A guide to a good time on the Yorkshire coast whatever the weather

OK, good weather isn't a given on the Yorkshire coast, but a good time is guaranteed, as Jo Haywood discovers Photographs: Welcome to Yorkshire (yorkshire.com)

Are you a bucket, bingo and beach type of family? Or are you too busy mooching round museums and ferreting out fossils for that sort of malarkey? Well, whatever your ideal seaside scenario, you’ll probably find it on the Yorkshire coast.

From tiny fishing villages to bustling resorts, and from rugged cliffs to glorious white sandy beaches, we’ve got the lot, making our coastline one of the UK’s most popular seaside destinations for families.

There are myriad opportunities for fun days’ out (or weeks and months if you’ve got money, stamina and an understanding boss). The only problem is choosing where to go and what to do.

To make things a little easier, we’ve picked out ten family-friendly destinations that really are the boast of our coast.

So, let’s start with bright and breezy Bridlington with its sandy beaches, award-winning promenades and historic harbour. This is the idealplace for families in search of a traditional fun fair, amusements and donkey ride day out.

And if the sun is dragging its heels (In Yorkshire? Surely not), you can always pop into Beside the Seaside, a fun seafront museum that harks back to the resort’s heyday, highlights the famous stars who trod the boards in town, offers trips around the bay (including a smugglers’ lair) and is home to a Punch & Judy show, vintage amusements, interactive games and numerous models.

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If you opt for a nostalgic day out in Filey, famous for its historic promenade and gentle way of life, why not pop into the town’s Bird & Animal Park, which opened as a visitor attraction in 2008. Here you will meet (and feed) all manner of interesting creatures, from giant rabbits and woolly alpacas to spotty pigs and miniature ponies.

There’s even a Worm Wold and Mini-Beast Mansion, where you can get back in touch with nature – literally – by putting your hands in numerous ‘feely boxes’.

Visitors to Flamborough usually make light work of the short trek to the resort’s two ancient lighthouses, surrounded by a wonderfully scenic nature reserve. While over in historic Hornsea it’s all about the award-winning Folk Museum, full of interactive displays and the largest collection of Hornsea Pottery in the world, and Bettison Folly, a grade two listed 19th century building made from local ‘treacle bricks’.

Robin Hood’s Bay is a great example of Yorkshire’s coastline at its most raw and elemental, with its brooding cliffs, huddled former fishing cottages and rocky nooks and crannies. Runswick Bay, on the other hand, is one of the county’s prettiest beach destinations, and has long been a family favourite for rock-pooling and fossil-hunting.

Staithes was once one of the largest fishing ports on the North East coast, but now its higgledy-piggledy cottages and winding streets are home to numerous arts and crafts’ shops and wonderful places to eat and drink.A great day out is virtually guaranteed in Whitby, which was awarded the Best Day Out title by Enjoy England.

But if you only have time to do one thing between posing for a photograph under the whale bone arch and frightening yourself half to death with vampire legends, you should sail serenely into the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which houses a superb collection of original exhibits about Yorkshire’s most famous sea-faring son.

Most people have heard of Whitby, but Withernsea is another seaside story altogether. This cosy coastal haven is ideal for getting away from it all, and boasts some surprising landmarks, including a Napoleonic fortress and a huge nuclear bunker which offers award-winning tours.And last, but definitely not least, we come to Scarborough, the UK’s first seaside resort and still incredibly popular today with visitors looking for that magical combination of tradition and innovation.

There really is something for everyone at this coastal big-hitter, but a must-see for most families is Scarborough Sealife & Marine Sanctuary, where visitors can see 150 species of fish, hold a crab, meet the resident otters, seals and penguins and, new for this year, pop in to the Octopus Garden.

Tell us about your favourite destination on the Yorkshire coastby writing to Yorkshire Life, PO Box 163, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 9AG, emailing feedback@yorkshirelife.co.uk or tweeting @Yorkshire_Life.

Life’s a beach

According to Welcome to Yorkshire, the top ten beaches in Yorkshire are:

Bridlington North – an award-winning Blue Flag sand and shingle beach surrounded by wide promenades set against the impressive Flamborough cliffs.

Whitby – offering something for everyone with its Blue Flag waters for those who like a paddle, fascinating rock pools, spectacular cliffs and clean sandy beaches.

Scarborough North – another Blue Flag family beach backed by hills and cliffs with Scarborough Castle dominating the skyline and a miniature railway skirting the bay.

Cayton Bay – a favourite with surfers, this wide sweeping bay is a magnet for holidaymakers, bird-watchers and fossil-hunters.

Runswick Bay – a small, sheltered beach with rock pools on either side of the bay, this is a picture-postcard village that’s perfect for families and walkers.

Filey – a glorious, copious stretch of golden sand set in a sweeping bay, the beach is protected by the rocky grandeur of Filey Brigg and overlooked by the elegant Edwardian resort with its historical promenade and family-friendly atmosphere.

Danes Dyke – on the south side of the dramatic Flamborough headland, the beach at Danes Dyke is an impressive 1km stretch of sand with striking white pebbles, interesting rock pools and a designated nature reserve.

Sandsend – this small picturesque beach is an ideal family playground as it has a beck for safe paddling and boating for children of all ages.

Hornsea – a Blue Flag beach made up of fine golden sand and shingle alongside a recently revamped promenade.

Spurn Head – providing a unique beach experience, this three-and-a-half mile national nature reserve is a beautiful, peaceful place for bird-watching, sea fishing, walking or a family nature ramble.

The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012  issue of Yorkshire Life 

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