It’s good to be a tourist in your own town, taking the time to enjoy what’s on your doorstep. I’m so lucky to have grown up in Harrogate and be able to raise my family here now. It’s changed such a lot over the years but I love how it balances history with modernity. So for all those who asked, here’s how I like to while away a few hours in my back yard.
Recently I teamed up with The White Company on a spring fashion story and they challenged me to pick some pieces from their current collection that I’d choose to wear on a weekend away. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to play tourist in my own town and show off some of its pretty backdrops. And since so many people ask me for tips on what to do and see when visiting Harrogate, I’ve put together a post on some of my favourites.
Head to the The Montpellier Quarter, just down the hill from Bettys. It’s one of my favourite parts of Harrogate, with a real old-meets-new feel and it’s the perfect place for a mooch away from the main hustle and bustle of the town centre. There’s the original Harrogate architecture, manicured lawns and flower beds, and traditional pubs like The Montpellier or the long-standing Blues Cafe (I used to frequent it as a sixth former and it’s still nice to grab a takeout beer and sit on the nearby grass in summer). Antique shops and fine art galleries rub shoulders with modern bars and restaurants. I spent a winter working at the local Slug & Lettuce pub (twenty years ago now!) and it’s good to see it going strong with a modern refurb. Explore pedestrianised streets like Montpellier Mews and Gardens and you’ll find some lovely fashion and interiors boutiques too – my favourite is the newly-opened Covet, which is like a mini Anthropologie.
You’ll also find the Royal Pump Room museum down here; a real slice of old Harrogate where you can see a variety of exhibitions, admire the original architecture and even sample the sulphur waters that made the spa town famous. Personally, I’d rather head for a coffee…which leads me on to one of my favourite pastimes; coffee shopping. I consider myself pretty au fait with most of the coffee shops in Harrogate and Hoxton North is one of the best. They opened their first branch on nearby Parliament Street a few years back and it’s still a good place to get a great coffee. The second branch on Royal Parade opened in 2016 with a flexible format that serves simple brunchy food (I love that they have a whole section on the menu devoted to avocado) before turning into a bar in the evening. It is always busy and popular for a reason – I mean look how excited I am about my coffee!
Exploring a new place on foot is the best way I reckon, hence the comfy choice of outfit. Whether home or away, I spend much of my time in trainers and they’re perfect for pavement-pounding. Breton stripes and a trench coat might be a slight cliche but they work for a reason and help to make me feel just a little bit Parisian (well, Harrogate has been described as the Paris of the North you know, though that might be a bit of as stretch). So if I were packing for a weekend break in Spring, these are the pieces I’d turn to. The drapey black trousers are really comfy and can easily be dressed up or down so they’re good for minimal packing – just add accessories. As you can see, I quickly switched up my outfit for the evening by adding this beautiful lace shell top and a change of bag and shoes. It would also look great with jeans though for a pretty daytime look.
So what else would I recommend in Harrogate? Well, no visit is complete without a walk around the Valley Gardens. This place holds a special place in my heart from childhood visits with my grandma to holding our wedding reception in the Sun Pavilion there. I’ve sunbathed here as a teenager and strolled here with my kids in their buggies. It’s a great place for a picnic in any season.
Outfit details as before, bag and shoes: my own.
I love this covered walkway. It has one of the most ancient and extensive Wisterias and soon it will be in full bloom. This is the perfect place for a bit of shelter or shade depending on the time of the year. Despite constant activity – the park is usually peopled with dog-walkers, runners, gardeners – there’s always a peaceful spot to be found. And in the summer there are some great events like the recent food market, festival of fire and live music. But most times, I just love to come here with a takeaway coffee and my camera. It’s not a bad choice for a romantic walk, hand-in-hand either!
I should add, this is just one small enclave of Harrogate and there are so many other great places to visit within the town!
Hope you enjoy some of these suggestions if you get to try them.
Disclosure: In collaboration with The White Company. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.
Photo credit: Greig Sharman