Known as the Grey Auld Town for its characteristic grey limestone buildings, Kendal is one of the biggest towns in Cumbria. It is an exception to the rule, as it has not one, but two castles. It’s very rich in history and culture, with plenty of historical places to visit and admire, even if just from a distance. Although it is a very rural region, Kendal has a strong retail sector and it’s thriving with its many shopping arcades. But what else is there to do in Kendal? And what can’t you miss during your visit? Here are the best things to do in Kendal:
1. Down the rabbit hole at Levens Hall
If Alice in Wonderland was one of your favorite stories as a child, you will be absolutely awestruck when you find yourself in Levens Hall world renowned topiary. It is the oldest, the largest, and probably the most beautiful topiary in the world, making Levens Hall gardens unique with its impressive sculpted bushes and trees. Everything about the place will fuel your imagination and senses. It will feel as if you travelled back in time. Don’t miss this unique experience.
Address: Levens Hall, Kendal LA8 0PD, UK
Opening times: Open Sundays to Thursdays, The Gardens: 10am - 5pm, The House: 12am - 4pm
Contact: [email protected] or +44 01539560321
Website: Levens Hall
2. Sizergh Castle: where the past meets the present
There are about 800 castles in England alone, so why should you visit Sizergh’s? First of all, because it’s still inhabited by the Strickland family, who have lived there for more than 750 years; that means the castle is well-preserved and still reflects the character of the people who grew up there. Second, because it’s set in beautifully landscaped gardens and based on a solar tower dating back to the 14th-century. And third, because it is a romantic place, where you can take your other half for a charming visit to the past of one of the most beautiful regions of England. Oh, and the best part is that the Sizergh Castle is now open to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays for the first time ever!
Address: Sizergh, Kendal LA8 8DZ, UK
Opening times: House -12am-4pm, Garden - 10am-5pm
Website: Sizergh Castle
3. Kendal Castle: more than a skeleton
Another one? Oh, yes. However, unfortunately, this castle is in ruins, like most of England’s castles. But don’t be disappointed: Kendal Castle offers incredible views of the town (even though it requires a bit of a climb) and is still well worth your time for exploring. It’s a great place to go for a pleasant walk and a picnic.
Address: Castle Hill, Kendal LA9 7BL, UK
Opening times: 24 hours
Website: Kendal Castle
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4. Lakeland Maze Farm Park: satisfy your passion for animals
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
If you’re traveling with your family to Kendal, the Lakeland Maze Farm Park is exactly where you need to go. It’s one of the top attractions in the Lake District and the best place to go for outdoor activities that also involve animals. You will get to spend your day riding tractors, feeding animals and creating memories with your loved ones.
Lakeland Maze Farm Park
Address: Raines Hall Farm, Sedgwick, Kendal LA8 0JH, UK
Contact: +44 01539561760
Opening times: See complete list here
Website: Lakeland Maze Farm Park
5. Discover Kendal’s history at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
At Abbot Hall Art Gallery, you’ll find an extensive display of art pieces from the Kendal region. From furniture to artifacts, to beautiful paintings to temporary exhibitions, this gallery has it all. It’s the best introduction to the local culture, especially if you combine your visit with the Museum of Lakeland Life.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Address: Kirkland, Kendal LA9 5AL, UK
Contact: +44 01539722464 or [email protected]
Opening times: Monday - Saturday, 10.30am - 5pm; Sundays in July & August, 12 - 4pm; Winter closing time: 4pm (Nov - Feb); Closed during Christmas
Website: Abbot Hall Art Gallery
6. A lesson in history at the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry
A must see for the history lovers, the Museum of Lakeland Life is a place you cannot miss to add to your itinerary. There, you will be able to explore a typical Victorian farmer’s home and discover the Lake District’s past. If you’re interested in knowing how people used to live in every place you visit, this museum will allow you to do that as it will present you with the way of life of the Kendal people. For a small entry fee, you’ll have the chance to imagine quite accurately how it must have been to live in the 19th-century in Kendal.
Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry
Address: Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kirkland, Kendal LA9 5AL, UK
Contact: +44 01539722464 or [email protected]
Opening times: Monday-Saturday - 10.30am - 5pm; Sundays in July & August - 12 - 4pm; Winter closing time - 4pm (Nov - Feb); Closed during Christmas period
Website: Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry
7. The Quaker Tapestry Exhibition Centre: how tapestry tells history
One of the most interesting things you can do in Kendal is to visit The Quaker Tapestry Exhibition Centre. Get ready for a lesson in history and culture, with an incredible collection of dozens of tapestries from 15 different countries. This museum will not only take you on a journey through the impact that the Quaker way of life left in the modern world, but also present you with surprising details of the past.
The Quaker Tapestry Exhibition Centre
Address: Friends Meeting House, Stramongate, Kendal LA9 4BH, UK
Contact: +44 01539722975
Opening times: 10am-5pm. Closed on Sundays
8. Kendal Museum: something for all ages
One of the oldest museums in the United Kingdom, Kendal Museum offers a variety of changing exhibitions that will spark your curiosity. The museum is home to a fascinating collection of objects and artefacts from archaeological finds to fossils. For a very small fee, you’ll get to see a fantastic animal exhibition, that is considered one of the best displays of taxidermy in the country. Other areas of the museum include a vast collection of geological finds and an art gallery with contemporary exhibits. This is a place for everyone regardless of their age and definitely something you cannot miss on your visit to Kendal.
Address: Station Rd, Kendal LA9 6BT, UK
Contact: +44 01539815597
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Website: Kendal Museum
9. Castle Howe: not just a ruin
If you have a fascination for ruins, Castle Howe will certainly please you. Located on a hill overlooking the town, this is considered to be the very first castle ever built in Kendal. What remains of it today is a motte more and the outer wall of what used to be the castle (Bailey). It is surrounded by a bright green space and if you climb the steps until you reach the top of the monument, you’ll get an amazing view of the town and the river. Castle Howe is a place to admire, even if it’s now just a skeleton of its past grandeur.
Address: Bankfield Rd, Off Beast Banks, Kendal LA9 4LA, UK
Website: Castle Howe
10. Let Kendal Parish Church impress you
Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Kendal Parish Church will be able to impress you even if it’s just for its amazing architecture. Everyone who visits it is awestruck by the interior’s size and lightness, which derives from the ample windows and the unusual construction of the aisles. The church has existed since the 13th-century and it is the perfect place to immerse yourself in quietness. Take the time to visit the Border Regiment Chapel in the bottom left of the church and pay a tribute to the Kendal men who suffered the atrocities of World War I.
Kendal Parish Church
Address: Kirkland, Kendal LA9 5AF, UK
Website: Kendal Parish Church
Kendal: what goes beyond the grey
Kendal is anything but a boring countryside town. It gets thousands of tourists every year and for very good reasons. It doesn’t lack for things to do, visit and marvel at. You can do so much more than walking around its grey buildings and bright green fields. If you add all of these suggestions to your itinerary, we guarantee that you will fall in love with this town. Oh, and don’t forget to try its delicious mint cake!
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