavement cafes make it the ideal spot for mooching around and discovering stylish independents and antique shops.
If you prefer a range of top brands in one place, head to Hoopers Department Store, or for something a little different, try Cold Bath Street. It has been dubbed Harrogate’s Notting Hill comprising of some great unique and cool, quirky stores.
Discover some of the best shops in our Harrogate Shopping guide.
8. Treat yourself to a tipple
What could be a more sophisticated way to spend a summer’s day than by enjoying an afternoon tea with friends? Bettys Tea Room is famous for classic cakes and pastries and a Lady Betty Afternoon Tea is the perfect way to sample their tasty treats - glass of prosecco optional.
If you are partial to a G&T, the Spirit of Harrogate (distiller of Slingsby Gin) is based just down the road from Bettys. You can pop into their shop for samples, limited edition flavours or even one of their bookable gin experiences.
To round off the day with a cocktail, we recommend heading to the West Park Bar where you can sip a French martini while looking out over the The Stray. Alternatively, The Ginnel is a Harrogate street that’s filled with cool independent bars like Major Tom’s Social, Foundry Project and Porco Rosso.
9. Discover Harrogate’s artisan food producers
Yorkshire has built a reputation in recent years for producing top-quality artisan food and Harrogate has a fantastic range of food and drinks suppliers including Bettys, Weetons, Fodder and Slingsby Gin. One of the best ways to seek out new favourites is at a foodie event such as the Harrogate Food and Drink Festival which takes place in the grounds of Ripley Castle from the 24th - 26th August.
On top of an array of fantastic foodie stalls, there is also live music to enjoy and demonstrations from top local chefs.
You can pick up Yorkshire cheeses, relishes, wine and even some Yorkshire-made chorizo from Three Little Pigs.
10. Unwind with a relaxing spa day
Harrogate is well-known as one of the UK’s leading spa towns so where better to enjoy a world-class spa day than in its leafy surroundings! The most historic spa in Harrogate is the traditional Turkish Baths which dates back to Victorian times and has retained lots of original features and character with moorish design, glazed brickwork and an Italian mosaic floor.
However, if you fancy something a little more state-of-the-art, we recommend heading to Rudding Park. This world-class Harrogate spa had a multi-million pound makeover in recent years and now boasts a rooftop spa garden that’s just right for summer. The impressive spa facilities include a hydrotherapy infinity pool, sunlight therapy room and a panoramic sauna.
Have a read of our guide to spas in Harrogate and discover the best places to relax and unwind.
Book your summer break to Harrogate
This is just a small selection of the reasons to visit Harrogate this summer but there is always something new to seek out and discover in this handsome Yorkshire spa town.
Harrogate combines the best of town and countryside living making it an ideal choice for a summer holiday, mid-week break or weekend getaway.
If you have been inspired to visit this year, whether with family, friends, or with your other half, browse our range of Harrogate apartments and holiday cottages and find the perfect one for you. Options range from 5-star apartments in the centre of town to dog-friendly cottages in Harrogate’s leafy suburbs.