10 Free and Stunning Picnic Spots in Harrogate

Whether you’re a local looking for a cosy corner or a visitor seeking scenic views, we’ve got you covered with our top 10 FREE picnic spots in Harrogate!

Now I say free, because I could write all day about beautiful places to take a picnic in Harrogate, however I don’t know about you, sometimes I don’t fancy spending £30 plus entry fee just for an alfresco feast. Sometimes I’d rather head to one of the gorgeous, FREE places on our doorstep and maybe spend a little extra on some tasty treats.

Our go-to for picnic treats has always been Mama Doreen’s, especially their takeaway afternoon tea because it’s all prepared, ready to go and much fancier than I would ever create at home. Their standard and speciality afternoon teas are always available as a takeaway with the speciality afternoon teas changing throughout the year. Did you see the Wonka themed one on my Instagram!? Check their socials for their latest Deluxe afternoon tea offering.

Mama Doreen’s kindly gifted us one of their afternoon teas to try which we used as a picnic and it inspired me to write this post all about the best places to picnic in Harrogate. View their takeaway afternoon teas here.

The Stray

There are so many places to park alongside the Stray but if you need a postcode try HG2 8HU for the Tewit Well or HG1 1BJ for West Park.

The stray is 200 acres of Parkland which encircles the southern side of Harrogate spoiling you for choice when it comes to picking a good spot. I’d always suggest to head towards the Tewit Well side of the Stray or towards the Montpellier areas. There’s so much open space so it’s great to let the kids run free and play ball games without getting in anyone’s way or being too close to a road.

We took our afternoon to the Stray and had grand plans to take pictures of us picnicking at all the places featured but the British weather obviously had other plans!! So we enjoyed our lavish afternoon tea on a slightly soggy Stray, Izzy still managed to kick a football around and we now have plans to revisit some of our recommendations when this rain buggers off! We have been known to grab a blanket and throw it on the living room floor when the weather doesn’t play ball, this would make the most decadent indoor picnic.

Valley Gardens

HG1 2SZ – Plenty of on street parking all around the outskirts of the gardens

If you’re looking for a perfect picnic spot in Harrogate with a great park and plenty of other activities, you needn’t Read any further. Head to the bandstand near the Sun pavilion for a great little picnic spot and then it’s just a short walk to the giant playpark and paddling pool to wear them out after lunch.

I’ve got plenty more to tell you about the Valley Gardens in the guest blog I wrote for Yorkshire Tots.

Brimham Rocks

HG3 4DW (Please note this is a National Trust site, entry is free but parking is around £6)

This has to be one of my favourites for sentimental reasons. My mum and I would take a picnic here and find the tallest, flattest topped rock we could climb and watch the sun go down. We even ventured up there one year to watch a solar eclipse!

Kids will love Brimham Rocks for the climbing and adventure, grown ups will love it for the endless views of Yorkshire. Don’t worry, there are plenty of picnic tables if climbing the rocks isn’t for you!

Bebra Gardens

HG5 8AZ – The closest car park is the Castle Yard and unlike Harrogate it’s super cheap.

This hidden gem is Knaresborough’s version of the Valley Gardens with fantastic views over the riverside, castle and viaduct.

The gardens are set on quite a slope but there are some nice places to set down your blanket, there’s even a paddling pool at the bottom of Bebra gardens too. It’s filled during the summer so just ignore my picture from Autumn when it’s empty!

Swinsty Reservoir

HG3 1SU – Until very recently this was free parking but they are now charging (if I could add a rolling eye emoji, I would insert one here)

Picnics, skimming stones and feeding the ducks! Swinsty is perfect for a wholesome day out near Harrogate. Plus you could even get little legs to do a fair amount of steps if you do the full circular trail which is around 3 miles long.

Spruisty Bridge

HG3 2AQ – Please note there is very limited parking and be mindful of the residents

This is my REALLY secret hidden gem. I almost don’t want to share it. When I posted it on my Instagram a while ago, I had so many questions asking where we were.

Head out of Harrogate towards Killinghall and turn right onto Knox Mill Lane. You’ll find the most picturesque spot with a place to paddle for the kids.

It’s right at the end of a very narrow cul-de-sac so be careful with parking. Last time I went the residents curtains were twitching lol.

Burnsall

BD23 6BN – Closest parking is in the field and they charge about £10 per car

Another place on the list by a river with great paddling spots and plenty of open space. But beware this place gets a VERY busy on hot peak summer days.

Linton Falls

BD23 5LB (£5.50 charge if you use the large car park in Grassington)

This was a recent discovery of ours and we fell in love as soon as we walked down the path from the car park. The falls are spectacular but there are a few shallow, slow moving areas to paddling. Just be careful as always in open water. I would definitely tie this in with a walk around Grassington and all its quaint little shops.

Spa Gardens

HG4 2BU Free on street parking or head to Booths if it’s busy

These are beautiful gardens in the heart of Ripon. I love how there are little nods to Alice in Wonderland to honour Lewis Carroll who lived in Ripon when he was young. The town and cathedral may have given inspiration to his world famous books.

Plumpton Rocks

HG5 8NA (£5pp entry)

Okay so this last one does go against paying to get in somewhere (but cheaper than some of the nearby car parks for other venues) but I don’t think Plumpton rocks gets the exposure it deserves. If you’ve already explored every inch of Brimham rocks then why not visit here instead.

Situated between Harrogate and Spofforth, the only thing that lets it down is the sporadic opening times. Check the opening dates/times before you visit.

We are so lucky to live in such a gorgeous part of the world and these are just a snapshot of the amazing places you can picnic in Harrogate. If you want to make it more of a day out in Harrogate then there are plenty more options that include entry fees like Harlow Carr Gardens and Newby Hall for instance.

As always I’m only at the end of an email if you want more suggestions or have any questions!

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