We are now one week into the summer holiday's and if you are looking for some free day's out these holidays to keep your children entertained then I have compiled a list of 100 free places to visit this summer in the North East. While these attractions/ places/events do have free entry you will have to factor in car park fee's & petrol or bus fares - unless you live within walking distance of one of these places. Also, some of these places may have extra charges for certain things or they may change opening times or cancel events, so please do check their websites / social media accounts before travelling.
I hope you find this list useful and if you have anywhere to add or visit any of the places on the list do let me know.
We are so lucky here in the North East to have so many beautiful beaches, which are great for a family day out. We love visiting the beach to build sandcastles, splash in the sea or just for a walk along the coastal paths.
2.) Jesmond Dene
I love strolling through Jesmond Dene, the children love the animals in pets corner and visiting the park. The waterfall and green space make it a great place to spend a few hours exploring and burning off some energy too.
3.) Discovery Museum
We are big fans of the Discovery Museum located in Newcastle and I am always amazed that entry is free as there is so much to see and do. They currently have an 'All the fun of the fair' exhibition on, which sounds like fun.
4.) Hadrian's Wall
No matter how many times I see Hadrians Wall I am always impressed that it has stood for all these years, children will love learning about the history. So many parts of the wall are free to access and there are so many places in the North East that you see it, it is always fun spotting it.
Located in my home town of Cramlington, Northumberland the lady of the north, Northumberlandia makes a great day out. Set in a country park the form of a lady has been created into four miles of pathway. If you climb to the top you get views of the close by open mine and countryside.
6.) Ouseburn Farm
Ouseburn farm located in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle (near seven stories) is a free to enter farm (donations welcome). It is just a small farm with some indoor and outdoor animals but it is perfect for a visit with younger children.
7.) Angel of the North
The Angel is one of the North East's most iconic landmarks and children will love seeing her up close and getting their photo taken with the giant Angel.
8.) Screen on the Green
I recently posted about this on my facebook page, if your local to Newcastle you have probably seen the big cinema screens in the city centre showing films and shows throughout summer, every day. Check out what is online here and just turn up (no need to book), grab one of the deck chairs provided and enjoy a film outdoors in the centre of Newcastle.
I have not actually visited here myself but I keep hearing how great the Baltic is, located on the Quayside. They have regular free activities for children and there is also an area with games for children to play with too.
10.) Trade books at Barter books Alnwick
If your children have unwanted books you can take them to Barter books in Alnwick and trade them in for credit that they can then spend on books in the store. It is rather magical inside with overhead railways and so much to see. See website for full details www.barterbooks.co.uk
11.) Bill Quay Farm
Another free farm is Bill Quay farm near Gateshead, entry is free but again donations are welcome. The farm has some outdoor animals and a few small indoor animals and it is somewhere you can stay for an hour or two and young children will love.
12.) Durham Cathedral
The rather majestic looking Durham Cathedral in the heart of Durham is truly spectacular to look at, if you have travelled on the east coast train line you have probably seen it when you pass. Entry into the Cathedral church and Cloister is free, although donations are welcome and admission fees do apply to other parts of the cathedral.
13.) Hancock Museum
The Hancock Museum Newcastle city centre is somewhere I remember from my own childhood, now renamed the Great North Museum it is free to enter and has so much to see and do. They have activities on throughout the summer and is somewhere you could easily spend a couple of hours.
14.) Plessy Woods
I always visited Plessy Woods in south Northumberland as a child and now I take my own children, they love walking through the woods, throwing sticks in the stream and discovering the sculptures along the way.
15.) Stephenson railway museum
Somewhere we visited recently, located near the Silverlink retail park in North Tyneside. Entry to the museum is free although you do need to pay a small amount to ride on the heritage train rides which are only available on certain days and times so do check website for details. You can read about our recent trip on a day out with Thomas
16.) Shiremoor adventure playground
Shiremoor adventure playground is located in Shiremoor, North Tyneside. Entry is free and it is a huge outdoor play park for older children to climb on and explore, they have lots of garden type toys for young children to play on and an onsite cafe too. Check website for opening times.
17.) Rising sun country park
Located in North Tyneside (near Benton Asda) it is a large country park with lots of space to explore, farm animals, ponds and free parking. It is a great place to visit for a walk or to have a picnic, they do also have lots of events on throughout the summer, although a small charge and pre-booking is needed for these.
18.) Ridley Park Blyth
Ridley Park in Blyth Northumberland is great fun for children, they have a park and water fountains that children enjoy splashing around in (make sure you bring spare clothes). It is also close to Blyth harbour and beach so you can really make a day of it, we normally visit Ridley park and then walk up to the beach and visit the park there too.
19.) Whitley Bay kite festival
Taking place at the links, Whitley Bay on 19th and 20th August 2017 between 11am-4pm you can see dozens of different shape and sized kites on display (weather permitting).
20.) Saltwell Park Gateshead
We love visiting Saltwell park in Gateshead, there are two play areas - one for older children and one for younger children. They have some animals, lots of space to explore and you often see people having picnics or playing ball games. They also have a lake with pedaloes and a Thomas land train which children love, although you do need to pay for these.
21.) Arbeia Roman Fort south shields
Arbeia Roman Fort is located near the seafront and Marine park in South Shields, it is free to enter and daily during the summer - Check website www.arbeiaromanfort.org.uk for opening times. It has excavated Roman remains, reconstructed buildings and is an interesting place to visit.
22.) Penshaw Monument
This national trust property, near Durham, is free to visit, although it does cost if you want to climb to the top (only available on certain dates). The monument is really impressive and there are lots of nice places to have a walk in the nearby area. You can read about Penshaw Monument over on www.babyfoote.com
23.) National Glass centre
Located in Sunderland and open daily the National glass centre would be an interesting place to visit with free glass blowing demonstrations. It is also a short walk from Roker beach so you could really make a day of it.
24.) Baltic event
The Baltic, located on the quayside is holding a family fun day on Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 11 am. Recommended for children aged 4-13 year's old it will be a fun filled day full of creative activities. Check website for details www.balticmill.com
25.) Paddy Freeman park
Located just outside of Newcastle city centre, near the Freeman hospital is this lovely Victorian park. It is a big park which makes for lovely walks, it also has a play park for children and a duck pond.
26.) Blyth Community Carnival
Are holding free workshops to help people get involved in the carnival, with materials available to make costumes, banners and other items to take part in the parade. Full details can be found here
27.) Alnwick music festival
Between the 29th July and 5th August, between 11 am and 4 pm there will be musical performances on in Alnwick market place.
28.) Metrocentre events
Every day between 31 July to 28 August the Metrognomes will be taking part in pirate themed shows, at Exhibition square outside Primark.
29.) Chopwell Woods
Chopwell Woods near Consett is a great place to explore with 360 hectares of land to explore. Children will love spotting the animals sculptures dotted around the woods.
30.) Spital Splash Park
Located in Berwick, Northumberland Spittal Splash Park is close to the beach and has a play park nearby so you can really make a day of it.
Admission is free, although you do have to pay for certain events and parking is £3.50 for the day. For being a free attraction it has so much to offer with a children's playpark and the museum. They also have the railway children love and this is priced at a very reasonable £2 for adults and £1 for children.
32.) Visit the giant spoon
Near Cramlington, there is a giant spoon in a field that people seem to love getting their photo taken with. The best way to get there is to go under the underpass opposite the Bay horse pub and follow the path and you will find it.
33.) Libary events
Check your local library as they have so many free summer events on for children, my local library has so many regular events like teddy bears picnics and activities that children seem to enjoy.
34.) Exhibition Park Newcastle
Located just a few minutes walk from Newcastle city centre, near the town moor is Exhibition Park. It has a children's playground, lake and is a lovely place to escape the bustle of the busy city centre.
35.) Durridge bay country park
Located in Northumberland this is a lovely country park located in three miles of beach and sand dunes plus a lake and woodland area. They have a play park and obstacle course and it is the ideal place to have a picnic.
36.) Gruffalo trail
You can take part in the Gruffalo trial at Hamsterley forest or Kielder and you just need to download the app on your phone to take part. Young children will love this and if you take a picnic it will a fun filled, full day out.
37.) Quayside beach
Every summer a little beach pops up on Newcastle quayside, complete with sand, deckchairs and beach huts and with views overlooking the Tyne it is a great place to sit back and relax. Children will love playing in the sand and older children will love the Instagramable photo opportunities.
38.) Q Festival
Set on the Gateshead Quayside is the Q Festival which is running until the 6th of August, many of the events do have a fee but they also have lots of free events too, see website for details www.gateshead.gov.uk
39.) Laing art gallery
Located in Newcastle city centre, just off Northumberland street is the Laing art gallery and admission is free (donations welcome) although admission does apply to some exhibitions. They have a free Under 5's play area too.
40.) Walk along the Quayside
Have a walk along Newcastle Quayside and walk along the bridges is always a nice way to spend a few hours. You can always walk along to Ouseburn to visit the free farm there too.
41.) Sunderland Winter gardens
Entry is free to this museum with so much to see and do, they have Wallace the lion, a gallery and a winter garden with over 2,000 plants. They also have some dinosaur models hidden in the garden waiting to be discovered, including a T-Rex hatching from its shell.
Home to northern Europe's biggest man made lake and England's biggest forest Kielder is a great family day out. You can spend hours exploring the area and seeing if you can spot a red squirrel.
43.) Rock pooling at coast
You can't beat a couple of hours rock pooling at the coast, my children love visiting St Mary's island seeing what creatures they can find in the rock pools.
44.) St Mary's Island
As I mentioned above we love to visit St Mary's island in Whitley bay to rock pool but it is also a lovely place to visit. You do have to pay a small fee to go into the lighthouse but exploring the island is free.
45.) Leazers Park, Newcastle
Located in the city centre near the RVI hospital this is a lovely park to escape the city centre. I spent my labour with my son walking in this park.
46.) North Tyneside Bikeability lessons
If you live in North Tyneside your children (aged 9-14) can take part in free bikeabilty lessons full details can be found on the website www.sportnorthtyneside.org.uk
47.) Beach clean at Hauxley wildlife
As part of Marine Week, Hauxley wildlife park in Northumberland is holding a beach clean between 1 pm and 3 pm on the 28th July.
48.) Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead
Not far from Gateshead city centre is Shipley art gallery which is home to over 800 pieces of art, it also hosts many events.
49.) Alnmouth raft race
Alnmouth in Northumberland is holding their annual raft race on Sunday 6th August between 2 pm and 8 pm.
50.) South shields museum
Open Monday to Saturday entry is free to South Shields museum. www.southshieldsmuseum.org.uk
51.) North shields fish quay family fun day
Take part in Pirate survival tasks, animation workshops and arty fun. Full details can be found here
52.) Little Moover at Satwell park
On the 17th August between 11 am - 3 pm there will be a free Little Mover event at Saltwell Park, Gateshead. Aimed at children aged 0-5 years old it will be packed full of fun filled activities that tots will enjoy.
53.) Bolam lake country park
Located 9 miles west of Morpeth, Northumberland Bolam lake country park is the perfect place to visit for a summer family picnic. You can take a stroll around the large lake or woodland area and see if you can spot the wildlife, red squirrels, deer or even a woodpecker.
54.) Grace Darling Museum
Visit the free Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh Northumberland to learn more about Grace's rescue efforts as she rescued shipwrecked survivors.
55.) Big watch weekend Cresswell
On Saturday 5th August and Sunday 6th August between 10 am - 4 pm there is a Big Watch Weekend at Creswell Foreshaw. Spot Dolphins on the cetacean watch and enjoy games and activities in the hall.
56.) Low Barns Nature reserve
Located west of Bishop Auckland, entry is free but parking charges do apply.
57.) Eldon Square events
From Monday 7 August to Tuesday the 29th August there will be lots of free events taking place at intu Eldon Square, Newcastle. There will be face-painting, arts and crafts, candy floss and a play mobile play zone which are all free, please see website for full details www.intu.co.uk/eldonsquare
58.) Kid fun fest south shields
On the 10th August between 2 pm and 4 pm at the amphitheatre, there will be games and activities along with performers and a gunge tank to entertain children.
59.) Science party Shiremoor library
On 22 August at 2.30, there is a Big Bang Science party for children aged 4+, check with the library first though as these events often need to be prebooked.
60.) Visit Northumberland national park
Visit Northumberland's vast national park, you can enjoy some beautiful walks in the countryside and children will love exploring.
61.) Visit a new park
Visit a new park this summer, my children adore visiting parks and they love visiting a new one and it makes a nice change from always visiting the same ones.
62.) Walk Berwick defence
Walk the Berwick defence walls and take in some beautiful views whilst exploring this charming town which is steeped in history.
63.) Seahouses family fun day
Seahouses, Northumberland will be hosting its annual lifeboat fete and family fun day on Monday 28 August between 10 am and 4 pm.
64.) Free castle
Visit one of Northumberland's free castles, such as Berwick for an explore and to take in some history. (Check the website before visiting as most castles do charge to visit and only a few are free.)
65.) Walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle
Take a walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh castle in Northumberland and enjoy stunning views of the rugged coastline and Northumberland countryside.
66.) Holy island
Visit the most magical place in the North East, Holy island which you can access from car or bus when the tide allows.
67.) Explore Northumberland countryside
Explore the Northumberland countryside, I grew up in Northumberland and now as an adult, I love nothing more than exploring the beautiful Northumberland countryside.
68.) Picnic at the beach
Having a picnic in the park is a lovely way to spend a few hours and is sure to delight children.
69.) Visit Embleton Bay voted the best beach
Voted as BBCs Countryfile magazine beach of the year, Embleton Bay in Northumberland is a must visit beach.
70.) Cycle the coast
Cycle along the coast is always a fun filled day out with beautiful scenery.
71.) RNLI free water safety lessons
Children ages 7-14 can take part in free swim safe lessons in Tynemouth or South Shields this summer to help them become more confident in the sea. To find out more and book visit swim-safe
72.) Marsden beach
Famous for its grotto this is a lovely family friendly beach to explore near south shields.
73.) Libary books
On rainy days a visit to the library to get some library books to bring home and read will keep children entertained for a while.
74.) Spittal seaside festival
Spittal in Berwick, Northumberland is hosting a seaside festival on 12th and 13th August with street entertainers, punch and Judy, live music and sand castle building competitions going on.
75.) Summer fayres in North Tyneside
North Tyneside Council are hosting lots of free community fairs throughout the summer with lots of free activities like face painting, magic shows and fair ground rides. For full details check out www.issuu.com
76.) Barnes Park Sunderland
With children play areas, and lots of areas for a walk this sounds like a lovely park to visit.
77.) Berwick Park
We visited Berwick recently and my children loved the parks there, there is a modern one near the city centre which had a great selection of play equipment for both young and older children with slides, climbing frames, swings, play houses and seesaws.
78.) Visit a Northumberland village
Visit one of the ever so pretty Northumberland villages for a day out, we often visit Rothbury, Wooler and Amble for fun filled family days out.
79.) Whitley Bay splash park
Located near the beach and Spanish City is Whitley Bay splash park, it has so many water features that children will love playing in. It is also near a play park and the beach, making it a great day out.
80.) Carlise park Morpeth
Probably my favourite park in the North East, this is a lovely riverside park with a large outdoor paddling pool for children to play in. It has a play park for younger children with a sandpit and a play park for slightly older children and lots of grassed area for a picnic or exploring.
81.) Tynemouth station Under 5 events
From the 7th to 11th August between 10 - 10.45 am and 11.15 - 12 noon there will be activities for under 5's. There will be a fun sports class, messy play and dancing activities. Sessions are free but are on a first come first served basis, full details can be found here
82.) Newcastle Falcon rugby event Tynemouth Longsands
On the 13th August, Newcastle Falcons rugby club will be hosting a touch rugby tournament at Longsands beach, Tynemouth.
83.) Tynemouth station lego event
On Monday 21 August - Friday 25 August between 10 am - 4 pm you can take part in lego workshop.
84.) Spanish city events
On weekends until 27 August, there will be performances at Spanish city Whitley Bay featuring circus acts, acrobats, African dancers and a whole host of street performers full details here
85.) North Tyneside Park events
North Tyneside parks have lots of free events on this summer, from family picnic's and live music to dog Oscar's and heritage trails full details here
86.) Whitley Bay classic car show
Not technically in the summer holidays as this event takes place on 17 September but Whitley Bay will be hosting a classic car show at the Links between 10 am - 3 pm.
87.) Tynemouth book fair
A book fair will be on at Tynemouth station on 6th August between 10 am - 4 pm. The regular market held on Sunday's is also worth a visit too.
88.) Washington 'F' Pit
Find out about 250 years of mining history at Washing 'F' pit situated in Albany, Washington. It is free to enter but only open on certain days so check website for opening times here
89.) Heritage Open Days
Between 7-10 September dozen's of North Tyneside venues will open their doors to the public check website for details.
90.) Chester-le-street Riverside park
With a splash pad, play park and beautiful gardens to explore.
91.) Railway Museum Shildon
The national railway museum Shildon, Durham is open daily and is free to enter. With a collection of trains to look at and a play park, it is sure to delight young fans.
92.) The Word, South Shields
Open daily this state of the art cultural venue in South Shields is free to enter and they currently have a Shiver me Timbers pirate exhibition on for children which sound like fun, full details can be found at www.theworduk.org
93.) Explore the Cheviots
The Cheviots in Northumberland is an amazing place to explore, a stroll through the charming town of Wooler is also recommended.
94.) Visit Amble
A visit to the lovely seaside town of Amble is a lovely way to spend the day, spend time at the beach or visit the Sunday market.
95.) Quayside market
A Sunday morning stroll along the bustling Newcastle Quayside market is always a lovely way to spend a few hours.
96.) Big waters nature reserve
Located in Seaton Burn, North Tyneside this is a nature reserve that has some lovely walks. It is also a great place to spot aeroplanes coming in to land at nearby Newcastle airport.
97.) Herrington Country park
This is one of the biggest parks in Sunderland with a walk and cycle tracks and an adventure play area.
98.) Make your own teddy bear picnic in the woods
If you have young children they will love heading off on a teddy bears picnic to the local woods.
99.) Local shopping centre events
Local shopping centres often host lots of events for children during the summer so it might be worth checking out what is on in your local area.
100.) Have an adventure
We live in such a great part of the country with so much to see and do, so sometimes it is good to just set off for the day and see where you end up.
If you have any more free day out idea's here in the North East be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Please note that I have compiled this list myself, please do check the places mentioned websites (I have linked to some within this list) or social media accounts for up-to-date times, dates and cancellations etc before visiting. Also please keep in mind that parking fees will apply to some of the places listed here and donations are welcomed at others, also some of the places on this list may have additional activities with charges. This list is intended as a rough guide to free places to visit in the north east and Newcastle Family Life accepts no responsibility or connection to any events mentioned within this post.