Scarborough is the oldest seaside resort in England and has all the classic elements of a traditional British beach holiday; amusement arcades, souvenir shops selling magnets and cheap buckets and spades, chippies and ice cream. But there is much more to Scarborough than noisy amusement arcades, sandcastles and donkey rides on the beach.
Every year it attracts large numbers of tourists seeking to explore its classic historical charm, castle ruins, oriental parks and breathtaking views of the North Yorkshire coastline.
That’s what makes Scarborough the perfect base to enjoy a family day out or, like my family and I, a great seaside holiday filled with happy memories.
I hope you enjoy this journey through some of the best wheelchair accessible things to do in Scarborough.
But first, where to stay in Scarborough?
For three nights we stayed in a wheelchair accessible glamping pod in Cayton, only four miles from Scarborough.
The Cayton Village Experience Freedom Glamping pod had everything we needed for a comfortable stay. My favourite features were the profiling bed, wet room and spacious outdoor decking area with the most peaceful outlook.
Read my full review of my stay in the wheelchair accessible glamping pod below.
13 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Scarborough
1. Rotunda Museum
The Rotunda Museum is located in the beautiful Yorkshire coast town with incredible views overlooking Scarborough South Bay seafront.
Constructed in 1829, it is one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the UK and at £3 admission, it’s worth a wee visit. You can then use your ticket to visit as many times as you want for one year and gain admission to Scarborough Art Gallery as well.
There is wheelchair access throughout The Rotunda Museum with a step-free entrance and a lift inside to access the floors. The museum is small but I was able to move around in my power wheelchair without difficulty. Inside the lift, I was able to squeeze in with Allan, my mum and my nephew.
The Rotunda Museum houses some of the largest collections of Jurassic Geology on the Yorkshire Coast. There are over 8000 fossils and minerals from the Jurassic period spread over two floors.
There is interactive learning for kids to enjoy including fossil hunting, dressing up and an activity area. My nephew enjoyed looking at the bones and footprints of the dinosaurs that once roamed the Yorkshire coast.
The ground floor is where the accessible toilet is located. There were grab rails and an emergency cord next to the toilet. It was quite small inside and there was also a baby changing table.
Also on the ground floor is the Welcome Desk and a small shop where my nephew bought a souvenir shark tooth necklace which quickly became his most priced possession.
2. Spa Bridge
After the Rotunda Museum, turn right and head up the path at the side of the museum before turning right again. Follow the path along as it leads onto the stunning Spa Bridge.
This beautifully painted bright teal bridge makes it hard to miss even on the dullest of days. Thankfully the sun was shining during our visit allowing us to enjoy glorious views out to the water and the Scarborough coast.
We had fun trying to take a selfie that didn’t capture one of us squinting from the sun and wind. It was a task and a half that’s for sure.
3. Ride the Central Tramway
When I first heard of the Central Tramway, I thought there was no way it would be wheelchair accessible. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that it’s not just accessible to manual wheelchair users, but also to powered wheelchair users like myself.
This quaint historic cliffside railway funicular opened in 1881 and still remains one of the most convenient ways to get down to the South Bay as well as being a really fun (and cheap) way to get around Scarborough. It links Marine Parade (town centre) and Foreshore Road on the beachfront.
The entrance to the ticket booth is step-free and from there we were guided into the lift with ease. We had the entire lift to ourselves so there was plenty of space to move around and I was able to easily admire the view out of the windows.
Riding the Central Tramway takes up to 35 seconds or thereabout, so it is a super quick way to travel and an opportunity to experience a little bit of Victorian history. It’s like stepping back in time. Kids will love it. My nephew did.
The fee is £1.20 for a single adult fare. Carers and kids under 5 travel free.
4. Stroll along the Scarborough Beachfront & Arcades
Roll out of the Central Tramway straight onto the Scarborough beachfront. You can simply enjoy the sea views or do the many things Scarborough is best known for.
We didn’t get far before my nephew pulled us into the first arcades he saw. We emerged sometime later, £10 lighter but he had an absolute blast.
Scarborough is also best known for its bingo halls, fish ‘n’ chips, and shops selling sandcastle buckets, sticks of rock and souvenirs. And there are plenty of them dotted along the seafront.
5. Lunch at Marisco Lounge
If you aren’t in the mood for chips, then I recommend stopping at Marisco Lounge. I found this place when researching wheelchair accessible restaurants and knew I wanted to take my family there during our trip.
Marisco Lounge is set on the seafront and serves a delicious range of meals including vegan and gluten-free options, which is another reason for wanting to visit. My mum and I had the Vegan Mexican Superbowl and Allan had the Beyond Cheeseburger. It was all incredibly tasty.
We sat inside as we liked the cosy vibe. However, there is seating outside but be prepared to share your food with the seagulls. We weren’t up for that.
The accessible toilet was quite small with not a lot of space to turn my wheelchair. There were grab bars positioned next to the toilet and sink as well as an emergency cord. There were also a couple of mirrors which can be rare in accessible toilets, so I was happy to see them.
6. Scarborough Harbour
After lunch at Marcisco Lounge, we decided to walk across the road to Scarborough Harbour. We strolled along the harbour until we reached Scarborough Pier Lighthouse which dates back to 1806.
However, it had to be rebuilt following damage caused by the bombardment during the First World War. But it is still used for navigation on Vincent Pier today.
Other than the lighthouse, you can expect to see plenty of food stalls, fishing boats and funfair rides. The Diving Belle statue is also at Scarborough Harbour.
7. Ice Cream at the Holy Cow
In the mood for some ice cream? I recommend stopping at Holy Cow which is just a short walk from the Harbour. This little shop serves the most delicious ice cream at very reasonable prices.
There was a range of vegan flavours to choose from which is always difficult for my indecisiveness. In the end, I went for mint choc chip and it was lovely.
As I can’t lift my arms up without support, my mum held my ice cream cone until we crossed the road and found a spot on the beach to sit and enjoy our treats. I took one lick of my ice cream and the whole scoop fell off the cone and slid down my top before landing on my lap.
My mum’s ninja reflexes sprung into action, scooping the ice cream up and placing it back on the cone as if nothing happened. Needless to say, I didn’t waste any more time and devoured it before another mishap.
8. South Bay Beach
We remained on South Bay Beach for a little while after finishing our ice creams. The weather was pretty good so it was nice to sit and relax while my nephew played in the sand.
South Bay Beach is one of the busier beaches in Scarborough attracting lots of tourists. It has everything you’d expect from a classic British seaside beach.
9. St Mary’s Church
We stumbled upon St Mary’s Church almost accidentally, but we’re so glad we did. This Grade I listed church, first erected in the 12th century has beautifully maintained grounds that provide a peaceful escape from the bustling beachfront.
It is also where you will find the grave of Anne Brontë, which is one of the main reasons people stop by and visit the Church. Anne Brontë was an English novelist and poet best known for ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ and who passed away at 29 in 1849.
As we walked around the graveyard we found the ruins of the old west towers and sat in the sunshine admiring the view of Scarborough from up high. It really is very beautiful.
Bonus Hidden Gem
As you exit St Mary’s Church be sure to cross the street and head down a little lane between a row of houses. You’ll be greeted with a spectacular view of North Bay Beach from the clifftop. Not to be missed if you are in the area. I could have happily sat there for hours.
10. Scarborough Castle
Some would say you haven’t been to Scarborough without a visit to its top tourist attraction, Scarborough Castle. But to be honest, I didn’t visit the 3,000 year old castle built by Henry II and I don’t feel like I missed out.
Don’t get me wrong, it would have been nice to visit. However, I’ll try and make sure to see it the next time we are in Scarborough.
So although I personally can’t comment on the accessibility, the website for Scarborough Castle states the castle and grounds are mostly wheelchair accessible via smooth gravel paths. The keep is accessed via steps though, but there are alternative routes to avoid other areas with steps.
The castle is set upon a steep hill between North and South Bay so I would expect it to be a bit more physically demanding for manual wheelchair users.
Disabled visitors are advised to arrive at the gate and speak to a member of staff who will direct you to the parking area for disabled visitors only.
Although we didn’t enter the Castle, we did in fact walk up to the entrance gates. There was no staff around so this could be difficult to get the staff’s attention in order to be directed to the disabled visitors’ parking area.
There are accessible toilets, but not a Changing Places toilet or wheelchairs for loan.
11. Peasholm Garden and Glen
If you are looking for free things to do in Scarborough, I would suggest visiting Peasholm Park. It’s an oriental-themed park and somewhere you can spend a few hours to most of the day exploring or simply relaxing if you wish.
Peasholm Park opened in 1912 and throughout all those years, it still remains a favourite with locals and tourists. It has even been voted one of the best parks in the UK.
We enjoyed a stroll through the park and tree trail where we stopped to feed squirrels (thank you to the kind couple who gave us a bag of nuts). We also walked around the ornamental lake and watched people take to the water on pedal dragon boats.
My nephew wasn’t quite up for going on a boat but instead enjoyed his ice cream cone. Can’t say I blame him. There is also a café by the lake for light snacks, tea and a cake.
12. North Bay Beach
North Bay is a quieter beach compared to South Bay which is the reason we liked it better. I also found it more wheelchair accessible in terms of the wide promenade and I was able to sit next to my family at the edge of the sand.
This meant I could interact with my nephew while he played in the sand and searched for hidden treasure with his metal detector. Unfortunately, there was no treasure to be found on this occasion.
North Bay has been awarded Blue Flag status and there are RNLI lifeguards on patrol throughout the summer months.
Colourful eye-catching beach huts for rent line the promenade and may be a good option if you plan to spend the whole day at North Bay.
North Bay Beach is also another good option if you are looking for free things to do in Scarborough.
Peasholm Park is located nearby if you fancied splitting the day at the beach and the park. We choose to start our day off at Peasholm Park and then made our way to North Bay by midday where we had lunch and then beach time.
There is an accessible toilet at North Bay Beach, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the cleanest.
Update July 2023: A Changing Places toilet has been installed at Scarborough North Bay Promenade.
13. Take A Photo With Freddie Gilroy
Before leaving North Bay Beach we had to stop at Scarborough’s most recognisable statue, Freddie Gilroy. Created by Ray Lonsdale this giant steel sculpture is based on the retired miner who was also one of the first soldiers to relieve the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of World War II.
Freddie sits on a bench on Royal Albert Drive looking out to Scarborough North Bay. Stopping for a souvenir selfie with Freddie was one of my nephew’s highlights of the trip.
Wheelchair Accessible Scarborough: Watch Our Travel Vlog
If you’d like to see more of our trip to Scarborough while staying at the Cayton Village Glamping site including all the wheelchair accessible things to see and do in Scarborough plus a tour of our wheelchair accessible, then please check out our video below…
Scarborough is a beautiful seaside resort to visit for a day out or holiday as a wheelchair user. I’m sure you will enjoy exploring the many wheelchair accessible things to do in Scarborough and the North Yorkshire coastline.
Have you been to Scarborough? Do you have a Scarborough must-see?