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Discover our top 5 towns to visit in North Yorkshire. Perfectly located between the stunning North Yorkshire Moors and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales with plenty to impress all ages and make magical memories…

Steeped in history, characterful cafes, butchers, bakeries and boutique shops, there’s plenty to explore in these towns.  All close to our luxury holiday cottages, here are our top 5 towns to visit in North Yorkshire… 

1. York

York is within an hour’s drive of any of our luxury holiday cottages in North Yorkshire and is a bustling city filled with exciting and unmissable experiences in our top 5 towns to visit in North Yorkshire. Soak up the history of the city along the quaint cobbled streets along The Shambles, filled with a rich and varied heritage and the impressive architecture of the Gothic cathedral York Minster which was built over 250 years.

Shop till you drop at one of the many unique independent York shops before dining at any of the foodie destinations from fine dining to street food, and of course the world-famous traditional tea rooms with an award-winning afternoon tea at  Bettys. The new kid on the block from the Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks is hugely successful Roots. Save some room for dessert at York’s Chocolate Story where chocolatiers created the world’s finest chocolate and learn the art of the chocolatier, how to make it, taste it and even create your own before seeing how the experts do it.

Hop on an open-top bus and explore over 30 of the finest attractions that this thriving city has to offer with access to world-class museums, galleries, and experiences. One of the main attractions that can’t go amiss is Clifford’s Tower, standing proud at the highest point in York and really is a sight to behold.

The National Railway Museum is one to be explored for engineers of all ages, or for something a little more daring and interactive head to the Jorvik Viking Centre, the gruesome York Dungeons, or the even more frightening Ghost Walk.

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2. Barnard Castle

The historic, market town of Barnard Castle is only a short drive from a number of our large luxury holiday homes, Greenbank Barns, Waterloo Lodge, and Harelands Farm. Named after the castle around which it grew up, ‘Barney’ as it is locally known, is set on a high rock above the River Tees, with stunning views over the Tees Gorge and plenty of riverside walks to discover and keep a lookout for one of the many local kayaking clubs.

Experience the rich history, heritage, and beauty that this unique town of Barnard Castle enjoys with plenty to do for all ages. With a flourishing market held on ‘the cobbles’ in the Market Place every Wednesday alongside plenty of pubs, shops and restaurants to enjoy.

There is plenty to do for families on a day out in Barnard Castle, inspiration for Turner visited by Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell and John Welsey, along with one of the country’s finest art collections at The Bowes Museum.

This is the perfect destination for a day out in Yorkshire, a stone’s throw away from the heart of Teesdale with picturesque villages and scenery with the High Force waterfalls and the natural beauty of the Pennines nearby.

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3. Northallerton

Northallerton is a thriving and bustling market town in the heart of North Yorkshire and an excellent base for exploring both the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors National Parks.

The town is full of life, offering everyday shopping, boutique stores, pubs and tearooms. Head to Lewis and Cooper, a multi-award-winning independent gourmet food store to stock up with plenty of flavoursome food and fine wine for your weekend away. With a decent mix of eateries from pub grub to fine dining as well as local delicatessens and coffee shops, including the famous chain of Bettys Tea Rooms, featured on BBC’s Remarkable Places to Eat. Markets take place every Wednesday and Saturday with fresh local ingredients and a great range of stallholders.

The picturesque village of Osmotherley is only a short drive from Northallerton with plenty on offer for families, walkers and couples. Most popular for its walking routes, Osmotherley is famous for the three major walks which pass through the village, the Coast to Coast Walk, The Cleveland Way and The Lyke Wake Walk. With three local pubs, an award-winning fish and chip shop, a coffee shop, as well as a village store with a small delicatessen on offer, there is also plenty to get back to! Sheepwash is a popular picnic spot for families nearby, combined with a walk around the nearby beauty spot of Cod Beck Reservoir, surrounded by woodland and nature, this is a picturesque and easy stroll of under two miles. For a day out with a difference, book a session at Thimbleby Shooting Ground and enjoy a day shooting clays or simply pop in for a coffee and enjoy the picturesque rural setting.

Mount Grace Priory is a 3-mile gentle walk from the center of the village and is one of only nine Carthusian priories founded in this country and is the best-preserved.

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4. Harrogate

Set in the heart of Yorkshire, Harrogate is a popular destination with tourists and locals alike and sits proudly on our top 5 towns to visit in North Yorkshire. The town offers historic houses, castles, and abbeys alongside some of Yorkshire’s finest countryside as well as picturesque parks and gardens to discover. Renowned for its smart little tearooms and fascinating shops spilling out onto pavements, Harrogate provides a relaxing escape in Yorkshire where you can indulge in an antiques hunt in the morning followed by lunch at the famous Bettys tearoom and then a visit for some pure relaxation at the luxurious Turkish baths. Treat yourself to an evening champagne picnic in the floral Valley Gardens, Spring is a great time to visit as flowers come into bloom and the Harrogate Flower Show brightens up the town.

Lovers of local delicacies and fresh international produce shouldn’t miss the BBC Good Food Show in April or the Great Yorkshire Show which happens every July, featuring food stalls, livestock and agriculture from around the region.

Families can visit Log Heights at Ripley Castle for an adventure day with a difference. From jumping into the sky to catch a trapeze to problem-solving closer to the ground, this is a family day out with a difference! Newby Hall is one of England’s finest houses and is fun for all ages with 25 acres of award-winning gardens to enjoy as well as a children’s adventure garden with a fort and water play features; a miniature railway to ride, a woodland discovery walk, and a contemporary sculpture park.

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5. Ripon

Ripon balances a rich cultural heritage with its exciting contemporary living with its imposing 7th-century cathedral dominating the city’s skyline, along with its bustling market square, there is something on offer for all ages.

The market square is very much the heart and soul of Ripon, proudly retaining its tradition of the hornblower who can be found ‘setting the watch’ every evening around 9 pm.  The streets are lined with medieval and Georgian buildings filled with a diverse range of stores from independent boutiques to High Street chains offering high-end fashion and traditional gifts.

The Cathedral provides a sanctuary on a rainy day for all of the family and is a beautiful focal point as you stroll the city’s streets and relax in one of many award-winning cafés.

The perfect family-friendly day out is not far at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a stunning World Heritage Site run by the National Trust and one of the largest and best-preserved monastery ruins in England. Whether you’re looking to soak up the history and atmosphere or to explore the miles of award-winning scenic gardens and tranquil moon ponds or discover deer in the deer park, Fountains Abbey will always have a special place in your memory.

For an action-packed family day out, it’s got to be Lightwater Valley Theme Park. There are over 40 exciting attractions for thrill-seekers of all ages, with rides for Jaw Droppers, Whipper Snappers and Nippers alike.

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