Dalby Forest Visitor Centre

Dalby Forest, located in North Yorkshire is a beautiful forest with plenty to do for a family day out. Park near the Dalby Forest Visitors Centre, take a walk, have fun in the playground or just have a nice barbecue.

Dalby Forest Visitors Centre

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Dalby Forest

We all have that place, don’t we? That perfect place that we want to go back time and time again that has more memories than you can count.

For us that is Dalby Forest. Dom remembers it from childhood, and he first introduced me to Dalby, the day he passed his driving test way back in 2002. The summer of 2002 we went on as many days out to Dalby Forest as we could, then we moved away in 2004 and when we moved back to Yorkshire, it returned as our special place.

It has changed a bit since our early days there, and the playground is now better and the parking has moved a little, but it still has that perfect place in our hearts.

For our first ever day out we are recommending on Trip Meets Travel it felt that Dalby needed the first mention.

Our Day Trip To Dalby Forest

The first thing, you will notice, as you approach Dalby Forest, is how beautiful the surrounding villages are. When we visit Dalby, it is an hour drive for us and we get to pass through some gorgeous little villages, the last one being Thornton-le-Dale which is so pretty.

Getting To Dalby Forest
You are nearly there when you see the sign for Dalby Forest. You then follow the road until you approach the barrier and then head to your preferred parking area.

We like the first parking just before the visitors centre. You are so close to the visitors centre that you can see it from where your car is parked.

Or you can opt for the next parking along, which is good if you have small kids because its closer to the kids area. 

Then from the parking you can decide if you are biking/walking or heading to the visitors centre or the playground.

Both are in opposite directions to each other, and you head through the visitors centre to the kids playground or in the opposite direction towards Dalby Cycle Hub to go on one of the many Dalby Walks or Dalby Bike Rides.

I will share with you tomorrow on Trip Meets Travel all about cycling at Dalby Forest and today is all about a day out with a nice walk, something to eat and then taking the kids to the playground.

Call it bribery, but the schoolteachers at the kids school would call it “rewarding good behaviour”, what we do is do the walk first and then if they are good, then playground later. I have tried it the other way and the kids are just not interested in a walk after the playground.

Dalby Forest Walks

Whether we go to Dalby Forest in spring, summer, autumn, or winter, we still find that walks in Dalby Forest are great fun and a real way the kids can discover some nature along the way.

As you enter the walk routes there are many different levels of difficultness depending on your fitness level or if you are with small kids and they don’t walk for very long.

We choose the one that is about 5km/3 miles and that is perfect for us and for enjoying a nice walk through the forest. If the kids are having a fitter day, we will simply do the same walk in Dalby Forest, taking it to 10km.

Walk In Dalby Forest
Though of course it can take a while as Sofia especially loves climbing as we walk. And then she will lead Jorge up a tree too and then he will struggle to get back down!

You will also find lots of streams and pretty things to look at as you go through the walks in Dalby and it makes walking less boring.

If you are one of those people that feels like walking is boring a walk through Dalby with your family is a totally different experience.

Streams In Dalby Forest
This is one of the many beautiful streams at Dalby, and whilst this is from a winter visit in the summer you will often find kids playing in them.
Having Fun and Getting Dirty At Dalby Forest
Plus, of course mum to a six year old boy, we are going to get dirty, especially when visiting over the Easter holidays. Me & Dom are one step ahead though and took the kids in old trainers and the trainers went in the washing machine when we got home.

Though if you are going to Dalby out of the summer season, we recommend coats with hoods in case it rains and a thick jumper. Dom and I also have a rucksack on each and then we have a place to store water bottles and space for coats if we get too warm.

Walking Dogs In Dalby Forest

We have a 4 year old Boxer girl called Allie and she loves a walk through Dalby Forest. She is also not good in crowded places, and we find the forest is great for her, as it never feels over busy.

Walking Dogs In Dalby Forest
We all love to walk Allie, so we take it in turns though I always find it cutest watching the kids walk her through the forest. Plus, it gives us a rest

To keep our boxer dehydrated what we take with us is a little plastic bowl that is meant for picnic food and add some of our water to it. Then keep the empty bowl in our rucksack ready for when she needs a drink.

Dalby Forest Cafe

Then after you have burned some calories going for a walk around Dalby, lets talk food. You have the Dalby Forest Café which is inside the Dalby Forest Visitors Centre, but we found that there is not that much choice in food and we would rather bring a picnic than eat there.

But new for 2023 we spotted The Courtyard Café which is in a brilliant location. It has a big courtyard with public toilets to one side and then the cycle hub to the other. It’s the first place you will see when you return from one of the many forest walks.

The Courtyard Cafe View
This is the view from the toilets to the courtyard café. As you can see its all very close and plenty of outside seating.
Toilets At Dalby Forest
Then facing the other way, from the outside seating this is how close you are to the toilets. So not far to go to have everything together.
Courtyard Cafe View
And around the side of the courtyard café there is further seating with a view and wow really reminds you that you are somewhere special.

Our first time eating at the Courtyard café was very nice and the food was AMAZING and I believe they had only been in business for two weeks at the time.

But the second time for May Day bank holiday was really not very good and has put us off having some lunch there on our next visit.

We ordered our favourite sausage and bacon butties and after waiting 20 minutes was told there was no sausages left, even though they had informed the table next us about this sooner.

Then the cakes we had ordered, were sat on the side of the café and not brought out to us like our previous visit. Plus, there was not much choice and it felt like they were not prepared for a bank holiday and all the people that would be looking for something to eat.

Then when our bacon butty came (minus the sausage) they hadn’t added extra bacon to make up for the sausage, so there really wasn’t much bacon in the butty.

We had just done 10km with the kids, were so hungry and rather disappointed.

Dalby Forest Picnics

Of course, most of the time when we go on a day out we take a picnic as its so much easier and much cheaper. If you do want to do the picnic in Dalby, then there are plenty of benches spread out, for those too old for sitting on the grass, and of course plenty of grassy areas.

Picnic At Dalby Forest
This is Allie after the people next to us had a sandwich and after her Dad said you are not having my sandwich!

Though I do wish Dalby has its old set up because the cars were on the grass and you could have the picnic right next to your car. It saved carrying a picnic around with you. Or is that just lazy?

Dalby Forest Play Area

Ask Sofia and Jorge and they will tell you that the best thing about visiting Dalby Forest, is a trip to the play area, which is big and plenty for the kids to do. Its also very close to a little stream that many of the kids jump in during the hotter summer months.

Though with all the different things in the playground I can guarantee Sofia & Jorge will be at the swings. There is one regular swing and 1 infant swing. I wish there was more swings, but with everything else to do its fine.

Kids Swings At Dalby Forest
Sofia is head of pushing and Jorge just loves a head start when we visit the playground.

Though Dalby Forest best playground benefit is the seating area that they have for us mums and dads as we wait for our kids to finish playing. Time for the kids to relax!

Seating At Dalby Forest Kids Play Area
You have café seating above just outside the Visitor Centre and then the benches that overlook the kids playground.

Then we usually finish on an ice cream and then by now its about 4pm and we do the 1hr drive home and talk about what a fabulous day we have had at Dalby Forest. Or if it’s a little earlier, we will sneak in a quick stop at Goathland on the way home!

Dalby Forest Visitor Information

  • Dalby Forest address for your Google Maps: Dalby Visitor Centre, Low Dalby, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering, North Yorkshire.
  • Dalby Forest postcode for your sat nav: YO18 7LT
  • Do you have to pay to get into Dalby Forest? There is a Dalby Forest entry fee and its only charged as you leave Dalby Forest. You need to find a Dalby Forest pay station and then get yourself one of the tickets as you leave.
Dalby Forest Pay Station
This is one of the pay stations at Dalby Forest. This one is located just outside the visitor centre but there is also one at the entrance.
  • How much does Dalby Forest cost? There is no entry fee just a parking fee for using their car park. This means if you are on foot and don’t have a car, there is no payment to enter Dalby Forest. For those with a car expect to pay £10 in high season and £5 in low season.
  • What time does Dalby Forest open? Dalby Forest opens at 8am everyday and then closes at 8pm. Sometimes we have been somewhere else in North Yorkshire and arrived at 5pm to enjoy reduced prices and just go for a walk.
  • Are there toilets at Dalby Forest? Yes, there are toilets at Dalby Forest and you will find the main ones in the Visitor Centre then there is another lot of toilets at The Courtyard next to the Cycling hub. I’m sure there are more toilets than this but these are the two most known ones.
  • Is Dalby Forest café dog friendly? Yes, Dalby Forest and its cafes are dog friendly. Our dog is scared of other people so we choose to sit outside with her, rather than taking her inside of the café.

Pin Dalby Forest For Later!

Well, that’s a wrap, do you have any questions then do ask below and if you want to refer back, to this later for planning your Dalby Forest things to do list then don’t forget to pin it to your travel board or days out board on Pinterest.

Our Trip To Dalby Forest Review _ Photos

You Should Plan A Visit To Dalby Forest
About the author

Run by Sam, Dom, Kyle, Sofia & Jorge it documents our family’s love for eating out, day trips, road trips and great holidays.

We just love a trip, we love to travel, and here we will show you with a little planning, how to have a great adventure and create new memories along the way!

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