Built by John Nevill, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, this medieval castle sits in 200 acres of deer park and gardens. The castle itself has a fascinating history, originally built as a palace fortress, it was home to Cecily Nevill, mother of two kings of England, and it played a prominent part in the Rising of the North and was a Parliamentary stronghold during the Civil War. Inside is a mix of Medieval, Regency and Victorian interiors where you’ll find important art and furniture dating from the 17th through to the 20th century. Don’t miss the spectacular 1840s Octagon Drawing Room, the historic Baron’s Hall, and the kitchen, built in 1360 and still presented very much as it would have been in medieval times. The castle’s coach house and stables were designed by renowned architect John Carr in the late 1700s and are well worth a visit to find the unique collection of coaches and travelling chariots, and the livery worn by the coachmen of Raby. The castle grounds include five acres of traditional 18th century Walled garden with a fig house, rose garden and plenty of ornamental features worth finding. Youngsters will love the Woodland Adventure Playground whist the more energetic can hire bikes to explore more of the vast grounds, keeping an eye on the herds of grazing red and fallow deer.
Staindrop, County Durham DL2 3AH
Ford & Etal
A little gem in North Northumberland, Ford & Etal has a wealth of wonderful visitor attractions. A working estate, and home to the Joicey family for over 100 years, it lies in the valley of the River Till, close to the Scottish border, in land dotted with ancient castles and battlefields, and today it is farmed and managed much as it has always been. Families will enjoy the return trip on the narrow-gauge Heatherslaw Light Railway, and there’s lots to keep the kids entertained at Lady Waterford Hall, the former school room and now museum with its huge murals painted by the Marchioness of Waterford. Still intact, you can marvel at Lady Waterford’s astonishing feat (they took 21 years to complete), study her sketches and other paintings, learn about her life and how she developed Ford as a ‘model’ village. School furniture has also been preserved, so children can experience something of day-to-day life in a Victorian schoolroom, as well as following an unusual Lego trail. The traditional corn mill at Heatherslaw still turns out its own flour and provides a hands-on experience where visitors can operate the hoist and grind their own flour. Also on the estate, the Medieval Etal Castle, built as a defence against Scottish raiders in the 14th century, fell to James IV’s invading Scots army before their defeat at the Battle of Flodden. The historic Flodden Battlefield is where, in September 1513, the bloody but decisive battle in the long history of England, Scotland, and Britain, took place. More than 15,000 of the (roughly) 60,000 soldiers who fought here died, including King James IV – the last British monarch to meet his end in battle. Survey the battlefield and feel the history in the air. If all that’s not enough for you, cycling, walking, fishing and canoeing can keep you busy in the more hidden corners of the estate.
Cornhill-on-Tweed TD12 4JT
Built to guard the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum was used as a garrison for over 300 years up to 400AD, and offers a fantastic insight into life in Roman Britain. Explore ruins and reconstructions before climbing up the viewing tower to take in the entire site. There are numerous events organised every month, which makes it a fun and engaging place to introduce kids to Roman history.
Buddle Street, Wallsend NE28 6HR
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
There are 2,000 flowers and plants to be found in the glass rotunda here, and a collection of unique historic artefacts make this a fascinating place to visit. Wander along the treetop walkway in the Winter Gardens, discover a significant collection of the works of LS Lowry in the Art Gallery, meet the famous Wallace the stuffed lion – who was part of a wild animal tour that visited Sunderland in the 19th century and was acquired for the museum in 1879 – and see the remains of a walrus bought back from Siberia during the 1800s. The museum is also home to the first Nissan car to roll off the new production line in Sunderland in 1986, and hundreds of other amazing objects, and the galleries cover much of Sunderland’s industrial history, from shipbuilding to the glass and pottery-making industries.
Burdon Road, Sunderland SR1 1PP
Tees Barrage International White Water Centre
For outdoor adventure, take the plunge and try white water rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking or bellboating at the White Water Centre. With a real-life rapid river experience, powerboat trips, and family rafting experiences you may well get wet, but you’ll be having way too much fun to care. Next to the wildwater course is Air Trail, a climbing adventure course with swinging bridges, balance beams and cargo nets suitable for all ages. Not feeling adventurous? Tees Barrage is surrounded by great walks and there’s a nearby nature reserve too.
Tees Barrage Way, Stockton-on-Tees
The Farne Islands
A trip to the Farnes has long been a tradition in this part of the world. Billy Shiel’s boat trips are still running (but with limited passengers) and you can choose from a seal cruise, a sea bird cruise, and even a sunset cruise. Landings are currently not permitted on the National Trust managed islands, but you will have plenty of time to observe and view the wildlife from the boat, and if you are lucky – alongside the seals, puffins and shags – you might find a friendly dolphin or two riding alongside the boat. Back in Seahouses, head to Lewis’s for fish and chips, to Swallow Fish to take home some of the day’s catch, and watch the sun going down from the harbourside – pint in hand – at the Bamburgh Castle Inn. There are great walks north to Bamburgh and south to Beadnell from Seahouses, or entertain the family at The Bunker, the mini golf course beside the sea.
Seaton Delaval Hall
With a fascinating history of extravagance, ruin and survival, this 18th century hall was home to the larger-than-life Delaval family and the Grade I-listed mansion has hosted many extravagant parties and been the site of many scandals in its past, giving it a notorious reputation. But it’s not just the architectural design and dramatic history of the hall that make this such a popular day trip destination, the newly-renovated gardens are equally impressive and the new Delaval Playdium and walking trails which take you into the wider estate are well worth a visit.
Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay NE26 4QR
When the Tanfield Railway (or waggonway, as it was known at the time) was built in 1725, it was a triumph of engineering – a clear signal that a new industrial age was upon the world. Claiming to be the oldest railway in the world, you can board the vintage steam train for an unforgettable journey in one of the Victorian carriages for a six-mile trip through rolling countryside.
Old Marley Hill, Gateshead NE16 5ET
With six play zones, including an undercover farmyard and indoor play town, come rain or shine, there’s always something to keep the family entertained at Adventure Valley. It’s the North East’s biggest family adventure park and a great place to spend the day letting off steam. Head to the Wild West Play Town and Cannon Saloon, wear them out at the Runaway Ranch, or get competitive on the 18-hole adventure golf course. There’s plenty of opportunity to make a myriad of new furry, scaly and feathery friends at the Creature Corner too.
Union Hall Farm, Brasside DH1 5SG
Said to be Britain’s most-haunted historic castle, Chillingham is seriously spooky. Keep an eye out for the White Pantry ghost, and listen up for the mysterious voices in the Chapel. Built in the 12th century, Chillingham was Edward I’s base for his assault on William Wallace’s forces in 1298. Capability Brown designed the park in 1752, Sir Jeffry Wyatville designed the Italian garden in the 19th century and it’s been the subject of repeated royal visits. Deer, red squirrels and badgers roam the woods here, and look out for the famous herd of wild, white cattle in the distance.
Chillingham, Alnwick NE66 5NJ
High Force Waterfall
High Force in the heart of the Durham Dales is a sight not to be missed. The majestic 70-foot drop makes it the highest uninterrupted fall of water in England – as you approach the site from the woodland trail, the muffled roar will get slowly louder until you emerge in front of the breathtaking falls. High Force is in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its variety of wildlife and rare plant life, and there are plenty of stunning walking trails to explore in and around this beautiful part of Upper Teesdale.
Forest-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle DL12 0XH
Flamingo Land, Malton
One of the most popular attractions in Yorkshire, award-winning Flamingo Land gives you different two days out, because it’s not just a theme park, it’s a zoo too. With record-breaking rides including the stomach churning Mumbo Jumbo with its 112° vertical drop, and the swinging, rotating Flip Flop ride (not for the fainthearted), or the more family-friendly Zooom roller coaster and River Ride, there’s plenty of choice depending on how brave you are all feeling, and for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground there’s always the zoo. Meet a Creature as the Chief Education Officer brings out a host of creepy crawlies, snakes or frogs for you to see up close, and don’t miss the cute red panda, the entertaining ostrich and the stunning Sumatran tiger.
Malton, YO17 6XY
Jorvik Viking Centre
Fun and educational, JORVIK Viking Centre is one of the most popular attractions in the UK. With reconstructed Viking streets, you can actually see what York would have been like 1,000 years ago. Reopened in 2017 after devastating floods, the centre has an updated ride experience and state-of-the-art galleries showcasing their unique collection of 1,000-year-old artefacts, and plenty of interactive displays to tell you all about what they found on their five-year dig on Coppergate. Jorvik’s extraordinary Coppergate DIG experience is tucked away beneath the well-trodden streets of York, and has four replica excavation pits where the kids can dig for themselves, discovering a host of treasures based on real artefacts that act as clues, learning about how the Vikings lived and died, and the legacy they left behind.
Coppergate, York YO1 9WT
This collection of weird and wonderful rock formations, on a site of special scientific interest, makes for a great family day out. The rocks, sculpted by the movement of entire continents and hundreds of thousands of years of ice, rain and wind, now resemble creatures so look out for some familiar shapes, with the Dancing Bear, the Eagle and the Gorilla among them. The more nimble can crawl through the Smartie Tube, and balance on the Rocking Stones. Some of the most iconic rock formations can be seen just a 10-minute walk from the car park, but we suggest you bring a picnic and let the kids roam the site whilst you take in the breathing views of the surrounding countryside. Brimham Rocks is home to three rare species of heather, and with 70 bird boxes on the site, keep an eye out for spotted flycatchers, treecreepers and owls.
Summerbridge, Harrogate HG3 4DW
A real family favourite, The Forbidden Corner is a weird and wonderful place, with a labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers, strange and unnerving statues, surprising follies and more than a few dead ends. The temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle, a huge pyramid made of translucent glass, paths and passages that lead nowhere – at every turn there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid. Originally designed as a private garden and folly, this is a day out with a difference which will keep everyone entertained, and the Corner Café will keep everyone fuelled up throughout the day.
The Tupgill Park Estate, Coverham, Middleham DL8 4TJ
Renowned as one of the most comprehensive and immersive World War II museums, award-winning Eden Camp is built on a real POW camp with 29 huts full of gritty history, plus a ‘Dig for Victory’ garden and a military garage. Visitors can explore the sights, sounds and smells of the war in incredible detail, from the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party to the Blitz, women at war, the Home Front and post-WWII conflicts. On your way round the museum you’ll find a useful Operation Overview box on the museum’s new display boards, highlighting key information for a summary of the most salient points. A new exhibition, Letters from Betty, (27th–30th August 2021) follows a sailor’s perspective on life at sea during the war, and gives a touching insight into his growing relationship with Betty. It’s a fusion of history and modern storytelling revealing the thoughts, hopes, humour and expectations of individuals in war time Britain, and is a poignant reminder that even in the darkest times, hope prevails.
Malton YO17 6RT
Science & Media Museum
A great place for everyone to learn through play, the kids can explore how photography was invented in the Kodak Gallery, ignite their curiosity in the Wonderlab with its mind-bending exhibits, and play their way through the enthralling history of video gaming which will take them through the timeline from 1952, through the arcade games of the 80s, to today’s most popular groundbreaking games, with the opportunity to play some of the well-known ones. Live experiments and extraordinary experiences will feed their curiosity. Find the answers to the many questions posed by the ever-changing world around you, and discover how the basics of light and sound form the building blocks of the technology and media so important to our everyday lives. A great day out for all the family, the museum is free but must be booked in advance, and be sure to book your time slots for the permanent displays.
Bradford BD1 1NQ
Yorkshire Wildlife Park
With more than 400 animals and 70 different species, this is your chance to get right up close to a whole host of exotic animals. Take a walk on the wild side as you wander around the park meeting amazing animals including lions, polar bears, tigers, giraffes, meerkats and zebras. It’s one of Yorkshire’s best family days out with a full programme of ranger talks (restarting 21st June 2021) and a chance to learn about the vital work the park does with charities to help the conservation of the many endangered species found in the wild (and in the Park). Book a special Meet The Animal experience to get face to face – choose from Meerkats, Lemurs and Wallabys – and feed your favourites (helped by a ranger of course).
Brockholes Lane, Branton, Doncaster DN3 3NH
The Deep operates as an education and conservation charity, and in recent years has become an international player in marine conservation working to make an impact in the protection of our oceans. It is also one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world – home to 5,000 animals including magnificent sharks and rays. The dramatic building, which overlooks the Humber estuary, was designed by world class architects, Sir Terry Farrell and Partners, with different zones for different animals, from shallow tropical lagoons to the darkest depths of the coldest oceans. Spend the day with these sea creatures, travelling from oceans past and into the future, finding 5,000 different species amongst 50 different displays.
Tower Street, Hull HU1 4DP
As one of the original seaside resorts, Scarborough is a town of two halves, with the very different North and South Bays split by a dramatic headland. There are lots of thing to do here if donkey rides and digging in the sand become a bit boring. Sea Life Scarborough, located on North Bay, offers a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits where you can see seals, otters, adorable penguins and even sharks. But our highlight has to be the new Rainforest Adventure where, if you’re brave enough, you’ll see lizards and critters and come scarily close to the Green Tree Pythons. Sitting proudly on the prominent headland between the town’s North and South Bays, Scarborough Castle offers panoramic views from its battlement platforms. Its iconic 12th-century great tower is the centrepiece of a royal castle, which was begun by Henry II, and you can walk around the ruin learning more about the castle’s vital role in the Middle Ages and the civil war. One of the oldest purpose-built museums still in use in the UK, Scarborough’s Rotunda is filled with fossils found on Yorkshire’s coast as well as objects from Star Carr and the skeleton and coffin of a Bronze Age man. This 19th century, Grade-II listed museum is a real treasure trove to explore. Also in the town, one of the most-loved features of the famous South Cliff Gardens, the Italian Gardens, were created in the early 20th century by Scarborough landscape designer Harry W Smith. The work took more than 40 years to complete and today they feature formal planting, seating and a fishpond overseen by the Roman god, Mercury – and don’t miss Scarborough’s much-loved Stephen Joseph Theatre, where there are plenty of workshops to get involved in as well as the theatre and cinema. Back on the beach, the family-centric South Bay is the busiest as its waters are sheltered by the headland and it is nearer to the town centre and all its amusements (and ice cream). Quieter North Bay has a chalet-lined promenade, sweeping past Alpamare Waterpark to the Sea Life Centre. But away from all the hustle and bustle are Cornelian Bay, great for rock pooling, and the much quieter Cayton Bay to the south (between Scarborough and Filey). Backed by cliffs and woodland which spills down to the beach, this large sweeping bay is a great for a family day out. Pack a picnic for a day on the sand, although there is a little café/beach shack here, half way up the dunes, selling drinks and ice cream.