In the English county of North Yorkshire, you’ll find the beautiful spa town of Harrogate.
It’s is known for its picturesque landscape and high quality of life, and is widely considered to be among the best places to reside in England.
The history of this spa town can be traced back to the 18th century, when wealthy aristocrats, and businessmen, began to visit the town because of its sulphur, iron, and salt-rich waters.
These travellers brought to the town some of the most exquisite architecture, quaint streets, gardens, tea houses, galleries, and theatres.
Today, Harrogate is known as a popular tourist destination that it is home to a number of attractions, including one of the gardens maintained by the Royal Horticultural Society.
In addition, the neighbouring dales have many lovely castle ruins, magnificent houses, and millstone grit rock formations that are well worth seeing.
Things To Do In Harrogate
1. Brimham Rocks
Located 8 miles north-west of Harrogate, the Brimham Rocks are a fascinating geological structure.
Over the course of time, wind, water, and glaciers carved the rocks, which resulted in the millstone grit formations that can be found dotted around the moorland, meadows, and woodlands.
These natural rock formations, such as Dancing Bear, Camel, Turtle, Watchdog, and Sphinx, have been given interesting names, and make great photo opportunities.
Idol Rock, which is a massive boulder that is perched on a small outcrop, is the most well-known formation at Brimham Rocks.
This National Trust site is free for everyone but non-members do have to pay to park.
Address: Brimham Rocks, Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate HG3 4DW
2. Valley Gardens
Valley Gardens in Harrogate are 17-acres of English Heritage Grade II listed gardens located next to the Pine woods woodlands.
In the middle of Valley Gardens is Bogs Field, which contains a large number of mineral springs.
This lovely park is a fitting tribute to the heyday of Harrogate’s career as a spa town, with the grounds containing structures such as the Magnesia Well Cafe, the Games Pavilion, and the Sun Pavilion.
In addition, guests can have fun with a crazy golf course, boating pond, tennis courts, a children’s play area, paddling pool and the pitch and putt course.
Valley Gardens is family friendly and open year round, with the park and most of its facilities free to use.
Address: Valley Gardens, Valley Dr, Harrogate HG1 2SZ
3. The Stray
The Stray is a large 200 acres of parkland located near the centre of Harrogate.
This beautiful city park is always well-maintained and full of interesting sights to see.
In the springtime, the crocuses, daffodils, and cherry trees are in bloom, and the park is surrounded by cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch.
Address: The Stray, 16 W Park, Harrogate HG1 1BJ
4. Montpellier Quarter
Harrogate’s Montpellier Quarter is a particularly lovely section of the city centre.
It is home to a significant number of antique shops, art galleries, and upscale boutiques.
Located on the western side of Harrogate town centre, the Quarter also features some lovely pavement cafes, award winning restaurants and fun bars.
The cobbled streets provide an air of enchantment to the area, making it the ideal spot to go shopping for the afternoon.
Address: Montpellier Quarter, Harrogate
5. Royal Pump Room Museum
Due to the high concentration of sulphur in the water, Harrogate became a renowned spa destination throughout the Victorian era.
The Royal Pump Room was built in 1842 by Isaac Shutt with the purpose of providing shelter for the town’s rich visitors as they indulged in the spa waters.
Famous people who were suffering from a variety of illnesses, such as Tsarina Alexandra of Russia and Charles Dickens, travelled to this town in the hope of finding a cure.
The museum gives visitors a look into what life was like in this thriving resort town when it was at the height of its popularity, despite the fact that the spa is no longer in operation.
Although this is a small museum, it is very family friendly and has fascinating displays and a Spa Trail to complete.
Address: Royal Pump Room Museum, Crown Pl, Harrogate HG1 2RY
6. Royal Hall
The Royal Hall is often ranked as one of the most sought after locations in all of Harrogate.
It is a Grade II-listed building that has a seating capacity of around one thousand people.
Royal Hall is jam-packed with performances with musicals, plays, ballet, and concerts.
You won’t want to miss the annual Harrogate Comedy Festival, which takes place in October and features some of the biggest stars in stand-up comedy.
Address: Royal Hall, Ripon Rd, Harrogate HG1 2SY
7. Betty’s Tea Room
Frederick Belmont, a Swiss baker, established Bettys Tea Rooms in 1919.
After one hundred years in business, the establishment is now run by the fourth generation of the family and provides breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.
The afternoon tea served at Betty’s is responsible for much of the restaurant’s stellar reputation.
It features finger sandwiches, intricate handcrafted cakes, scones, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves.
Entering Betty’s feels like stepping back in time to another era of elegance and old world charm.
Address: Betty’s Tea Room, 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate HG1 2QU
8. Mercer Art Gallery
Located in Harrogate’s former promenade rooms, the Mercer Art Gallery is home to an enormous art collection including modern fine art.
The collection features pieces created by notable artists such as Edward Burne-Jones, John Atkinson Grimshaw, and William Powell Firth, amongst others.
Additionally, the collection contains works by contemporary artists and works by excellent regional artists.
Around 2,000 paintings, drawings, and prints are currently on display at any given time in the Mercer Gallery, which organises rotating short-term exhibitions on a wide variety of artistic topics.
Great for any art lover, this is a gallery full of paintings, photography, sculpture and crafts, and is free to enter.
Address: Mercer Art Gallery, 31 Swan Rd, Harrogate HG1 2SA
9. Harrogate Turkish baths
The Harrogate Turkish baths are a wonderful location to unwind and get away from the rush and bustle of everyday life.
The steam room, plunge pool, and spa in the bathhouse are all exquisitely crafted with mosaics and terrazzo floors that can be found everywhere.
Harrogate Turkish baths are the ideal location to relax and unwind in the mineral-rich waters while letting the concerns of daily life slip away.
Visitors are able to experience all of the rejuvenating effects of the spa and the bathhouse also provides a selection of massages and other forms of therapy.
Address: Harrogate Turkish baths, Parliament Street, Harrogate HG1 2WH
10. Ripley Castle
For more than seven hundred years, members of the Ingilby family have called Ripley Castle home and the chronicles of the family can be viewed by guests that visit the castle.
In addition, there is an Old Tower that is adorned with old books, wood panelling, pottery, chandeliers, and armour.
Visitors can take a Castle tour which includes the Knight’s Chamber where you can discover the secret priest’s hiding place.
The woodland surrounding the castle comes alive with the blooming of 150,000 gorgeous bulbs, as well as the National Hyacinth Collection.
The grounds have a “Play Trail” for children, so all the family can enjoy.
Address: Ripley Castle, Ripley, Harrogate HG3 3AY
11. RHS Harlow Carr Gardens
Harlow Carr is a beautiful garden located in the western suburbs of Harrogate.
The total area of the garden is thirty acres, and it features a wide range of distinct gardens and landscapes, including the scented garden that is filled with stunning plants and flowers.
The evolution garden is one of the most visited sections of the park because it illustrates how horticulture and fashion have evolved through the years.
In addition, there is a mountain lodge, an arboretum, an Alpine House and a culinary garden.
Visitors can take a tranquil stroll through the bluebell-carpeted woodland or take a leisurely stroll around the lake that is named after the Queen Mother.
Address: RHS Harlow Carr gardens, Crag Ln, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB
12. Knaresborough Castle
In close proximity to the Harrogate Golf Course you’ll find Knaresborough Castle.
Although much of the stone from the castle was reused for other buildings in the town, some of it is still there today.
There is a museum close by that is housed in the adjacent courthouse.
The museum showcases items from the Tudor period as well as reconstructions of what the castle would have looked like in the 1300s.
Address: Knaresborough Castle, Castle Yard, Knaresborough HG5 8AS
13. Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is approximately 39 miles from Harrogate and is great for a day trip.
Many visitors come to the Dales to walk and there many walking route suggestions with each walk having a detailed map and some having an audio guide.
There is so much to see and experience in the area, including waterfalls, rivers and lakes it is also a popular venue for a variety of water sports including kayaking, canoeing, sailing and windsurfing.
Address: Bainbridge, Leyburn DL8 3EL
14. Pateley Bridge
Pateley Bridge is located 11 miles from Harrogate, in the heart of Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Hugely popular with tourists, this picturesque town has an award-winning high street that makes a great photo opportunity.
Here visitors can find locally produced food and drink, gifts and souvenirs as well as traditional Yorkshire hospitality in cafes, pubs, restaurants and tearooms.
Address: Pateley Bridge, Harrogate, HG3 5PJ
Is Harrogate worth visiting?
Harrogate is definitely worth a visit with plenty of fun things to do and includes outdoor activities, green spaces, tennis courts, landscaped gardens and historic houses.
The town is one of the most prettiest and affluent towns in the UK.
Great for day trips from larger areas such as Leeds or York.
What is the main shopping street in Harrogate town centre?
Harrogate town centre has some very good shopping areas including the Victoria Centre, an indoor mall with a variety of shops and cafes.
There is also Beulah Street, Parliament Street with a wide range of boutique and designer shopping and Commercial Street that has a range of independent shops.
What day is the market on in Harrogate?
Built in the 12th century, the market square hosts the traditional market on a Thursday.