The town might have attracted visitors from across the world during its peak as a spa town, but the surrounding region has historical buildings dating back to the 7th century, while in RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate has one of the best-kept and most popular gardens in the north.
Three miles north of Harrogate, there’s no better place to start your sightseeing trip than Ripley Castle and its wonderful gardens. Open year-round, the castle dates back to the 14th century and is a Grade I-listed building that has seen a lot of action over the centuries. From welcoming kings to playing a small but important role in the Gunpowder Plot, the walls have a lot of tales to tell. Adult entry to the castle includes free year-round entry to the gardens, which contain a large deer park, walled garden and a small kids’ playground. Castle tours take around an hour, and there’s a dog-friendly tea house on-site for lunch and snacks.
Dating back to the 7th century, Ripon Cathedral is still an active church and contains the original 7th century crypt. Originally founded by Scottish monks in the 660s, the cathedral is notable for its gothic style and its geometric east window. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful guides and advisors on-site who will explain the church’s rich history between 10am and 4.30pm each day. Music is a big part of the cathedral’s history, with the 1926 organ as the centrepiece of its regular choir and orchestra events.
Back in Harrogate town centre, St. Peter’s Church rounds out our selection of historic buildings. Restored to its 1870s peak, the church holds 24 traditional and more contemporary services every week. It looks to play a big part in Harrogate life, with regular donations of food parcels for the homeless. The church itself is a striking building with sandstone columns and carvings, stained glass windows and impressive oak panelling.
The last main town before the vast green expanse of the Yorkshire Dales park, Harrogate is a wonderful gateway for exploring Yorkshire’s great outdoors. But you needn’t leave the town’s confines to get your dose of fresh air. Valley Gardens is a stunning 17-acre park full of formal gardens, herb beds, woodland and intertwining paths: perfect for couples and families of all ages. Aside from the open skies and plethora of trees and shrubs, the park is home to some impressive leisure facilities – tee off at the crazy golf, play pitch and putt, try your hand at table tennis or ollie your way around the skatepark. Or just grab a coffee at the Magnesia Well café and watch the world go by: all just half a mile from our Town Centre hotel.
A little further out of town is RHS Garden Harlow Carr: a sumptuous 68-acre valley site taking in everything from wild woodland to wildflower meadows. An adaptable garden that suits every season, you can also pick up expert tips in their Kitchen Garden centre, let kids explore the Craggle Top Treehouse and smell your way around the scented garden. Just make sure to stop off at the Bettys Tea Room on-site for a cuppa before you go – you won’t be queuing for as long as the one in town and the fine views over the gardens are worth the three-mile drive.
Another green hot spot is The Pinewoods, which links Harrogate town centre with the Valley Gardens and RHS Garden Harlow Carr. A mix of woodland trails and tarmac paths, there’s plenty of parking at Crag Lane, with signposted walks up to four miles long. If you’re looking to kick a ball around or go kite-flying, head to The Stray: a 200-acre expanse of grassland that encircles the old town of Harrogate. The best time to visit is spring, when millions of crocus flowers emerge in synchronised colours.
Finally, Fewston Reservoir is a great place to blow off some steam. A four-mile circular trek, it takes in spectacular views across Yorkshire and the reservoir, with well-maintained paths, toilets near the dam and – if you’re lucky – an ice cream van for a mid-walk treat.
Home to Harrogate Town FC, CNG Stadium is a 4,000-capacity ground in the heart of Harrogate.
Recently redeveloped, the stadium boasts a cutting-edge 3G surface, meaning games can be played safely all year round with no water or snow damage. The Envirovent and Henderson Insurance Stands were completed in 2013, and with a fully professional team from 2017, the stadium and team are looking to advance up the leagues. The 1919 bar is the best place to soak in the atmosphere before and after games, with more hospitality options and terraced seating planned for the near future. The 1919 venue is also rented out to promoters and is popular for theme parties and tribute nights.