Our area is filled with charming towns and villages, and Helmsley has to be among our favourites.

This historic town has it all: picturesque castle ruins, a bustling market and enough fantastic independent shops and cafes to keep you occupied all day.

It may be small, but it’s perfectly formed – which is why we send so many of our visitors to explore it soon after they arrive. Not only that, but it’s just 12 miles from our holiday homes and luxury lodges near Thirsk at York House and Abbots Green, so it’s the perfect place to go for everything from an hour’s wander to a full day out.

If you’re heading towards Helmsley, here’s our guide to the best places to visit while you’re there, taking you from a morning coffee to a glass of something cold at the end of the day.

Things to do in Helmsley

It’s hard to miss the dramatic ruins of Helmsley Castle: they dominate the skyline from almost every angle. It dates back to the 12th century, with plenty of updates and additions over the years – including a modern visitor centre, making it a great place to visit with a family (and less than £12 for a family ticket).

While you’re there, make sure you visit Helmsley Walled Garden. Not only is this a beautiful place to explore, it will soon be even more famous, as it doubles up for the titular setting in the new film of The Secret Garden, set for release in 2020.

Nearby Duncombe Park is also worth a visit, along with the National Centre for Birds of Prey in the same location. There, you can see a wide range of species including owls, eagles and hawks, as well as enjoying hands-on experiences to get even closer to these magnificent birds.

Shopping in Helmsley

Helmsley Outdoors is the place to go if you like walking. They’ve got everything you need to enjoy getting out and about, no matter what the British weather throws at you – and there’s plenty in stock for children, too.

You may also want to stop by Claridge’s, a stationery shop specialising in local maps and guides. We could browse their shelves for hours looking at all the fantastic walks and places to explore! You’ll also find greetings cards, arts supplies, toys and jigsaws, so it’s a great place to stock up for a rainy day.

The Stick Man is another must-see place. Keith Pickering makes a huge array of finely-crafted walking sticks, from horn handles to engraved collars. Now in high demand, Keith only opens his shop for short hours, so it’s worth checking before you call by. He runs stick-making workshops and sells kits to make sticks at home, so you never know, you could discover a new hobby!

If you have a sweet tooth, Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop is an essential port of call. Youngsters will love seeing all manner of goodies displayed on the shelves, while for those of us with a few more years behind us, it’s a trip down memory lane: they have everything from old-fashioned nougat to boiled sweets in every flavour.

Finally, if you’re looking for something extra special, or a gift for a loved one, stop by Libby Butler Jewellers. It has a beautiful selection of jewellery from UK and international designers, as well as offering a repair service for all manner of accessories.

Eating out in Helmsley

If you’re looking for the perfect place to eat lunch, The Cocoa Tree is hard to beat. From home-made light lunches to delicious cakes, you’ll find it all here, and served in a charming atmosphere where four-legged members of the family are also made very welcome.

For something more substantial, Gepettos is a great option. This traditional bistro offers everything you’d expect in terms of pizza and pasta, along with a selection of specials – make sure you try one of their fish or seafood dishes, for which they’re well known. Save room for dessert, too!

Traditional British fare is the order of the day at the Feathers Hotel, which is always a popular choice. If you’re looking for something more exotic, Helmsley Spice is a great Indian restaurant.

Finally, if you’re interested in locally-brewed ales, make sure Helmsley Brewing Company is high on your list. Its range of five ales and bitters is growing in popularity, and tours of the artisan brewery are a fascinating way to learn more about this relatively new business. Plus you can bring your bottles back to enjoy at your leisure if you’re staying in one of our holiday homes or luxury lodges nearby!

Helmsley is such a fantastic visitor destination, we’ve only been able to skim the surface of all it has to offer in this blog. If you want to know more, speak to Park Managers John and Sam at York House and Abbots Green, or any of the Park Managers at our other parks, and they’ll be happy to use their local knowledge to help you plan the perfect trip.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own holiday home near Helmsley? Click here to find out more about our parks and the holiday homes available to buy – including finance options.