What to do in Newcastle with kids - a 2 night itinerary
Newcastle is a vibrant city bursting with culture, history and diversity.
North-East’s capital of cool offers loads of attractions to keep all the family busy. Landmarks, museums, parks, exhibitions, and the iconic Angel of the North should all be on your list of things to do with the kids whilst you are here.
I’ve included plenty of ideas to enjoy the great outdoors, soak up the culture and experience some great indoor venues too, just in case the Northern weather takes a turn for the worst.
Friday afternoon in Newcastle
Start the weekend of your Newcastle family holiday with a trip to one of the North East’s most well-known landmarks – the iconic Angel of the North. This awe inspiring sculpture stands over 20 metres tall and stands guard over the A1, the main route into Newcastle. It’s open 24 hours and if you love a sunset it’s the perfect place to catch one.
Head into the city and stop off at the Discovery Museum, I guarantee you this will go down a storm and best of all it’s free. Think hands on, interactive science and local history themed activities and displays. You won’t need to worry about keeping your little ones under control here as you are encouraged to explore freely. Make sure you visit the water play room which has a miniature River Tyne complete with boats, you can take a breather for half an hour while your little one enjoys some fun.
Afterwards head five minutes out of the city centre to the tranquil surroundings of Exhibition Park. Here you’ll find a beautiful leafy urban park which stretches between the two stylish suburbs of Jesmond and Gosforth. Enjoy a relaxing stroll around the boating lake and Victorian bandstand then visit the children’s play area where your little ones can burn off any excess energy.
If you need any refreshments, I recommend you stop by Urban Green Cafe which sits within the park. It’s a gorgeous community cafe serving locally baked goods and to-die-for ice-creams.
Friday evening in Newcastle
Check into your accommodation (I’ve recommended a selection of great places further down) and head down to the stunning Newcastle Quayside for an evening stroll and a spot of sightseeing. Walk the lively stretch along the River Tyne, it’s packed full of cafes , restaurants and some fantastic arts and culture venues such as the Baltic and the Sage.
One of the first things that will catch your eye will be the amount of bridges along the stretch. The Quayside is home to seven iconic bridges including The Millenium Bridge. Make sure you stroll across this bridge as it is beautifully lit and changes colours intermittently every few minutes. Your little ones will love running back and forth, you will feel like you are walking through a rainbow!
Stop at Detroit inspired “I Scream For Pizza” and grab a few slices of their legendary American style pizza, sit on the pavement seating and watch the world bustle by.
The Quayside comes alive at night and people watching will keep everyone entertained while you eat. You can’t leave without one of their scrumptious ice creams to take with you as you all continue your wander.
If you prefer sitting in and treating yourselves to a fancy meal, try the Baltic restaurant Six. I can personally recommend Six, it’s a cool, modern restaurant on the sixth floor, with panoramic views right across the city. It’ll keep your little ones well and truly entertained while you eat.
Your children will love the glass elevator – think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – a few trips up and down is a must before you settle in to enjoy your food.
You’ll need of some downtime after a busy first day so head back to your accommodation of choice for a good night’s sleep ready for day two of your Newcastle family holiday adventure.
Saturday morning in Newcastle
A trip to upmarket Jesmond for breakfast is the best way to start day two of your Newcastle family holiday. Grab something to eat at one of the many independent cafes, you’ll be spoilt for choice in this upscale suburb of Newcastle. Wander along Acorn Road, here you’ll find a coffee house on every corner offering delicious breakfast pastries and full English breakfast .
My personal favourites are Arlo’s, a vibrant cafe which offers both indoor and outdoor seating, Pink Lane Bakery, an iconic Newcastle bakery or Willies, which offers a great menu and is really popular with the locals.
Now that you are fuelled and ready to go, it’s time for you to head to Fern Avenue and visit The Pottery Experience. After a quick welcome chat you will choose a piece of pottery to decorate and paint. What I love about this place is its inclusivity. There is no pressure to be a brilliant artist and they certainly encourage children to let loose and create in their own style. The staff are fantastic and are on hand should you need any advice . Although there is a lively atmosphere, there is something calming and grounding about creating your own personal masterpiece. The great thing about the Pottery experience is that if you are on holiday, your masterpieces can be posted out to you. You’ll get to create a great memory of your Newcastle family holiday and have some artwork from your children to treasure forever.
After being indoors, you need to get out into the open air to let the children run off some steam. There is no better place than Jesmond dene.
Jesmond Dene is a beautiful haven of peace and tranquillity right in the heart of Newcastle. The river Ouseburn runs through the wooded valley and paths run both beside it and within the wooded areas of the Dene. Begin your visit with a walk on the Armstrong Bridge, another of Newcastle’s most photographed bridges. It has a historic feel to it and you’ll have panoramic views of the treetops below. First, head to the children’s playground and pets corner, the whole family will love the goats, pigs and huge selection of birds.
Follow the riverside pathways and head to the old mill, you’ll stumble across a small waterfall with a quaint stone bridge from which to view it. Not far from here are stepping stones across the river – this is guaranteed to be a hit with your little ones. If you’ve come equipped, you can enjoy all the open spaces with a game of football or enjoy a delicious picnic with some delicious take out from the park cafe.
Saturday lunchtime in Newcastle
This afternoon you are heading further up the river to the eclectic district of Ouseburn. This is a great place for all ages but especially for tweens or teens. My teens love a morning wandering here, trying out the quirky independent coffee shop and looking at all the street art on the walls.
For lunch pop into Northern Rye, a small batch bakery specialising in sourdough breads, fresh sandwiches and really great coffee. You have to try the cinnamon buns, a signature pastry and very addictive. Grab a bench by the river, sit back and take five minutes for everyone to refresh and refuel.
Saturday afternoon in Newcastle
After lunch you are heading to The Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books. You are in for a real treat – with seven floors packed full of exhibitions, books and famous illustrations and manuscripts – it’s the perfect place to let your children and their imaginations run wild. There are daily story times and a stage area with costumes for any budding actors or actresses with you.
Afterwards walk two minutes up the road to Ouseburn Farm. You’ll find hidden in the middle of the city a charitable, working community farm. The farm was opened in 1976 by parents in the city who wanted their children to have access to nature, look after animals and grow their own food. It is now a charity and is free to visit.
As with many of the places in your itinerary for a Newcastle family holiday, the farm will provide you with a laid back environment where you and your children will feel relaxed and calm. Wander through the gardens and poly tunnels and stop by the small farmyard to visit the animals and chickens before you leave.
Your visit to Ouseburn would not be complete without a visit to Proven Goods. THE most amazing hand made, slow proven donuts in the North East. You’ll find them in Hoults Yard which is around a ten minute walk. If you all prefer ice cream, De Mios make the best Italian ice cream and If you aren’t full from lunch I can vouch for their traditional Italian pizzas. You’ll find most people take out and sit on the stone steps just outside the cafe by the river, to watch the world go by.
Saturday evening in Newcastle
For dinner this evening, I recommend you go to Blackfriars restaurant. It is believed to be the oldest dining room in the UK and is set within an old refectory with a small garden courtyard. Great if any younger members of the family need a little place to run while they wait for their food.There is a dedicated children’s menu known as “The Little Monks” which offers all the traditional favourites while you can indulge in something a little special. You are on holiday after all!
Sunday morning in Newcastle
Wake up early and head into Newcastle city centre. You have to make a visit to Blakes Coffee and Kitchen. This has been a favourite of mine all of my adult life and my children love it too. It has been described as an institution for coffee & food lovers alike.
You’ll be given a great big Geordie welcome and you will all feel relaxed and at ease in this cosy hipster coffee shop. Your whole family will be spoilt for choice with the quirky combination of sandwiches and cakes on offer. I dare you not to leave with a few extra items for the journey home. Take a stroll up to the Great North Museum after breakfast and be prepared to be blown away. You will be taken on a journey through world cultures, natural history, archaeology and geology. Sneak up to the huge T-Rex replica and explore the ancient fossils on display – if you have any Dino mad little ones, this will go down a storm. Over the many floors you can discover world cultures including Ancient Egypt and The Greeks. Visit the Natural Northumbria display and discover what is special about the North East of England’s animals and plants.
If you have children under 5 there is dedicated play space known as The Mouse House. A super little stop off to entertain them while you have a little breather.
From here walk the scenic route through the centre of the city and head down Dene street to the Quayside Market. The market has been running for years but these days is more of a vibrant gathering of local craftsmen, food vendors, street artists and buskers. You will find great gifts to take home as a souvenir of your Newcastle family holiday. Soak up the welcoming Geordie culture until it’s time to head home.
Before you leave, pop into The Great British Cupcakery and treat everyone to a cake, shake or bake with a difference. Extra doesn’t describe the prettiness and sweet treats menu on offer underneath the branches of pretty blossom trees.
If you aren’t rushing home, why not try one of the many Newcastle pubs and treat the family to a good old North East Sunday roast. I would recommend Branches Jesmond for stunning decor and food that lives up to its excellent reputation. The Broad Chare on the Quayside serves up a great pub lunch, dogs are welcome and the food is hearty.
As your Newcastle family holiday draws to a close, you will have many memories of a fantastic 48 hours exploring the city. There are still so many places for families to explore such as ChinaTown, Centre for Life science Museum, Newcastle Keep and The Grey’s Monument. Newcastle is a city you’ll want to return to again and again.
Accommodation recommendations for a Newcastle family holiday
Jesmond Dene House Hotel
Jesmond Dene House has all the feels of a countryside manor yet is set within the city suburb of Jesmond. Sitting on the edge of the Dene, this independently owned hotel promises to listen to its guests and meet their wishes wherever possible. It is an indulgent hotel where you will feel both spoiled and comfortable as you are welcomed into this family owned house.
NE1 luxury apartment
NE1 is a luxury city centre stay. Situated at the heart of Newcastle, you will step out of the front door and straight into the hub of the city. You will have restaurants within metres. On an evening watch the world go by from the views you’ll enjoy from your vantage point above the City.The air-conditioned apartment consists of 1 bedroom, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge and a kettle, and 1 bathroom with a shower and free toiletries. Towels and bed linen are provided in the apartment.
The Vermont Hotel
Step into the perfect combination of modern and 1930’s classic decor. In a beautiful spot overlooking the Quayside and its bridges, you’ll enjoy panoramic views over the city. Try out the restaurant and bar that recently opened on the rooftop, aptly named “Above”. At the Vermont you’ll enjoy luxury rooms and a delicious menu should you decide to dine in.
If it’s getting back to nature you’re after then Westfield Yurts are for you. Set on the borders of Newcastle and Northumberland these luxury shepherds huts are a cosy alternative to a city centre hotel. Enjoy cosy log burners, hot tubs and dark skies for miles. Freedom and nature in abundance is what you will find here at Westfield Yurts.
These serviced apartments are a great home-from-home for a Newcastle family holiday. Fully equipped with a kitchen and all the amenities you need to feel completely at home during your stay. Located on the edge of Ouseburn, they are also within walking distance of the city centre, with a scenic half hour stroll along the Quayside and up into the city.