Market Rasen is one of Lincolnshire’s traditional rural market towns. It is perhaps most famous for its racecourse, but there is so much more to see and do around the area. The town is a gateway to the stunning English countryside, standing on the cusp of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and in this heartland of agriculture there are some fabulous spots to enjoy delicious local food. Here are some of the best things to do in Market Rasen and nearby to make the most of your visit.
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Why visit Market Rasen?
Before we explore our tips on things to do in Market Rasen, here’s a quick introduction to the town. While it is known around the country for being home to Market Rasen Racecourse, the real charm comes in its identity as a traditional old market town on the doorstep of nature.
We often visit Market Rasen for weekend camping trips and hikes in the Lincolnshire Wolds, but we always make a little time to drop into the town for its market, food and shops.
Because it is in the nucleus of Lincolnshire’s famous agriculture traditions, the food in Market Rasen is always outstanding, whether it’s the fresh produce from the market stalls or a meal at a local restaurant supplied by nearby farms.
Ready to plan your visit to Market Rasen? Let’s get started.
Things to do in Market Rasen town centre
1. Browse the quirky independent shops
As a small rural market town, Market Rasen remains relatively untouched by high street brand shops. The cosy town centre is instead riddled with dozens of quirky independent shops and local businesses.
Mooching around town you can find all sorts of trinkets. We came across stores selling hardware, houseware, clothes, artwork, handmade gifts, second-hand goods, games, antiques, textiles, ironware and furniture, to name a few!
Queen Street in the town centre is the main artery for these shops, but take some time to wander up a few side streets too. Getting lost exploring these characterful little shops is a really fun way to while away an hour or two.
2. Try the famous sweets from Garnett’s
One shop in Market Rasen well worthy of a mention in its own right is Garnett’s Sweet Shop. This is one of the town’s oldest businesses, now with the third generation of the same family.
Garnett’s has the feel of a traditional old English sweet shop and sells all manner of confectionery. Stepping inside you will find gums, toffees, boiled sweets, fudge, liquorice, sherbet, chocolate, and lots more!
If you’re in town with kids or you have a sweet tooth yourself, it’s a must to pay this little gem a visit.
3. Have breakfast at Jossals
Market Rasen town centre is home to many lovely independent cafés and restaurants. One such place is Jossals, a friendly coffee shop and bistro at the heart of Queen Street.
Jossals is situated in a building that was once the town’s post office. Since being repurposed, it has been serving a tasty menu of food and hot drinks for more than three decades.
This place has gained a particular reputation for its slap-up full English breakfasts. As a rule of thumb I always judge a full English by the sausages. Jossals uses herby sausages sourced from a local butcher that are guaranteed to leave you satisfied for a day at the races or walking it off in the countryside.
If you’d prefer to come later in the day, drop in for a Jossals cream tea. You will be warmly welcomed by the friendly team of staff.
4. Have brunch at March Hare Kitchen & Deli
If you’re looking for somewhere to brunch in Market Rasen, then you must pay a visit to March Hare. You will find it right next to the cobbles of the Market Place.
This imaginative local business wears many hats. It’s like a deli, brunch bar, coffee shop, tapas restaurant and cocktail bar all rolled into one!
The brunch offering is what has really put the March Hare on the map though. The creative brunch menu brings together a blend of classic and original options, and the dishes are highly photogenic. So, if you’re an Instagram foodie type, or you just love good food served with some style, then make this your number one stop in town.
5. Visit the historic market on Tuesday
The clue is in the name. Market Rasen is first and foremost a historic market town. A regular market gathering still takes place on the cobbled Market Place in the town centre.
The market has been held weekly on Tuesdays since as far back as the 13th century. In its bustling heyday, farmers descended on the town to sell livestock, crops and grain.
While it’s not quite as big and bustling as days gone by, the market is still a staple of life in the town. Come down on a Tuesday from 8:30am to 3pm, peruse the stalls and find yourself a bargain!
6. Try the homemade pies at the Aston Arms
Perhaps the most authentic way to experience lunch in Market Rasen is at one of its handful of traditional English pubs. The Aston Arms is one such example, at the far end of the Market Place, with the tower of St Thomas’ Church rising up behind it.
The Aston Arms is written into Lincolnshire folklore. The legendary Bernie Taupin, who grew up in the area and is famed for his songwriting partnership with Elton John, apparently based the lyrics of Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting on skirmishes outside the pub in the early 1970s.
You won’t find any fights these days, just a warm and friendly atmosphere at an old-fashioned rural town pub, perfect for summer lunches in its relaxing beer garden.
The Aston Arms serves a varied food menu, but is most acclaimed for its tasty homemade pies. There are many fillings to choose from, including steak and stout, chicken and ham, mince and onion, and classic Lincolnshire sausage. Rounded off, of course, with a dollop of mash and gravy.
7. Stay at the five-star Advocate Arms
Our pick among the handful of accommodation options in Market Rasen is the Advocate Arms. This hotel and restaurant combo is the only place in town to be award five stars by the AA, and its overnight rates are extremely reasonable for somewhere of such quality.
The restaurant has a great reputation too, having received two AA rosettes in recognition of its outstanding food quality. The menu comprises hearty classic pub food cooked to gourmet standards.
Check out our guide to places to stay in Market Rasen for more options around the town.
Things to do near Market Rasen
8. Have a day out at Lincolnshire’s only racecourse
Market Rasen is known for having the only active racecourse in Lincolnshire. Located just a mile outside the town centre, the racecourse becomes a hive of activity on race days, sometimes bringing thousands of people to the town.
Market Rasen Racecourse has a long and colourful history. The town has hosted races since the early 19th century. Its current location on Willingham Road has been the permanent setting for nearly a century; a horse called ‘Have a Clue’ won the first race on the course on Easter Monday 1924.
A day at the races is a lot of fun, and you can get tickets for as cheap as £10 in the low season and £12–£15 in summer. Midweek afternoon meetings are held every couple of weeks in the summer, with occasional weekend meetings too.
Check out the Jockey Club website for the latest programme of events.
9. Go walking in Willingham Woods
Just a couple of miles outside Market Rasen to the east, you can plunge into one of the most picturesque forests in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Willingham Woods covers an area of some 290 hectares, intertwined with a network of gentle pathways that meander among its towering pine trees.
Willinghams Woods is a lovely place to spend a peaceful afternoon walking or cycling, perhaps stopping for a picnic at one of its dedicated areas. Keep your eyes peeled for the native wildlife of the woodland, from deer to ducks and everything in between.
The main car park is located at Willingham Woods Bikers Meeting Place on Willingham Road (the A631), where there is also a café.
10. Try walking the North Route of the Lindsey Trail
If you want to try a more substantial walk, the North Route of the Lindsey Trail passes right by Market Rasen. The Willingham Woods Bikers Meeting Point is the ideal start and end point, although it is a loop trail, so you can pick it up anywhere.
This trail is a 16-kilometre circuit that incorporates a section of Willingham Woods as well as the charming countryside villages of Tealby and Walesby. About two thirds of the route follows quiet countryside roads, with the rest on well maintained off-road tracks.
The Lindsey Trail in its entirety loops 111 kilometres around the Lincolnshire Wolds. On this northern section of it, you can discover some gorgeous rolling farmlands, low hills and woodlands.
The trail took us about 5–6 hours at a very leisurely pace. Check out our guide to the Lindsey Trail North Route for more details.
11. Have lunch at Lincolnshire’s oldest thatched pub
The Kings Head Tealby is right up there with the best pubs we’ve experience in Lincolnshire. With origins in the 14th century, it is believed to be the oldest thatched pub in the county. But there is a lot more to this place than the novelty factor.
We stopped here for lunch while walking the Lindsey Trail North Route. As the trail passes through the village about half-way round, it couldn’t have been more perfect for the occasion. It’s also super easy to reach by road from Market Rasen, less than 10 minutes’ drive straight along the A631.
Our lunch at the Kings Head was fabulous. We’ll be back again for sure! From the generous selection of real ales to delicious food sourced from local suppliers, and the spacious sunshine-kissed beer garden, everything was just right. Read more in our review of the Kings Head Tealby.
12. Stargaze in the Lincolnshire Wolds
A few years ago, when Lisa and I took a travelling sabbatical, she developed a passion for taking photos of the stars, inspired by our time among the deserts and valleys of northern Chile. Coming home to Lincolnshire we were keen to check out the stargazing potential in our own county.
Lincolnshire is famed for its big skies, and in the depths of the Lincolnshire Wolds there is minimal light pollution. This makes it an excellet place to see unspoiled starry skies.
When we visited recently the conditions were not perfect, mainly because it was almost full moon, which drowns out the stars. The best time for stargazing is during new moon – you can check the cycle on the website Moon Giant.
We did have a lovely setting for stargazing though, surrounded by pine trees at Walesby Woodlands Caravan Park, just a mile outside Market Rasen. Lisa managed to get a nice selection of photos despite the glare of the moon.
Whether or not you want to try your hand at astrophotography, it’s well worth getting out into the countryside at night around these parts just to witness the beauty of it.
13. Adventure in the treetops at Wild Pines Park
Linwood Warren is a heathland and nature reserve, set just a couple of miles south-east from Market Rasen along Legsby Road. Here, in the heart of nature, you can get stuck into some outdoor activities at Wild Pines Park.
The park features one of the UK’s largest rope courses, numerous ziplines and other adventurous challenges among the treetops. It’s great for a team building day with colleagues or some raw competitive fun with friends and family.
See the Wild Pines Park website to find out more and book.
14. Get your chocolate fix at the Chocolate Drop
Any chocolate lovers visiting Market Rasen should make the short trip on Willingham Road out to the Chocolate Drop. This ‘one stop choc shop’ combines a chocolate kitchen, café and shop.
The Chocolate Drop is a small, local, artisan company that was started in the area over 30 years ago. The team behind it are also the creators of Special Edition Chocolate, which has been recognised with various awards and accolades over the years, including three Great Taste awards and a feature in the book Rick Stein’s Food Heroes.
Pay a visit and satisfy your chocolate fix. You also might notice the Chocolate Drop team popping up at local markets around Lincolnshire. They sometimes come to Lincoln Farmers’ Market, and we’re always happy to see them there!
15. Buy local produce at Sunnyside Up Farm Shop
The Lincolnshire Wolds is one of the true heartlands of British agriculture. The wider county produces around 20% of the UK’s food, and the area surrounding Market Rasen is one of the most important for farming.
You can buy fresh produce from the area at Sunnyside Up farm shop, just a mile up Tealby Road from Market Rasen. The shop has a butcher on site ensuring that the meat is freshly prepared. The shelves are also well stocked with eggs, cheeses, fruit and veg, preserves, chutneys, cakes and more.
The farm shop is open from 9am to 4pm on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays. While you’re visiting, try out the famous homemade scones at its café, set in a 20-year-old barn conversion.
16. Walk to the highest point on the Lincolnshire Wolds
While walking the Lindsey Trail North Route, our curiosity was piqued by the sight of a peculiar structure topped with a white dome at the top of a hill near Walesby.
A little digging revealed this to be a National Air Traffic System radar dome. Most interestingly, it stands at Wolds Top – the very highest point in the Lincolnshire Wolds!
You can see it for miles around, and its setting right next to a country lane makes it is easy to reach by foot or car. I drove up to take a closer look.
Wolds Top is on a bit of a plateau, so the views are limited at the summit. However, when driving back down I was treated to some glorious panoramas of the wolds.
A return walk from Market Rasen would be about 17 kilometres, similar in length to the Lindsey Trail North Route, so it’s an alternative day hike to consider. The trail passes through Claxby Wood and the tiny, pretty village of Normanby le Wold.
Map of things to do in Market Rasen and Nearby
The map below shows the various activities and points of interest highlighted in this article:
Have you been to Market Rasen? Let us know about your time in the town in the comments section below.