Beginning of February we had a lovely city trip to Newcastle! Having never been before I didn’t know what to expect of the city. But now Newcastle is a place I definitely have on my list to go back to and I’m hoping that’s later this year! There is so much to do in the city of Newcastle and being only 20minutes from the beach on the metro there’s something for all weathers.
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3 day trip in Newcastle: Things To Do With a Toddler
When looking for somewhere to stay I was spoilt for choice; there are so many hotels, b&bs and budget accommodation options in Newcastle. As usual, we needed cheap and cheerful so booked a self catering apartment in Felling. Felling is only a few stops from the city ‘centre’ on the metro.
The apartment was called Approved Serviced Apartments. Our apartment was a little old and tired, but for the price of £35 a night couldn’t have been more convenient. It had two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen with dining table.
Trains were quite pricey from Sheffield and that was even with a railcard. We booked in advance. I definitely recommend booking in advance and using a railcard; some of the prices coming up for tickets were over £150. In the end, we found a journey where changing in Doncaster got us to Newcastle from Sheffield for around £38 both of us with a two together railcard and it was approximately the same back again, although those tickets were hidden among the £150-£200 tickets…!!
It’s very convenient to get around Newcastle. The city centre isn’t overwhelmingly huge so you can explore mostly on foot, but the metro is easy to use, reasonably priced and buggy friendly with lift access at the stations.
Life Science Centre, Newcastle
Now it’s no secret we love museums and Life Science Centre was the first port of call. The Life Science Centre is only up the road from the city centre train station so very convenient location. We dropped luggage in the buggy park and went to explore. A day ticket for adults is £11 and under 4’s are free. The price includes planetarium shows and everything going on throughout the day – you’re given a timetable/schedule with things going on on arrival.
The Life Science Centre had less to do then I expected. I had in mind something like Eureka!. There wasn’t that much to do and see, and to conclude I think it was overpriced.
The museum is definitely better suited for older kids, school groups, etc., although there was a large play area on the top floor.
Personally, though, we don’t pay £11 to get into a ‘good museum’ to play with toys in a play area. I mean, so long is Eric is happy, right- but we love museums as a family and don’t just go to these big museums for play areas when we could go to a play cafe or soft play area.
The play area was also really random; it had toys like wooden train tracks, building blocks, soft play blocks, wooden toys to put down ramps and a play kitchen. I didn’t really have a ‘feel’ or ‘theme’ and felt odd compared to what the Life Science Centre is.
What did we see… downstairs, on entry is a large cafe, gift shop, coffee shop and immediately in front and to the left are lots of experiments to play with. Many of these were suited better for older children / school aged. Eric mostly played with a spinning disc table and floating material machine.
Next we tried the planetarium after seeing the ‘Museum of the moon’. The Museum of the moon is basically, a gigantic seven meter wide touring artwork suspended from the ceiling. There is a barrier going around it so you can’t touch it. It suggests 30 minutes to see this but I don’t really know why since you essentially stand there and look at it.
I mean… it was fun but… it’s just a moon! The detail was great but I don’t really have anything else to say about it.
There were 2 Planetarium shows on that day, we only managed one; I don’t think we could have done two and there wasn’t even to do to keep us entertained in-between.
In conclusion, I would go again but when Eric is older. It’s definitely an educational museum better suited for older children who can use the learning zone to their advantage … although if you do go with a toddler there is the play area on the top floor.
Now I’ve never been somewhere, a city, where you can see a museum, do sightseeing then jump on a metro to the beach all within a few hours.. but in Newcastle you can do just that!
It was so cold with it being the beginning of February but we had to see the beach whilst we were in Newcastle.
There are many places/coasts/seaside bits in Newcastle, I asked Samantha from North East Family Fun for her advice and best places to go… check out her blog, it’s fantastic. Tynemouth looks like the most picaresque of them all and fantastic in summer for the seaside feel. Lovely. Sadly, we just didn’t have time to explore all the coastal areas from Newcastle with only 3 days.
But we did make it to South Shields. As it was so cold, and it’s only around 15/20mins on the metro, South Shields seemed like the best idea to get the coast with the option of indoor things nearby such as The Word and South Shields Museum.
It was only about 10 minute walk from the metro station down the high street to a lovely stunning sandy beach. Big rocks before you reach the sand… Eric could have easily been there for hours. We spotted a light house in the distance… it was really, really nice and clean. I could imagine spending lots of time there in nice weather (and would love to go to all the other coastal areas in Newcastle, too).
On that morning it was soooo cold so we didn’t last long but really enjoyed our morning visit to the beach, it really cleared my head.
The Word is, essentially, a big modern library. It’s quite impressive. And it made the perfect pit stop after our cold morning trip to the beach.
Entry is free and there’s a few floors to explore, a cafe and stunning views across the water. Great place to work… relaxing atmosphere.
Libraries are a fantastic resource wherever they are but this one was stunning. It’s very modern and the big, open windows opened the space up (with telescopes to see out!). The whole building is a circular shape with the stairs in the middle so you can see everything from wherever you are.
The children’s library is split into around 3 areas and the book collection was something else. Picture books of all kinds, non fiction, reference, fiction. Plus an iPad colouring station and free family activities.
Definitely worth a visit if you love libraries and you’re in South Shields.
South Shields Museum & Art Gallery
This museum is so little but really cute! It’s only a few doors down from the metro so worth popping in for a look. There’s a real life creature corner, old fun ground ride and exhibition, a scary clown and some hands on exhibits. There are only around… 3 rooms but decent amount of things to see in the exhibition rooms. And it’s free, so why not? 🙂
Who doesn’t love a bit of sightseeing. After South Shields we headed to Newcastle Gateshead… who knew Newcastle had so many bridges?!?!
The Baltic Centre is free to go in and has a cool lift, toilet facilities and places to eat; we popped in there for the conveniences! Millennium Bridge is a must see- then we walked around for just over an hour, seeing everything and taking photos.
All of this area of Newcastle along the water has so many bridges… think there’s seven in total!
From there we walked up to the Discovery Museum. The walk took about 1.5 hours from Gateshead metro (I think that’s what it’s called…) but there’s lots of cafes, shops in the area and photo opportunities.
Newcastle is so friendly and when we were looking around someone stopped to tell us about an exhibition and a little of the history of Newcastle :).
On the walk from Gateshead to Discovery Museum I spotted Newcastle castle and Newcastle Cathedral. Mental note to go and see more of those next time!
Discovery Museum is a free history and science museum in Newcastle (10 min walk max from the station). It’s big! And has way more to see than we bargained for. We needed more time, really, to spend there and crammed what we could in a few hours. I preferred this to the life centre.
Important to know, that, although it is free there is a water play area “Play Tyne” which costs a couple quid. I think it was £2 but I can’t *exactly* remember. It’s a small, indoor water play area with sinks, boats and water experiments around the city of Newcastle. It isn’t really anything super as it’s just some water play but we liked how it had a charge. 🙂
With it costing meant it wasn’t busy at all and had a member of staff in the room at all times. Eric played in there for about 45 mins and really enjoyed it. Take some change with you if you think you’d kids would want to go play in there.
There’s lots to see in this museum but our favourite parts were the big boat, the circus themed special exhibition, Newcastle Story (sooo jam packed though and a LOT to take in!), interactive Science Maze with engines and hands on science exhibits (like funny mirrors, shadow machines, ball gravity games, that sort of thing) and Play + Invent space.
I’d recommend and would go back. If you go weekday term time, I’m intrigued about ‘Tiny Sparks’ award winning play sessions for children but looks like they’re very popular… they look great, though.
Ahhhh I was so excited to go to Seven Stories. I would describe Seven Stories as a a unique library, museum and exhibition space combined into one. It’s located in a cool area of Newcastle, Ouseburn, with a little free community farm next door.
The farm is lovely and definitely worth poking your head in if you’re going to Seven Stories. I heard the pub next to the farm is really nice, too.
I was so excited to go to Seven Stories, that it’s actually the worst coincidence that the day we planned to go… Eric was not in a good mood at all 🙁 🙁 :(. It was the end of the trip, he was in a bad mood and not feeling it. When you’re on a trip and not near home it’s not like you can just go back tomorrow, either, so it’s hard not to get frustrated with them!
I’m just being honest because there’s no point saying ‘oh we had the best time’ when really we didn’t; but that has nothing to do with Seven Stories itself. In fact it was probably the best place to be when he wasn’t happy, to be honest.
It’s a real shame he wasn’t up for it but saying that he still enjoyed it, I just know we would have got way more out of it he hadn’t had been upset that day. I was impressed with Seven Stories and would go back. I wish we had something like that in Sheffield; but I know it’d be soooo popular and busy!
We really, really loved the cafe and how everything is included in the ticket price. Prices are reasonable too; baby’s up to 12 months free, toddler 1-3 years £2.50, adults £7.70. The price includes the story times throughout the day and any extra activities/entertainment, special exhibition and craft room on the ground level. Our entry was gifted to us from Seven Stories but we would have paid either way and was the original reason for our trip to Newcastle (thank you Seven Stories)!
If you have under 10’s I do recommend it but think there’s an age where kids would get bored of it. For Eric’s age (he’s 3 and a half) it was perfect, though. One main thing I loved about it was how it’s not… overwhelming… it’s not flashy, loud and there’s not LOTS to do so you’re rushing around all day long.
I think little ones sometimes need less otherwise they don’t see the smaller details, and Seven Stories is like that. It wouldn’t have worked if it was this huge, busy place with too much to see in one day… literature isn’t supposed to be stressful.
It’s also great for those little ones, like Eric, who do get overwhelmed easily and need quiet spaces to chill. I highly recommend the sensory story time and the craft area.
I’ll write a separate review up for Seven Stories but in short, it was a lovely unique space, imaginative, all areas very high quality spec and clean. The sensory story time was perfect for Eric… I can’t rate the staff enough. The cafe was extremely family friendly with fantastic food options and had a giant tiger in the corner (tiger who came to tea)!.
Our visit was, unfortunately, in-between special exhibitions (what they do best!) but we couldn’t have changed our arrival dates there as the next exhibition wasn’t until the week after our trip to Newcastle. We still enjoyed it, though.
There was a gorgeous book shop, too.
Seven Stories not only have their own place in Newcastle but many exhibitions on tour throughout the UK and I do recommend you look out for these. We loved Bears! last year in Barnsley.
What we didn’t do + more things to mention
3 days just wasn’t enough to explore Newcastle. We didn’t get time for Great North Museum: Hancock and wanted to explore more of the suburbs and coastal areas. I wish we had gone to the Hancock museum first instead of Life Centre, but at least it gives us another excuse to go back!
I’d really like to see more outdoorsy things in Newcastle. There’s some fantastic looking parks and playgrounds. I’ve no doubt we could easily fill up a week trip there with good weather on our side.
With the museums, coastal areas and everything in-between there is more than enough to do in Newcastle for a few days or even longer. It wasn’t a particularly expensive trip.
The train fares were a bit high and 2 attractions had costs (Life and Seven Stories). We kept costs down by having free day out at Discovery Museum, the beach/South Shields and could easily have swapped Life Centre for Hancock museum to have another free day out. Staying in an apartment rather than hotel kept costs down on food; this is why our #1 choice of accommodation is always that with kitchen facilities.
We did eat out twice… once at Lets Junk it up; a vegan junk food restaurant/bar. The food was really, really good there and the staff very friendly with Eric. Relaxed atmosphere with no loud music and bench style seating, in the city centre. The other treat… “Super Natural” the highlight of the trip for me I’ll be honest… it was so, so nice!! Very, very relaxing in there … the lighting, ambience and gorgeous vegan food. I highly recommend it.
I planned our trip mostly using North East Family Fun blog! Thank you Samantha for all your help 🙂 We will be back!!
We really love city trips and you can read more about our other most recent adventures here: