7 cool, solo parenting days out in Newcastle and Sunderland you’ll enjoy as much as the kids
Flying solo with the little ones? We’ve got plenty of inspo for family days out that can double up as get-togethers with friends or simply magic memories in the making. No cars, no boredom, no worries.
Shearing sheep, holding chicks, feeding horses and petting rabbits… They’re great child-friendly pastimes you automatically associate with heading out into the country.
But there’s a working community farm right in the heart of Newcastle – and it’s accessible by Metro.
At Ouseburn Farm, you can walk goats, bath reptiles, groom guinea pigs and visit sheep, cows, horses, ducks, goats and pigs as you and your little ones get out and about in the great outdoors and connect with nature.
Manors Metro station is probably the closest, although the farm is about a 15-minute walk from both there and Byker Metro station. And the good news is, there’s a lot of hip food and drink spots in the Ouseburn Valley to whet your whistles once snack times come a-calling.
Ouseburn Farm isn’t the only animal hotspot in the city, either. Pet’s Corner is about a 25-minute walk from West Jesmond Metro station, largely through the leafy wonderland of Jesmond Dene – where kids can explore the forest, river, grassy areas and historic buildings around them.
You might even spot the kingfisher and red squirrels that make the woodland their home before you get to Pet’s Corner, but if you don’t then at least you’re guaranteed to meet the goats, alpacas, sheep, peacock, rabbits and pot-bellied pigs that populate this nook of Newcastle.
Best of all, both animal hideaways are free to visit – making them perfect family days out on a budget.
TAKE A TRIP INTO TOWN (NEWCASTLE)
Get off at Haymarket, Monument, St James’ or Central Station and you’ll find yourself smack, bang in the middle of Newcastle City Centre.
From here, the Toon is your oyster.
Newcastle’s cultural scene is world famous, and a big part of that is down to the theatre we have in the city. Upcoming family shows include:
Family mealtimes don’t always have to be a battle.
Grabbing a bite with the little ones in town is reason enough to go out on its own – and we’ve already rounded up a list of cool, child-friendly restaurants and barsin the city centre where you can combine a relaxing catch up with your friends with keeping the kids entertained. Highlights include:
Museums and art galleries.
It’s not just during the school holidays that Newcastle’s cultural institutions have family-friendly exhibitions and workshops running.
Expand your little ones’ interest in art, history and society with some family days out at any one of these upcoming exhibitions:
- Little Artists – 11th, 18th and 25th September, Laing Art Gallery – interactive art sessions for ages one to five.
- Tiny Sparks Toddler Takeover – 20th September, Discovery Museum – encouraging ages three to five to explore the museum in new and fun ways.
- Fossil Stories, Ancient Egypt and Living Planet Galleries – permanent, Great North Museum: Hancock – see a full-size T-Rex skeleton, Egyptian mummies and a full-size model elephant.
- Meet & Make – every Sunday, BALTIC – Free, artist-led workshops inspired by the current exhibitions for ages five to 12.
TAKE A TRIP INTO TOWN (SUNDERLAND)
Speaking of city centres, Sunderland is every bit as accessible as Newcastle and offers plenty of cool family days out inspo for you and your little ones.
Take the Metro to Sunderland station itself and you’ll find yourselves right in the heart of the action.
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is just a two-minute walk away, which offers wild wonders trails and discovery zoo experiences as well as crafting, exhibitions and spooky science clubs.
For the more boisterous, Laser Quest is a three-minute walk from the station and challenges the whole family to an adrenaline-filled laser action adventure that promises to unleash your competitive spirit. You can also play mini golf and enter escape rooms here, once you get your heart rate down.
While we’re in this neck of the woods, it would be remiss of us not to mention the West End of the North East. Sunderland Empire is known for the glitzy, world-renowned glitzy musicals it attracts to the region, many of which are family-friendly, including:
- Annie, 2nd – 7th October
- Madagascar the Musical, 22nd – 25th November
- Beauty and the Beast (Panto), 8th – 31st December
If your kids are burger fans then we’ve got everything you need to know about the very best burger-filled boltholes in the city. Or, if you’re in need of a caffeine fix to keep things running smoothly, check out any of these cool Sunderland cafés.
Two stops up the line at the Stadium of Light Metro station, you’ll find yourselves 10 minutes on foot from Sunderland Aquatic Centre, where kids can swim, splash and soft play to their heart’s content – and towards a successful bedtime that night!
Similarly, walk 15 minutes from the Stadium of Light station and you’ll find the National Glass Centre – the home of glassmaking in the UK – where you can witness mesmerising glass-making exhibitions ad try your hands at a little glass artwork yourselves, in a gallery environment unlike any other in the region.
DOWN BY THE COAST
Metro stations Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth are never more than 15 minutes from the closest stretch of sand in North Tyneside, so you and the little ones can let off some steam by enjoying some family days out by the beach.
Each station boasts an enviable location amidst plenty of hospitality outlets, meaning you can always grab a drink or a bite, and pick up any last-minute essentials while you’re out and about. And, for the more adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities to learn to surf, paddle board and kayak along the seafront.
When the clouds gather, bargain hunters, coffee drinkers, vintage lovers and street foodie connoisseurs can unite under cover at Tynemouth Market, which is held inside Tynemouth Metro station and, honestly, is a buzz whatever the weather.
Meanwhile, animal buffs young and old will get their kicks at Tynemouth Aquarium, which is less than a 15-minute walk from Cullercoats Metro station. You’ll find seals, tortoise, axolotl, seahorse, piranhas, and marmoset monkeys all make their home here, with entry from £11.50 for kids and £16.25 for adults.
If you’re based south of the Tyne, then Roker beach may be a closer option for your family. Luckily, this stretch of sand is also on the Metro route, sitting just 20 minutes on foot from Seaburn Metro station, and offering all the seaside fun of its North Tyneside counterparts. Better yet, we’ve already found plenty of foodie hotspots in the area to keep you and the kids fuelled up in style.
FUN AT THE FAIR
Sticking to the coast for now, there are plenty more attractions when you get off at South Shields, which is accessible directly by the Metro from south of the Tyne or via the Ferry at North Shields if you’re coming from north of the water.
One of the biggest draws here is Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, about a 15-minute walk from the station, which offers a great range of funfair rides when the weather’s fine, laser quasar and indoor arcades all year round, and ice skating come Christmastime. (Psst – every Friday offers half-price on most of the amusements).
History buffs will find family days out at Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort the best, (also about a 15-minute walk from the Metro station). This once-huge supply base for the Roman army has hosted dramatic tales of murder, fire and ancient love stories and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site where kids can get hands-on exploring the region’s past.
And in this neck of the woods, even just packing a picnic and stretching your legs on a walk along this beautiful stretch of North East coastline can make for a family day out to remember.
STEAL A LITTLE RETAIL THERAPY
Now, before you start, we know that shopping isn’t most kids’ idea of fun family days out.
But, whether they like it or not, sometimes you simply have to take them along for the ride – from replacing those scuffed shoes to sourcing new trousers now they’ve out-grown the last pair, or picking up home essentials, there’s always things we need. And hey, maybe you get to pick up a little something for yourself while you’re at it.
Newcastle Shopping Park is just a 10-minute walk from Byker Metro station and hosts stores like TK Maxx, Argos, M&S, Asda and B&M, which are perfect for anyone on a budget who loves to pick up a bargain.
From one stop along the Metro line at Chillingham Road, you’ll find all of Heaton at your fingertips – where you’ll discover cool retail finds like vintage treasure emporium Flea Circus and quirky butchers and craft beer bolthole Block & Bottle, as well as a heavenly host of foodie hotspots to keep the kids on side.
And Heaton Park is only about 15 minutes from the Metro here, too. So, if the sun’s shining, pack a picnic and, when the shopping’s finished, reward your kids’ patience by letting them have the run of the two big play areas here, before tossing the frisbee or having a kickabout and making those precious memories together.
Speaking of kickabouts, a new season is upon us and, for any little footy fans, a trip to watch their heroes in black in white would be a dream family day out.
No, we’re not talking about St James’ Park (although that’s also accessible by Metro!) – but Kingston Park, actually, where Newcastle United Women play the majority of their home matches.
Last year saw Becky Langley’s side promoted to the third tier of English women’s football and, now that the team has been made fully professional, we’re expecting another championship run from a side that has seriously strengthened over the summer.
You can buy matchday tickets for as little as £5 for adults and £1 for children, while season tickets come in at £50 for adults and £10 for children, so you can watch every home game at a fraction of the cost of the men’s matches.
Plus, it’s only a matter of time before we see these lasses in the WSL alongside Leah Williamson and co. – so it’ll be prudent to start getting to know the team now.
Just a 10-minute walk from Kingston Park Metro station, the stadium stands proud and also hosts every Newcastle Falcons home game, if you and your little ones are more into your rugby than your football. Matchday tickets come in at £15.00 for adults and £7.00 for kids, while season tickets start at £120 for adults and £60 for under-18s. Under-11s can claim a free season ticket alongside a fully paying adult, too.
Newcastle is also home to the most successful British basketball of all time – the Newcastle Eagles – and trips to their games offer super interactive family days out for kids of all ages: with half-time activities, mascot opportunities and fun pre- and post-match challenges.
The Vertu Motors Arena (where the Eagles call home) is just a 20-minute walk from Central Station, opposite the Utilita Arena. Gameday tickets come in at £20.00 for adults and £12.00 for children, while you can grab yourselves season tickets from £260.00 (adults) and £210.00 (kids).
DID YOU KNOW… Kids aged 11 and under travel for FREE on the Metro all day, every day?
If you need any more information on tickets, Metro stations and train timetables to help plan your next family day out flying solo, we’ve found there’s plenty of useful information on Metro’s website