Adventures with the kids: Newcastle
Planning the perfect family getaway is all about keeping the kids happy, and you can’t go far wrong by embracing the spirit of adventure. However, you don’t need to head to far-flung destinations to do so, because it’s easy to find a little fun here in the UK.
Newcastle is an ideal destination, thanks to the fact that it has loads of great urban attractions as well as being near to the scenic coastline – something that means it has everything from traditional museums to nearby beaches and wildlife centres.
Below, we’ve put together a list of the family attractions you really shouldn’t miss, while you can get more ideas here.
It’s well worth taking advantage of Newcastle’s proximity to the coast. After all, if you’re on a family holiday and the weather’s good, there’s nothing better than a trip to the seaside.
Among the best options in the area is Tynemouth Longsands, which is a golden sandy beach with scenic dunes and cliffs. Boasting a Blue Flag award, it’s excellent for families.
Another firm family favourite is King Edwards Bay, a small, enclosed beach at the foot of Tynemouth Priory and Castle, which is in itself well worth a visit.
Ocean Beach Pleasure Park
If the kids fancy upping the pace a little, Ocean Beach Pleasure Park is the place to go. Located in South Shields, it has attractions for all ages, including games, gentle rides for little ones and hair-raising rides for older kids and teens. Plus, it’s also home to Urban Wave, which is the only surf simulator of its kind in the UK. On here, children can learn what it feels like to surf and wakeboard, among other sports, while those with a little experience can practise tricks.
The park is free to enter, but you’ll need to purchase tokens, which you then use to have a go on each ride and attraction. This system is handy for those on a budget, since it means you have more control over how much you spend.
Blue Reef Aquarium
Over on Tynemouth’s Grand parade, you’ll find the first of our animal attractions – Blue Reef Aquarium. Bound to delight parents as much as children, this place is home to a huge range of marine life, including black tip reef sharks and harbour seals.
As well as browsing the displays – which even include the cotton top tamarin, a endangered species of monkey – you can attend a few of the various talks and displays that take place throughout the day. While times and subjects may vary, the general timetable includes an ocean talk and feed at 11:00, a seal and sea lion talk and feed at 12:00 and 15:00, and rockpool encounters at 14:00.
Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens
Approximately a 20-minute drive from Newcastle city centre is Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens. Home to more than 130 species of animals, this attraction is brilliant for kids of all ages.
As well as offering the chance to see creatures like coatis, snakes and capybaras, the zoo has forest trails, play areas, activities and picnic areas, making it the perfect place for days out.
Follow the river and forest trail (which is well signposted) and you’ll have the chance to spot some wonderful wildlife and flowers. Over in the petting barn, meanwhile, kids can meet rabbits and guinea pigs, while more adventurous children can have a go on the 120 m long zip wire!
Of course, we all know that, for kids, adventure is largely a question of imagination – and no attraction is better for feeding your children’s imaginations than Seven Stories. The National Centre for Children’s Books, this establishment brings stories to life through everything from activities to special events.
Not only does this place tell the story of children’s literature, but it houses original manuscripts and illustrations of many writers’ works, including those of Enid Blyton and Philip Pullman. Plus, there are lots of temporary exhibitions to enjoy, with current ones including an in-depth look at the worlds created by Enid Blyton, which runs until mid-March.