15 of the Best Parks & Playgrounds in North East England



15 of the Best Parks & Playgrounds in North East England


Please note, due to COVID 19, some of the facilities (especially water play areas/cafes/toilets) may be closed. Check details with venue direct for up to date info before setting off. In England, parks are permitted to open from 4 July but not all will open on that date.  Always check venues direct for up-to-date details before setting off. 

Please respect the local area, observe social distancing, use alcohol hand gel / wash hands regularly (especially before eating), leave no trace, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, consider leaving and returning another time. 

If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, please stay at home and follow NHS advice/guidelines. 


Although my kids are probably at the top end of the age bracket for enjoying parks, we are still fans of playgrounds and over my almost 14 years of parenting, we have been lucky to visit many that the North East has to offer. 

In most cases, where dogs are welcome, this refers to the wider park. Enclosed play areas are usually dog-free zones. 

Apologies if your favourite park does not feature - I know there are some obvious ones that have not made my list, especially South of the Tyne. The parks in my list are our personal favourites and naturally feature places which are closer to where we live in Northumberland or places we like to visit regularly.

If your favourite park does not feature - let me know and I will try and visit/include this summer. 

Nothing beats popping to a park after school or spending a sunny afternoon in the park with a picnic. To be honest, we don't mind visiting in winter either as long as we are all wrapped up.  


15 of the Best Parks & Playgrounds in North East England 


1 - Preston Park, Teesside

preston park adventure playground

Preston Park is an amazing adventure playground - definitely one of the best in the North East. The playground is free to visit with free on-site parking and accessible by public transport too. 

The adventure play area is split into sections with a dedicated toddler area, a tree top climbing area and equipment for older children too. 

There are toilets and a cafe right by the park and there is plenty of space to enjoy a picnic with seating available too. 

As well as the playground, there is a skate park, river walks, butterfly world, small gauge railway, boat trips, Preston Park Museum (which runs fantastic events), a walled garden and loads of green space. Definitely the kind of place you can spend the full day. Some of these additional activities are chargeable.



2 - Saltwell Park, Gateshead


Saltwell Park

Saltwell Park in Gateshead has recently been named as one of the top 10 parks in the UK. It is huge and there is lots to do, another park you can easily spend the whole day.

Saltwell Towers is at the heart of the park and where you will find a visitor centre, public loos and tearoom so is a good place to start. In the park grounds you will find two enclosed play areas, picnic areas, pets corner, maze, bowling greesn, tennis and basketball courts, a rose garden and formal gardens with lots of flowers, beautiful walking routes (the blossom in spring is gorgeous), a boating lake, ducks, mini land train and more. 



3 - Ridley Park, Blyth 

Ridley Park, Blyth


Ridley Park is pretty close to where we live and I have lovely memories of jumping on the bus and spending the day here as a child. The park is well kept with beautiful flower beds, lots of green space, a cafe, ice cream van and loos.

There are two enclosed play areas for different age groups but the main draw is the water play area / splash pad in the heart of the park which is super popular in the summer months. You will regularly find bouncy castles and slides (chargeable) on busy days too. 

  • Find out more: https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Local/Ridley-Park-Blyth.aspx
  • Accessibility info: Accessible for pushchairs / wheelchairs. Apologies - there is not much info on their website. 
  • Dog Policy: Dogs are welcome but discouraged from entering the play areas and water play.  
  • Sat Nav: NE24 3HF (free car park)
  • Public transport: 5-minute walk from Blyth Town Centre/Bus Station
  • Park admission: Free


4 - South Marine Park, South Shields  

South Marine Park

South Marine Park is another play area we love to visit. There are two enclosed playgrounds for various age groups and the facilities are fab. There is lots of green space, toilets, a boating lake, cafe, ice cream kiosk and more. Oh and we love the mini train which goes around the park too. It is easy to make a day of it here as you are just across the road from Oceans Beach Fairground and the beach. 
  • Find out more: https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/34417/South-Marine-Park
  • Accessibility info: No info online but I can say that it is accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • Dog policy: No info online
  • Sat Nav: NE33 2JS (lots of parking nearby and on the sea front)
  • Public transport: Bus/Metro to South Shields 
  • Park admission: Free 
 

5 - Dunes Play Area, Seaton Sluice 

Seaton Sluice Park


This park has made our list as we have lots of happy memories here. We used to visit the carvery across the road with my grandparents and the kids would love a play in the park. It is the first place Jack went down a tube style slide which he was chuffed about. The park is right by the beach too.  


6 - Northumberland Park, North Shields  

Northumberland Park, North Shields

Northumberland Park is gorgeous and a real gem in North Tyneside. Expect a tearoom with beautiful views of the gardens, walks, gorgeous flowers, a lake, play areas, BMX track, bowling green, public loos, sculpture trail and more. 
  • Find out more: https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/396/northumberland-park
  • Accessibility info: No info online but from what I remember, there is step-free access. 
  • Dog policy: No info online but I assume welcome
  • Sat Nav: NE30 2ES (road side parking) 
  • Public transport: a few minutes walk from Tynemouth Metro Station (direct access through platform 1 Birtley side)
  • Park admission: Free

7 - Plessey Woods, nr Bedlington 

Plessey Woods

Plessey Woods play area has been recently refurbished. We love it! There is a cafe and loo next door, wide open fields for picnics/ball games and beautiful woodland walks and a sculpture trail. 


8 - Hamsterley Forest, County Durham 

Hamsterley Forest Adventure Play Area

We love Hamsterley Forest. It is the kind of place you can spend all day. There are several natural play areas dotted throughout the forest, a main adventure play area, Viking wild play and Gruffalo sculptures to discover. You can paddle in the river in some areas and facilities are excellent with a cafe, visitor centre and loos available. 

9 - Harestanes, Jedburgh 

Harestanes Park

Harestanes just makes this list as it is located in the borders but it is somewhere which is more than worth a trip or a fab place to stop off if you are driving to Scotland. The play area is huge and accessible with wheelchair swings and sensory areas alongside more traditional play equipment. 

There is also an indoor games room, fab cafe, a few local artisan businesses, toilets and walks to enjoy. 

  • Find out more: https://www.liveborders.org.uk/play/harestanes/
  • Accessibility info: Disabled parking & toilet, accessible, the play area has been designed for all with wheelchair swings, sensory areas and more. 
  • Dog policy: Dogs welcome 
  • Sat Nav: TD8 6UQ
  • Public transport: There is a bus stop 10 minutes walk away (A68/B6400 junction) - contact Traveline Scotland for more info
  • Park admission: Free 


10 - Cragside, Rothbury 

Cragside

The playground at Cragside is located around half way around the estate drive. You can either park in the main car park and climb up the huge hill if you are feeling energetic or drive your car to the adjoining car park. We love this park. It includes a barefoot walk plus there is a coffee/ice cream kiosk and loos. It is not far from the labyrinth if you fancy a challenge (read about the labyrinth here). 

11 - Wallington, Morpeth 

Wallington Playgrounds

Wallington is home to three play areas, all within easy walking distance of each other. There is a castle-themed area, a den building zone, a natural play area and a train-themed park which is my fave. There is loads to enjoy at Wallington including cycle trails, nature walks and activities. 

12 - Gibside, Rowlands Gill 


Gibside is the first National Trust park we ever visited and I was blown away by their Strawberry Castle Play Area. It is huge with lots to do for all ages including castles, swings, zip wires, slides, obstacle courses and more. 

There is a coffee / ice cream hut & loos right by the park and I recommend packing up a picnic to bring. You will find lots to explore around the wider estate too including trails, walks, a walled garden, wildlife ponds, activities, high ropes, stables and more.  


13 - Carlisle Park, Morpeth 

Carlisle Park, Morpeth


Carlisle Park in Morpeth is somewhere I used to visit a lot as a day trip when I was little and somewhere the kids love too. The main attraction is the outdoor paddling pool open in the summer months. There are two play areas, boats to hire on the lake, a trim trail, formal gardens, sports courts, an aviary, food vans, public loos, riverside walks and more. 

Do not miss the legendary Chinese van in the car park (read about it here).  


14 - Exhibition Park, Newcastle  

Exhibition Park


Exhibition Park is in the heart of Newcastle and we love teaming a visit with nearby Great North Museum for a free day out. There are multiple play areas, sports courts, lots of green space, a boating lake, miniature railway (selected times only) and Wylam Brewery is a perfect spot for food and drinks. 


15 - Whitley Bay Park 

Whitley Bay Park

This park on Park Road is deceptively large. There are multiple areas for different age groups plus a small water play area too. There is a cafe and loos on-site but watch out for the door - once my lovely children unlocked the door as I was sitting on the loo to the whole of the queue outside. Cringe! 
  • Find out more: https://www.visitnorthtyneside.com/activities/activity/26/
  • Accessibility info: No info online, from memory, it is step-free
  • Dog policy: No policy online 
  • Sat Nav: NE26 1EJ (road side parking and plenty of car parks nearby) 
  • Public transport: Bus / metro to Whitley Bay
  • Park admission: Free

Ok, I couldn't stick to just 15 so here are a couple of bonus entries...... 

16 - Rising Sun Park 

Rising Sun Play Area


The Rising Sun play area is in a lovely sheltered part of the country park. With a cafe and picnic spot overlooking the expansive pond, it is a pretty spot for a coffee and a play. There are loos in the visitor centre and you can enjoy walks through the woods or visit the free community farm. 
  • Find out more: https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/385/rising-sun-country-park
  • Accessibility info: Accessible with disabled parking. Some walking trails are suitable for wheelchair / pushchairs (see maps on arrival) 
  • Dog policy: Welcome on leads 
  • Sat Nav: NE12 9SS (free car park)
  • Public transport: Bus  to ASDA Benton + 15 minute walk
  • Park admission: Free

17 - Vyner Park, Swarland

Vyner Park, Swarland

If you fancy a little run out in the country, this park is a cute place to stop . The legendary Nelsons at the Park cafe overlooks the play area and is a lush place to enjoy a bite to eat. The area includes several sports courts, green space, a play area and cafe. 

18 - Fontburn

Fontburn Playground

I have included Fontburn in this list as I feel like it is a bit of a hidden gem and usually nice and quiet. The equipment is all pretty new and includes a zip wire which my kids love. There is a picnic area, reservoir walks, super small cafe and toilets on site. 
  • Find out more: https://www.watersideparksuk.com/park/fontburn/
  • Accessibility info: Accessible
  • Dog policy: Dogs welcome. Restrictions apply during breeding season. 
  • Sat Nav: NE61 4PL (paid car park)
  • Public transport: n/a
  • Park admission: Free


19 - Tyne Green Country Park, Hexham  

Tyne Green Country Park Hexham

We haven't visited here in ages hance the throwback photo from 2018. It is a lush place though with loads of green space for picnics, BBQ areas, an enclosed play area, cafe, loos and riverside walks (please be careful near the water). It is on our list of places to re-visit this summer. 
I will add to this list as we visit more parks this summer. Let me know where we should visit next - Herrington Park & Hardwick Park are both on my list to visit soon. Riverside Park in Chester le Street also deserves a mention, however, I do not think the splash pads will be turned on this summer so we may have to wait until 2021 before we feature that one (it is a bit of a drive for us). 


 
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Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area. leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed since this post was published. 




15 of the Best Parks & Playgrounds in North East England


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