Free attractions in the North East – Who doesn’t like a free day out? February half term is lurking closer and closer and we love to combine a few free days into our school holidays because let’s face it, three kids and 2 adults it can get expensive if you are going to paid attractions every day.
I have put together a list of what I think are fabulous family days out for free across the North East. Save those pounds for the extra special days out. In our experience the free days always end up being the most memorable.
Free days out in the North East
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
With collections dating back to 1846 the museum is just bursting with wonderful history from the ship building days the city is well known for to the days of mining. If you are in Sunderland then the Museum is an absolute must see, as is the Winter Gardens with over 2,ooo types of magnificent plants in the all glass rotunda and the beautiful fish that happily swim by in the little pond. You can also enjoy the 2 art galleries too.
One of the oldest Municipal parks in the North East, Mowbray park is a place you can sit and watch the world go by. There is an impressive play area for the younger kids and some hills for the older ones to run up and down. Various events take place throughout the year so do check the calendar.
The National Glass Centre
The glass centre is just a great place to visit inside and out. The boys love the glass platform outside and a walk around the riverbank too. However inside you will be greeted by changing exhibitions, a lovely cafe and if you’re lucky enough you might just catch a glass blowing demo taking place.
Standing at 70 ft high this is the sign that we are home when we have been out for the day or on holiday. Although you probably couldn’t spend a full day here but you could combine it with Herrington Park.You can enjoy a tour to the top with some pretty amazing views every weekend over the summer too.
One of the biggest parks in Sunderland Herrington park in my opinion is one of the best. With plenty of fields to run through and play it also has a fantastic play park for the kids to enjoy. Once the kids are finished playing you could take a walk around the many lakes. You can feed the many birds on the lake and you could explore the woods.
A place that I spent a lot of my time growing up was walking and playing around Silksworth lakes. I honestly think people just don’t realise how great the place is. With a few pretty lakes, long walks with plenty of nature to see and then you can head up to the ski slope which is not free but the huge play park is! You can also use the bike/skating area.
A day at the beach is always lots of fun, even if the weather is rubbish! You can walk,search for pebbles and just relax. Roker has a great play park down on the beach and you can always visit Roker park which is always a great visit there’s also a pretty big play area too. If you can spare a few pounds you can also visit the arcades and have an ice cream.
The Discovery Museum is one of those places that you just can’t believe is free. There is so much to see and do such as the many displays from the past to the brilliant Science maze,Invent space and play tyne, you can easily spend the day here if you take your time and look at everything on show or you could do half a day here and half a day at The Great North Hancock Museum.
The Great Hancock Museum
One of the boys favourite museums to visit, it has dinosaurs! Did I mention it has dinosaurs?!! It has some really great displays and it is educational too. The Hancock has changing exhibitions and to be honest they are always really interesting. The boys also enjoy a trip into the planetarium. Lots of interactive goodies for kiddies too.
Laing Art gallery
One for the older kids, The Laing art gallery has some pretty impressive art to see.You can also enjoy a light bite in the cafe.
We have been walking in Chopwell woods for many years now and we still love to visit quite regularly it is quite basic with forest and Car parks and not much else, but you can get away from city life and just enjoy the lovely trees on the long walks.
St Marys island
Ah St Marys Island is just amazing. If you get good weather then you are in for a treat, but you can spend many happy hours exploring the rock pools and a little sand too. You can take creatures from the rockpools but you must put them back where you got them from. You can also explore the lighthouse, can you climb the 137 steps?
Arbeia roman fort
Standing on the entrance to the river tyne,Arbeia Roman Fort is a fantastic attraction. You can explore the fort and see where the romans held base for over 600 soldiers! Various events are held throughout the year taking you right back into the history.
Seaham has some magnificent beaches to explore, once home to the Glass making industry you can now find some treasure down in the beach. Have you tried looking for some Seaham sea glass?
Holy Island Causeway
Firstly I have to say if this is something you plan on doing, check the tide times! You can have a great walk and spot some wildlife on your trek.
Chain Bridge honey farm
The visitor centre tells the tale of the bee, the honey and how super important bees really are. The boys enjoy watching the bees in their own hive from behind glass and just find it fascinating. The honey farm has a pretty impressive vintage vehicle collection and there’s always a walk to see the chain bridge (Check when it is open as it was under renovation) Cafe and shop on site too.
Durham cathedral and palace green
Maybe not something you would consider a day out but if you combine the Cathedral with other hidden gems in Durham you can have a great day. Soaked in history and lots to explore, check out the stained glass windows they are amazing. Palace green holds some of the best books in the university’s collection.
Beadnell Bay Beach
A really pretty beach to visit, great spot for relaxing letting the kids play and have a picnic.
The Grace Darling Museum
The Museum brings to life the story of Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter. With family friendly trails,activities and exhibitions. The boys loved seeing the boat that she used to make the rescue. There is also a great little chapel across the road that is worth a visit.
Definitely worth a visit if you are in Hexham. Loads to see such as the Crypt, stained glass windows,the frith stool and more. For families there is obviously the Abbey to explore but they also have an exhibition centre which brings the story of the Abbey alive. Also a cafe on site.
Edlingham Castle and church
Not somewhere you could spend a full day but oh is it worth visiting. The castle and church was one of the first historic sites I went too and I just fell in love with the Little church that is steeped in history. The castle is small and ruined but still worth a look. You could park up and then have a walk further across the field and maybe have a picnic but there are no toilets or shops it is just the castle and church. We visit every year and spend a few hours here.
Growing up not far from Finchale I used to visit lots when I was growing up. It is so nice in the summer you can paddle in the river, explore the ruins, play games on the field and go for a walk.
Auckland Castle Deer house
150 acres of parkland to explore it is perfect for letting of some steam, you can take a look at the castle but only from the outside. Wonderful for watching the wildlife go by.
We love Hamsterley Forest. You can easily spend the day exploring the vast forest but they also have some great trails such as the Shaun the sheep Farmageddon glow trail,the Gruffalo orienteering, Geocaching and the fantastic Viking play area.
Another one of our favourites to visit is Kielder Forest, the boys adore the minotaur maze and we always do the family friendly trail which at minute is the Shaun the sheep trail. You can also go for walks and see some of the wonderful wildlife.You could also pop into one of the visitor centres which hosts some great info and some activities for the kids to get involved in. kielder waterside is also a great area to explore and if you will be there as it gets dark stay and watch the fantastic nightlife.
If trains are more your thing then we highly recommend Locomotion, with some pretty awesome engines explore shildon railway history all under one roof. Cafe on site.
I’m not sure I want to share this one, we love going to Druridge bay especially in the warmer months. The beach is just fantastic and never busy although you do have to look out for jellyfish. However the beach is not just it, you can go on various tracks for walks, head to the lake and feed the duck and play in the forever expanding playground. A fantastic day out for the whole family.
High Force waterfall
With rocks dating back to 300 million years ago, High Force waterfall is pretty impressive. In an area that has been named as having outstanding Natural Beauty you will love this place.
We visit quite a lot of reservoirs and Derwent is lovely when it’s not too busy. You can walk the dam and there’s a few trails dotted around too. Recently they have added a kids play area which is huge and they have also added in a fenced off large grass area for you to safely let your dog off leash. There’s also a little shop,toilets and an info hut. You do have to pay a few ££ for parking.
Did I miss your favourite free North East attraction? Let me know. email@example.com
This is not an advert, these are my own words!