Days Out

Parks & The Outdoors

Our ‘Top 10s‘ lists are ideal to print and keep handy so you’re never stuck for inspiration, or there are some fab hidden gems in Local Walks Away from the Crowds plus more info & ideas below.

Some venues and facilities may be closed due to Covid-19, please check directly with venues before making plans.

If you run a relevant activity or business that’s not listed yet (or if you’re a parent with a recommendation) please feel free to get in touch with details.

Basic listings are free, information on upgraded listings (with up to 200 words, social media links & photos) can be found here.

Allensford Country Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Allensford, Castleside, Consett, Co Durham, DH8 9BA

14 acre park with woodland and riverside walks, picnic areas and children’s adventure playground with a range of equipment. Some areas of stream suitable for paddling. Cafe open daily serving snacks.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Durham County Council

Belsay Hall Castle and Gardens

๐Ÿ“Œ Belsay, Northumberland, NE20 0DX

An English Heritage site with a medieval castle, grand Grecian villa and 30 acres of gardens, including: Crag Wood Walk, Yew Garden, Magnolia Terrace, Rhododendron collection and a Quarry Garden of exotic plants. Tearoom serving lunch and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @belsayhall
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ6-ยฃ10pp / Family from ยฃ26 (under 5 years free)

Bill Quay Playground

๐Ÿ“Œ Bill Quay Park, Station Road, Gateshead, NE10 0UH

Large sandpit with pirate ship and slide, plus separate junior play frame and water play with trough and pump.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Gateshead Council

Birkheads Secret Gardens

Wednesday – Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday – Sunday: 11am – 5pm
(Closed mid Oct til end of ย Feb/March)

Birk Heads, Marley Hill, Gateshead, NE16 5 EL
Tel: 07778 447920

A 3 acre site with themed gardens, water features, garden shop and cafรฉ. Plus you can pick up an ‘I spy trail’ for children.

Adults: ยฃ5.00
Child: aged 4-15: ยฃ2.00
Seniors & Students: ยฃ4.50

Bolam Lake Country Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Bolam, Northumberland, NE20 0HE

Country park with woodland, grassland and large lake, with various walking trails including an easy 3/4 mile lakeside walk. There’s a Visitor Centre with cafe serving snacks and treats, open at weekends and holidays during spring/summer.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Northumberland County Council

Broom House Farm & Forest Adventure

Farm/Coffee Shop daily: 9am – 5pm
Forest Adventure (weather permitting):
Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm
(Daily during Summer/Autumn school holidays).

Broom House Farm, Near Witton Gilbert, Durham, DH7 6TR
Tel: 01913 718382

A working farm with hens, piglets and cattle (no charge to view animals however no feeding/petting). Plus grassy play area and forest adventure, with puzzling quiz trails, zip wires and tunnels.

Farm: free
Forest Adventure: ยฃ5.50
Family (2 adults, 2 kids): ยฃ20
Under 2 years: Free

Carlisle Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Off Castle Square, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 1YD

Park with formal gardens, woodland and riverside walks and a more challenging walk up Haw Hill, the site of an 11th-century motte and bailey. There’s a skate park, play area and paddling pool.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free. For more info, visit Northumberland County Council
Seasonal opening for paddling pool, typically open late May-early Sep

Causey Arch

๐Ÿ“Œ Marley Hill, Near Stanley, Co Durham, NE16 5EG

A woodland walk alongside the Tanfield railway track, the world’s oldest railway with steam trains running on selected dates. Cross a disused railway bridge over a woodland gorge and take the steps down to a riverside walk, with some areas suitable for plodging. Causey House Tea Room in car park serving meals and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free

Chase Park

Daylight hours.

Chase Park, Front Street, Whickham, Gateshead, NE16 4EE

Refurbished in 2017, with well-kept gardens, tennis courts, skateboard park, table tennis and outdoor gym. There are toddler and junior play areas, including a zip line and water play, with an Archimedes screw which turns to move water up.


Chopwell Woodland Park

Open access.

Chopwell Wood, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE39 1LT
Tel: 01388 488312

There are four walking trails of varying lengths that criss-cross through the woodland. Cyclists of all ages and abilities can enjoy the network of cycle paths, with moderate blue graded trails and a fast and exhilarating red graded trail.


Cullercoats Beach

๐Ÿ“Œ Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside, NE30 4BY

A sandy bay enclosed by two piers, with nearby dining options including cafe, takeaway and pub. Moderate coastal walks of around 3-4 miles to Whitley Bay beach or Tynemouth beach.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free

Derwent Walk Country Park & Derwenthaugh Park

Open access.

Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE39 1AU

The park runs from Swalwell to Rowlands Gill and is made up of several countryside sites, including woodlands, meadows, wetlands and riverside, all linked by a series of waymarked walks. There are two visitor centres with cafes, public toilets, 7 car parks, and easy access walks suitable for prams.


Druridge Bay Country Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Red Row, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 5BX

3.5 miles of beach, plus woodland, grasslands and Ladyburn Lake. Lake permits available for boat sports. Visitors’ Centre with displays on the local area, plus a cafe, shop and young children’s play area. Separate play area for older children.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free. For more info, visit Northumberland County Council
๐ŸŽซ Water Sports: from ยฃ4.

Dunston Staithes

๐Ÿ“Œ The Staiths, Dunston, Gateshead, NE11 9DR

A riverside walkway/cycleway along the Tyne with views of the huge grade ‘A’ listed timbre railway structure, first opened in 1893. Visit Saltmarsh Garden then continue on a pleasant 2 mile riverside walk to Gateshead Quays, home of the BALTIC, Sage Gateshead and Millenium Bridge.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free

Durham Botanic Garden

๐Ÿ“Œ South Road, Durham, DH1 3TN

Plant collections from around the world, including woodland, alpine, a bamboo grove, tropical rainforest plants, desert plants and Mediterranean plants. Also tropical bugs, scorpions, tarantulas and in spring-summer rare breed sheep.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @durham.botanic.gardens
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ1.50-ยฃ4 pp (under 5s free)

Exhibition Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Exhibition Park, Claremont Road, Newcastle, NE2 4PZ

Park with grassland, woodland and lake, plus crazy golf, skate park, sports courts, water play trough and playground with sandpit and mini diggers. There’s a Military Vehicle Museum, a cafe and Wylam Brewery serving main meals. Behind the brewery is a miniature train track with free rides 11am-3pm first Sunday of each month (April-Sep plus seasonal specials).

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Newcastle City Council
๐ŸŽซ Donations welcome for train rides, more infoย @TynesideSocietyMEE


Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
(times may changes seasonally)

Rowlands Gill, Burnopfield, Gateshead, NE16 6BG
Tel: 01207 541820

There’s plenty to explore in this National Trust 18th century landscape garden, with 600 acres of gardens, woodland and countryside, chapel, cafe and two children’s outdoor play areas, with a zip wire,ย  sandpit and water play trough. Plus regular family events and workshops.

Adults: from ยฃ12
Child: from ยฃ6
Family: (2 Adults:): from ยฃ30
Family: (1 Adult:): from ยฃ18

Hamsterley Forest

๐Ÿ“Œ Redford, Hamsterley Forest, County Durham, DL13 3NL

2,000 hectare area with range of woodland and riverside walking/cycling trails, bike hire and play areas. Story character trails with Zog and the Gruffalo sculptures. Viking trail with forts and boats. Some parts of stream suitable for paddling. Optional 2 mile ‘Forest Drive’ with scenic lookouts. Cafe serving snacks and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Hamsterley Forest – Forestry England
๐ŸŽซ Free access (parking charges apply). Forest Drive Toll : from ยฃ6 per car

Herrington Country Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Chester Road, Penshaw, Sunderland, DH4 7EL

Park with walking and cycling trails, play area with sandpit, skate park, lake, environmental sculptures and amphitheatre. Cafe serving lunch and main meals.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Sunderland City Council

Jarrow Hall

๐Ÿ“Œ Village and Bede Museum, Church Bank, Jarrow, South Tyneside, NE32 3DY

Museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Venerable Bede along with Anglo-Saxon dwellings, set in 11 acre grounds including a farm with rare-breed and rescued animals.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @JarrowHallOfficial
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ3-ยฃ5 pp / Family from ยฃ16
*Opening hours vary seasonally, check with organiser – closed mid Dec until Feb

Jesmond Dene

Park: open access
Pet’s Corner, daily: 9am – 4.30pm

Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne And Wear, NE7 7DA
Tel: 0191 281 2082

Woodland stretching over three kilometres with streams, waterfalls and a network of paths and bridges. Some parts of the stream are suitable for paddling. There’s a visitors centre, cafรฉ and outdoor play area with slides and nest swing. Plus โ€˜Petโ€™s Cornerโ€™ with pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits and birds.

Free, donations welcome.

Marine Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Sea Road, South Shields, South Tyneside, NE33 2JS

Park near the sea front with formal gardens, play area with sandpit, lake with ducks and pedal boats, miniature ride-on steam train and art trail with ten sculptures. Cafe serving snacks and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit South Tyneside Council

Plessey Woods

๐Ÿ“Œ Shields Road, Hartford Bridge, Bedlington, Northumberland, NE22 6AN

100 acres of woodland, meadows and riverside with picnic areas and walking/cycling trails, including an art trail with fun sculptures and fairy doors. A new play park opened in Spring 2019 with traditional wooden equipment. Parts of the stream are suitable for paddling. Visitor centre with cafe open at weekends.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Northumberland County Council

Richardson Dees Park

๐Ÿ“Œ North Road, Wallsend, North Tyneside, NE28 8RH

Victorian park with formal gardens, lake and woodland walks, sports courts, skate park and playground with swings, slides and toddler playframe. Plus a water play feature with trough and pump. Cafe serving snacks and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free

Ridley Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 3EB

Park with formal gardens, wildflowers and woodland. Including sports courts, water splash pad play, and play area for all ages with sandpit and water trough play feature. Cafe serving snacks and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Northumberland County Council
Seasonal opening for water play, typically open late May-Sep

Rising Sun Country Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Rising Sun Countryside Centre, Whitley Road, Benton, North Tyneside, NE12 9SS

162 hectares of woodlands, grasslands, farmland and nature reserve with ponds. Walking and cycling trails, play area and a hillside water play feature with shallow stream, mini waterfalls and pebble mosaics. Cafe with terrace.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit North Tyneside Council

Riverside Park Chester-le-Street

๐Ÿ“Œ Riverside South Sports Pavilion, Chester-le-Street, Durham, DH3 3SJ

Park with acres of gardens and easy riverside walk with ducks and swans. Large well-equipped playground, including castle-themed play frame and static wooden train. Free splash pad with lots of fountains and water guns. Kiosk selling drinks and snacks.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Durham County Council
Seasonal opening for splash pad, typically open from late May-late Aug

Roker Beach & Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Roker Park Road, Sunderland, SR6 9NB

Miles of sandy beach with wide promenade and restored pier, withย various cafes and restaurants at Pier Point. Easy seafront walk to Seaburn beach and beyond. Nearby is Roker Park, with formal gardens, lake, sports courts, two play areas and a miniature train ride.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Sunderland City Council

Saltwell Park

Daylight access (changes seasonally)

East Park Road, Gateshead, NE9 5AX
Tel: 0191 433 7000

A Victorian park with well-kept gardens, streams, sports facilities and lake with pedal boats for hire. Plus there is a small maze, a pet’s corner and toddler and junior play areas, including a sand pit. You may also find bouncy castles and a Thomas train ride which drives around the park.


South Shields Beach & Pleasure Park

๐Ÿ“Œย Sea Road, South Shields, South Tyneside, NE33 2LD

Miles of sandy beaches, dunes, cliffs and a restored pier, with various seafront restaurants and cafes. Pirate themed mini-golf plusย Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, with 40+ fairground rides. Around 2.5 mile coastal walk to Marsden beach, with striking rock formations.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @OceanBeachSouthShields
๐ŸŽซ Free entry, Fun Cards available for payment of rides and arcades

St Marys Lighthouse & Island

๐Ÿ“Œ Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, NE26 4RS

St Mary’s Island is reached by a short causeway covered by tides twice a day, with exhibits on the lighthouse’s history and surrounding Nature Reserve, including cliffs, grassland, beaches and rock pools. Brave the 137 steps to enjoy spectacular views from the top.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @St. Mary’s Lighthouse
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ1.70-ยฃ3.30 pp / Family from ยฃ7.70

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

๐Ÿ“Œ Burdon Road, Sunderland, SR1 1PP

Museum with interactive exhibits on local history. Winter Gardens greenhouse withย  tropical plants, water features, treetop walkway and dinosaurs hidden among the plants.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Free. For more info, visit @sunderlandmuseu

The Alnwick Garden

๐Ÿ“Œย Greenwell Road, Alnwick , Northumberland, NE66 1YU

Formal gardens and woodland walk, with adventure golf, labyrinth and tree house restaurant with treetop walkways (buggy accessible). Various water features including splash areas for kids play. Regular performances and family workshops. Two cafes and a restaurant serving snacks and main meals.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @alnwickgarden
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ4.50-ยฃ12 pp / Family from ยฃ30 (0-4 years free)

The Bowes Museum

๐Ÿ“Œ The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co Durham DL12 8NP

A 19th century museum with fine and decorative arts, set in acres of parkland with childrens’ play area, including climbing frame, slide, bucket swing & balancing equipment.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @TheBowesMuseum
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ5-ยฃ14 pp / Family from ยฃ30 (under 5s free)
Fees include unlimited entry all year around

Thornley Woods

Open access.

Rowlands Gill, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE39 1AU
Tel: 01207 545212

There are marked walking routes from the visitor centre, including a short circular easy access boardwalk route, plus there a various animal sculptures carved from trees stumps throughout the woods. There is also a cafe with a children’s play kitchen and toys, and childrenโ€™s activity sheets.


Tyne Riverside Country Park

๐Ÿ“Œ Grange Road, Newburn, Newcastle, NE15 8ND

Around 60 hectares of farmland, woodland and grassland along the River Tyne, with walking trails and the Wylam Waggonway cycling trail. Riverside picnic area and childrenโ€™s play area with separate toddler and junior areas. Nearby is Hedley’s Coffee Shop for snacks and treats, and the Keelman Pub serving main meals.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit Newcastle City Council


๐Ÿ“Œ Cambo, near Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 4AR

A 13,000-acre National Trust site, with a grand house featuring historical paintings, furniture and curiosities, plus gardens, lakes, rivers, woodland and farmland. There are various walking trails, an easy cycling trail and bike hire, three outdoor play areas, and cafe serving hot meals, snacks and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @WallingtonNT
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ7-ยฃ14 pp / Family ยฃ21-ยฃ35

Washington Old Hall

๐Ÿ“Œ The Avenue, Washington Village, Sunderland, NE38 7LE

A National Trust manor house with displays on life during the 17th century, with compact gardens including an orchard, nuttery and vegetable patch. A children’s quiz/trail is available and there’s an outdoor play frame with slide. Tea room serving light bites and treats.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info, visit @WashingtonOldHall
๐ŸŽซ From ยฃ3.35 – ยฃ6.70 pp / Family from ยฃ10.10 – ยฃ16.75
Seasonal opening hours, closed between Nov-April

Watergate Forest Park

Open access.

Off Whickham Highway at Lobley Hill, Gateshead, NE11 9RQ
Tel: 0191 433 7412

There are woodland, wildflower meadows and a lake, with gravel paths including a 1.4 mile circular walk around the lake. The Watergate Cafe has toys, books and arts & crafts supplies and a small outdoor enclosed area with creative toys. They also run pre-school activities and workshops.