15 best family days out in the North East: Cheap things to do with your kids

Things to do in the North East: Looking to keep the kids entertained? Here are 12 fun budget-friendly family days out in the North East...

A child on a zip wire enjoy Go Ape - one of the family days out in the North East
(Image credit: Tabatha Fireman)

Enjoy some quality time with your nearest and dearest on one of these best family days out in the North East.

With the school summer holidays just around the corner, parents are eager to get some fun things to do with kids in the diary. And the North East is the perfect destination to explore a whole range of adventures together.

Make friends with some animals, have fun with some diggers or seek out one of the best castles for kids - just three of our exciting and budget-friendly family days out (opens in new tab) ideas that are sure to see the kids smiling.

These are the best family days out in the North East

1. Hadrians Wall and Fort, Hexham

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This amazing historical site is an absolute must! With stunning views and natural wilderness, explore the wall that separated England from the Scots in the Roman's time. Visit the fort for a real insight into Roman military life and the archaeological remains that have been found. If you want to get your kids out in the fresh air, this is the perfect day out for all the family.

The grounds and interior spaces at this English Heritage site are both open with covid measures being followed. Advanced booking is essential if you're planning a visit, with a family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) setting you back £25.80.

Find out more about Hadrian's Wall and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

2. The Forbidden Corner, Coverham

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This unique day trip will make your children feel like a real-life Indiana Jones or Lara Croft! With a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers and surprises, there's no guarantee that you will ever escape! At every turn there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid. Winner of the Tripadvisor 2015 Certificate of Excellence, you may need to hone your survival skills before you venture out.

Entry to the Forbidden Corner is by advanced booking only and visitors are asked to wear face masks when exploring indoor areas of the attraction. Adult entry costs £13.50 and child tickets are £11.50, but if you book a trip during Monday to Friday you can get 4 tickets for the price of 3.

Find out more about The Forbidden Corner and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

3. Bolton Castle, Leyburn

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This might just be the most exciting castle we've ever come across. Not only does it offer a beautiful castle steeped in history, and equally stunning gardens, but you can watch the daily birds of prey display, try your hand at archery, feed the wild boar and dress up in medieval costumes. Your children will leave feeling as though they just travelled back in time to 600 years ago. This is one of the family days out in the North East that will really let you in on the region's fascinating history.

Both the castle and grounds are open to the public and it's advised that guests pre-book their tickets online before visiting. This is because the attraction is adopting a limited visitor policy during covid. You can choose between a castle and gardens ticket (£35 for family of 4) or a gardens only ticket (£15 for family of 4)

Find out more about Bolton Castle and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

4. Diggerland, Durham

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Diggerland is a theme park where children can ride, drive and operate full size construction machinery. Think it sounds a little like a health and safety nightmare? Don't worry, everything's child-friendly and super fun! Try out the digger rides, including excavating with a 6 tonne digger! There are also play areas, sandpits and fun spaces for smaller kids. For all those 'Bob the Builder' fans, this will be a theme park trip like no other.

Diggerland has advised customers not to travel to a park without a pre-booked ticket. If a day appears sold out online, there will be no tickets available to buy on the day, so it's best to book ahead to avoid disappointment. We'd also recommend checking the site's height requirement (opens in new tab) information, as children have to be a certain height to ride the diggers and go on the ride.

Find out more about Diggerland Durham and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

5. North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Pickering

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Escape the hustle and bustle of the city as you climb aboard this wonderful heritage steam train. Travel through the breathtaking Yorkshire countryside and hop off at Grosmont, better known to Harry Potter fans as Hogsmeade. Take a trip to Whitby, or check out the special events and themed journeys. A relaxing day for all the family, take a picnic and hop off the train to enjoy the countryside.

The railway is following strict covid hygiene practices and has reduced their capacity of guests on board to ensure visitor safety. It is encouraged that families book their tickets online - ahead of arrival - with two options available. The Freedom Ticket (£82 for a family of four) allows you to hop on and off across various stations on the Pickering and Whitby line. Whilst the Internal Services ticket (£62 for a family of four) is restricted to visits at Levisham, Goathland and Grosmont stations only.

Find out more about North Yorkshire Moors Railway and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

6. Whitehouse Farm Centre, Morpeth

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Unlike most farms, this unique attraction allows visitors to hold and feed the animals. A real hands-on experience, your kids will relish the opportunity to bottle feed a lamb, calf or piglet. Make sure to time your visit to ensure they haven't grown up too much! Once you're done with the animals there's a great soft play barn, tractor rides and go-karts. This will be one of your little ones favourite family days out in the North East - they'll love getting to meet all the cute creatures.

Tickets for Whitehouse must be pre-booked and these should be purchased at least 24 hours before you plan to visit - with guests not able to buy tickets for the same day online. Entry is also subject to certain time slots, so be sure to arrive on time for your family farming adventure.

Find out more about Whitehouse Farm Centre and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

7. St Mary's Lighthouse and Visitor Centre, Whitley Bay

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St Mary's Lighthouse is the perfect way to spend a sunny day and is one of the cheapest family days out in the North East. Challenge the whole clan to climb all 137 steps to the top for stunning coastal views. And see if you can spot a small colony of seals during the summer months!

Adults admission costs £3.70 whilst children and senior citizen tickets cost £1.90. Tickets must be strictly pre-booked via phone or email, as the centre operates a reduced visitors policy during covid.

Find out more about St Mary's Lighthouse and how to book (opens in new tab) tickets here

8. York Dungeon, York

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Scare your kids silly by taking them to this interactive, spine chilling dungeon which will make for one of the most spooky family days out in the North East for sure. Witness some of York's most gruesome history come to life such as the plague and Guy Fawkes. Travel through time and learn all about the darkest secrets York has to offer. This is not a day trip to be taken lightly, but for those old enough (8+ is advised), it's a really exciting attraction, as long as you come out in one piece!

The City Walking tour is recommended for kids scared by the dungeons, with tickets available for tours Friday to Sunday from £7.50. Otherwise Standard Daily admission tickets to the Dungeons (with timed entry slots) should be pre-booked online, where customers can save 20% off the on-the-door price.

Find out more about Whitehouse Farm Centre and book tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

9. LaserZone, Castleford

family days out in the North East

Credit: LaserZone

What better way to get the kids off the screens, than by allowing them to shoot each other? (Laser only!) A derelict spacecraft has landed, surrounded by smoke, lights and enemies. Explore the multi-level arena and shoot your opponents to score points. This active day out is bound to keep the kids entertained for hours.

LaserZone Camelford has re-opened Fridays to Sundays and is open every day during the school holidays. It is essential that you pre-book your game, which is subject to the current rule of six (opens in new tab) restrictions. Price packages start from £6 per person.

Find out more about LaserZone Camelford and make a booking enquiry here (opens in new tab)

10. Round the Twist, Newcastle

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Spend the day at the North East's biggest and best soft play area that promises adventures for all ages. This attraction is perfect for family days out when the weather isn't playing ball, with indoor miniature golf, slides, ropes and a little people village providing hours of kid entertainment.

Round the Twist is now open 7 days a week with free activities for kids available Mon-Fri between 10am-1pm. Tickets can be pre-booked online or bought on the day.

Find out more about Round the Twist and book your tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

11. Seven Stories, Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Perfect for younger kids, this amazing charity brings stories to life. Under 4's can enjoy the Story Station, with sensory boxes and other interactive items to act out the story. Explore the Nursery Rhyme Room and discover old and new stories and learn how they are put together. This great day out will introduce your kids to the wonderful world of reading and show them just how magical it can be.

Whilst the events and exhibitions at Seven Stories are free, visitors are asked to reserve their place online before attending. This is to monitor visitor numbers during covid.

Find out more about Round the Twist and book your tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

12. The Living Museum of the North, Beamish

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Take a trip back in time and learn how the Northerners used to live at beautiful Beamish. This fascinating open-air museum has attractions showing life between the 1800-1940s, including a farm with pigs and a fully-operating steam railway. Plus little ones will love bumping into the actors and hearing tales of times gone by.

Beamish state that pre-booking is mandatory, with designated timed entry slots available on their website. All indoor and outdoor elements of the attraction are now open for families to enjoy.

Find out more about The Living Museum of the North and book your tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

13. Tynemouth Aquarium

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Get up close and personal with some adorable and tropical sealife creatures. The aquarium features hundreds of species - from mini Nemos to star fish and even seals. Plus there's hourly talks and a chance to feed some of your new under the sea friends between 11 and 3pm. Just be sure to book on to a talk that suits you upon arrival at recpetion.

Tynemouth aquarium have stressed that you don't need to pre-book tickets, but they are available online should you wish to purchase before your trip. Family tickets for 2 adults and 2 children cost £42.50 for a day visit.

Find out more about Tynemouth Aquarium and book your tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

14. Go Ape, Matfen

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Swing from the trees and scale new heights at Go Ape in Matfen - one of the most exhilarating family days out in the North East. Kids and parents can tackle the treetop challenge or try their hand at axe throwing surrounded by some stunning green scenery. Sensible clothing and footwear is recommended and be sure to pack gloves for extra comfort when climbing.

Go Ape's website states that pre-booking is essential so don;t turn up to the site empty-handed with some soon-to-be disappointed kids. The treetop challenge lasts between 2-3 hours, and an axe throwing session lasts for a full hour.

Find out more about Go Ape Matfen and book your tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

15. Hartlepools Maritime Experience, Hartlepool

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Bringing to life the time of Nelson, Napoleon and the Battle of Trafalgar, The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool is a superb re-creation of an 18th century seaport. Travel back in time to experience how it was aboard a real British naval frigate, explore the authentic quayside with its period shops and houses and discover the Children's Maritime Adventure Centre, including a large wooden play-ship!

It's mandatory for visitors to pre-book tickets to Hartlepool's Maritime Experience. With ticket prices starting from £6.00 for children.

Find out more about the Hartlepool Maritime Experience and book your tickets for summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

Senior Content Editor: Good to Know About me Hi there, I’m Nic Hopkirk – senior content editor for Good to Know. I’m a lifestyle journalist who has worked across newspapers and digital for nearly 20 years. After studying English Literature at Bristol University, I began my journalism career on local newspapers in South East London and Kent, before moving on to digital media at Emap. Since then I’ve worked for the Evening Standard, Daily Mail and MSN, where I was the Managing Editor for the Lifestyle group of channels for several years. After my two boys were born I decided to go freelance and have written for Good to Know, Woman, Woman & Home and Global Radio, as well as Marks & Spencer and Holland & Barrett. My specialist subjects Since becoming a mum, I’ve become a specialist in the subject areas of pregnancy, labour - and of course days out and activities with the kids. I am constantly on the look out for fun new things to do with my boys and while a true Londoner,  I also love going out to the countryside and exploring green open spaces. I’ve become a member of pretty much every organisation I can think of to enjoy time in the great outdoors together as a family and my purse is packed with membership cards for the National Trust, English Heritage, Kew, Royal Palaces - you name it. I also love a good outing to a castle, so naturally I’m also a member of our two nearest establishments - Leeds and Hever. I love cycling to work and when I get some me-time I also love a good shop - most of which is done online these days! I’m really looking forward to sharing all of my knowledge with Good to Know’s readers.