Where: Binchester Roman Fort
What: Impressive remains of a Roman commandment’s house
Why should you go? Find out what life was really like as a Roman living in County Durham over 2,000 years ago. Discover the exceptionally well-preserved remains of not one, but two bath-houses – one of which contains one of the most intact hypocaust (underfloor) heating systems in Britain – and keep your eyes peeled for the 'Beast of Binchester' hidden among the ruins. And with The Binchester Roman Festival from 13th–14th July, there’s even more reason to visit – you’ll get to see demonstrations of archery, slingstaffs, and firing of a full-size replica of an artillery catapult; enter the tented encampment as the Roman army prepares for battle, and inspect the weapons, armour and equipment of soldiers, as well as the stalls of civilian traders and artisans.
Bishop Auckland DL14 8DJ
Where? Escape Key
What? A collection of three escape rooms, each with fun themes and packed full of puzzles to solve
Why should you go? Escape rooms offer a uniquely imaginative and immersive adventure by forcing participants to engage their brain and actively explore their surroundings. Escape Key are a brilliant exponent of the genre, offering three excellent rooms of varying difficulty, with a fourth to open later this year. Located next to a former witches’ burial ground and overlooking an old plague pit, Escape Key’s rooms are eerily inspired by its historical surroundings, and offer a thrilling game that both educates and excites.
St Andrew’s Street, Newcastle NE1 5SF
Where? Beamish Museum
What? A world-famous, open-air museum showing what life was like over 100 years ago
Why should you go? Beamish Museum is one of the most unique places for discovering the heritage of the North East. Here you can wander around historically-accurate settlements from different eras to really feel what life was like in the region from the 1820s to the mid-20th century – crawling through the coal mines, creating your own proggy mats, riding on the trams and, most importantly, sampling the sweets of the eras. Every day during the school holidays – from 20th July–28th August – there’ll be special activities taking place across the museum for all the family to enjoy, getting creative while learning more about our local history.
Beamish DH9 0RG
Where? BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
What? The UK’s largest contemporary art institution
Why should you go? Not only is BALTIC one of the North East’s most recognisable modern landmarks, but it is also the perfect place for children, fostering their creativity and letting their artistic side flourish. As well as their regular activities – such as the Wonder & Wander Tour for toddlers every Tuesday, the baby Sensory Room on Level 2, and the drop-in Meet & Make sessions every Saturday for children up to the age of 13 – BALTIC are also hosting a ‘Summer of Making’ over the holidays: celebrating the magic of creativity every Wednesday through free, artist-led workshops. Kids can try their hand at some experimental making techniques inspired by BALTIC’s current exhibitions, planning practical jokes, mixing slime, building their own inventions or getting crafty with recycling.
Gateshead NE8 3BA
Where? Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
What? Middlesbrough’s premier art gallery
Why should you go? As well as their regular programme of exhibitions and initiatives that are focused on addressing the current issues within politics, economics and culture in Middlesbrough, MIMA also host family activities and special events for children all year round, most of which are free. From their regular Saturday Family Art Trolley drop-in sessions – where children can get creative with workshops packed with exciting materials and ideas to get them inventing, making and wondering about the world around them – to their weekly ‘Mini MIMA Club’ for 0-5 year olds, which hosts interactive workshops that encourage creative and experimental play, there’s plenty to keep the kids out of mischief here.
Centre Square, Middlesbrough TS1 2AZ
Where? Woodhorn Museum
What? A visitor attraction devoted to the North East’s mining history
Why should you go? This former colliery in what was once the largest pit village in the world is guaranteed to get your little ones excited by the North East’s history. Explore Coal Town with them, where you’ll look at life through the eyes of the 1918 Ashington community – discovering the true story of coal mining as you walk to work at 1am, fight for your rights on strike, cram into a ‘cage lift’ like sardines, discover the art of the proggy and the power of community values. Woodhorn also host ‘Little Inventors Takeovers’ over certain weeks, where kids can work together to draw up their own inventions and bring them to life by making a prototype model. And the 10th annual sci-fi extravaganza, Invasion X, returns on 21st July, where kids can meet a host of science-fiction characters ranging from daleks to doctors, and jedis to jawas, peruse the Sci-Fair and get involved in themed crafts.
Queen Elizabeth II Country Park, Ashington NE63 9YF