Sat. Feb 22nd, 2020

ncl.guide – Newcastle Guide

Your source for news, things to do, arts and culture, bars and restaurants in and around Newcastle upon Tyne

10 free things to do with kids in Newcastle

6 min read
father and 2 children on grass blowing bubbles

There’s nothing better than spending quality time together with the family but we know that keeping the kids entertained can sometimes cost a small fortune. Fear not, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 free things to do in Newcastle that won’t cost you a penny.

*Although entrance is free, donations are welcome at some of the attractions to help with running costs.

The Great North Museum: Hancock

Interior shot of great north museum, hancock showing exhibits and visitors

If you went to school in Newcastle then you probably paid a visit to the Hancock Museum, now called The Great North Museum: Hancock.

The Great North Museum: Hancock is a museum of natural history and ancient civilisations and houses a large collection of interactive exhibits. Here children can discover the world of the Ancient Egyptians, see archaeological finds from the Roman Wall and view the stunning collection of taxidermy in the Living Planet gallery.

Under 5s can also spend some time exploring The Mouse House and there are regular activities for younger visitors in this space.

Opening Times:
Mon – Fri: 10:00 to 17:00
Sat: 10:00 to 16:00
Sun: 11:00 to 16:00
Address: Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PT
Website: https://greatnorthmuseum.org.uk/

Discovery Museum

A list of free things to do in Newcastle would not be complete without the inclusion of the Discovery Museum, it’s certainly one of our favourites and a place we recommend to any parent. The Discovery Museum is one of the largest free museums in the city and contains many science and local history exhibits, including the first steam turbine-powered steamship, Turbinia.

There are loads of interactive displays and you’ll easily find yourself spending a good couple of hours going through the exhibits spread across the museums 3 floors. There’s even a free soft play for the little ones tucked away in the corner of the Science Maze.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri: 10:00 to 16:00 Sat-Sun: 11:00 to 16:00
Address: Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4JA
Website: https://discoverymuseum.org.uk

Sage Gateshead

External view of the Sage Gateshead with the River Tyne in the foreground.

OK, so this is across the river in Gateshead and not technically Newcastle but the award-winning glass structure provides amazing views across the Tyne and the Quayside and is one not to be missed. There’s a small shop, cafe and seating inside and you’ll often find free workshops for kids and musicians playing gigs in the foyer.

Opening Times:
Address: St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR
Website: www.sagegateshead.com/‎

Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene is a tranquil, historic park in the heart of suburban Newcastle and has been a favourite of the people of Newcastle for years. The narrow wooded valley that follows the river Ouseburn between South Gosforth and Jesmond. Expect to see a mix of native and exotic trees and a whole host of wildlife, notably the Kingfisher, the Red Squirrel and many woodland birds. The Dene stretches for over three kilometres and has many areas to explore via the network of woodland paths and bridges.

Limited parking is available but alternatively, there are good public transport links with many buses stopping at the Cradlewell on the Coast Road (A1058).

Opening Times: N/A for the park but see website for facility opening times.
Address: Jesmond Dene, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DZ
Website: https://www.jesmonddene.org.uk

Pets Corner

A visit to Jesmond Dene wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Pets Corner. This area underwent a complete refurbishment in 2010 and reopened in February 2011 following a £6m regeneration programme which included a new aviary, animal pens and a brand new visitors centre. You can expect to see animals such as pigs, chickens, peacocks, rabbits and goats amongst many others.

Please note that guests are asked not to take food for the animals as they are on specially controlled diets.

Opening Times: Mon – Fri: 09:00 to 16:00 (Closed Bank Holidays)
Address: Red Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7BQ
Website: https://www.jesmonddene.org.uk/pets-corner/

Ouseburn Farm

One of the most well known inner city farms in the country, Ouseburn Farm is a great place to visit with the kids just outside of the city centre in the Ouseburn Valley. Operating for over 40 years and still often referred to by locals as Byker Farm, it gives young people the chance to experience a real working farm with a range of animals and fruit and vegetable crops.

There’s also a great eco-friendly visitors centre there where you can find out more about the animals and a cafe if you’re feeling a little peckish.

Opening Times:
Farm
Mon: Closed (Open during school holidays)
Tue-Fri: 9.30am – 5.00pm
Sat-Sun: 10.30am – 4.30pm

Cafe
Monday: Closed (Open during school holidays)
Tue-Fri: 10.00am – 4.30pm
Sat-Sun: 10.30am – 3.30pm
Address: Ouseburn Farm, Ouseburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2PA
Website: https://www.ouseburnfarm.org.uk

Laing Art Gallery

The Laing Art Gallery is located on New Bridge Street West, just across the road from Newcastle City Library. This stunning Grade II listed building hosts a dynamic exhibition schedule and has many local paintings and objects on display in the ‘Northern Spirit’ area.

The Laing is also home to a free children’s play area where they can dress up or have fun with some interactive learning. For a small fee, children can also take part in the Little Artist sessions that run regularly at the venue.

Opening Times: Mon – Sat: 10:00 to 16:30
Address: New Bridge St W, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AG
Website: https://laingartgallery.org.uk/

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Exterior image of Baltic centre of contemporary art.

We’re back across the river in Gateshead but we can’t leave this one out, it’s only a stones throw from the Pitcher & Piano on Newcastle Quayside and a short walk across the Gateshead Millenium Bridge.

The Baltic is a converted mill with minimalist interiors that hosts temporary shows by contemporary artists and is the UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution. With an ever-changing schedule, there’s always something new a fresh to see and they regularly have events that are geared towards kids.

Baltic also offers fantastic views of the Quayside and Newcastle from not one but two viewing areas for those who have a head for heights, the first is an external terrace on Level 4 and the second is the glass viewing box on Level 5 viewing with floor to ceiling windows for outstanding views towards the Tyne Bridge.

Opening Times: Mon – Sun: 10:00 to 18:00
Address: South Shore Rd, Gateshead, NE8 3BA
Website: https://baltic.art

City Walls

The Newcastle town wall was a medieval defensive wall, and is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It was built during the 13th and 14th centuries, and helped protect the town from attack and occupation during times of conflict.

In more recent times the wall has been split into sections and are now little more than ruin but you can see some of the original structure throughout the city. The walls are free to visit and although they do not have a dedicated visitor centre there are information boards and blue plaques to provide further details of each section.

map showing city walls throughout the city

Opening Times: N/A
Address: Throughout Newcastle
Website: N/A

Newcastle City Library

The City Library is no longer the stuffy, drab place filled with dusty old books that you remember as a child back in the 90s, it’s been transformed into a light and airy Community Hub with baby changing facilities and a cafe.

There are now over 100 computers throughout the library and you can book one of these for free for up to 2 hours. Of course, being a library there’s still also a huge selection of books on offer in the children’s library on level 3.

Newcastle City Library holds regular children’s events throughout the year so it’s always worth checking with them to see what’s on.

Opening Times:
Mon: 10:00 to 17:00
Tue: 10:00 to 19:00
Wed: 10.00 to 17:00
Thu: 10:00 to 19:00
Fri: 10:00 to 17:00
Sat: 10:00 to 16:00
Sun: Closed
Address: 33 New Bridge St W, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AX
Website: https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-culture/your-libraries/city-library-and-community-hub