My top 10 outdoor places to take your children to in the North East - and why we keep returning

Whitley Bay beach and the Spanish City Dome in North Tyneside
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)


The North East has many wonderful places to visit with your children.

Whether you love a day out at the beach, a picnic in the park or a walk in a woodland, our region has some great spots to entertain our little ones. But when you are taking children out, you also look for facilities such as play areas, toilets and cafes to eat or drink.

Here I have listed just a few of our favourite places to go to with our daughter, who is now 10. We have visited these areas many times over the years and our daughter always loves going back. Some of the following sites are free, others have admission costs or tickets.

Tell us about your favourite North East spots in our comments section below, where your children have a good time and you return to make more memories.

Whitley Bay beach

The promenade in Whitley Bay
The promenade in Whitley Bay -Credit:Sonia Sharma/ChronicleLive

We live in North Tyneside, which has a great coastline, and we love visiting all parts of it. However, Whitley Bay is probably our favourite beach, whether it's for a quick walk or a full day of fun. I like it's promenade as it is good for a stroll as well as taking your kids out on a scooter or bike. There's also a skatepark for any youngsters who like a bigger challenge. And there are toilets near the Rendezvous Cafe and at Watts Slope, which are always handy for families. We have spent umpteen hours here playing on the sand, going on walks, teaching our daughter how to ride a scooter/ bike and ofcourse eating ice creams. There are plenty of places to grab a snack or food around the Spanish City Dome. And the area has a pleasant contrast of blue and green, with the grass on The Links above, where the kids can play or have a picnic.

Heaton Park/Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene in Newcastle.
Jesmond Dene in Newcastle. -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

I'm counting these as one as we always tend to start at one side and end up at the other. At Heaton Park, in Newcastle, there's a play area and walking routes to explore before making your way to Jesmond Dene, a lovely haven with a network of paths and bridges. You can follow the river to the waterfall, and visit Pet's Corner along the way. Toilet facilities are available at Heaton Park and at a visitor centre near Pet's Corner.

Plessey Woods

Plessey Woods Country Park
Plessey Woods Country Park -Credit:NorthumberlandTV/Northumberland County Council

Plessey Woods Country Park is near Hartford Bridge, off the A192, mid-way between Bedlington and Cramlington. It has plenty of woodland, meadow and riverside trails as well as a visitor centre, cafe, toilets and children's play area. There's a huge open green space near the visitor centre which is good for picnics, playing or just relaxing when the kids are done with walking the woodlands. This place is ideal for a family day out and getting a good dose of nature.

Wallington

Wallington House
Wallington House -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

The National Trust has some amazing sites in the North East but Wallington is our top one and we've been back there frequently over the past few years. Wallington, near Morpeth, in Northumberland, has a stunning house and the estate includes a walled garden, woodland, some fun play areas, nature walks and cycle trails. There’s lots to keep children entertained, no matter what age they are. You can spend time spotting birds and looking for squirrels or just relaxing on the giant lawn in front of the house. Wallington looks brilliant all year round and seems to have the right mix of things our daughter loves to do, which she can enjoy in one day without feeling she's missed something out. Admission details can be found here.

Northumberlandia

Northumberlandia, near Cramlington
Northumberlandia, near Cramlington -Credit:Sonia Sharma

This is such an unusual attraction - a giant land sculpture in the shape of a reclining female figure. That in itself is enough to pique a child's interest. You can work out different parts of the body and hike up or around them. There is a network of paths, alongside three ponds, that take you around the structure. It's good fun but this visit will not fill up your day - I'd say one or two hours at the most. You can read more about Northumberlandia and what to expect in one of my previous articles here.

Alnwick Castle and Garden/Lilidorei

Lilidorei at the Alnwick Garden
Lilidorei at the Alnwick Garden -Credit:Sonia Sharma

This is a firm favourite with our little one. She is fascinated by everthing there, from the castle to the garden. Features include a bamboo labyrinth, The Poison Garden, the Grand Cascade and The Treehouse just outside the garden’s perimeter wall. There are literally not enough hours in the day to take full advantage of this attraction. There are lots of things to do, including playing on the new Lilidorei play structure, which opened last year. Here's what I wrote about Lilidorei after our first visit. Our daughter enjoyed it so much she didn't want to leave. Ticket prices for Alnwick Garden can be found here.

South Shields coast

Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields
Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

The South Shields coast is the place to go for seaside entertainment with your children. It boasts a string of amusement arcades and fairground rides, thanks to the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park. Nearby, South Marine Park and North Marine Park are always packed on a good summer’s day. And there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Needless to say, we've been back here loads.

Druridge Bay

Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland
Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland -Credit:Kieran Murray/Chroniclelive

Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland has everything you need in one place - a large park with a lake, woodland, visitor centre, play site, cafe, and a beach. Our routine usually goes - walk around the lake, time at the play area, followed by lunch and an afternoon on the beach. There might even be an ice cream or two thrown in.

Rising Sun Country Park

Rising Sun Country Park in Benton.
Rising Sun Country Park in Benton. -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

The Rising Sun Country Park, in Benton, North Tyneside, has a mixture of a nature reserve with ponds, woodlands and grasslands. There's also a visitor centre and a children’s play area, with places to have a picnic or grab a bite to eat at a cafe.

This is a good place to blow away the cobwebs. It's ideal for taking the kids out for a bit of fresh air and exercise, whether it's by walking or cycling. You can try out different routes or trails every time. We usually walk to the top of the Rising Sun Hill, from where you get great views of Tyneside.

St Mary's Lighthouse

St Mary's Island in Whitley Bay
St Mary's Island in Whitley Bay -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

Check the tide times and cross over to St Mary's Lighthouse via the causeway. Your children will enjoy the nature reserve with rockpools and wildlife. If the visitor centre is open, you can climb the 137 steps to the top of the lighthouse for spectacular views of the coast.

But what our daughter loves the most is spotting seals. Take a walk around the island to see if you can spot any seals on the rocks - without disturbing them of course. The best place to view them is from within the lighthouse compound and bird hide.