Kendal is the gateway to the Lake District. Sitting conveniently between the M6 motorway and the national park, many visitors will pass this lovely town without stopping to look around and enjoy one of the many attractions on offer. So, keep reading, as we’re going to tell you all about why you should spend a day - or more! - in Kendal.
Culture and heritage
A visit to this historic site is considered one of the best things to do in Kendal. Once home to Catherine Parr - the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII - Kendal Castle stands high above the town. Although it’s now in ruins, you can still get some sense of what it may have been like to live there. Why not take a picnic up and enjoy the views over the rooftops from this magnificent Lake District castle?
Brewery Arts Centre
The Brewery Arts Centre is a bustling hub of entertainment and activities. You’ll find all sorts of performances ranging from comedy and live music to cinema and theatre. There are also festivals, exhibitions, community events, and more!
Museums and art galleries
Photo credit: Lakeland Arts
Ready for a bit of culture? The museums in Kendal will interest you and help you learn a lot about the local area and beyond.
Kendal Museum, founded in 1796, is one of the UK’s oldest museums and holds a lovely collection of architecture and natural history. For Lake District social history, head to the Lakeland Museum, which reveals how the unique local landscape shaped the lives of our ancestors.
Alternatively, Abbot Hall is a small but wonderful art gallery in a Grade I-listed Georgian house. Its permanent collection comprises fine art from the 18th to 20th century, and it also has several temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
For something a little more unusual, the Quaker Tapestry Museum houses a wonderful collection of 77 panels that tell the story of Quakerism over the last 500 years. It was created by over 4,000 people from 15 countries over 15 years.
Food and drink
Kendal Mint Cake
Of all Kendal’s exports, Kendal Mint Cake is possibly the most famous! If you’ve never tried it (or even if you have), where could be better to sample some than in its hometown? Established over 100 years ago, this much-loved Cumbrian treat is a favourite energy booster for the fells, or even on mountains like Everest! It’s also great as a sweet snack when you’re out and about.
Click here to read more about delectable food in the Lake District.
Restaurants and cafes
One thing’s for sure, you won’t go hungry in Kendal. This town is jam-packed with family-run restaurants and popular food chains. There’s a range of dining options available from hearty pub fare to chic modern delights. You can also travel the world at restaurants covering everything from Thai and Indian to Italian, as well as the all-important local Cumbrian dishes. Read more about places to eat in the Lake District here.
Walking and cycling
Being so close to the Lake District, Eden Valley and Yorkshire Dales, you can find plenty of walks around Kendal. There are hundreds of routes including woodland trails, riverside walks, and mountain hikes. You can even enjoy pleasant walks exploring the town itself, discovering hidden cobbled yards that tell of lives gone by.
If it’s biking in the Lake District you’re after, Kendal District Cycle Scene’s website has a great list of route guides for the area.
Kendal Snowsports Club
Have you ever fancied learning how to ski or snowboard? Or maybe you’re missing the slopes. Kendal Snowsports Club has you covered with its dry ski slope. Though small, there’s plenty of fun to be had, and it’s ideal if you’re looking for an outdoor activity that offers something a little unexpected when you stay in Kendal.
Are you after things to do in Kendal with kids? Get involved with a Huntfun treasure hunt and you can explore the town while keeping the little ones engaged. Download your treasure map and then follow the directions to various historical sites and points of interest, keeping an eye out for clues along the way. Perfect for all ages, this is a fun way to see more of Kendal.
Kendal Golf Club
Get out for a round or two of golf at Kendal Golf Club, which has an 18-hole course as well as professional tuition available. You’ll be able to enjoy some great views along the way, too.
Photo credit: Outside In
When it’s wet and you have kids to entertain, Outside In is the place to go. This charity aims to create a safe and fun space where children can let off steam and adults can sit back and enjoy a cup of tea. They have a truly fabulous play centre and a great cafe too.
You don’t always have to be up and exploring - on holiday, sometimes you want to relax, so a spa treatment could be just the ticket. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to treat yourself around Kendal. Angel Nails is the spot for a mani-pedi, or you can enjoy a relaxing massage at ReJuvinate Beauty Salon or any of the other salons in town.
KendalWall Climbing Centre
Whether you’re new to climbing or looking for a challenge, then you’re in luck: Kendal’s climbing wall has lots of routes and boasts the tallest indoor climbing wall in England! There’s also bouldering, tuition and a kids’ crazy climb available.
Kendal is just bursting with lovely independent shops selling beautiful local fabrics, gorgeous fashions, and tasty food and drink. There are several pretty shopping centres and Kendal’s famous cobbled yards are full of delightful little stores.
Taking place on the last Friday of every month, Kendal Farmers’ Market is a lovely showcase of local produce and crafts. You can get some of the best food and drink in the county here, including fresh fish, a range of meats and cheeses, freshly baked bread and cakes galore. There are also stalls selling local alcoholic drinks and home-crafted soaps and balms.
As well as the many independent shops, galleries and museums, the town is well known for its antique stores and this walk around Kendal lets you take in them all. Starting in the south, you’ll head right through town, crossing over the river and seeing the sights. Who knows, but you might discover something rare and beautiful.
The Kendal Antique Trail map is available to download or to pick up from many shops and attractions in town.
Festivals and events
Kendal has a good selection of popular events taking place throughout the year. The most famous is probably the Westmorland County Show and Country Fest in September, one of the biggest agricultural shows in the UK. It celebrates country life with a huge food hall, livestock judging, children’s activities and traditional sports.
Other festivals in Kendal include Kendal Mountain Festival, Kendal Calling (for music), the Walking Festival, and the Torchlight Carnival.
Self-catering cottages in Kendal
There are also plenty of more things to do near Kendal, including the Lakeland Maze Farm Park, Sizergh Hall, and Hawkshead Brewery. You can even be in the Yorkshire Dales in 15 minutes! So, this is a fabulous place to stay.
If you’re ready to make Kendal your base for your stay near the Lake District, browse our selection of holiday cottages in Kendal.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.