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With May half-term holidays approaching it only makes sense to share ideas for great family days out in Northumberland.
With award-winning beaches that are perfect for splashing in the surf, a wealth of magnificent castles to take you back in time and vast landscapes to explore which are brimming with wildlife, there are plenty of things to do with kids in Northumberland.
The school holidays are the best time to get out and about with the family and enjoy some of the fun-filled activities with children that the county has to offer. So, we have picked out some of the top family days out in Northumberland, from following in the footsteps of the Romans to going bananas with a variety of animals. And with so many attractions on offer, why not click the button below to explore our collection of family-friendly cottages in Northumberland and treat the gang to a holiday to remember?
Pretend you're a Roman at Hadrian's Wall
Stretching for 73 miles across part of the Northumberland National Park, Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is sure to wow little ones. Lead your family on a Roman expedition, walking or cycling along this iconic landmark which dates back to around A.D. 122. Much of the wall is free to access and English Heritage often run special events and children’s activities throughout the various attractions, museums and forts which you’ll find dotted along the frontier.
Look out for the Roman Soldier Schools during the holidays where kids can go into battle with their swords and shields in hand to see if they have what it takes to be a ruthless Roman soldier. As well as discovering exciting Roman artefacts that have been found on these sites, there’s often the chance to join in an archaeological dig and find buried treasure of your own! Be sure to stop for a picnic at Sycamore Gap – the lone tree guarding the dip in the wall made famous by the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Stay nearby: Hornbeam Cottage | Sleeps 5 + 2 dogs
For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to holidays in Hadrian’s Wall Country.
Monkey around at a wildlife park
If you’re looking for things to do with a toddler in Northumberland, then a trip to one of the county’s many wildlife parks is always a good idea. And if you’re visiting during spring, Whitehouse Farm in Morpeth is bound to make for some very happy bunnies. There are lots of bouncy lambs to bottle feed and a host of cute and fluffy newborn animals to cuddle. Animal food is available for just 50p a bag so little ones can have a go at feeding the cows, ponies, alpacas and goats before hitting the adventure playground, tractor rides, and soft play area.
For more exotic creatures, head to Northumberland Country Zoo where kids can walk with wallabies, marvel at monkeys and put their best foot forward on the pedal tractors. Kirkley Hall Zoo is another of our favourite North East attractions, which boasts a range of daily animal encounters including reptiles, lemurs and meerkats.
Stay nearby: Coble Cottage | Sleeps 4
Spot the Milky Way at Kielder
By day, the Kielder Water and Forest Park makes for one of the best days out in Northumberland for children, full of adventure, thrilling activities, and woodlands to explore. Segways, zip wires, high ropes, archery, sea scooters, zorbing and crazy karts are just some of the awesome things to try during your visit. Or if you have nature-loving youngsters with you, they are sure to be blown away by the wildlife and scenery found on one of the woodland activity trails – they might even spot one of the resident ospreys.
Then, when night falls, a new adventure awaits! Transforming into Europe's largest area of certified dark skies, this is one of the best places to see the stars in the country. Known as the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, families can spot the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, meteor showers and the northern lights with the naked eye. Budding little astronomers can also visit the renowned Kielder Observatory where they can scan the universe with powerful telescopes and take part in fascinating events during the holidays.
Stay nearby: Catcleugh Farmhouse | Sleeps 10 + 3 dogs
For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the Kielder Forest.
Play kings and queens in Northumberland’s ruins
Did you know that Northumberland has more castles than any other region in the UK? There are over 70 magnificent fortresses to choose from during days out with kids in the North East, so why not see how many you can fit into one day! Children can discover the turbulent history with bordering Scotland by exploring ruins like Dunstanburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle and Belsay Castle. Dress up as a knight at Bamburgh Castle, listen to gruesome medieval Stories at Warkworth Castle, and meet the rare wild cattle of Chillingham Castle.
An excellent Northumberland castle for a family day out is Alnwick Castle, also known as Hogwarts, the home of Harry Potter. Little ones can follow in the young wizards’ footsteps by taking a broomstick flying lesson on the very spot that Harry, Ron and Hermione learnt to fly in the movies! Afterwards, you can also tour the famous 12-acre Alnwick Garden, complete with Poison Garden, Treehouse (one of the biggest in the world), and interactive water sculptures.
Stay nearby: Fox Cottage | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs
For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to six of the best Northumberland castles.
Take a boat trip to the Farne Islands
Hopping aboard a boat from Seahouses and setting sail to the Farne Islands is one of the most unforgettable days out with kids in Northumberland that you can experience. If you time your journey just right, you’ll get to see an abundance of grey seals frolicking in the waters – some will even swim right up to the boat! And nesting on the rocky islands are thousands of sea birds including puffins with their colourful beaks. Bring a pair of binoculars and see how many birds you can count.
Some cruises land on the island of Inner Farne where you can enjoy a wildlife walk, visit St. Cuthbert’s Chapel, see the Pele Tower and step inside the Visitor Centre to learn more about the great work that is being done to protect the wildlife on this important nature reserve. End your sea voyage with a paper-wrapped bag of salt and vinegary fish and chips back on dry land in Seahouses.
Stay nearby: Station Cottage | Sleeps 5 + 2 dogs
For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the Farne Islands.
Build sandcastles on the beach
When it comes to free things to do with kids in Northumberland, you simply can’t beat a day on the beach. Stroll the golden sands of the North East coast, building sandcastles and splashing in the sea; kids of all ages will be in their element. There are over 30 miles of beautiful sandy beaches in Northumberland, along with 69 miles of scenic coastal path to explore.
Enjoy an ice cream and a paddle on Seahouses Beach, bring a net and go rock pooling on Craster Beach, fly a kite on Beadnell Bay Beach, or picnic under the imposing ruins of the castle on Bamburgh Beach. Alternatively, the more adventurous family members may enjoy learning how to ride the waves surfing or stand-up paddleboarding on one of the beaches at Alnmouth or Amble.
Stay nearby: Mariners House – Alnmouth | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs
For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Northumberland.
See the sights on the Heatherslaw Railway
Train mad tots will adore a 4-mile return journey on the Heatherslaw Railway, the most northerly steam railway in England. Pulled by Bunty, Binky or Lady Augusta, the steam locomotives magically chug their way through the Northumberland countryside offering spectacular views of the River Till and a plethora of wildlife to spot, including the occasional otter.
Travelling from Heatherslaw in the Ford and Etal Estate to Etal Castle, this 15-inch gauge railway offers one of the top family days out in the North East. Why not break the journey at Etal Station and treat the kids to a wander around the castle? After exploring the atmospheric ruins, there’s a lovely tearoom in the village which serves huge slabs of sticky homemade cake, perfect to refuel little tummies.
Stay nearby: 2 Kypie Farm Cottages | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
As you can see, there are so many things to do with kids in the North East. Why not see how many Northumberland attractions you can tick off the list during a stay in one of our family-friendly cottages? Including the likes of games rooms, home cinemas and swimming pools, you’ll find all the entertainment you need to keep the kids happy during your stay. Click the button below to browse our portfolio of family-friendly Northumberland cottages.
For more inspiration on where to stay, have a read of our guide to 10 family-friendly cottages for a summer holiday to Northumberland.