1. Ouseburn Farm
Ouseburn Road (off Lime Street), Newcastle NE1 2PA
0191 232 3698
A much-loved farm and a really great day out, Ouseburn Farm is free and promises fun for all the family. Meet cows, chinchillas, tortoises and a whole host of other friendly critters then grab a snack in the café; often the food is made using local produce from the farm itself. Due to recent funding issues, Ouseburn Farm is in danger of closing in April 2017 unless extra finances can be raised. Get along and pitch in!
2. Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens
Ponteland NE20 0AQ
Open only on weekends until October half-term, Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens is positively creepy-crawling with creatures: lemurs, wallabies, meerkats and more, as well as the illuminated aquatic centre which opened in 2014. A tea room, picnic area, zip wire and high ropes are also on-site, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
3. RSPB Saltholme
Seaton Carew Road, Middlesbrough TS2 1TU
The four wildlife viewing hides available at RSPB Saltholme, provide a great opportunity to spot a variety of birds such as the lapwing and the peregrine. The visitor centre is the hub around which to base your trip while the café is a lovely little stop-off for a bite to eat. Don’t forget to swing by the adventure play area either, your little ones will love it.
4. Hall Hill Farm
Lanchester, Durham DH7 0TA
Set in the beautiful hills of County Durham, this mixed farm covers over 290 hectares and boasts a huge variety of animals to encounter. Whether you’re feeding the lambs, handling the rabbits or riding the donkeys, you can be sure of a fun-filled day out. As well as the animals, Hall Hill includes a puppet show, a barrel train, a crazy golf course and a tea room to ensure fun for all the family.
5. Washington Wetland Centre
Pattinson, Washington NE38 8LE
0191 416 5454
All kinds of animals can be found at Washington Wetland Centre: ducks, otters and flamingos all call it home. Buy a bag of corn from the visitors’ centre and head out to feed the birds. The Hawaiian goose is the recommended bird for children to interact with and every penny spent here goes back into the conservation work done by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust who run Washington Wetland Centre. Heaps of fun and the chance to help out a really worthy cause.
6. Wild Animal Advenutres
Portrack Lane, Stockton TS182NR
Alpacas and owls, bats and badgers and loads more await at Wild Animal Adventures. If you really want to push the boat (or ark) out, those aged 10+ can become a keeper for the day and take part in feeding, grooming and caring for the animals (our favourites are the meerkats). They’ll even get a goody bag and an exclusive T-shirt thrown in; an unforgettable experience.
7. Tweddle Children’s Animal Farm
Fillpoke Lane, Blackhall Colliery TS27 4BT
Indoor and outdoor play areas, indoor and outdoor pedal go-kart tracks, crazy golf and, of course, animals can all be found at Tweddle Children’s Animal Farm. A great variety of birds can be spotted here, as well as giant rabbits and guinea pigs. Don’t miss the Baby Barn and the chance to see lambs, calves, kids, chicks and piglets; you’ll have a tough time picking a favourite!