Discover the Hidden Gems of Darlington and Where You Need to Explore
There are plenty of places to explore in Darlington
There isn’t a single thing that a good massage can’t fix, so it’s great to have a variety of spas and independent beauty businesses offering treatments, such as Rejoy in Cockerton village. This beauty and wellness spot offers a range of treatments, including massages, facials, lashes and nails, making it a real destination for all things self-care. Plus, you can treat yourself to a little down-time at Rejoy each month with their membership programme. You’ll save some pennies whilst being able to enjoy your chosen treatment every month, plus you can park for free behind Cockerton Library.
Rejoy’s director Erin Harper tells us she loves being an independent retailer in Darlington. ‘I decided to set up in Darlington after running a mobile business in the town and surrounding areas. It’s such a vibrant place – I’m proud of it and wanted to become a part of it,’ explains Erin.
‘The best thing about working in Darlington is the people,’ she says. ‘There’s a constant strive to improve the town and the council have seriously supported us during the last two years. Recently, we’ve seen changes in the marketing and advertising so we know more about what’s on, an increase of fab events for families, new businesses opening and a general buzz coming back again for supporting your local town.’
Erin also praises the support networks small independent businesses can draw on. ‘The LoveDarlo and Cockerton community and business groups do a fantastic job of supporting each other. I personally also love to support those I’m a fan of, such as House of Zana, Hatch, The Pasta Shop and the Tapas Bar. Such amazing independents!,’ she says.
‘For people coming to Darlington, I would say visit the centre for the fabulous shops and restaurants, but do a bit of research on our surrounding areas on social media too. There is so much going on in the North East now and we are so proud to be a huge part of it.’
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Another form of self-care is moving your body and getting those endorphins flowing, and there are plenty of gyms in Darlington to help you get going. One that stands out, especially if you have children, is Physique Fitness near Lingfield Point. Their monthly memberships are affordable, they offer free personal training sessions, allow you to attend unlimited free classes, and have a creche, complete with soft play. That means that if finding childcare has been a barrier for you when trying to get your exercise in, it’s the perfect solution.
Darlington is full of things to do and places to go together as a family. You definitely won’t be short of activities as there’s always plenty going on, both in and out of the town centre. Take a trip to the Darlington Hippodrome to catch a show or flex your back swing with bowling at the Dolphin Centre.
As well as the Darlington Hippodrome, which hosts a range of family-friendly events alongside its many theatre shows, there’s The Majestic Theatre, a small scale venue that shows pantomimes, amateur productions, live music, comedy nights and more. There’s also Theatre Hullabaloo behind the Hippodrome, which is aimed at younger audiences. With interactive events, shows and sessions that are perfect for newborns and children up to 10 years old, there’s always something exciting going on here.
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There’s plenty of history to discover in Darlington too. If you’re heading along to the town centre, why not drop in to Head of Steam Railway Museum? The area has a proud steam railway heritage, and you can learn more about it here. Take a step back in time to Victorian Darlington, see the original 1840s railway station and enjoy all the interactive exhibits that bring the story of steam to life. There’s also a great gift shop that’s brilliant for train lovers of all ages.
If trains don’t float your boat, head out towards Low Coniscliffe to take a look at the Tees Cottage Pumping Station. Another piece of Victorian history, the site was built to provide drinking water for Darlington and the surrounding area. You can take a tour around the pumping station, head to the Blacksmith’s for a demonstration, take a ride on the miniature railway and relax in the tea room. This spot is also dog-friendly, so it’s a great opportunity to stretch all the family’s legs.
For something completely different, why not treat your family to a falconry experience? If you head out to Walworth Castle, you’ll find Walworth Birds of Prey, a family-run spot that brings you up close and personal with falcons and other birds. Owned by husband and wife duo, David and Tori, this centre takes you out into the countryside to encounter birds of prey like never before. They’ll show you how the birds are reared and looked after, talk to you about the different species and their personalities, and the flying displays mean you can see the birds in action. And as Walworth Castle is right next door, head to the tea room afterwards or take the three-minute drive to Archers Ice Cream for freshly made, artisan ice cream.
Our few suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring Darlington. There are so many outlying villages away from the town centre with many hidden gems to discover, so head out and see what you can find.