30 Best Things to Do in Kendal, Gateway to the Lakes


Nestled in the scenic embrace of Cumbria, Kendal stands as a testament to England’s rich tapestry of history, art, and natural beauty.

Often heralded as the ‘Gateway to the Lakes‘, this charming market town offers more than just a pitstop en route to the Lake District.

From its ancient castle ruins and world-renowned mint cake to vibrant festivals that echo with laughter and dance, Kendal weaves a story that beckons travellers from near and far.

If you’re an adventurer seeking the thrill of the fells, a history enthusiast tracing the footsteps of the past, or a culture vulture hungry for artistic encounters, Kendal promises a journey of discovery and delight.

Our latest comprehensive guide takes you through some of the best things to do in Kendal. We start with its famous castle.

Explore Kendal Castle

Kendal Castle, standing majestically over the town, is a testament to Kendal’s rich history.

As one of the leading Kendal attractions, these Norman castle ruins offer not just a glimpse into the medieval past but also panoramic views of the town and the surrounding fells.

Originally built in the 12th century for the Barons of Kendal, the castle’s remnants, including the walls and towers, evoke tales of power, politics, and prestige.

For those compiling their Kendal travel guide, a visit to Kendal Castle is a must, offering both historical insights and picturesque landscapes.

Address – Kendal Castle, Castle Hill, LA9 7BL

Visit Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Nestled in a beautifully restored Georgian villa, the Abbot Hall Art Gallery stands as a beacon of cultural excellence in the region and is one of the most highly-recommended things to do in Kendal. 

The gallery boasts an impressive collection of artworks, including pieces by renowned artists like J.M.W. Turner and George Romney.

The gallery’s tranquil setting by the River Kent adds to its charm, making it a serene space for art appreciation.

For art enthusiasts and those keen on Kendal activities that offer a blend of culture and history, Abbot Hall Art Gallery is a must-visit.

Address – Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kirkland, LA9 5AL

Discover The Quaker Tapestry Museum

The Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendal offers a unique journey into the history and beliefs of the Quaker movement.

As one of the top Kendal attractions, the museum showcases a series of intricately embroidered panels that depict significant events and principles associated with Quakerism.

Each panel, crafted with dedication and skill, tells a story, making the museum a rich tapestry of history, art, and spirituality.

For those compiling their Kendal travel guide, the Quaker Tapestry Museum provides a deep dive into a lesser-known facet of British history.

Address – The Quaker Tapestry Museum, Friends Meeting House, Stramongate, LA9 4BH

Wander through Kendal Museum

Established in 1796, Kendal Museum stands as one of the oldest museums in the UK.

This popular Kendal sightseeing spot, offers a diverse collection that spans natural history, archaeology, and geology.

From ancient artefacts to intriguing exhibits on local wildlife, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of the region’s rich heritage.

Its interactive displays and well-curated sections make it a favourite among families and those keen on Kendal activities that are both educational and engaging.

Address – Kendal Museum, Station Road, LA9 6BT

Climb at Lakeland Climbing Centre

For those seeking adrenaline-pumping Kendal activities, the Lakeland Climbing Centre offers an unparalleled experience.

Recognised as one of the UK’s premier climbing centres, it provides a range of climbing walls suitable for both beginners and seasoned climbers.

The centre’s state-of-the-art facilities and expert trainers ensure a safe yet thrilling climbing experience.

Whether you’re looking to hone your climbing skills or seeking a unique addition to your Kendal travel guide, the Lakeland Climbing Centre promises an adventure like no other.

Address – Lakeland Climbing Centre, Lake District Business Park, LA9 6NH

Experience the Brewery Arts Centre

The Brewery Arts Centre stands as a vibrant hub of creativity and entertainment.

This cornerstone of Kendal cultural highlights, offers a diverse range of events, from cinema screenings and theatre productions to live music and comedy shows.

Housed in a historic building that once was an actual brewery, the centre has been transformed into a modern space that celebrates the arts in all its forms.

With its eclectic programme, the Brewery Arts Centre is a must-visit for those seeking enriching Kendal activities that cater to varied artistic tastes.

Address – Brewery Arts Centre, 122a Highgate, LA9 4HE

Shop in Kendal’s Historic Centre

Kendal’s historic centre, with its cobbled streets and charming alleyways, offers a delightful shopping experience.

As a prime Kendal sightseeing spot, the town centre boasts a mix of independent boutiques, artisan shops, and traditional markets.

From local crafts and gourmet treats to fashion and antiques, there’s something for every shopper.

The bustling market days, with their vibrant stalls and local produce, add to the town’s allure.

For those compiling their Kendal travel guide, a leisurely shopping spree in the town centre is a must, offering a blend of retail therapy and local culture.

Address – Kendal Town Centre, Highgate, LA9 4DL

Admire Kendal Parish Church

The Kendal Parish Church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is an architectural marvel that reflects the town’s rich religious heritage.

As one of the top Kendal attractions, this historic church boasts five aisles, intricate stone carvings, and stunning stained glass windows.

Its impressive tower, visible from various parts of the town, stands as a testament to the craftsmanship of yesteryears.

The church’s serene interiors, coupled with its historic artefacts, make it a peaceful retreat for reflection.

Address –
Kendal Parish Church, Kirkland, LA9 5AF

Stroll along the Riverside Walk

The Riverside Walk in Kendal offers a tranquil escape amidst nature, meandering along the River Kent, offering picturesque views of the town’s historic buildings, lush greenery, and local wildlife.

The gentle gurgling of the river, coupled with the chirping of birds, makes it a therapeutic experience.

Benches along the way provide spots for relaxation and reflection – the Riverside Walk is a must-visit attractions, offering a serene experience amidst the town’s natural beauty.

Address – Riverside Walk, LA9 4DZ

Learn about the History at Sizergh Castle

Just a short drive from Kendal, Sizergh Castle is a historic gem that offers insights into the region’s aristocratic past.

this National Trust property boasts beautifully preserved interiors, stunning gardens, and a rich tapestry of history.

The castle’s intricate woodwork, historic artefacts, and guided tours make it a favourite among history enthusiasts.

The surrounding gardens, with their exotic plants and serene ponds, add to the castle’s allure.

For those seeking Kendal activities that offer a blend of history and natural beauty, Sizergh Castle promises a journey back in time.

Address – Sizergh Castle, Sizergh, LA8 8DZ

Relax at Levens Hall

Levens Hall, with its historic charm and world-famous topiary gardens, is a haven for history and nature lovers alike.

This manor house boasts interiors that reflect various periods, from Elizabethan to Victorian times.

The gardens, with their intricate topiary designs, are some of the oldest in the world and offer a maze of green sculptures that captivate the imagination.

The estate’s deer park and orchards further add to its charm. For those keen on visiting top Kendal visitor attraction that offer a blend of history, art, and nature, Levens Hall is a must-visit.

Address – Levens Hall, Levens, LA8 0PD

Savour Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal Mint Cake, more than just a confectionery item, is an integral part of the town’s culinary heritage.

Often featured in Kendal travel guides, this energy-boosting treat has been a favourite among mountaineers, explorers, and locals for decades.

Made primarily from sugar and peppermint oil, its origins date back to the early 20th century.

Over the years, it has been associated with numerous expeditions, including Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest.

Sampling this iconic cake, available in various local shops, is absolutely essential!

Address – Various shops, Kendal Town Centre, Highgate, LA9 4DL

Engage at Kendal Leisure Centre

Kendal Leisure Centre stands as a hub for recreational and fitness activities in the town. 

This prominent Kendal attraction, boasts a range of facilities catering to individuals of all ages.

From a modern gym and swimming pools to sports courts and fitness classes, it offers a comprehensive suite of options for those looking to stay active.

The centre also hosts various events, workshops, and community programmes, making it a vibrant spot in any Kendal travel itinerary.

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a family looking for a fun day out, Kendal Leisure Centre provides a blend of health, recreation, and community spirit.

Address – Kendal Leisure Centre, Burton Road, LA9 7HX

Attend Local Festivals in Kendal

Kendal’s vibrant community spirit is best experienced during its local festivals.

The town hosts a range of events throughout the year that celebrate its culture, arts, and traditions.

The Kendal Mountain Festival, for instance, attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world, offering film screenings, lectures, and exhibitions centred on adventure and nature.

The Kendal Torchlight Carnival, another significant event, lights up the town with its procession, dance, and music.

These local events showcase the  town’s community spirit and cultural richness – attending them provides a memorable and immersive experience.

Address – Various venues, Kendal Town Centre, Highgate, LA9 4DL

For more ideas about the best things to do in Kendal, see the offical Kendal tourism website.

Top Kendal/Lakeland Experiences

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.