top of page
  • Writer's pictureKelly

Family Friendly Things to Do In Durham

As a family who are all born and bred in the North East, with a love for exploring and generally being outdoors, it should come as no surprise that we just love love Durham. It has so much to offer families looking for a great day out or a longer break. Whether you are looking to lose yourself in nature, take in some of the area's history or spend the day at one of the many beautiful, but relatively quiet beaches, Durham is a county that really does have something for everyone. We only live 20 minutes away so it is perfect for a slight change of scenery.

For more great ideas, check us out on Facebook, Instagram or twitter

Tunstall Reservoir

One of our favourite walks in Durham is Tunstall Reservoir, it has some spectacular scenery.

You can park in the small car park and walk along the dam, there are other walks you can go on but these are not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, although you can head back out onto the road and walk around the top of the reservoir past the farm. Sometimes toilets are available but every time we go there's none. If you are risking a walk across the dam, sturdy footwear is a must. Find Out More HERE

DL13 3LZ

Hawthorn Dene Nature Reserve DWT

I love Hawthorn Dene, loads of walks you can go on here. We like to visit throughout the seasons. My favourite time to visit is Spring, once all the flowers start poking their heads out. The smell of Wild Garlic wafts through the air and is just lush. You can also get down to the beach too, you can either go across the top and down the steep cliff steps or walk through the woods and down the ramp. Sturdy Footwear is a must it can get slippy and very muddy here. No facilities at all. Sometimes a little horsebox selling hot/cold drinks and snacks.

Find Out More HERE

Oriental Museum

The only museum in the North that is dedicated to the great cultures of North Africa and Asia. They have a huge collection of amazing items from past to present, I am obsessed with Egypt so as you can imagine, it's my favourite area. Currently entry is free to the museum.

More Info HERE

Opening Times

Wed/Fri 10am/4pm

Sat/Sun 12am/4pm

Photo Credit Oriental Museum
Photo Credit Oriental Museum

Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens is right up my street, I love plants of every kind and find them very relaxing. However the Botanic Gardens is so much more than plants, they have artwork hidden along the paths, Glasshouses, Woodland, Bugs and Insects and a visitors centre.

Find out more HERE

Opening Hours

Summer March/Oct 10 am/ 5pm

Winter Nov/Feb 10am/4pm

Photo Credit Botanic Garden Durham
Photo Credit Botanic Garden Durham

Durham Cathedral

I love the Cathedral, it is one impressive building. They have so much to do here. You can join a tour, take a walk around the cathedral outside on a trail, you can take a picnic to enjoy or grab a bite to eat from the restaurant. You can also climb to the the top of the tower, download a trail from the website for the kids to enjoy, explore the cathedral and discover it's past. Look out for the Shrine of St Cuthbert. Find out more HERE

Free to enter but there is a charge to climb the tower.

Opening times

Mon/Sat 10am/4pm

Sun 12am/4pm

Photo Credit Durham Cathedral
Photo Credit Durham Cathedral

Kynren An epic tale of England & 11 Arches

If like us you love history, then Kynren is the place for you. A 90 minute show that is jam packed full of history. This is right up our street as we are all history buffs. Prices vary depending on where you want to sit.

To make a full day of it you could also try the brand new 11 arches park which is full of fab things for kids from a maze, shows, play area, water shows and more.

Find out More HERE.

Photo Credit Kynren & 11 Arches
Photo Credit Kynren & 11 Arches

Hall Hill Farm

The boys used to love visiting Hall Hill Farm when they were little but since they have grown up a bit, they're not that interested in farm animals anymore :( It is a a fab day out, the last time we visited the boys held some chicks and enjoyed a donkey ride too. You can take a tractor ride, barrel ride, feed the animals, play in the play area, soft play, crazy golf and lots more. Family 2 adults & 3 kids would be £39.95 which is fab value. Find Out More HERE

Opening Times

Mon/Sun 10am/5pm

Photo Credit Hall Hill Farm
Photo Credit Hall Hill Farm

Beamish Open Air Museum

One of the best annual pass attractions in my opinion. You could spend a full day at Beamish. Visit the pit village and try our favourite Dab and chips from Davey's, visit the Pockerly old hall ( the fire smells amazing here), head into the 1900s town, pop in for some sweets, visit the bakery. Honestly so much to do here you wont be disappointed. It is also very reasonably priced a family annual pass of 2 adults and 3 children would be £62.50 Find out more HERE

Auckland Castle & Deer Park

We visited here a while back for the first time. The castle was closed but we still took a walk around the deer park. It was a great way to spend a few hours and if you walk all the way around, you get some amazing views. The park is free to visit, parking is in the town centre.

The Castle

You can visit the castle and experience some fascinating history, once owned by the Prince Bishops, with galleries, gardens and parkland all to explore. Also take a tour of the walled garden.

Find out more HERE

Barnard Castle English Heritage

I used to visit Barnard Castle with my dad when I was little and I love the view you get from one of the old windows looking down to the bridge. The boys have since been and loved it too. You can explore the ruins, have a picnic. There's a little shop, although the last few times we have been they keep saying the toilet is out of order, so you have to head down to the main ones in the town. Find out more HERE

Raby Castle & Grounds

Wow, Raby Castle is just absolutely stunning. We have been a few times and have visited their spectacular Summer Lates sessions. The walled gardens are amazing and so full of colour. Currently have a garden trail for the kids to enjoy. Take a walk through the grounds and see if you can spot one of the Deer. You can also take a tour around the castle

You can find a lovely play area, large car park, shop, food etc.

Opening times vary Find out more HERE

Killhope mining museum

A fantastic day out full of history, learn all about life as a miner with an underground mine trip, visit the exhibition, look for lead an minerals, play in the play park plenty of places to have a picnic. Also a shop and café The best part is... Admission is free! Find out more HERE

Opening Hours

Mon/Sun 10.30am/5pm

Photo Credit Killhope Museum
Photo Credit Killhope Museum

Hannah's Meadow

Last year we did a tour of all Durham Wildlife's Reserves and one of my favourites was Hannah's Meadow. Since then we have been back a few times and experienced it through different seasons. It is so peaceful here, you can also take a walk along part of Pennine Way. You will find bird hides and lots of wildlife. We have walked all the way around the reservoir and thoroughly enjoyed it. No facilities here so please bare that in mind. Also a nice little barn to walk to which has a bit of info on who ran the farm.

Find out more HERE Open all year.

Low Barns Nature Reserve

Another Durham Wildlife Trusts reserve that we love is Low Barns, the boys love it here. They have found so many different things here from frogs, baby Robins, Damselflies and even a white Egret! You will find lots of bird hides here, with lots and lots of birds. Please do beware it is popular with the birders and can get busy at times. Sturdy footwear is a must as it can be slippy and muddy. Also a lovely Butterfly garden with picnic benches. Find out more HERE

Café, carpark, toilets all on site.

Hamsterley Forest

We love a good forest walk and Hamsterley Forest offers everything for that. A few different walks you can go on, Gruffalo Trail, play area, visitors centre and a café. Also toilets on site.

Perfect day out for the family, we have played many pooh sticks, hide and seek, looked for bugs and gone bird watching here too.

Find out more HERE

Opening hours



We have been visiting Locomotion for years now, as the boys are rather fond of trains. Loads of trains for you to look at, some you can go in and have a closer look, some you look at from the outside. Various interactive games for kids and a colouring in / activity station for kids too. Nice shop that has a decent range of Thomas gifts and a café.

Find Out More HERE

Head Of Steam Railway Museum

Another great train related attraction is the Head Of Steam. You could spend a few hours here, enjoying some of the exhibitions on show and find out a bit more about the history of Darlington. You can take a look at the booking office which has original Victorian interior, a platform with the original bridge, kids play room and more.

Find out more HERE

Hardwick Park

A great day out for the whole family, with a circular walk, ruins, a dragon and lots of ducks to feed what's not to love? You can also find Gruffalo statue, bird hide and some impressive views too.

There are 2 main play areas next to the visitors centre, a café and Toilets. You could knock up a scavenger hunt and head out looking for birds, bugs and even types of tree.

Find out more HERE

Finchale Priory English Heritage

I used to come here all the time when I was growing up, we would pitch a tent up on the top field and head down into the river for a bit of splashing about. You can walk over the bridge and go for a lovely wander down the river which is all separate to the Priory, it can be slippy and it is uneven so please be careful. Caravan park onsite here, a nice little ice cream shop. You have to £3 to get out and need a token for the machine.

Find out more HERE

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens

The estate sits in 500 acres of beautiful Durham countryside. The historic house has ongoing exhibitions, take a look at the stunning architecture, explore the chapels and take a look in the reception rooms. Occasionally you can find live events throughout the year.

The grounds have a packed programme of activities, games, exhibitions and café. There are loads of plants to look at and walks to go including an old lake. Find out more HERE

Opening Times vary

Photo Credit Ushaw Historic House

Binchester Roman Fort

A great option if you love your history. At the fort you can explore the two well preserved bath houses, one has the most intact underfloor heating system. Activities and tours can be pre booked. Find Out More HERE

Photo Credit Binchester Roman Fort
Photo Credit Binchester Roman Fort

Have I missed your favourite? Let me know.

Like this post? Why don't you check out some of these ideas


bottom of page