Places to visit with children in County Durham


Here are my tips for places to visit with children in County Durham. Ten months into this parenting job and I’m still a little bit scared of being stuck on the A1, at the Angel of the North with the little one, so many of the great things to do I have seen online in Newcastle/Northumberland have yet to be tackled, there are lots of them on the fantastic blog Northeastfamilyfun. I’ll get over my trips-in-car-with-baby-on-my-own issue sooner or later!

So, not venturing too far from home,  I have compiled a list based around the south of the region,  which are a bit closer to me in County Durham. I’m not going to give you the obvious ones, like walk around Durham – we all know what an amazing sight that is. But some tips on places you may not be so familar with, which are baby friendly.

If they aren’t my own images, they belong to This is Durham, who have a fantastic social media presence as well as being a fantastic resource for everything that is amazing about Durham!

Hardwick Park

Our go-to place. Durham County Council have done a fantastic job, a great walk, a lovely lake and a Gruffalo Trail for the kids. Parking is £3 for the day and the money goes back into the park. Chavs don’t seem to like paying for parking, so is usually family friendly. Favourite of dog walkers – so be weary if you’re not a fan of dogs. Here is us by the lake in December – it’s open all year!

South Durham Gymnastics Centre

Locally known as ‘The Pink Gym’ the gymnastics centre offers open play for 0-4 years olds five times per week. It is a great place to let little ones explore on crawling and toddling friendly surfaces. They also get a taster for what the equipment is like in the world of gymnastics. They can join SD Gymnastics Club from the age of 2 – but it is advised to put names down on a waiting list as it is so popular, especially as it is the home gym of Olympic Gymnast, Amy Tinkler. It is great to have such a role model in the local area, and fantastic to see a local club so popular. Open play sessions cost £4 per session.

Spennymoor Leisure Centre Sensory Room

This is the best sensory room around – suitable for babies from a young age. The sessions are limited by numbers, so booking is required and you are free to explore the sensory equipment, everything is self-explanatory.

This was the first place I took RLT on my own! The Council website doesn’t have a great deal of info on it, but the reception staff and centre manager are very responsive to enquiries. Timetable for baby sessions correct on 30th Oct 2018 are: Monday 1 and 2pm. Thursdays 1pm, Fridays 9.15am and 10.15am. These sessions are for children aged between 0-2 years and are £4 per child. To book, call reception on 03000261161.

Beamish Museum

A wonderful place for all! A place for education and exploration. We are incredibly lucky to have this open air museum on our doorstep – just past Chester-le-Street! A bit further North than most of the other recommendations, but another great Durham County Council run tourism attraction, so it counts! Great prices on annual passes, mean that it is a great regular destination and regular changes to programme such as Christmas specials and 50s weekends make it even more fantastic. This was the place we all used to come on school trips and I’m very proud to have this in the local area. I cannot wait for the 50s village, which is due to open in Summer 2019.

Hamsterley Forest

We are also exceptionally lucky to have Hamsterley Forest on our doorstep. Great walks, stuff for bikers, different play parks to ones you’d find elsewhere and a Zog trail! It is a full day out kind of place! They also have cool events during the year, like night time safaris and you can pick your own Christmas Tree and a discovery pass system to pay for annual parking if you’re a regular visitor.

We took RLT here aged five weeks in a papoose… fun for all ages!I’d advise you to get a map and follow a route – it is a forest after all and therefore MASSIVE.

Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon

Obviously being home of the railways is a massive part of our history around here! So visiting this place is a must to understand how it all started! I must admit, I’m not the biggest fan of trains, but the museum has old carriages, so you can see how trains used to look back in the days of it being the elite way to travel and they are beautiful! Likewise seeing the Flying Scotsman in all of its glory is great. There are so many historically significant links to the area and the railways, it is really great to visit and will fill you with a sense of pride. Santas Specials here get booked up fast, too! Recently there was a really popular lego exhibition – I’ve never seen the area so busy! Great to see!

Is there anything you think should be included? Please comment below! There are days out with kids websites which compile everything, this is simply a tried and tested list from me.