Things to do in Ripon

About Ripon

Ripon's must-see attractions include the magnificent Ripon Cathedral, the atmospheric ruins of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, and the trio of Yorkshire Law & Order Museums, which provide insights into the city's social history. Don't miss the chance to see the Ripon Hornblower Ceremony, a tradition that has been maintained for over one thousand years.
For families, Lightwater Valley Theme Park provides an array of rides suitable for all ages, The Workhouse Museum offers interactive insights into Victorian life, and the captivating Fountains Abbey is perfect for exploratory walks and family picnics amidst historic surroundings.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy walking or cycling along the scenic Ripon Canal, exploring the vast grounds of Fountains Abbey, or unwinding in the Victorian splendor of the Ripon Spa Gardens. Nature watching at Studley Royal Deer Park is also a highly recommended experience.
Indoor activities in Ripon include exploring the rich collections at the Ripon Museums, enjoying a film at the Curzon Cinema, or taking in the historic beauty and peaceful ambience of the Ripon Cathedral.
The best tours in Ripon comprise audio-guided walks through the historic city center, thematic excursions at Ripon Cathedral, and guided explorations of the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Estate, offering a comprehensive understanding of Ripon's heritage.
The most popular museums in Ripon are the Workhouse Museum, the Prison & Police Museum, and the Courthouse Museum, all part of the Yorkshire Law & Order Museums, each telling a story of the city's past.
On rainy days, visitors can take advantage of indoor tours such as those offered by the Yorkshire Law & Order Museums. The captivating Ripon Cathedral also hosts indoor guided tours, which allow guests to discover its history and art without braving the weather.
Short tours in Ripon that last 1 hour or less include the Ripon Hornblower Experience, a concise guided tour of the Ripon Cathedral, and quick, self-led visits to any of the individual Yorkshire Law & Order Museums, each offering a slice of the city's history.

Best Things to Do In Ripon

Embark on a journey through the captivating city of Ripon with its rich heritage and picturesque landscapes.

Ripon: The Courthouse Museum

What is it?
A historic building turned museum, offering a judicial history experience.
Why you should go?
Step inside the Courthouse Museum to get an authentic glimpse of the British legal system of the 1800s. The museum stands as a well-preserved example of a rural courthouse. Within these walls, visitors can learn about the judicial practices of the past, where minor offences were once deliberated. The original fixtures and fascinating collection of legal memorabilia make this museum one of the most insightful things to do in Ripon for history enthusiasts and those intrigued by the evolution of law.

Ripon: Ripley Castle and Gardens

What is it?
A historic castle estate with beautiful gardens and a rich family legacy.
Why you should go?
Just a stone's throw from Ripon, Ripley Castle and Gardens invites visitors to explore over 700 years of history. This family-owned treasure boasts grand interiors, an impressive armory, and captivating tales narrated through guided tours. The enchanting gardens provide a splendid backdrop for leisurely walks. Indulge in the tradition of afternoon tea or explore the intrigue of secret passages. Ripley Castle is not just a place to see; it's a historical adventure that ranks as a must-do on any Ripon excursion list.

Ripon: The Yorkshire Law & Order Museums

What is it?
A trio of museums dedicated to the history of policing, justice, and punishment.
Why you should go?
Making sense of past societal norms, the Yorkshire Law & Order Museums make for compelling visits. Including the Workhouse, Prison & Police, and Courthouse Museums, they collectively provide a deep dive into the history of crime and punishment. These sites stand as a testament to social change, enlightening visitors on what to do in Ripon for a mix of education and reflection. The interactive displays and well-researched exhibits are pivotal in grasping the evolution of the justice system in Yorkshire and beyond.

Ripon: Ripon Spa Gardens

What is it?
A Victorian park featuring floral displays, bandstands, and a children's playground.
Why you should go?
Ripon Spa Gardens is a verdant oasis in the heart of the city, offering a tranquil setting for reprieve and recreation. These well-manicured gardens with colourful flower beds, majestic trees, and a traditional bandstand, lend themselves to leisurely strolls and picnics. The gardens are recognized for hosting brass band concerts, elevating the cultural ambiance of Ripon. For families, this is one of the fun things to do in Ripon, ensuring an idyllic day out in the beauty of nature.

Ripon: The Wakeman's House Café

What is it?
A charming café set in the oldest house in Ripon, offering historical dining.
Why you should go?
The Wakeman's House Café is not only a place to indulge in delightful pastries and tea but also a location steeped in history. Nestled within a building dating back to 1604, the café offers a cozy atmosphere where the past converges with the present. Patrons can enjoy freshly made, locally sourced food while poring over the building's history, making it an exceptional choice for what to do in Ripon for both gastronomy aficionados and history lovers.

Ripon: Ripon Cathedral

What is it?
An ancient cathedral with magnificent Gothic architecture.
Why you should go?
Ripon Cathedral stands as an architectural masterpiece, steeped in centuries of history. Visitors can immerse themselves in its majestic atmosphere while learning about its significant role in Christianity through the centuries. The cathedral not only offers spiritual solace but also hosts a variety of musical events, adding to the list of fun things to do in Ripon. The splendid stone carvings and storied windows are a feast for the eyes, promising a rich cultural experience.

Ripon: Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey

What is it?
A UNESCO World Heritage Site with Abbey ruins and landscaped gardens.
Why you should go?
Studley Royal Park, together with the majestic ruins of Fountains Abbey, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and human-made wonders. As one of the places to visit in Ripon, this site paints a vivid picture of monastic life of the past. The eternal beauty of the water gardens, the deer park, and spacious greenery make for an idyllic escape from the bustling city scene. Exploring the Abbey's dramatic ruins is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Ripon.

Ripon: The Workhouse Museum

What is it?
A historic museum depicting the life in a Victorian workhouse.
Why you should go?
The Workhouse Museum provides a thought-provoking glimpse into the realities of the Victorian era's social system. Among the things to do in Ripon, a visit here is essential for understanding the struggles of the less fortunate during a significant period of Britain's history. The preserved rooms and informative displays engage visitors in contemplative and educational journey, making it an essential Ripon activity for history buffs and curious travelers alike.

Ripon: Ripon Racecourse

What is it?
A popular horse racing venue known as Yorkshire's Garden Racecourse.
Why you should go?
Ripon Racecourse offers a blend of excitement and tradition, providing fun things to do in Ripon for equestrian enthusiasts and those seeking a lively atmosphere. The buzz of race days, coupled with the picturesque surroundings, makes for an unforgettable experience. Apart from the races, the course hosts family-friendly events, ensuring enjoyable Ripon activities for visitors of all ages, making it a staple among the thrilling things to see in Ripon.

Ripon: Markenfield Hall

What is it?
A moated medieval country house and a hidden gem.
Why you should go?
/assets, Markenfield Hall offers visitors a chance to step back in time. Hidden just outside Ripon, it is a stellar example of medieval architecture remaining intact through the centuries. Surrounded by tranquil moats and scenic countryside, the estate's serene ambiance makes it a unique addition to Ripon excursions. The hall's limited opening times add an exclusive allure to its tours, making a visit here one of the most cherished experiences in Ripon.
Seeped in history and lush natural assets, Markenfield Hall offers visitors a chance to step back in time. Hidden just outside Ripon, it is a stellar example of medieval architecture remaining intact through the centuries. Surrounded by tranquil moats and scenic countryside, the estate's serene ambiance makes it a unique addition to Ripon excursions. The hall's limited opening times add an exclusive allure to its tours, making a visit here one of the most cherished experiences in Ripon.

TOP-5 tours in Ripon for first-time visitors

  • Uncover the historical charm of Ripon Cathedral, exploring its ancient architecture and peaceful ambience, a true highlight for what to see in Ripon.
  • Stroll through the Studley Royal Water Garden, where serenity meets beauty; this tour showcases one of the most tranquil places to visit in Ripon.
  • Delve into Ripon's intriguing past with the Prison and Police Museum tour, an eye-opening look into the city's law and order heritage.
  • Ramble along the Ripon Canal path, as the audio guide recounts tales of commerce and leisure that define Ripon activities by the water's edge.
  • Discover the grandeur of Newby Hall, where opulent rooms and stunning gardens narrate stories of elegance, ranking high among the best Ripon tours.

Fun things to do in Ripon with kids

Discover a delightful array of attractions in Ripon that are perfect for young explorers and their families. First on the list, the enchanting Lightwater Valley Theme Park offers an adrenaline-fueled day with rides catered to all ages. From the thrilling Eagle's Claw to more genteel adventures in the Lightwater Falconry, children can both learn and play. Next, the Ripon Museums, particularly the Workhouse Museum, unwrap the past in an engaging way. Family-friendly activities and interactive exhibits allow kids to step into the shoes of Victorian children, making for a memorable and educational experience. Lastly, the stunning Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a World Heritage Site, provides the perfect setting for a family picnic amidst the awe-inspiring ruins and lush landscapes. Scavenger hunts and wildlife spotting are just some of the Ripon activities that can ignite curiosity in young minds while exploring these historic grounds.

Things to do in Ripon with family

Families visiting Ripon are in for a treat with a variety of activities that cater to all age groups. Begin an adventure at the Ripon Museums, where history comes to life and the past informs the present. Engage with the Victorian era at the Workhouse Museum, experience the strict regime of the Prison & Police Museum, and step back in time at the Courthouse Museum, providing educational fun for the entire family. Secondly, the Ripon Canal provides the perfect setting for a leisurely family walk or a bike ride. Enjoy the scenic paths, feed the ducks, and watch the boats glide by, all while soaking up Ripon's natural beauty and tranquility. For a mix of history and outdoor pleasures, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden await, offering sprawling greens for children to play and awe-inspiring ruins that fascinate visitors of all ages. Join the explorers club, enjoy a family trail, or simply wander and admire the stunning sights.

Free things to do in Ripon

Ripon, a city rich in culture and history, offers a trove of experiences that require no ticket for entry. Topping the list is a visit to the Ripon Canal, where tranquil towpaths beckon for peaceful strolls or invigorating cycles alongside the picturesque waterways. It's an ideal spot for birdwatching or enjoying a family picnic by the waterside, all at no cost. Another free attraction is the Ripon Cathedral, a stunning example of gothic architecture, where visitors can explore the ancient nave, chapels, and crypt, dive into the rich history, and marvel at the intricate stone work. Visitors to Ripon should also not miss the opportunity to witness the traditional Ripon Hornblower Ceremony, which takes place every evening at the market square, continuing an over 1100-year-old tradition that adds a unique historic flavor to the visit. These attractions highlight some of the best things to do in Ripon without spending a penny.

Cheap things to do in Ripon

Exploring the charm of Ripon doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. Among the inexpensive things to do, the Ripon Museums offer a trio of fascinating attractions: the Workhouse Museum, Prison and Police Museum, and the Courthouse Museum, where a single, budget-friendly ticket provides access to all three. These sites offer a deep dive into the social history of the area, perfect for curiosity-driven visitors. Next, the Ripon Market sets the scene for an immersive local experience. Held every Thursday, it's a place where you can browse local crafts, sample regional produce, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere without spending much at all. For a modest fee, the beautiful Ripon Spa Gardens provide another affordable activity, with a bandstand, play area, and stunning floral displays, ensuring a delightful day out for those looking for fun things to do in Ripon with family and friends.

Things to do in Ripon for couples

Ripon offers a romantic backdrop for couples looking to indulge in enchanting experiences together. Begin your journey at the tranquil Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden. Here, lovebirds can wander hand-in-hand among the ruins of the Cistercian abbey, or find a secluded spot in the ornamental gardens for a quiet moment together. The setting is especially magical during the golden hours, making it one of the best things to do in Ripon for those who appreciate nature's beauty and historical allure. Following the theme of serene beauty, a leisurely boat trip down the Ripon Canal presents an opportunity to enjoy each other's company in a picturesque environment. Lastly, for those who enjoy a touch of drama, the Ripon Racecourse offers a lively day out with a chance to share the thrill of the race, and perhaps celebrate a win together with a glass of bubbly. The racecourse atmosphere is electric and offers a fun day out for visiting couples.

Things to do in Ripon at night

As the sun sets on the historical city of Ripon, the nocturnal charm of this picturesque destination comes to life. Couples and friends alike can engage in a time-honored tradition by witnessing the Ripon Hornblower perform the 'Setting the Watch' ceremony in the Market Square, a ritual dating back to 886. This nightly event, unique to Ripon, provides a glimpse into the city’s rich past and is a memorable experience for night-time adventurers. For those looking for more contemporary entertainment, the Curzon Cinema offers the opportunity to catch the latest films in an intimate and stylish setting. The cinema retains its classic character while providing modern comforts. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy the local hospitality and live music at one Home to local ales and a warm atmosphere, it exemplifies the essence of Ripon’s nightlife and stands as a testament to traditional British pub culture.