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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Family friendly things to do in Sunderland

Looking for ideas on what you can do with the kids over the summer holidays or at any other time?. Then look no further, we have put together a list of family friendly things to do across Sunderland. Sunderland is a fantastic place to visit and has quite a lot to offer especially for families.

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

I have said it before and I will say it again, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is a fantastic museum to explore with the whole family. It is jam packed full of the city's history with interactive stations to keep the younger ones entertained. The building is also home to the Winter Gardens where you will find an array of plants (my favourite is the cacti section) look out for the fish, they love attention. Find out more HERE Free to enter, Parking throughout the city centre.

Sunderland museum and winter gardens from Mowbray park in Sunderland
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

WWT Washington

I loved visiting WWT when I was younger, always had an interest in birds and WWT is one of the best places to visit to see so many different species visiting throughout the year. Come along and watch the otters at feeding time, visit the café, burn off some steam in the playscape and lots more. (You can use your Blue Peter badge here)

Parking on site, Free for entry for WWT members & Blue peter badge and card holders.

Photo Credit WWT

Sunderland Bowl

Are you and your family bowling fans? Check out Sunderland Bowl, they have a fab Bowling alley, along with indoor mini golf, arcade games, pool and more. You can also grab some food which is lush. Find out more HERE Various offers available, parking is outside the building or in the multi next door.

Bowling in Sunderland
Sunderland Bowl

Sunderland Empire

I love the Empire, I have so many memories here. You can find a range of shows throughout the year to enjoy with the whole family and they have just released an impressive line up of shows for the rest of this year and 2022. Lots of family friendly shows which is great. Prices vary per show, Parking in various locations throughout the city centre, although disabled spaces are available outside on the road.

Sunderland Empire
Photo credit Sunderland Empire

Tunstall Hill

On a clear day you can see for miles, Tunstall Hills is more than just the hill and top field.

You can spend a full day walking the area if you really wanted to, there's a play park on Ryhope playing Fields that you can walk to from the hill. Absolutely loads of wildlife about here. Maybe create a scavenger hunt, we see so many more moths and butterflies here than anywhere else. Free parking & free to enter

View from Tunstall Hill over Sunderland
Tunstall Hill

Cox Green/Victoria Viaduct

Another area I love to walk is Cox Green, you could literally walk your socks off here. So many different directions to go in. You can find a lovely little horsebox café with a few farm type animals, you can walk to the viaduct although you can not go on it. You could visit the play area. So many options here. Some of the path is not pushchair friendly here so please do be aware. Free to enter, free to park.

Looking over the bridge at Cox Green Sunderland
Cox Green Sunderland

Clue HQ

If escape games are your thing then why not try Clue HQ. They have a few different games to try ranging from easy to difficult and prices per person are £10 per game.

Escape Room north east
Photo Credit Clue HQ

National Glass Centre

We enjoy a visit to the Glass centre a few times a year, you can spend a few hours in here if you take your time to look at everything. On some days you can watch glass demonstrations, but be warned it is super hot in there. You can find an art gallery on site too. Parking is right outside and is free to those visiting the centre, also other parking available but charges apply.

Photo outside The National Glass Centre sunderland
National Glass Centre Sunderland

Sunderland Sculpture Trail

Something you could combine with the National Glass Centre, go for a walk along to the marina from the glass centre, spotting all of the sculptures on the way. you are best off starting just under the bridge and walking down towards the marina. We usually walk down to Roker beach for an ice cream and back up to the lovely St Peters Church to make a full day out of it. Find out more HERE

Door at Sunderland Sculpture Trail on the marina
Sunderland Sculpture Trail

St Peters Church

Again it is worth the visit especially if you combine it with the above. I think it is beautiful in here and there's a lovely little café too. Parking on site, free to enter but they are always grateful for donations.

Entrance to St Peters Church In Sunderland
St Peters Church Sunderland

Durham Wildlife Trusts Rainton Meadows

We have been Wildlife trust members for years and love visiting the many nature reserves that they manage. Rainton Meadows is the closest one and is in Sunderland, it is a great day out for the whole family with plenty of walks, wildlife, a lovely café, visitors centre and a great woodland play area. Parking is free for members or £2 donations for non members

Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve where to feed the ducks
Durham Wildlife Trusts Rainton Meadows

North East Land, Sea and Air Museum

I feel like the air museum sometimes gets missed off attraction lists in the Sunderland area. It is actually a great way to spend a good few hours and they have some really interesting things to look at here. It has been a few years since we were last here so I think we might pop up and get some new pics. Parking on site family of 5 ticket £21.50

Aircraft museum
Photo credit NE Land Sea AIR Museum

Take part in a trail

This summer there are loads of trails you can take part in, The Bridges have the Dino Trail, Sunderland Bid have the Enchanted Garden Trail, you can find treasure trails in Sunderland too. You can even create your own.

Dino Trail at The Bridges in Sunderland
Dino Trail The Bridges Sunderland

Ryhope Engine Museum

I grew up in Ryhope and would visit the Engine museum a lot when I was younger. It is worth a look just for the old building, I love the history here and the volunteers are really helpful too. They sometimes have car shows on and in my opinion it is one of the better shows in the North East. You can also find a café open sometimes too. Unfortunately you can no longer take a look at the old Cherry Knowles Hospital as it has been knocked down and will be replaced with housing.

Donations welcome but free to enter, parking on the road outside, open Sundays 2-5

Car Show at Ryhope Engine Museum Sunderland
Ryhope Engine Museum

Sunderland Wall

If like us, you have a climber in the family, have you thought about courses at Sunderland wall? They offer some really great priced lessons for kids.

Photo Credit Sunderland Wall
Photo Credit Sunderland Wall

Everyone Active Silksworth

This is genuinely somewhere I love to go, you have quite a lot going on here. You could go Skiing, Snowboarding, Swimming, Gym, Play Tennis, take the kids into the amazing play area, feed the many ducks, go for a walk. One of the things we like to do here is go on a bike ride. The Ski Slope is the North Easts only dry ski slope. Loads of parking here, Prices vary depending on what you want to do. Also café on site. Find out more HERE

North East Skiing Lesson in Sunderland
Silksworth Ski Slope

Down at the Farm

The boys used to love going here when they were little, Down At The Farm is now only open during school holidays and on weekends, you will see typical farm animals here, a bouncy pillow, wigwams, a petting corner, quad bikes, you can go on tractor rides and there's a café too. Parking on site and prices start from £7.50 per child.

Down at the farm Sunderland
Photo Credit Down at the Farm

Penshaw Monument

When you have been out on a long day and you head home, we always know we are home when we see Penshaw Monument. You can walk up to the monument and National Trust do sometimes let you go right on the top. You can walk from Cox Green. If you fancy spending a day in the area combine it with Herrington park which has a great play area, café and various walks.

View of Penshaw Monument Sunderland
Penshaw Monument

Visit one of our fab Parks

Here in Sunderland we have so many fantastic parks right on our doorstep, from Doxford Park, Backhouse park, Mowbray park and many more. Check out a previous post I did with our favourites HERE

Autumn Backhouse Park Sunderland
BackhousePark Sunderland

Harry's Game Shack

A great way to spend either a day or just a few hours, play some of the top games on the best consoles and PC Games to retro games. You can also grab a bite to eat here too. Various deals available. Find out more HERE

Gaming centre in Sunderland xbox, ps4/ps5 retro gaming
Harry's Game Shack Sunderland

Visit the beach

We live on the coast and there are loads of great beaches right on our doorstep. If you fancy going seaglass hunting you could head along to Ryhope Dene and walk down to Seaham Hall beach from there. Although Ryhope Dene is limited for parking.

Beaches to visit could include Hendon, Ryhope, Seaham Hall, Roker, and Seaburn

Beaches in the North East
Ryhope Beach Sunderland

Spend the day at Roker & Seaburn

It is actually really easy to spend a full day in the area. You could head down for breakfast, walk along the pier, look for shells on Roker Beach, head along to Roker park and feed the Swans. There's also a play area and a mini train. Then head along to Seaburn for some lunch, check out the family friendly STACK which also has a gaming station and self service dog baths and you could spend some pennies in the Arcades. Loads to do for a family.

Things to do in Roker/Seaburn
Roker beach Sunderland

Have I missed your favourite family attraction in Sunderland from the list? Let me know.

Check out these other posts

Five favourite seaside locations within easy reach of Sunderland

Restaurant Review - Chilli Mangoes Sunderland

Thirteen places to go for a walk in Sunderland

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