60+ Amazing Family Attractions in the North East to Visit this Summer
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
The North East is home to some amazing attractions that families of all ages can enjoy. I hear too often from people that there's nothing to do in the North East, but honestly that is just not true. Quite a few of the attractions on the list are either free to get into or minimal costs and some even offer annual passes, for fantastic value. I have always been a firm believer of celebrating what we have right here in the North East and would love to see more people exploring and enjoying the wonderful places, waiting for you to make some memories. I would love it if you tagged us in your North East summer adventures.
We have some fantastic Museums, Parks, Castles and Family attractions. I have popped together a list of our favourites but please do let me know if I have missed any that you think should be on the list.
Beamish Museum - I think it is safe to say Beamish is one of the North East's most loved attractions. We have been many, many times and always find something we didn't notice the last time. Your ticket lasts for a year too, so you can go back as many times as you want. I am really looking forward to seeing the Grand Cinema from Ryhope as it holds so memories for my Nana.
Botanic Gardens Durham - Perfect for a nice afternoon stroll I think. Durham is a busy city and sometimes it's nice to just take a step away from the crowds. Charges apply.
Raby Castle - I used to visit when I was a child and now we take our boys here. I just love the gardens they are so nice and relaxing and you can also take a tour around the Raby castle. We last visited for the Summer lates sessions and it was lovely to have a walk around on the evening. Charges apply
Bowes Museum - We are due a visit to Bowes Museum, I really want to check out the grounds and take a peek at some of the fab Art they currently have on display. Charges Apply
Ford & Etal - I guess you could say this is more than one attraction. When we lived up in the Borders we would visit Ford & Etal all the time, our kids even went to scouts there. Our favourite was the Hay farm heavy horse centre and we would spend hours there. You could easily spend the full day going on a train ride, visiting the mill, grab some food in the gorgeous inn and take a look around Etal castle.
Bamburgh Castle -We have only been to the castle a few times and have thoughrouly enjoyed our visits, Toby is obsessed with Archaeology and has spent many hours chatting to the team working there.
Hamsterley Forest is a great place to head and reconnect with nature. We have done all of the trails here and Elliot obviously loves the Gruffalo trail. If you do decide to head on a longer trail make sure you snap a photo of the map so you don't get lost as there's lots of twists and turns and not many signs.
Kielder Forest is another favourite forest to wander in. Again they have Julia Donaldson trails and lots of pooh stick opportunities. Make sure you check out the minotaur maze.
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is our local museum and I have always said how under rated it is, I think Sunderland Museum is a great way to spend a morning learning about local history. You can also step into the Winter gardens and warm up, watch the fish and learn about plants.
Preston Park Museum and Grounds I love Preston Park, it is such good value for money and you can find things to keep you busy for most of the day. Your ticket lasts a year and is less than £20 for a family ticket. Feed the ducks, play in the huge play park, visit the museum and take a look around the walled garden
Butterfly World You will find Butterfly World in the car park at Preston Park. It is extra cost as it is a different attraction but your ticket lasts all day and you can come and go. It does get extremely warm so bare that in mind.
Locomotion Durham's railway museum is a great way to spend an afternoon, free entry and you can take a look around some fab trains. At Locomotion there's also a walk you can go on around the site. You can find a small play area and a small picnic area too
Tanfield Railway Once lockdown restrictions were lifted we headed straight to Tanfield Railway for a fun filled morning. It is a fab attraction especially for those who love steam trains. £30 for your own compartment is a great deal
Hardwick Park A lovely park to spend the day in. Go for a lovely walk , have a picnic and you can even call into the visitor centre and learn about the history.
Diggerland if you have any kids that love diggers, mud and tractors then Diggerland is for you. Check out the map on the website to find out what else you can do.
Bowes Railway Another North East railway attraction, make sure you check the website for opening details due to Covid. Plenty to explore here, from the colliery yard to Blacksmiths Hill.
Felton Fruit Farm This is our favourite fruit farm to go foraging for some goodies. You go in, choose what you want to pick get a basket and then off you go, pay once you have picked. No clart on or being sold unnecessary rubbish like some others.
We did a blog post last year all about things to know because there is nothing else on the internet about it. You basically know its open when you see the signs on the main road. (Keep an eye on our Facebook page)
Segedunum Looking for a Roman few hours? Check out Segedunum. Explore the Roman fort and the gallery and take a step back in time.
Kynren Two thousand years of history in a 90 minute show, rated as one of the top things to see in the UK. We can't wait to visit.
Killhope Museum Take a mine tour, look around the museum, and explore Britain's largest collection of Spar boxes
Centre for Life Plans are to reopen on July 10th but please check first. I love taking the boys here, they learn so much through hands on activities and fab planetarium. Check out the Website to see what else is going on over the Summer.
The Great North Museum Hancock One of the best free museums in the North East in my opinion. The boys love visiting here, we really enjoy taking our time and learning and taking it all in. Being an avid fan of ancient Egypt, I love exploring the exhibition on Mummies.
Discovery Museum Another great museum to visit in Newcastle, absolutely loads to take in here. You can easily spend an afternoon here.
National Glass Centre We like to visit the National Glass centre and do the Sunderland Sculpture trail at the same time. One of things we enjoy is watching the guys at work and making some fantastic ornaments. Small display with local history and you can also find a gallery. Since living back in England ( over a year and a half now) The glass rooftop walk has been closed, so we are hoping to do that soon.
Adventure Valley Another great attraction the boys are too old for now. Rides, Animals and displays.
Air Trail Tees Barrage The UKs biggest High Ropes trail. Great for those who love to climb. Not so good for people like me who hate heights!
Sunderland Wall Great fun for the kids, if you are looking at ways to keep kids entertained, especially throughout the summer holidays check out Sunderland wall and some of the courses they offer.
St Marys Lighthouse I don't think I have met anyone who didn't love St Marys lighthouse. We love going and exploring the Lighthouse and rock pooling.
Rainton Meadows Nature reserve I have always said this is a much loved Sunderland Attraction. At Rainton Meadows you can go on some lovely nature walks, explore the ponds and many waders, usually they have various trails on for the kids throughout the year too.
Kirkleatham Museum I feel like it has been so long since we last visited Kirkleatham museum You can also combine it with Kirkleatham Owl sanctuary Both fab attractions in the Redcar and Cleveland area. Also have a great play area
HMS Trincomalee Love history? Check out HMS Trincomalee, built at the end of the Napoleonic war. Now a museum.
Dorman Museum A great museum in the Middlesbrough area, with lots of gallery collections, and history collections. Free to enter too.
Tweddle Animal Farm The boys used to love going to Tweddle when they were little, I think giving the ages of the boys now, they are too old and I would recommend the farm to those with younger children.
Down at the Farm Closer to where we live, the boys used to love this farm too especially the giant bouncy pillow. They have now only started to open to the public on a weekend and during holidays.
Tees Barrage White Water Centre This one is for those water babies. Loads of fun water based activities to get involved in from family rafting to power boat trips
Cragside National Trust Cragside is one of the most loved National Trust Properties in the North East. So much to do here and you can easily spend a full day, we have many times.
Wallington National Trust is a lovely place to head for a walk, gorgeous grounds to explore and tick some of those 50 things off your list.
Gibside National Trust I really enjoy going to Gibside, we tend to head beyond the walled garden and play area, as there is so much more to explore.
Alnwick Castle Fancy a spot of broomstick training? Alnwick castle is a fab place to explore, it does get busy so bare this in mind. We have been many times and never get bored. Look out for the Dragon!
Alnwick Gardens You have to pay separate for the Garden but honestly it is so worth it. Make sure you check out the Toxic garden, it is so interesting. I even have the guide book for the toxic garden and it is a great read.
Hexham Old Gaol Take a look at what life was like for prisoners in the 1300s, really great museum and one that everyone should have on the bucket list.
Teeside Karting Let the kids blow of some steam with Teesside Karting, guaranteed fun when you go here. Our boys are all finally old enough to kart!
Billingham Ice Rink As an Ice Skater, I just had to include a rink, in my opinion, of the ones that are left Billingham is the best. Spend a few hours skating away.
Roker Beach and Park We are super lucky to have places like Roker Beach and park on our doorstep. Lots to see and do and some fab eateries about too.
Namco Funscape I don't like that Metro centre got rid of Metroland and our kids never got to experience that. However Namco kind of makes up for it a little, with some awesome arcade fun. Also bowling, laser and cinema. Still not Metroland though!
Blue Reef Aquarium If marine life is your thing, Blue Reef Aquarium is great value, you can come and go throughout the day. If you take your time and look around you can kill a few hours.
Northumberland College Zoo We enjoy visiting Kirkley Hall, I think it is great value for the cost and you can go on a little walk around the grounds too. I will never forget Toby falling in a puddle of mud and looking like he had been dipped in Chocolate from head to toe. Had to clean him with hand towels! He still had a great day though.
Northumberland Country Zoo Another great zoo in Northumberland to take the kids too. We haven't been for a while now but I am pretty sure they have added quite an extensive list of animals since the last time we visited.
Hall Hill Farm Award winning farm in Durham is well worth the visit. Again we haven't been for a while but we did have a great day. The boys even held some chicks.
North East Reservoirs We have so many fab Reservoirs to visit. Two of our favourites is Selset and Tunstall. Although Tunstall is very pretty it can be very difficult terrain in wet weather if you plan on going further than the dam.
Warkworth Castle English Heritage is always a great way to kill a few hours and explore the fantastic castle. You can combine with a boat ride but please check the website for more details.
Belsay Hall Gardens and Castle Another English Heritage site, this one is one of our favourites. We visit Belsay Hall quite often throughout the seasons. Gorgeous walk to the castle and a manor house.
Holy Island itself is a great place to top up on your history. Look out for some of the waders that we often see. Not so great are the silly amounts of people trying to get onto the island.
WWT Washington We are a bird obsessed family and love to just sit back and watch through our binoculars. WWT is a lovely place to just take in all the nature around you and watch the many different birds they get throughout the year. Nice little visitors centre too.
Jarrow Hall This is on our list of places to visit soon. We are currently learning about Anglo Saxon life so this is a great reason for visiting again. We have been many times and always enjoy it. Tickets are for a year too.
RSPB Saltholme is a really good place to head out on a walk, nature hunt. You can see many sculptures, activities for kids dotted about, bird hides, play area and lots of birds at Saltholme and is a fab day out for any nature lover.
Have I missed your favourite North East Attraction? Let me know and as long as it is family friendly, I will add it too my list.
Don't forget to check out these posts for more ideas.