Awesome Things To Do In Kendal & The Surrounding Area, Lake District | UK

Last Updated on August 10, 2023

Compared to some of the other towns and villages in the Lake District area, Kendal has a more residential feel, making it a nice base without the overwhelm of large crowds and busy car parks! The town of Kendal actually sits just outside of the National Park. My sister lives in Cumbria and while visiting I checked out some of the things to do in Kendal and the surrounding area!

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Things To Do In Kendal

  1. Things To Do In Kendal
    1. Kendal Town Centre
      1. Shopping
      2. Brewery Arts Centre
      3. Adventure Sports in Kendal
      4. Coffee shops in Kendal
      5. Restaurants in Kendal
    2. Kendal Walks
      1. Serpentine Woods (Woodland Trail)
      2. Kendal Castle & Kendal Castle Walk (Historical Trail)
      3. The Culture Trail & River Walk
    3. Things To Do Near Kendal
      1. Lakeland Motor Museum
      2. Cliffhanger Rooms Escape Rooms
      3. Claife Viewing Station
      4. The Bridge House, Ambleside
    4. Hotels in Kendal

Kendal Town Centre


One of the main things to do in Kendal is to visit the town centre. It’s quite small but has some pedestrian areas and a wide range of shops, from outdoor wear retailers, to the usual High Street stores. There’s even a year round Christmas shop! The Westmorland Shopping Centre is home to an indoor market that dates back to 1886. The market is open 6 days a week (closed Sundays).

New Shambles in Kendal
New Shambles in Kendal

Along Finkle Street, opposite the band stand, you’ll find a ‘rock snake’ that was created during the pandemic. Another interesting area is ‘New Shambles‘. This connects Finkle Street to Branthwaite Brow. It’s an alleyway that has some small independent businesses, but its history was a little grim! Up until the 19th century, it was lined with butchers shops, a ‘Shambles’ being the term for an open-air slaughterhouse. The blood used to run down the street! Thankfully it is not like this anymore!

Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal is known for ‘Kendal Mint Cake’, which ironically isn’t a cake. It was first created by accident back in 1869 and is popular with climbers and mountaineers as a source of energy. I spent a while trying to find a bar that didn’t feel completely crushed, but I soon realised that after sitting in my backpack for a day it turned to dust anyway.

Kendal Mint Cake
Kendal Mint Cake

It’s a strange texture, it just melts in your mouth, and disappears completely…like an invisible Polo mint! I can see how it would be good for mountain climbers as it doesn’t leave a heavy feeling in your stomach, yet it is packed full of sugar and calories! You can buy Kendal Mint Cake at the indoor market.

Brewery Arts Centre

The Brewery Arts Centre is a multi purpose venue for film, theatre, music, exhibits and more. You can find out what’s on on the Brewery Arts Centre website. They also have an on-site restaurant. Between 4pm-5pm Wednesday until Friday, they have a £5 pizza or pasta happy hour.

Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal Lake District
Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Adventure Sports in Kendal

For those looking for adventure, there’s the Kendal Snowsports Club. It has a small dry ski slope for ski and snowboard lessons and can be rented out for tubing parties. The centre is located on the hill that the castle sits on top of.

Another option in the town is the Lake Climbing Centre which has a 25m high climbing wall, along with bouldering courses and a ‘CrazyClimb’ for kids (similar to Clip N Climb).

Coffee shops in Kendal

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to coffee shops in Kendal! There are so many it’s impossible to try them all! Here are some of the ones I tried (my sister said Nina’s Coffee Shop is also highly recommended!).

The Masters House Tea Rooms coffee shops in Kendal
Coffee Shops in Kendal – The Masters House Tea Rooms

Bob & Berts – Personally Bob & Berts was my favourite of the cafes in Kendal that I visited! They have colourful cakes in the display case and as my visit was over Easter, they were serving Easter Egg hot chocolates. These came with half a Cadburys chocolate egg shell in AND half a creme egg! Very sweet but AMAZING! They also play great music and have this awesome quote on the wall:

“This is your life, do what you love & do it often. Enjoy the power & beauty of youth. Travel often, getting lost will help you find yourself. When you eat, appreciate every last bite.” – Bob & Berts, Kendal

Easter egg hot chocolate at Bob and Berts - coffee shops in Kendal Lake District
Easter egg hot chocolate at Bob & Berts coffee shop in Kendal

The Cottage Kitchen – The Cottage Kitchen is along Finkle Street. During my visit they had a £5 cream tea deal, which came with a pot of tea and one scone with cream and jam.

The Union Jack Cafe – If you’re looking for somewhere to eat breakfast in Kendal, the Union Jack Cafe is a great choice. They do large breakfasts for reasonable prices.

Restaurants in Kendal

Just like the cafes, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to where to eat in Kendal. I love fish and chip shops and ate at both the Finkle Street Chippy (for fish and chips) and Fish Express (pie and chips). The portion size at Fish Express was massive, we all struggled to eat it all!

The Miles Thompson, along Allhallows Lane, is a Wetherspoons. However it is quite cool as the building dates back to 1864. It was originally a public bath house that had 8 large baths and laundry facilities for poor working class families in the area. The food is what you’d expect from a Wetherspoons, I had both dinner and breakfast there as it is a budget friendly option.

I didn’t eat there, but on the Saturday night the restaurant Comida, was extremely popular. They serve Spanish Tapas. My sister also says the Cortillo Lounge is good and always busy too. The Wakefield Arms that’s attached to the Premier Inn is also good.

Kendal Walks

For walking trails in Kendal, they do it perfectly. They have designed 3 different trails that are fairly easy and take around an hour each to complete. There are sign boards around the town, or you can pick up a leaflet which has a map of each route along with places of interest.

Kendal Walks

You can also adapt them to make them longer or shorter and they give advice on routes where the path may be steeper. I did parts of all 3 routes.

Serpentine Woods (Woodland Trail)

Another great walk is up to Serpentine Woods. You can either follow the road, which is a gradual slope, or take the steep option up steps through the residential area.

Kendal Serpentine Woods
Kendal Serpentine Woods

There are several different trails throughout the woods, including a woodland trail with various sculptures that are hidden. Maps and quiz questions can be found at Kendal Library or from Tourist information.

A couple of the routes come out alongside Kendal Golf Club, which has views across the valley, looking back over Kendal. There are several benches in this area.

Kendal Cumbria
Kendal Lake District

Kendal Castle & Kendal Castle Walk (Historical Trail)

Apart from shopping, one of the other best things to do in Kendal is to visit Kendal Castle! Technically it’s only the ruins, but it is free to visit. Like most castles, the ruins do sit up on top of a hill. You can either follow a circular route (which is what I did). Or just go up and down the same way. The entrance along Sunnyside is steps, or Castle Road is a gradual slope. The Kendal Castle walk offers 360 degree views of the countryside.

Kendal Castle Walk
Kendal Castle Walk

The castle dates back to the 1200s. The most famous connection to the castle is the Parr family. The father of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, lived at the castle for a time. However, by the time Catherine was born, the castle was falling to disrepair, so it is thought that she never actually lived there herself.

Kendal Castle Lake District
Kendal Castle Lake District

Kendal Castle is self guided and you can listen to a Kendal Castle audio tour here. Alternatively, you can learn more about the history of Kendal in the Kendal Museum located in the town.

The Culture Trail & River Walk

The third walking trail in Kendal is the culture trail and river walk. There are lots of information boards all through the town pointing out the history of the different buildings and areas. For example, Kendal Parish Church is said to be the third widest church in England and it has five aisles! It also dates back to the Domesday Book.

Kendal Parish Church
Kendal Parish Church

Along the High Street, there are many yards that were important parts of various industries that helped to shape Kendal. All of these have information plaques too, sharing their history. Part of the culture trail also follows the river walk alongside the River Kent.

Trail boards can be found throughout the town, although during the summer months you can join a guided tour.

Things To Do Near Kendal

The following things can be done in a day trip from Kendal, in a circular route around Lake Windermere!

Lakeland Motor Museum

🚗Kendal to Lakeland Motor Museum: approx 30 minutes (17 miles)

The Lakeland Motor Museum is located in Backbarrow. The collection has over 30,000 items that range from cars, bikes, motorcycles and more. There’s a whole separate building housing the Campbell Bluebird exhibit dedicated to Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell’s racing careers.

Things to do near Kendal: Lakeland Motor Museum
Things to do near Kendal: Lakeland Motor Museum

They also have a collection of retro ‘arcade games’ that are actually playable and a complimentary quiz book for kids with 23 questions about different things in the museum. Completed quiz sheets can be exchanged for a small prize.

Cafe Ambio sits alongside the River Leven, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The cafe serves up their signature ‘Choffee’ (mocha) as well as a selection of food, including a chocolate and ginger scone! (I also bought my Kendal Mint Cake from here).

River Leven Lake District
River Leven Lake District

While sitting next to the river, you may spot the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway steam train which travels along the Leven Valley.

Cliffhanger Rooms Escape Rooms

Right next door to the Lakeland Motor Museum is Cliffhanger Rooms. I personally love escape rooms and have completed them all around the world. You have 60 minutes to solve clues and riddles without the challenge and then escape the room without getting ‘locked in/caught’!

Cliffhanger Rooms have 3 challenges: Bank Vault Heist, Haunted Pirate ship and Vlad The Vampire. We did the Bank Vault Heist and it was one of the harder ones that I’ve done. We managed to escape with a few seconds to spare, but unfortunately didn’t walk away with every piece, so were unable to make the official leaderboard!

Claife Viewing Station

🚗Kendal to Claife Viewing Station: approx 45 minutes (23 miles)

(Road Trip ➡ Lakeland Motor Museum to Claife Viewing Station: approx 22 minutes)

On the opposite side of Lake Windermere, on the west shore, is the Claife Viewing Station. It was originally built as a summer house during the 1700s. It now stands as ruins, but it’s a really cool view point that overlooks the lake. Did you know that Lake Windermere is England’s largest lake?!

Claife Viewing Station Lake Windermere Lake District Things to do near Kendal
Claife Viewing Station overlooking Lake Windermere

One of the highlights are the coloured ‘frame like’ windows. These were inspired by the original design where the different colours were used to create a sensory experience. When viewing the lake through each coloured piece of glass, it was supposed to help visitors visualise the lake in different weather conditions and seasons: yellow = summer, orange = autumn, light green = spring, light blue = winter, dark blue = moonlight and lilac = thunderstorms.

As well as the coloured glass, an Aeolian Harp was installed above the window. This is a harmonic like music box made with wood and string. When the wind blows through it, it creates different tones.

Claife Viewing Station Lake Windermere Lake District
Claife Viewing Station Lake District

The Claife Viewing Station is looked after by the National Trust. It’s free to visit, however if travelling by car, there is a small pay and display car park. National Trust members can park for free, but for non-members parking charges start at £5 for 2 hours (correct at the time of writing). The car park is a short walk from the Claife Viewing Station.

There’s a small cafe nearby (Joey’s Cafe), however there are no other facilities. The closest toilets are at the ferry terminal, around a 5 minute walk from the National Trust car park.

The Bridge House, Ambleside

🚗Kendal to Ambleside: approx 30 minutes (13 miles)

(Road Trip ➡ Claife Viewing Station to Ambleside: approx 25 minutes)

One of the most famous buildings in the Lake District is the Bridge House in the town of Ambleside. This is a tiny 17th century stone house that is built above Stock Beck stream. It was built by the Braithwaite family and is thought that originally it was just a bridge to cross the stream. But then the house was added at a later date for storage and had a door on each side of the steam.

Ambleside Bridge House over Stock Beck - Things to do near Kendal
The Bridge House Ambleside

Over the years, the building has had several different uses, from housing various businesses, a tearoom and even a residential house, however it now only has one entrance way.

Ambleside has a range of shops (many outdoor adventure brands), cafes, restaurants and holiday cottages. The Flying Fleece pub is right next to the Bridge House and is also built over Stock Beck (it has a glass floor where you can see an old water wheel!). I have also heard very good things about The Apple Pie Cafe and Bakery.

Hotels in Kendal

There are a couple of different hotels in Kendal, including a Travelodge at one end of the town and the more centrally located Premier Inn.

Riverside Hotel in Kendal Lake District
Riverside Hotel in Kendal Lake District

Another option is Riverside Hotel, which sits alongside the River Kent. It is a converted 18th century tannery. The Riverside Hotel is pet friendly and has a restaurant, an indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym. Check Riverside Hotel rates and availability here.

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Things to do in Kendal Lake District

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