Kendal is affectionately known as the ‘Gateway to the Lakes’ locally, and you just need to take a look around to see why. With the fells of the Lake District looming in the backdrop and a certain lakes charm about the town, it acts as the perfect introduction to Cumbrian life.
Whether you’re planning to visit for a day or longer, there’s plenty to see and things to do in Kendal!
Attractions and things to do in Kendal
This grand, privately owned house is situated just outside of Kendal town centre. It plays home to the world’s oldest topiary gardens, beautifully decorated rooms and a 9,500-acre agricultural estate.
Levens Hall is Elizabethan in design and was built in the 13th Century around a Pele tower, which is a small, fortified keep. Much of the interior has been kept in a similar style, housing trinkets and items from families who have lived there in centuries past.
You can also wander through the beautiful gardens of Levens Hall, taking in all the beautiful smells and sights which have remained pretty much the same since the 17th Century. If you venture further, you’ll be able to spot the orchards, wildflower meadows and rolling lawns, too.
There’s also the opportunity to taste some of the produce from Levens Hall in Levens Kitchen. With a menu designed with the produce of the estate in mind, you can really get a literal taste for the hall and its rich history.
For more information on Levens Hall, please visit their website.
Sizergh Castle is a Medieval property which is owned and managed by the National Trust. It can be seen coming into Kendal from the south and is still occupied by the Strickland family who has lived here for over 700 years. The name Sizergh is ancient Scandinavian, and means ‘summer pasture or dairy farm’.
Within the castle, you will find portraits and furniture from centuries ago, rare relics from the Jacobite era and the wooden panelling throughout culminate in the Inlaid Chamber which had been removed and taken to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until 1999.
Outdoors, the estate spans 1,600-acres of a variety of different environments; limestone pasture, orchards and semi-natural woodland. The outdoor area is perfect for dog walking, too!
For more information on what you can see and do at Sizergh, please visit the castle’s website
Lakeland Maze Farm Park
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids that is mainly child-focussed (but fun for you adults, too) then why now head to Lakeland Maze Farm Park.
Very aptly named, this attraction is a great day out for all the family with everything kids could ever possibly need to have fun. There’s a huge maize maze to try and conquer and which can take up to two hours to complete, and a smaller maze for younger children.
There’s also a small farm on site, too where you can get up close and personal with some of the animals. It’s a working farm so you will be able to see cows, sheep, goats, horses and pigs, as well as some of the more exotic farmyard animals such as ferrets, llamas and alpacas!
There’s plenty to do at Lakeland Maze Farm Park – it’s a definite all-day location!
To find out more about what’s on at Lakeland Maze Farm Park, how to get there and admission prices, please visit their website.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Housed in a Grade I listed building, the art gallery at Abbot Hall hosts some incredible pieces of contemporary and historical artworks. Back in 2017, the gallery won Art Gallery of the Year Cumbria Life Culture Awards and continued to exhibit collections today.
Aside from the artwork, there are also many other events on, some which occur weekly. Such as the Saturday Art Club for children to attend. The gallery is keen on involving more young people in the future of art, so if you have children, be sure to check that out.
While you can wander the gallery at your own pace, there are guides who are able to answer any questions you may have. It’s a relaxing, inspiring way to spend a few hours!
For information on the exhibitions currently showing at the gallery and more, please visit the Abbot Hall Art Gallery website
Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve
Part of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Foulshow Moss is a nature reserve which is famed for its ospreys.
The reserve consists of a restored peat bog which the trust has spent over 15 years restoring and encouraging wildlife to return to the area. Their hard work is paying off, though, and the reserve is now home to a variety of rare and not-so-rare species of plants and animals, such as the white-faced darter and emperor dragonflies.
As mentioned above, one of the main draws to the reserve are the two ospreys which have chosen to raise their young in the area. You can see them from the viewing platform soaring across the sky during the summer months. There are other birds to watch out for, too – avid bird lovers may be able to spot or hear stonechats, teals, sipes and tree pipits!
During the winter, you may also be lucky to catch a glimpse of hen harriers and marsh harriers gliding around the reserve, as well as the odd red deer if you are very lucky!
Find out more about the species you can spot at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve and advice on seeing them over on the Cumbria Wildlife Trust website.
Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry
Situated within the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry transports you back through what life has been like for the people of the Lake District and how it has changed throughout the centuries.
Here you will learn about the rich farming history of the Lakes, as well as finding out more about one of the Lake District’s most famous authors, Arthur Ransome. You can even take a walk down a typical Victorian high street and compare how different it is to the high street of today!
There are plenty of visiting exhibits all year round, so even if you’ve already visited, there will always be something new to see and learn about!
For more information on the current exhibits, how to find it and more, please take a look at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry website.
Walks around Kendal
Being named the gateway to the Lakes, it probably comes as no surprise that there are some beautiful walking opportunities in and around Kendal. You don’t have to wander far to get a glimpse of the beautiful Lake District fells!
The Kendal River Walk
Kendal is known for its many bridges as you travel through its town centre, and it’s thanks to these that you can take a leisurely stroll next to and over the River Kent that flows through Kendal.
The river walk is circular in nature and takes you past some of the interesting features and attractions Kendal has to offer. From the ruins of Kendal castle to taking a walk along the footpaths to the south and coming across Sizergh Castle and Levens Hall, or heading south-west and visiting Whitbarrow National Nature reserve.
Find out the different options and places you can visit on this route by clicking here.
Starting just 4 miles outside of Kendal, this walk is one of the longest and most rewarding in the Lake District.
Taking you up to the top of Garburn Pass, around the Kentmere Reservoir and through and over other fells in the area, it’s definitely a walk for those seeking a bit of a challenge while in the Kendal area.
Parking in Kentmere is severely limited, so be prepared to look for alternative parking areas and walking into the start point.
Find out more about this route and where it will take you here.
Helsington Barrow, Brigsteer
For a quieter walk which rewards walkers with incredible views of the Lakeland fells, Morecambe Bay and the Kent Estuary, we definitely recommend heading off on the Helsington Barrow walk from Brigsteer.
It’s not one for the faint-hearted – Helsington Barrow offers no shelter from the elements and can become quite breezy, but the views definitely make the hike worth it. You may even spot some rare orchids on your travels around the area, especially as the barrows is a great location for orchids to grow.
This walk should take around 3 hours to complete, and it is recommended that you bring your own refreshments as there isn’t any stop off near the walk site to fuel up.
Find out more about the Helsington Barrow route here
Places to Eat in Kendal
2 Sisters Cafe at Plumgarths
If you’re a real foodie, you may be familiar with the name Plumgarths. Producing delicious sausages, burgers and other meats, the farm is well known locally and further afield for their high quality produce.
The cafe is located next to the farm shop and uses fresh produce to give you one of the best food experiences in the area – and it’s perfect for a breakfast stop-off. Whether you’re looking to indulge in an all-day breakfast or just a small meal to start your day, you can taste the freshness of the ingredients.
2 Sisters is renowned for their homemade food and has quite a reputation for delicious homemade food.
You can find out more about 2 Sisters Cafe and take a look at their menu on their website
For a wide variety of breakfast items, Yard 46 is a place that is hard to beat for choice. From their notoriously filling breakfast bap to duck egg on toasted ciabatta with spinach – there’s something for everyone to fuel up on.
Portion sizes are something that you don’t need to worry about, and the freshly-cooked food is flavoured to perfection. It’s a truly no-fuss breakfast to start your day off right!
Their coffee is also described on their Trip Advisor as to “die for”, so it’s a must-visit for all you coffee lovers!
Take a look at Yard 46’s Trip Advisor page for more information.
Describing themselves as an independent, shabby chic coffee house, the innovative food and drink served at Brew Brothers is something that shouldn’t be missed,
Whether you opt for one of their delicious open sandwiches, all day brunches or simply want to indulge in a slab of cake, there’s something for every appetite at Brew Brothers. For those looking for a heartier meal at lunchtime, there is the choice of burgers, fishcakes ‘dirty fires’ and more… and the menu is continually evolving to include more dishes!
They’re fully licensed too, meaning you can enjoy an alcoholic beverage with your food if you desire!
Find out more about Brew Brothers and their food options over on their website.
A coffee house, sandwich bar and deli all rolled into one, Baba Ganoush is perfect for those who love to have a wide choice of food to choose from.
With many soups often on offer at one time, vegetarian options everywhere and delicious fresh produce used in every meal, you really can’t go wrong choosing Baba Ganoush as your dining spot of choice at lunch.
It’s hidden out of the way, meaning it’s often missed by many, but those who do know of the delicious meals they produce can often flock around dinnertime and make getting a seat almost impossible.
You don’t have to be strictly vegetarian to enjoy Baba Ganoush’s menu – find out more information on their Trip Advisor
The Joshua Tree
Another of Kendal’s hidden gems, this bistro is tucked away in one of the oldest buildings in Kendal. The owners have had years of experience in the service industry and offer a friendly, warm service to everyone.
They are passionate about affordability, and the portion sizes are incredibly generous for the price you pay. Their food is often seasonal and the menu changes to accommodate what food is in season.
During the day, there’s the option of sandwiches and appetisers, as well as larger more filling meals such as burgers, gammon steaks and gnocchi.
Like the sound of The Joshua Tree? Check out their menu and event listings over on their website
Combining delicious local produce with the taste of Europe and the Mediterranean, Corner 124 is a wonderful dinner choice.
With imaginative vegetarian dishes available and sharing platters and small plates to choose from, it’s perfect for those who want to try a little bit of everything. There’s also a wide range of desserts to choose from, making it ideal for those with a sweet tooth!
While you don’t need to book a table, it is advisable as it can get quite busy at times and you won’t want to miss trying out this unique dining spot.
Find out more about Corner 124 over on their website.
If you’re looking for something a little different from traditional pub food, Pedro’s Casa offers a delightful Spanish, Italian and Mexican alternative to standard pub grub.
As an award-winning establishment, you can already expect a delicious array of food and the menu definitely doesn’t disappoint. From paella to fish dishes to Fajitas and pizza, there’s something to suit everyone.
They say that their food is meant to be shared and that they recommend ordering 2-3 dishes per person to get the full Pedro’s Casa experience and feel satisfied.
Take a look at their menu and find out more about Pedro’s Casa over on their website.