Malton is the local commercial centre. In the town centre there are lots of small traditional independent shops. The market place has recently become a meeting area with a number of coffee bars and cafés opening all day to complement the public houses. Most of the town's real estate is owned by the Fitzwilliam estate.
The town stands on the site of a former Roman settlement, although no firm conclusion has been agreed upon as to which this settlement actually was. The uncertainty surrounds, in particular, the exact location of the Roman town of Derventio. Contradictory records describe Derventio as being either 7 or 17 miles east of York. The former is consistent with the site of a Roman settlement known to have existed in proximity to the current village of Stamford Bridge, in which case the settlement at Malton is more likely to have been Delgovicia. The latter places Derventio at Malton.
Malton was briefly a parliamentary borough in the 13th century, and again from 1640 to 1885; the borough was sometimes referred to as New Malton. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1868, among them the political philosopher Edmund Burke, and by one member from 1868 to 1885.
Attractions in Malton include the remains of a Roman fort ('Orchard Fields'), a museum and a Gilbertine priory. Eden Camp, a military themed museum, is located just outside the town. Norton-on-Derwent is a town joining Malton, on the East Riding side of the River Derwent. It is known for its racehorse training. Malton Bacon Factory, Malton bus station and Malton railway station are actually located in Norton-on-Derwent. It is also known for its connection with Charles Dickens.
Malton holds a market every Saturday, as well as a farmers' market once every month. Milton Rooms is a popular entertainment building for young adults, and also holds pantomimes, local productions and council meetings, Malton also has a war memorial and several historical churches (Norton-on-Derwent also holds large church buildings). The town is served by Malton railway station. Malton also has many educational establishments.
Malton and the neighbouring village of Old Malton provide the settings for the collection of stories told in the book, "All is Bright - A Yorkshire Lad's Christmas" by Dave Preston.
The nearby village of Kirby Misperton is the location of Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo, Malton is a popular destination for people visiting North Yorkshire as Kirby Misperton is close-by, as well as being a middle-ground between York, Pickering (access to the North Yorkshire Moors and also a terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway), Scarborough, Filey and Whitby.