A great way to make up for all the quality time lost during lockdown is by catching up with family on a day out in Durham. 

You’ll find lots of hidden gems and activities across the county that the whole family can enjoy together. 

Start making memories today and take your pick from some of our top picks of places to explore and things to do on a multigenerational day out in Durham >> 

Star filled sky captured from Grassholme Observatory, County Durham

Be amazed by Durham’s Dark Skies 

As the days get shorter, and the nights get longer, we don’t have to stay up so late to enjoy the wonders of the night sky. Why not head out to the Durham Dales and enjoy a night of family stargazing. You’ll find a wide range of events taking place at Grassholme Observatory – the UK’s newest observatory.  

Sunny day at Crimdon Beach on the Durham Heritage Coast

Durham Heritage Coast 

The 11 mile footpath which runs along the length of the Durham Heritage Coast is filled with lots of wonderful hidden gems to explore with your family by foot or by bike. From the ancient woodlands at Castle Eden Dene, to the beautiful sandy beaches of Crimdon Dene and magnificent sea caves dotted along Blackhall Beach (perfect for a game of hide and seek).  

View of Durham City peninsula, County Durham

Enjoy a day out in Durham City

Across historic Durham City you’ll find something everyone (young and old) can enjoy.

See what wildlife you can spot along the banks of the River Wear as you follow the Peninsular walk. Head to Durham Town Hall to uncover the city’s fascinating history, browse the many unique stalls at Durham Market or enjoy a tasty treat at the city’s many independent restaurants and cafes.

A short walk from the city centre you’ll find Wharton Park – perfect for the little ones to let off some steam on the play park and also a great spot to enjoy spectacular views of the city below. 

Sunset at Derwent Reservoir

 Explore Durham’s many reservoirs 

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, the county’s reservoirs like Derwent Waterside Park and Grassholme Reservoir are the perfect place to explore with your family – offering relaxing walks, breathtaking views, crowd-free space and plenty of scenic picnic spots. 

Family of Four overlooking Summer Force Waterfall inside Gibson's Cave

Feel the Force

 The Durham Dales and North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is home to some of the UK’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the mighty High Force and Low Force waterfalls, to the hidden Summerhill Force – found inside the legendary Gibson’s Cave at Bowlees Visitor Centre. All have a range of short and longer family-friendly and accessible walks to enjoy and make for a pretty lovely picnic spot.    

Multi-generation family walking through Locomotion Railway Museum

Full steam ahead

Is your family loco about trains? Across the county we have a wealth of railway heritage all ages can enjoy. From taking a steam train ride along the world’s oldest railway at Tanfield Railway, to Locomotion in Shildon – the world’s first railway town. Where you can get up close to legendary locomotives and incredible heritage vehicles.

Or why not head out outdoors and follow the path along old railway tracks like Waskerley Way or Auckland Railway Path – dotted with relics left behind from Durham’s historic railways.

family of four feeding and petting goats at Hall Hill Farm, County Durham

Fun on the farm

Who doesn’t like making new friends? And at the county’s farm attractions you and your family are sure to make many new furry friends. From feeding and petting animals, to farmyard rides, play parks and cosy on-site cafes - You’re certain to have an unforgettable day at Hall Hill Farm and Adventure Valley.

Overlooking lake at Low Barns Nature Reserve.

Get back to nature

The county’s nature reserves are a great place to enjoy a relaxing family walk. Low Barns Nature Reserve is a great place for birdwatching and wildlife watching with flat accessible footpaths leading through lakes, ponds and woodlands. The four hectare site at Aycliffe Nature Park is also great for those who are looking for shorter walks.

sunny day at Finchale Priory overlooking the River Wear by Simon Liversedge

Picnic spots

Pack a hamper and enjoy a sunny day outside with family at one of Durham's many picture prefect picnic spots. From admiring the view at the ancient Eggelstone Abbey, just outside of Barnard Castle to enjoying a quick plodge in the River Wear after lunch at Finchale Priory.

Family sat eating ice cream at Seaham Marina, County Durham

Seaside fun at the county’s one and only marina

If you’re searching for a day packed with lots of seaside fun – Seaham Harbour Marina is the place to visit. At the county’s one and only marina you’ll find a family-friendly sheltered beach perfect for sandcastle building, an array of independent shops and tasty cafes offering great views out across the North Sea.

For those feeling adventurous you can take to the water at the marina’s water sports centre or discover Durham’s incredible maritime heritage at the East Durham Heritage and Lifeboat Centre.

A multi-generational family walking in the grounds of The Bowes Museum

Travel back in time

Take a tour of Raby Castle and spot the resident Roe and Red Deer in the surrounding 200 acre deer park. Grandparents will love sharing stories from their past with the little ones as you travel through time at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North.

Follow family-friendly trails around the magnificent Bowes Museum or uncover the marvels of Ushaw, Historic House, Chapels & Gardens – a real hidden gem on the outskirts of Durham City. 

South Causey Railway Arch

Wonderful walks 

From more challenging trails to shorter walks, from coast to countryside Durham has a range of walks suitable for all ages and abilities to enjoy.

For a family-friendly walk head to Causey Arch Picnic Area – enjoy a picnic or pick up refreshments from the on site café, splash about in the river and take in the view of Causey Arch – the world’s oldest surviving single arch railway bridge as you follow the wide accessible footpath – great for buggies and wheelchairs. Created over 800 years ago Auckland Castle Deer Park is another great place for family adventures, dog walks and picnics.  

For more inspiration for where to explore on days out in Durham check out our Explore from your Door dedicated page. 

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