The best days out in County Durham

Gifted with natural beauty, ancient history and a variety of great places to visit, County Durham is a diverse place with something to offer everyone. With so many different things to see and do, it can be hard to decide what to pack into a week’s holiday, so we’ve picked some of our favourite places to go near our County Durham cottages. The list below ranges from family-friendly attractions to living museums – there are some great options here for all kinds of visitors.

Broom House Farm

This charming farmstead has something to discover both inside and out. Visitors of all ages will love getting in touch with their wild side on the Forest Adventure, where you can run through the woodlands, climb tall towers, whizz down zip lines and slides and crawl through tunnels.

After a few hours of wearing yourselves out, head to the café for delicious cakes and freshly ground coffee, or buy some local produce and meat reared on site to take home from the farm shop and butchery.

Visitor information

  • Free parking available
  • Pushchair and wheelchair friendly - carers go free
  • Dogs welcome on the lead
  • Price: £5 per person aged 2 and over, family ticket £18
  • Cafe, shop and picnic area on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available
  • Opening times: Forest Adventure 10am-4pm (summer only), farm shop 9am-5pm (10.30am-4.30pm Sundays), coffee shop 9am-5pm

Beamish Museum

This enormous attraction calls itself ‘the living museum of the North’ and is a living, breathing testament to times past. Walk the streets of Northern England as they would have been over two hundred years ago in 1820s Pockerley, as well as discovering what life was like in a 1900s town, a 1940s farm and a 1900s pit village.

Ride the historic tramway, or shop Edwardian-style in the town, while in the cafés and restaurants you can enjoy a variety of traditional meals and treats.

Visitor information

  • Free parking available
  • Pushchair and wheelchair friendly - carers go free
  • Dogs welcome on the lead - please see guidelines
  • Price: Adults £19, children aged 5-16 £11, seniors (60+) £14, students £14, family tickets from £35.50
  • Shops, cafes and restaurants on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available
  • Opening times: 10am-5pm between April 6th and October 29th, 10am-4pm between 30th October and 23rd March

Diggerland

This digger-themed fun park promises fun for all ages, and plenty of chances for you to have a go at operating some diggers yourself. Kids big and small will love driving the JCB diggers and operating the dirt diggers and dumper trucks.

Image: Blake Hammond

It wouldn’t be Diggerland without a variety of digger-themed rides, which include the Dig-a-round (merry-go-round), Spindizzy, Skyshuttle and digger train ride. Traditional rides such as dodgems are also found on site, as well as a café and picnic areas, meaning you can enjoy a whole day out here.

Visitor information

  • Free parking available
  • Pushchair and wheelchair friendly - carers go free
  • Guide and assistance dogs welcome only
  • Price: Children under 90 cm free of charge, everyone over 90cm £19.95, seniors (65+) £9.95 - some rides at additional charge
  • Cafe and picnic area on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available
  • Opening times: seasonal - see website for more details

Raby Castle

No holiday to County Durham is complete without visiting one of its many spectacular castles, with Raby Castle having something to please both young and old. You can explore the many rooms of this impressive 14th century castle, which give a fascinating insight into the life of the royalty throughout the centuries, including the Medieval Kitchen and the Barons’ Hall, decorated with splendid interiors and wonderful art.

The castle’s exterior, with its towers and fortifications, is just as magnificent. It is also surrounded by a 200-acre deer park, home to red and fallow deer, the perfect place for leisurely strolls and relaxing picnics.

Visitor information

  • Free car parking
  • Grounds partially accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs, access limited inside the castle
  • Dogs welcome on the lead in the grounds
  • Prices: Adults £12, concessions £11, children aged 5-15 £6, under-5s free, family tickets £35
  • Cafe, picnic benches and gift shop on site
  • Toilets available
  • Opening times: seasonal, between Easter and September - see website for full details

Locomotion – The National Railway Museum at Shildon

This large railway museum is home to more than 70 vehicles, and is situated on the site where the first ever steam-powered passenger train operated in 1825. Locomotion takes you on a journey through the ages of rail history, and railway fanatics will love the huge archive of artefacts, photographs, artwork and more.

Image: Gillett's Crossing

Among the attractions at Locomotion are the royal coaches, where you can step onboard and see how royalty, from King Edward VII to Queen Elizabeth II, also enjoyed train travel. Rides aboard one of the steam trains are also available at certain times of the year.

Visitor information

  • Free car parking
  • Pushchair and wheelchair friendly
  • Guide and assistance dogs welcome only
  • Prices: free - donations welcome
  • Cafe, picnic area and gift shop on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available
  • Opening times: 10am-5pm from March to October, 10am-4pm from October to March

Walworth Castle Birds of Prey

Get up close with a variety of birds within the spectacular grounds of Walworth Castle. Enjoy walks through the woodlands, tour the aviaries, watch the fabulous falcon flying displays or try one of their fantastic experience days. These include hawk walks, owl encounters, falconry courses and bird photography.

The visitor centre allows you to come and go as you wish, with falconry displays taking place twice daily. Seasonal events also take place throughout the year.

Visitor information

  • Free car parking
  • Pushchair and wheelchair friendly
  • No dogs
  • Prices: Adults £6.50, children £4.50 (under 4s free), family ticket £20
  • Restaurant a one-minute walk away
  • Opening times: 10.30am-4pm every day (closed Tuesdays)

Riverside Park

This large park, found within the town of Chester-le-Street, has plenty to keep everyone entertained and is great for those looking for a free day out. It’s especially great for kids, as it is home to a large play area, with a 16-foot-high castle as its centrepiece, as well as a splashpad great for sunny days.

Image: Steven Cooper

The park’s beautiful gardens are also great for a leisurely stroll, with each area based on a different star or planet, while there are also riverside walks next to the River Wear, with a wildlife area that features a pond and grassland meadow.

Visitor information

  • Public car park nearby, price starts from 80p
  • Pushchair and wheelchair friendly
  • Dogs welcome - must be on the lead in the gardens
  • Price: free
  • Cafe and refreshments kiosk available
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available
  • Opening times: park has 24-hour access, opening times for individual facilities vary

If you’ve been inspired to visit this wonderful corner of the North of England, find out more about our Durham holidays and start planning your perfect break.

Posted by Hannah on 8th August 2017