Epic Things to Do in Northumberland for Families
From ancient castles to exciting boat trips, here are some of the best family days out in Northumberland
With wide open countryside, a breathtaking coastline, and exciting attractions, Northumberland is the ultimate place for a family holiday. Whether you’re bringing the little ones or dragging along the teenagers, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy. From museums and castles to railways and farms, the list of family activities is almost too long, but that's exactly where we come in. Here at Plum Guide we're the experts in all things travel, so if you're looking for the trip of a lifetime, simply heed our advice and watch the memories unfold. Here are the very best things to do in Northumberland for families.
Take a trip to the Woodhorn Museum
Let’s face it, museums can be boring. Luckily, the Woodhorn Museum is anything but, and will have the kids hooked for hours. It’s a fantastic place to learn about Northumberland’s history and mining heritage through interactive displays, exhibitions, collections, and events. Explore the original colliery buildings whose site the museum is based in, and head back in time with tales from the people who used to work here. Enjoy a journey through Coal Town, and learn about the life and loves (and tragedies) of the Ashington coal mining community. Or, alternatively, embark on a free tour and take in the fascinating collections, learning all about the unique Pitmen Painters. This one might not suit the really little ones, but they haven't been forgotten - watch them try their hand at curating in the Mini Museums, or simply let off their steam in the play area.
Ride along the Heatherslaw Light Railway
Hop aboard the most northerly steam railway in England for a scenic journey through the Northumberland countryside. The north of England is known for its eye-catching scenery, and this train ride will take you through some of its very finest. Pulled by the steam engines ‘Bunty’ and ‘Lady Augusta’, or the diesel engine ‘Binky’, travel between Heatherslaw and Etal Castle on a 6.4 kilometre return trip. Running along the banks of the River Till, you’ll have magnificent views of the water and the Cheviot Hills - don’t forget to wave at the swans, herons, ducks and even the occasional otter if you’re lucky. With fully enclosed or partly glazed carriages, this is a fun day out no matter what the weather’s doing (which, frankly, could be anything).
Explore Chillingham Castle
This one’s only for the bravest visitors. Known as Britain’s most haunted castle, the aptly named Chillingham Castle will send chills down your spine. This 13th-century fortress has a mysteriously high level of paranormal activity, with a large amount of spectres and apparitions being (allegedly) spotted over the years. If you dare, join a nighttime guided ghost tour, taking you through the spookiest and most haunted parts of the castle. You can even go down into the dungeons and see the terrifying torture chamber (just don't get lost down there). If you want to stay well away from anything ghost-like, don’t worry - you can visit in the safety of the daytime to explore the lavish rooms and stroll around the picturesque gardens. Take a walk through the peaceful woods and, if you’re quiet, you might even spot deer, red squirrels, and badgers. Slightly cheerier than ghosts.
Enjoy the views at Kielder Water and Forest Park
An outing to Kielder Water and Forest Park is one of the best things to do in Northumberland for families. Simple. It’s the perfect place for those who love to get outdoors, with miles of scenic trails for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and pram users. The forest is a haven for wildlife, and is home to around 50% of England’s native red squirrel population. Other rare and special wildlife found here include roe deer, salmon, otter and water voles, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s not just these animals that get to enjoy the water though - you can try out canoeing, sailing, water skiing and paddleboarding in the man-made lake, an ideal spot for watersports.
After a day of activities, you're probably ready to go back to your luxury Plum home, but be patient. The forest is situated in the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, home to some of the darkest night skies in Europe, so this is a sight to behold. It’s worth staying a little later just to visit the Kielder Observatory, which offers a unique opportunity to stargaze using high-tech instruments - you'll feel as if you're up there with the stars. The observatory also holds exciting family events to entertain young explorers - a great excuse to stay up past bedtime.
Meet the animals at Whitehouse Farm Centre
If you’re looking for somewhere to bring the younger kids, the Whitehouse Farm Centre is an all-weather attraction that promises hours of fun. From farmhouse favourites to reptiles, alpacas and emus, there's an abundance of animals to see, hold, and feed. And on top of that, there's also a huge amount of space for the youngsters to let loose - the Hoglets Adventure Playground looks so exciting that even we’re a little jealous. With the 30 metre zip wire and the trio slide tower, you may find it hard to peel the kids away. Even if you do manage to, you’ll probably find them running towards the jumping pillows, trampolines, and pedal Go-Karts instead (can so many things to do ever be a bad thing?). The fun doesn’t have to stop in wet weather either - get fast and furious on the indoor racing cars, or run around in the soft play barn complete with twisting tunnel slides, rope bridges, magic mirrors, and climbing areas. Once the kids have (finally) exhausted themselves, wind down with a drink and some homemade treats at The Hungry Pig Cafe.
Head over to Coquet Island
A trip to sea is one of the most exciting things to do in Northumberland for families. Dave Gray’s Boat Trips have been transporting families between Coquet Island and Amble Harbour since 1969, so they come highly recommended. Just a mile from Amble Harbour, this sea bird paradise is home to around 40,000 nesting birds including puffins, kittiwakes, eider ducks, and various species of terns. If you don’t know which is which, don’t worry - you’ll learn a thing or two from your friendly guides. There’s even a colony of playful grey seals living on the island, so make sure you bring the binoculars.