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The 15 Best Things to Do in North Yorkshire When it’s Raining

Rainy days in North Yorkshire have their own special charm, transforming the beautiful landscapes into a misty wonderland. With that said, we understand you may not want to spend your days outside when the weather isn’t at its best. 

Fortunately, there are a plethora of indoor attractions in North Yorkshire waiting to be explored, allowing you to make the most of every day. From ancient cathedrals and grand stately homes to immersive museums and lively aquariums, there’s something for everyone, come rain or shine. 

This guide will take you through the best things to do in North Yorkshire when it’s raining, ensuring that even the wettest days are filled with adventure and discovery. So, grab your umbrella and get ready to discover all the fun activities in this captivating corner of England.

York’s Chocolate Story 

York’s Chocolate Story is a fun insight into the city’s rich chocolate-making heritage for the sweet tooths among us. As you wander through the museum, you’ll uncover the fascinating history of iconic brands like Rowntree’s and Terry’s, which have shaped York’s sweet legacy. 

The guided tours are informative and engaging, taking you through the chocolate-making process from bean to bar. Don’t miss the live demonstrations and the chance to create your own chocolate treat. It’s one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire for a sweet escape from the rain.

Ripon Cathedral 

Ripon Cathedral, dating back to the 7th century, is one of the most exquisite displays of history and architecture in North Yorkshire. As you explore, you’ll be captivated by its stunning stained glass windows thst illuminate the inside with vibrant colours. Don’t miss the ancient crypt, one of the oldest in England, which offers a glimpse into the cathedral’s early Christian roots. As far as indoor activities in North Yorkshire go, this is a must-visit attraction. 

White Scar Cave

White Scar Cave, nestled within Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is the longest show cave in Britain. Knowledgeable guides will take you on a tour through this fascinating cave system, offering an underground adventure like no other. 

Visitors can marvel at the fascinating geological features, including cascading waterfalls and intricate stalactites and stalagmites. The highlight is the vast Battlefield Cavern, decorated with thousands of delicate formations. Whether you’re a geology enthusiast or simply seeking adventure, White Scar Cave is one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire, especially when the English weather turns wet.

Whitby Abbey

Perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea, Whitby Abbey is steeped in history and gothic charm. Founded in the 7th century, its dramatic ruins inspired Bram Stoker’s iconic novel, ‘Dracula’, adding an element of eerie intrigue to its appeal. 

The abbey’s visitor centre often hosts indoor exhibitions that delve into its storied past, from its monastic beginnings to its literary fame. Interactive displays and artefacts bring the abbey’s history to life, providing a captivating experience for all ages. A visit to Whitby Abbey is one of the best rainy-day activities in North Yorkshire.


Jorvik Viking Centre

Step back in time at the Jorvik Viking Centre, where the Viking age of York bursts into life. This immersive attraction features interactive exhibits and detailed historical recreations that transport you to the bustling streets of 10th-century Jorvik. From excavated artefacts to life-like dioramas, every corner tells a story and reveals something fascinating. 

The new ride experience, complete with sights, sounds, and even smells of the era, is both educational and thrilling. If you’re looking for fun things to do in North Yorkshire when it rains, the Jorvik Viking Centre offers an engaging way to explore York’s heritage for both adults and children. 

York Minster

York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, is a marvel of medieval architecture and history. Its towering spires and intricate stained glass windows tell stories of centuries past. The cathedral’s rich history dates back to the 7th century, making it a significant landmark in York and one of the most fascinating indoor activities in North Yorkshire. 

Visitors can explore the Minster through guided tours that delve into its architectural and historical highlights. The on-site museum showcases artefacts and treasures, offering deeper insights into this impressive church’s past. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop for unique souvenirs to remember your visit.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Hop aboard the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for a scenic journey through the breathtaking landscapes of the Moors. This heritage railway offers a nostalgic steam train experience, winding through charming villages and picturesque countryside. Whether you’re a history buff or simply seeking a unique adventure, the railway’s vintage carriages provide a delightful escape from the rain. 

Throughout the year, special themed rides and events, such as the popular ‘Railway in Wartime’ weekend and festive Santa Specials, add extra magic to the journey. It’s one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire to enjoy the region’s beauty, even on a drizzly day. 

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Take a look into the extraordinary life and adventures of one of history’s greatest explorers at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby. Housed in the 17th-century building where Cook apprenticed, the museum offers a captivating look into his voyages and discoveries. Explore exhibits filled with artefacts, maps, and personal items that bring his journeys to life. 

From the South Seas to the Antarctic, trace Cook’s routes and learn about the challenges and triumphs of his explorations. As an engaging and informative experience, a visit to the museum is one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire when it rains, providing a fascinating insight into the world of Captain James Cook and his enduring legacy.

Castle Howard

Prepare to be enchanted by the grandeur of Castle Howard, a stately home nestled amidst the rolling hills of North Yorkshire. This architectural masterpiece, dating back to the 18th century, boasts a rich history and exquisite interiors. You may recognise it from popular period dramas such as ‘Bridgerton’ or ‘Downton Abbey’, where its authentic charm brought the characters’ stories to life.

Step inside to discover opulent art collections and extravagant interiors. From ornate ceilings that are 70-foot tall to intricate furnishings, every turn exudes elegance and charm. Join a guided indoor tour to uncover the fascinating stories behind this historic estate, immersing yourself in a world of timeless beauty. Castle Howard promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit and is undoubtedly one of the best indoor attractions in North Yorkshire.

The York Dungeon

Prepare for a spine-tingling journey through York’s dark and gruesome history at The York Dungeon. Led by live actors, this immersive attraction brings to life the city’s darkest tales through thrilling shows and historical recreations. From the horrors of the Plague to the terror of the infamous Guy Fawkes, each interactive experience takes you back in time to York’s sinister past.

Be prepared to laugh, scream, and shudder as you encounter the ghosts, villains, and legends that haunt the city’s streets. It’s undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in North Yorkshire when you’re trying to shelter from the rain. 

Ripley Castle 

Settled in the picturesque North Yorkshire countryside near Harrogate, Ripley Castle is a captivating blend of history and beauty. Step inside to embark on a journey through time with historical tours that reveal the secrets of this magnificent estate and learn about the illustrious Ingleby family who have called Ripley home for centuries. 

Visitors can explore fascinating exhibitions that bring the castle’s history to life, or take part in the many events hosted by Ripley throughout the year. From summer craft activities to Christmas markets,  there’s something for everyone, making a visit to Ripley Castle one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire, whatever the weather. 

World of James Herriot 

Discover the tales of James Herriot at this charming museum in Thirsk. Dedicated to the life and work of the beloved vet and author, the World of James Herriot offers a fascinating glimpse into his life. Wander through exhibits that showcase his veterinary practice and literary career, complete with historical artefacts and personal memorabilia. 

Interactive displays bring his stories to life, allowing visitors to experience the rural setting that inspired his famous books. Perfect for both fans and newcomers, this museum offers an engaging and heartwarming journey through the life of a true Yorkshire icon and is one of the best indoor activities in North Yorkshire for a rainy day. 

Zest Leisure Centres 

Zest Leisure Centres are dotted around Yorkshire, offering a fantastic array of indoor sports and fun activities, perfect for all ages and fitness levels. Inside the Northallerton centre, visitors can dive into the well-maintained swimming pools, either for a leisurely swim or a serious training session. 

You can also join a variety of fitness classes, from high-energy aerobics to calming yoga, led by experienced instructors. For families, the children’s play areas provide a safe and fun environment for kids to burn off energy. 

Whether you’re looking to stay fit, relax, entertain the little ones, or simply escape the rain, the Northallerton Zest Leisure Centre offers some of the best indoor activities in North Yorkshire to keep everyone active and engaged.

Bettys Café Tea Rooms

Step into a world of indulgence at Bettys, a beloved tea room in Yorkshire, with locations in York, Harrogate, Ilkley, and Harlow Carr. Renowned for its timeless charm and traditional afternoon tea, visiting Bettys is one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire to get away from the bleak weather. 

Settle into the cosy surroundings, adorned with vintage décor and fine china, and prepare to be pampered with a selection of freshly brewed teas, delicate sandwiches, and irresistible cakes. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for something to do whilst it rains, Bettys Café Tea Rooms epitomise the best of British hospitality.

Sea Life

Dive into an underwater wonderland at Sea Life in Scarborough – an indoor aquarium bursting with diverse marine life. Visitors will be amazed by the huge tanks filled with an array of sea creatures, from sharks to playful penguins. Interactive shows offer hands-on experiences, allowing you to touch starfish and learn about marine conservation. 

Don’t miss the educational talks and feeding sessions, where you can discover fascinating facts about the inhabitants of the deep blue sea. Whether you’re a marine enthusiast or simply seeking the best indoor activities in North Yorkshire, Sea Life promises an immersive and educational adventure for everyone.


North Yorkshire offers a fantastic variety of indoor activities, from the historical splendour of York Minster and Ripon Cathedral to the thrilling experiences at The York Dungeon and Jorvik Viking Centre. Whether you’re diving into the region’s history and culture, exploring the beautiful landscapes, or satisfying your sweet tooth, there’s something for everyone. 

Don’t let the rain dampen your spirits – there are plenty of fun-filled indoor attractions in North Yorkshire which provide the perfect escape. Embrace the unique charm of this pretty region, rain or shine, and make the most of every day. Your next adventure is just around the corner!

Looking for a place to stay during your escape to North Yorkshire? Leisure Resorts has plenty of luxury holiday homes in the heart of North Yorkshire at our award-winning Angrove Country Park

Surrounded by beautiful landscapes, all of our holiday homes have decking, hot tubs and plenty of activities on-site for you to enjoy. If you’ve spent a rainy day curled up inside one of our lodges, the G&Tea House is on your doorstep for a delicious evening meal.

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