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A day by the sea in Saltburn - How to enjoy a low cost family day out in Yorkshire

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, located at the top of the North York Moors, is a beautiful traditional seaside town. Its charm comes from its Victorian fixtures that dominate the town. As well as its independent shops, eateries and endless amenities to suit all ages this is the quintessential location for a low cost family day out in Yorkshire. The North York Moors is more than just heather moorland and deep wooded dales, it also boasts 26 miles of coastline along with heritage attractions making it the ideal base for your UK staycation or a family friendly day out.

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August 6, 2023


North York Moors National Park Summer campaign - #Let'sMakeMemories

A trip to the seaside is one of our all time favourite family days out and Saltburn is usually top of the list. For us, a trip to the seaside is all about getting some fresh sea air, playing on the beach, dipping our toes in the water, and getting an ice cream. That memory has stayed with me since my childhood and I hope it stays with my children.

North York Moors National Park’s Summer campaign is #LetsMakeMemories and a trip to the Yorkshire Coast certainly fits the bill. We were challenged with having a low cost family day out in Yorkshire for less than £50. A family day out does not need to be expensive. Pack the picnic, fill the snack bag and get out exploring the great outdoors.

The Victorian seaside town of Saltburn - what is it's charm?

So what did we (along with our adventure buddies) get up to in Saltburn?

Our day started with a brisk stroll along the promenade. The boys took their scooters whilst the littlest one chilled in the pram taking in the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. The promenade is ideal for wheels and when the tide is out the huge flat beach which goes on for miles is also perfect. Colourful beach huts line the front, but what dominates the seafront is the Victorian pier and Cliff top tramway which still draw the crowds like they were designed to do back in the 18th Century. The refurbished pier, although shorter than it once original was, stands proud out to sea, and is the most northerly surviving British pleasure Pier. The buildings are all painted in the same traditional décor of cream and burgundy. The town is exceptionally clean with Council street cleaners constantly around. Beach cleans are encouraged for visitors and as such the beach has once again won top accolades including a Blue Flag award and a Seaside Award for the highest environmental standards.

The inclined cliff tramway is my favourite however, of all the special things that Saltburn has to offer. This water balanced tramway is the oldest operating one left in the UK. Running daily from 1030am the tram costs £1.60 per adult (under 5’s are free). From the top of the cliff admire the Fossil Gardens and the amazing views of the beach and down towards Hunt Cliff, one of the highest cliffs on the east coast.

Independent shops, cafes and restaurants - where to go

The town centre is only a few minutes walk from the top of the cliffs. Although small it is bustling with plenty of independent shops, cafes, restaurants as well as the railway station with its grand impressive entrance making this an easily accessible place to visit in the North Yorks National Park for everyone.

Independent cafes such as The Parlour serving up banging breakfasts to cream teas, to The Signal which do a selection of coffees and treats followed by a World inspired cuisine for the evenings.

Our favourite café and deli which offer a takeaway service is Real Meals Deli on Milton Street. A baguette brimming with locally sourced ingredients is the ideal picnic to take down to the beach.

We had a browse around some of the independent shops on the High Street including LillianDaph store which has an impressive kids selection of gifts and toys as well as homeware and smells divine, The Book Corner with its dedicated children’s section and comfy cushions to relax whilst browsing the books. Also Chocolinis which make chocolate speciality gifts on the premises. The boys loved their treats of marshmallow sticks covered in chocolate which they bought with some of their own money raided from their piggy banks that morning!

Saltburn Valley Gardens - a woodland full of surprises

Valley Gardens, a few minutes walk from the town centre and clifftop tram, is a beautiful area tucked away. Consisting of woodlands, the Italian Gardens and a community garden, the area has wide flat accessible paths to explore. We downloaded the free ‘Seek by iNaturalist’ app to be able to identify plant species whilst we were discovering the gardens. This app is part of the North York Moors National Park’s Look Wild project that helps contribute to mapping and monitoring of wildlife within the Park.

After some exploring the kids burnt off extra energy in the play areas. The Valley Garden Tea Rooms are the perfect spot to pick up a takeaway coffee and cake to keep you going whilst you watch them. The playgrounds consist of; one suitable for smaller children next to the stream which incorporates water play equipment and the second adventure playground is more suitable for older children.

Saltburn Miniature Railway - a little boy's dream

You will also find the Saltburn Miniature Railway in Saltburn Valley Gardens which runs for around 1 km taking passengers from the car park at Cat Nab up into the gardens (and back if you wish). Trains run on weekends and during the holidays from March to September, costing £2 per adult return and £1 per child return for the 20 minute journey. This historic 15 inch gauge railway is one of the country’s most famous railways and is run by volunteers. Again the boys loved this part of the Valley Gardens the most. Enthusiastically waving at walkers in the park as if they were royalty.

Saltburn Beach

Next on the agenda was the beach, the most family friendly activity of them all. To make sure you get the most out of your day then check the tide times. Avoid close to high tide time or you may be scrambling quickly for your belongings! We set up camp for a few hours having brought our own activities; ball, kite, bucket & spade and most importantly a never ending supply of snacks. We also packed the wellies for the essential paddling and wave jumping. We weren’t quite as brave as some of the crazy folk though who were going in!

We dug some holes and tried making a sandcastle whilst the littlest one climbed in the holes or knocked the castles down. Luckily he tired himself out and after a very short stroll along the beach he was down for his nap. This gave the bigger boys time to fly the kite and play ball without being disturbed.

Time stands still when you are on the beach. Instead it’s just about playing and eating when you’re hungry. Time on the beach is some of the best family memories. The simple things in life are free and the simple things in life are often the best. Just being in the moment playing, not a care in the world.

Have you tried a lemon top?

Before the little one woke we headed back up onto the promenade for a walk along the pier before trying our luck in the amusements. The boys did well, £2 each again from their piggy bank raid went far and before we knew it the bells were ringing and tickets were spurting out. Their eyes lit up and they were not a little bit concerned that it actually cost 100 tickets traded in to get a lollipop!

We headed back to the car to de-sand and drop some things off before making our next stop to the ice cream stand. The main car park is close to the beach and very reasonably priced for staying all day. Free parking is also available at the top of the cliffs along the roadside.

The local delicacy that you must try is a lemon top ice cream. The lemon sorbet is either placed on top of the vanilla ice cream or swirled with it. Founded in the next town north of Redcar in 1924, lemon tops are only sold on the Yorkshire Coast so don’t miss out. This was my first time sampling one and I must say, I cannot believe I haven’t had one sooner, they will definitely be icecream of choice from now on. The boys opted for a Mr Whippy with a flake (of course) and the littlest woke just in time to have his share too.

Hunting for treasure

‘Hunting for treasure’ has got to be one of my eldest son’s main hobbies. On the beach this is another level; searching for stones, finding fossils, digging up shells and unearthing all kinds of gems can keep him occupied for hours. The beach at Saltburn to the south, under Hunts Cliffs, is superb for this. Rock pools can also be found further along. We came back with a bucket full of special stones all with their own unique story of how they were made and what journey they had undertaken to get here. Plus without realising, we both had a history and geography lesson starting to understand the physical world that we live in.

When I asked him what he loved most about our family day out in Saltburn, he answered ‘finding treasure with you on the beach. And getting an ice-cream’. I love that his positive memories of our day out are the ones that are the simple delights in life.

A game of mini golf

One last activity before leaving has got to be a non competitive game of Crazy Golf. When Daddy is around then this game does take on a very serious point scoring game however when Mummy is in charge it’s whatever rules go. After paying to receive their club and ball (£4 per person) the kids were left to their own devices to play how they saw fit. The littlest one decided that carrying the ball was his preferred method of scoring as well as pinching everyone else’s flags! A fab way to end the day and safe to say they slept the whole way home!

Final thoughts on a low cost family day out in Saltburn

Our family day out for 5 (2 adults and 3 children) totalled £47.10, within budget!

If you haven’t already, or haven’t for a while, then Saltburn is a must see on the Yorkshire Coast and in the North York Moors National Park. Brimming with activities, stunning landscapes and packed with independent local businesses, now is the perfect time to discover it for yourself.

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August 6, 2023