Lake District

The Top Attractions in the Lake District

The Top Attractions in the Lake District

Whether you’re journeying through time at ancient stone circles, zipping through tree-top playgrounds or re-living childhood adventures, the Lake District’s top attractions will have you fully enthralled. Ready to inspire all generations of Lakeland visitors, they share the fun, beauty and history of the park and invite you to make unforgettable memories with family and friends of all ages – two-legged and four.

If you’ve visited some of the best places in the Lake District and are looking forward to spending time at some of the top attractions hidden within its valleys and fells, read on for some unmissable inspiration.  

The Lake District’s Top Attractions 

The Lakeside Aquarium 

A pike - one of the type of fish that you can see at the Lakeside Aquarium near Windermere in the Lake District

Accessible by car, by boat from Waterhead or Bowness, or via the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, the Lakeside Aquarium on Windermere’s Lakeside Pier is a top attraction for those looking to dive a little deeper in their Lakeland discovery. Found at the southern end of England’s largest lake, this visitor attraction contains more than 30 displays that detail the fascinating and mysterious world of underwater wildlife. See the freshwater residents of the lakes including sharp-toothed pike and the saltwater residents of the bay like magical rays and enjoy an unparalleled look at life below water.

Lowther Castle

Looking up through the ruined tower of Lowther Castle - one of the top attractions in the Lake District

Lowther Castle in Penrith is one of the most intriguing castles in the Lake District. Constructed on the site of two previous houses, this twentieth century castle was built to impress – designed with a room for every day of the year and with gardens that were the talk of the north. Surprisingly, its glory years were short-lived and the castle was demolished in 1957, with only its façade and outer walls untouched. Today, these striking remains, as well as beautiful gardens, woodland and one of the largest playgrounds in the UK – all managed by the Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust – are open to the public to explore. 

Levens Hall & Topiary Gardens

Levens Hall is home to the world's oldest topiary gardens, making it one of the must-visit attractions in the Lake District

Levens Hall in Kendal is known for its magnificent 10-acre gardens, including the world’s oldest topiary gardens. Dating all the way back to 1690, much of the hall’s green spaces are original in design, still reflecting the vision of those who shaped the gardens from the ground hundreds of years ago. Among its collections, you can see perfectly manicured ancient box and yew trees in abstract or geometric shapes, alongside an ever-changing display of more than 30,000 bedding plants, all grown onsite. Other must-sees include the hall’s rose gardens, wildflower meadows and willow labyrinth.

World of Beatrix Potter

The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere welcomes visitors of all generations to experience the joy of her world-famous children's books and characters

The characters of Beatrix Potter’s books are well-known figures that have played a huge role in the childhoods of generations. Giving you the chance to re-live some of your favourite childhood memories is the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere. Sharing the magical tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends in three dimensions, the attraction features interactive exhibits, characters from the books, an award-winning Peter Rabbit Garden, a character-themed café and a popular gift shop where you can buy new and different copies of your childhood favourites. 

Sizergh Castle

A path leading through the trees, shrubs and planted borders at Sizergh Castle in the Lake District

Set on the outer reaches of the Lake District near Kendal, Sizergh Castle is seen as a gateway to the National Park. A stunning Medieval house with rich gardens and a huge 1,600-estate, it’s been the home of the Strickland family for over 800 years and is one of the most popular places to visit in the Lakes. As well as the house itself, which is open Wednesday to Sunday, there are fruit orchards, primped gardens, wetland and woodland to explore seven days a week. A dog-friendly café is also open each day, offering a real taste of Sizergh with fresh, seasonal produce grown in the estate’s gardens. 

Wordsworth Grasmere

Outside Dove Cottage in Grasmere, the former home of William Wordsworth

In 1799, the then-unknown William Wordsworth moved to Grasmere at the age 29, writing beautiful poetry in his own innovative style. Whilst living at Dove Cottage, he penned many of his most famous poems and it’s at this very cottage that you can discover the story of Wordsworth’s remarkable life and work today. Kept very much in-keeping with life 200 years ago, Dove Cottage shows a true representation of what it would have looked like in Wordsworth’s time. From his own writing and his sister’s journal to the gardens and orchards, there is ample to discover here. You can also visit another of the writer’s formers homes, Rydal Mount, in Rydal near Ambleside.

Castlerigg Stone Circle 

Castlerigg Stone Circle, a 4,000-year-old stone circle in the Lake District National Park

One of the best attractions in the Lake District National Park, few places can offer the same intrigue and history as Castlerigg Stone Circle. With an incredible backdrop of the High Seat and Helvellyn mountains, there are also few others that can offer such an incredible setting, too. Thought to be over 4,000 years old, this ancient man-made construction is one of the earliest and oldest of its kind in the country. Once an important meeting place for Neolithic communities, today this stone circle provides a fascinating glimpse into the past and is open to visitors throughout the year. 

Coniston Boating Centre

Boats on the shore of Coniston Water near Coniston Boating Centre, one of the best family-friendly visitor centres in the Lake District.

Set on the shores of Coniston Water, Coniston Boating Centre is one of the best family-friendly visitor centres in the Lake District. Perfect for water-lovers of all ages, the centre encourages everyone to make the most of the water, with motorboats, rowing boats, paddleboards, kayaks and canoes for hire. If you’d like to stick to dry land, there are also bikes for hire too. Whichever your preferred method of exploration, head over to the centre and let the knowledgeable team of staff guide you with the best advice and information to enjoy a happy and safe day around the lake. 

Blackwell Arts & Crafts House

A view of Bowness-on-Windermere, the picturesque waterside town where Blackwell Arts & Crafts House can be found

The Grade I listed Blackwell Arts & Crafts house in Bowness-on-Windermere is “a rare architectural gem in the heart of the Lake District” which invites visitors to take in an immaculately preserved snapshot of twentieth century life. One of the UK’s finest examples of Arts & Crafts architecture, it boasts many original features including period furniture, metalwork, woodwork, ceramics, stained glass, fireplaces and more.  Ready for you to refuel after your time spent wandering the house is a welcoming tearoom, which serves hot and cold dishes piled high with ingredient sourced from the local area. 

Grizedale Go Ape

Rope walkways and activities high in the trees at Grizedale's Go Ape in the Lake District

The brilliant Grizedale Forest Go Ape centre offers the full package when it comes to adventure. With five different experiences, the attraction offers something for all ages. For those with a good head for heights, the Treetop Challenge and Zip Trekking Adventure are sure to tempt. There’s also the Treetop Adventure for youngsters and the Treetop Adventure Plus for older children and teens. For another way to explore the forest which is equally as fun, you can also hire forest segways which allow you to spin through the trees and take in gorgeous views of Coniston water and the surrounding fells. 

Muncaster Castle

Outside the walls of Muncaster Castle near Ravenglass in the Lake District, with manicured lawns and pruned shrubs

Believed to be one of the most haunted castles in England, it’s not hard to see how the dramatic façade of Muncaster Castle which emerges from thick clusters of trees could whip up the imagination. That said, the same family have lived here since the thirteenth century, so it can’t be that bad. As well as paranormal tours which take place twice a year, today this castle near Ravenglass is open to all for exploration, with the castle, gardens and a hawk and owl centre all welcoming guests throughout the year. It’s also the only historic home in the UK which still appoints an official jester. 

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway 

The La'al Ratty steam train at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Known locally as the ‘La’al Ratty’ (meaning “little railway” in old Cumbrian), the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is one of the oldest and longest railways of its kind in England. Taking passengers on a gorgeous 7-mile journey from Ravenglass, the Lake District’s only coastal village, to Boot in the Eskdale Valley, it affords stunning estuary, fells and woodland views. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the railway, you can also pay a visit to the free-to-enter Ravenglass Railway Museum and see informative displays, artefacts and old steam locomotives. Later, tuck into some well-deserved food at the Ratty Arms, one of the Lake District’s top dog-friendly pubs.

The Lake District Wildlife Park

A sleeping red panda, one of the species that can be seen at the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick

The Lake District Wildlife Park sits at the head of Bassenthwaite Lake at the foot of the Skiddaw massif. Only a few miles from Keswick, it’s a must-see visitor attraction for all those with a call for the wild. All around the park’s 24 acres of parkland, you will be able to see a whole range of mammals, birds and reptiles, including over 100 species of wild and domestic animals. From ring-tailed lemur to red panda to capybara, learn all about these amazing beings and find out about the work of the park, which also participates in six endangered species programmes.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Lake District and Cumbria here

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