After the long months of lockdown it's great to finally welcome back visitors to our amazing county as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. 

Make the most of the spring sunshine by catching up with friends and family at one of Durham’s amazing outdoor attractions? 

Read on to view our picks of outdoor attractions and activities you can enjoy together this spring in Durham and how to book your tickets. 

man and boy driving go-karts, adults and children in garden at Beamish Museum and children looking at a map

Adventure Valley

Let the kids run wild and blow off some steam as they explore six huge play zones. Whoosh down the giant slide at Runaway Ranch, zoom around the track on go-karts at Action Creek, meet the friendly farm animals, or put your skills to the test at the 18 hole Cowboy-themed mini golf course. 

Adventure Valley is open daily from 10am to 5pm and all visitors must pre-book tickets and an arrival timeslot in advance

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Travel back in time at Beamish Museum as you explore the open-air museum grounds and incredible outdoor exhibitions. Take a ride on the gallopers, do a spot of Edwardian shopping at The 1900s Town stall and complete the family flower trail around the museum. You can also enjoy a real taste of the past with delicious takeaway treats from Davy’s fish and chip shop, Herron’s Bakery and Jubilee Confectioners!

The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and all visitors need to pre-book a timeslot ticket before arrival.

Bowlees Visitor Centre

Bowlees Visitor Centre is the perfect base for exploring the beautiful Durham Dales and North Pennines AONB countryside. The centre's toilets and shop are open daily from 10am to 4pm, and the on site cafe will be serving up takeaway food and drinks to enjoy in the picnic area. You’ll find many family-friendly walking trails to follow from Bowlees, including a short walk to the breathtaking Low Force Waterfall and Summerhill Force, a waterfall which hides the legendary Gibson’s Cave.  

Broom House Farm outdoor playground, derwent waterside park playground and family on ride at Diggerland

Broom House Farm Forest Adventure 

Enjoy an action packed fun family day out as you follow the numerous nature trails and take on woodland challenges. Climb the towers, whizz down slides, fly along the zip wires or simply sit back, relax and enjoy some delicious refreshments from the Broom House Farm coffee shop. You can even put your problem-solving skills to the test with family-friendly forest quizzes. There’s something for all ages and abilities to enjoy. 

Broom House Forest Adventure is open every weekend from 10am to 4pm and tickets for the following weekend will go on sale online every Thursday

Derwent Waterside Park

Derwent Waterside Park is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and on site you’ll find a café serving up takeaway food and drink, toilets, adventure playground, picnic area and fantastic walking and cycling trails. 

See what wildlife you can spot as you follow the family-friendly trails around Derwent Reservoir, sit back and soak up the sunshine on a family picnic, learn to fish, or try out windsurfing, sailing or open water swimming at Derwent Sailing Club. The waterside park is also dog-friendly too, but your four-legged friends must be kept on a lead at all times. 

Diggerland

Looking for a day out with a difference? Enjoy a family adventure like no other at Diggerland Durham, where all members of the family can enjoy rides and drives on amazing diggers, robots, JCBs, tractors and more! 

Diggerland Durham is open 10am – 5pm every weekend and every day throughout the school holidays up until the end of October. You can pre-book your tickets online via the Diggerland website

family walking through Durham University Botanic Garden, aerial shot of Low Brans Nature Reserve and Eggelstone  Abbey

Durham University Botanic Garden 

Searching for some relaxing peace and quiet? Durham University’s Botanic Garden is a tranquil oasis nestled in woodland on the outskirts of historic Durham City. Enjoy a peaceful wander through wonderful woodlands and rolling gardens filled with plants from around the world. You’re certain to find something new around every corner. 

Currently entrance to the Botanic Garden is free and the grounds are open Monday – Friday 10am to 2.30pm. The Visitor Centre, toilets, greenhouses and bird hide remain closed at the moment. 

Durham Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves 

Get outside and back to nature as you explore the beautiful sites of Durham Wildlife Trusts’ amazing nature reserves. Low Barns is one of Durham’s most important wildlife sites, overlooking the River Wear, it’s a great place to enjoy a spot of wildlife watching or relaxing walk. And a short drive from Durham City you’ll find Rainton Meadows, home to over 200 species of birds which can be viewed from the many lookout points across the lakes, wetlands and woodland. 

At each site you’ll find a coffee shop serving up takeaway food and drink, outdoor seating area, visitor centre and accessible family-friendly walking trails. Both sites are open daily from 10am to 4.30pm.  

English Heritage Sites

Durham is home to many important historic sites which make for a great family days out. English Heritage looks after many of these sites, including Finchale Priory, Auckland Castle Deer House, Egglestone Abbey, Bowes Castle, and the ruins of Barnard Castle.

From May 2021, visitors to Finchale Priory will be able to enjoy a new and exciting outdoor adventure. The Adventure Out Games will challenge groups to solve puzzles and crack clues inspired by the compelling heritage of Finchale Priory in an Escape Room style of game. Actors in full costume will bring the games to life, engaging and interacting with players throughout the challenge. Adventure Games tickets must be pre-booked in advance
 

family petting a goat, high force waterfall and family walking through Raby Castle gardens

Hall Hill Farm

The gates of Hall Hill Farm are open once again, and visitors can enjoy an amazing range of farmyard activities including donkey rides, outdoor playground, trailer rides and making friends with the resident animals. 

Spring is a very special time to visit the farm as the new-born lambs start to arrive. Throughout April visitors can feed and pet the lambs and see the fluffy Easter chicks and see the sheep shearer at work during the April Bank Holiday weekend. 

Hall Hill Farm is open every day from 10.30am to 5pm and tickets must be purchased in advance before arrival.  

High Force Waterfall 

The family-friendly circular woodland walk at High Force Waterfall is open daily from 10am to 4pm. Tickets can be pre-booked in advance or purchased on arrival. The close by High Force Hotel is serving up delicious food and drink in the hotel courtyard on weekends and the refreshment kiosk is open every day. 

Raby Castle Park and Gardens

Enjoy a walk through the ancient deer park and see how many of the resident Red and Fallow deer you can spot. Take a tour of Raby Castle’s terrace with an expert guide and learn the fascinating history of Raby's nine magnificent towers on the Towers and Terrace tour or soak up the beautiful spring colours in the medieval walled garden. The little ones will love the castle’s woodland play area and you can even enjoy your very own private trailer ride for a guided tour around the castle’s stunning grounds.   

Raby Castle’s gardens and deer park is open daily from 10am to 4pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance before arrival

two boys sitting outside The Bowes Museum, Ushaw chapels and gardens and group of children rock climbing

The Bowes Museum 

The doors of The Bowes Museum maybe closed at the moment, but visitors can still enjoy exploring the museum’s beautiful gardens and grounds. Learn more about the fascinating history of the museum and the incredible building itself on a daily outdoor tour (must be pre-booked in advance – tours run until 16 May at 10.30am and 11.45am, £3.00 per person).

Follow the woodland fairy trail and see how many magical fairy houses you can spot or learn more about the trees, wildlife, flowers and fauna around the grounds of the museum on the nature trail. You can even create your own artworks en-route by downloading special viewfinders from the museum’s website.

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens

Take in the wonderful sights of spring at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens, set in a majestic 500 acre estate. Ushaw’s gardens and parkland are open daily 11am-4pm. Don’t miss the amazing outdoor window displays or the International Garden Photo Of The Year exhibition, on display in the rose garden from 1 April - 24 May, showcasing a stunning selection of around 40 winning competition entries.

The Bounds Café is open serving up refreshments and snacks daily 11am-4pm, where children can enjoy free use of outdoor toys and activities. Admission charges apply.

Weardale Adventure Centre

Get your adrenaline pumping at Weardale Aventure Centre and enjoy an action-packed catch up with friends and family. There’s lots of activities on offer, suitable for all ages and abilities including canoeing, rock climbing, archery, and caving to name but a few. 

All activities must be pre-booked in advance by emailing weardaleadventure@outlook.com or calling 01388 537 387. 

Discover more things to do on a day out in Durham on our dedicated attractions page

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