Ever since I was young, it’s been a dream of mine to travel. And thanks to my love of Austen, Brontë, Shakespeare, and so many others, England was always near the top of the list.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but my husband was born and raised in northeast England. We’d discussed traveling back to England for a long time, but between moving to Chicago, getting married, having a baby, and other complications– timing just never worked out for us to go over.
My husband’s family has made the journey to Chicago multiple times for different life events, but we knew it was time for us to make the big trip over the pond ourselves. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, my husband was unable to travel with us– so I took our 11-month-old daughter on a transatlantic journey all by myself!
Now, was I super nervous to be traveling alone to Europe for the first time with a baby? Sure was! But I was determined to make the most of it, and boy, did we ever!
Aside from a nightmare experience actually getting to England (a post for another time…), we had the most sensational time. As I mentioned, my husband is from the northeast so we ultimately flew into Manchester and had a three-hour drive from there to his hometown on the coast of the North Sea. So for those thinking Oh! London! think further north about 4.5 hours.
We spent most of our time looking at the local sites, driving the very narrow country roads, and spending time with family, but a few of the days we took short day trips to different must-see spots, as well!
Here are a few of my favorite spots from the trip that I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for an amazing, historical, mostly family-friendly experience. (Most places were baby friendly and had changing stations, but many places weren’t really stroller or “pram” friendly due to narrow spaces. )
Castle Howard is an exquisite stately manor in North Yorkshire. It is considered one of England’s finest stately homes and is still the private residence of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family. The estate is home to not only a beautiful and historic manor but to extensive grounds and ornate, perfectly landscaped gardens. Tours are available for the house and/or the gardens almost year round. We went during the “12 Days of Christmas” celebration, so the Christmas decorations were out of this world!Castle Howard is honestly like stepping into a Brontë novel… which brings me to my next destination…
The home to three of the most influential 19th Century novelists, the Brontë Parsonage and Museum is a must-see for any literature lover. Run by the Brontë Society, the parsonage is located in the picturesque village of Haworth in West Yorkshire. The society is responsible for helping to celebrate the works and legacy of the Brontë sisters, and to inspire those in the literary and academic community. Having studied English with a focus on British Literature, it was a surreal experience for me to actually see where such amazing works, including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, were written.
Make sure when visiting you take some time to stroll through Haworth and grab some biscuits and tea at one of the many local shops.
The city of York is in northeast England and was originally founded by the ancient Romans. One of its crowing monuments is the 13th C. York Minster. While there, we spent the day walking the center of the city– looking in shops (including THREE Harry Potter shops), visiting historical landmarks, and tasting delicious fare! My favorite spots were “The Shambles” a long barrow street lined with shops, best known as the inspiration for “Diagon Alley” in Harry Potter and the Ye Olde Starre Inn, which is believed to be the oldest pub in York, dating back to 1644 AND where I had my first English pint! I’m planning on writing a more detailed post all about our day in York soon!
The Scarborough Seafront
If you’re looking for a beautiful seafront, look no further than Scarborough. We spent the majority of our time in Scarborough and, I must say, I fell in love with its seafront. Full of stunning views, a pier with an iconic lighthouse, miles of seaside cliffs, a medieval castle, numerous restaurants, arcades, and even an ice cream parlour, this seafront did not disappoint. We even watched a firework show one night!
I loved driving down the Cobblestone road right next to the sea, watching the waves crash– some even onto the road! My mother-in-law told me the road was put down in Victorian times and is all that remains of the original promenade. At the far north side of the seafront, there’s a small area with a quaint pub called Ol Scalby Mills (delicious!) and an aquarium with a walking area. This was definitely my favorite area of the seafront. I could’ve stared out into the sea in awe for hours… More later on our time in Scarborough, but the seafront was definitely something to highlight!
We did so many amazing things while on our trip that it was hard to choose only a few! But I would definitely say these were the favorites and if you ever find yourself in that part of England, I would highly recommend seeing as many of these sites as you can.
the windy city mama xx
p.s. please feel free to comment below with any specific questions!