Preston Park, Museum & Grounds | A Visitor's Guide

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Preston Park, Museum & Grounds | A Visitor's Guide

Preston Park in Stockton-on-Tees is somewhere we have visited many times over the years and a place I have recommended time and time again. It is low-cost, there is lots to do with indoor and outdoor options and easy to get to by car or public transport.



It is the kind of place you can meet up with friends and spend the whole day. At time of publishing, no booking is required for regular daytime visits (booking will be required for some special events) but please always double check information with Preston Park before setting off. As we know, details can change. 

Preston Park, Museum & Grounds is made up of various areas: 

  • Adventure Playground, Skate Park & Cafe (free to visit)
  • Victorian Street & Tearoom (included with annual pass)
  • Museum & Galleries (included with annual pass)
  • Woodland Walk (included with annual pass)
  • Walled Garden (included with annual pass)
  • River & Woodland Walks (free to visit)
Butterfly World (additional charge) shares the same site / car park but is separate from Preston Park. It is worth visiting both though and we usually do this. 

The Teesside Small Gauge Railway is also on the same site but again, not linked to the museum. They are located just behind the bandstand and trains run on selected dates by volunteers (check out their FB page here for updates , info and running times ). 

One thing that really stands out for me with Preston Park is their seasonal and on-going event programme. At Preston Park, you pay once for admission and can visit as many times as you like across the year. Prices are super reasonable (£15 for a family pass for a family of 5 for example) and under 3s are admitted free of charge. There is also a 25% discount for Stockton Borough Council residents. 

Many of their events are included with admission or available at a small additional cost and Preston Park is a place that really changes throughout the seasons. A visit in October Half Term will include Scarecrows and Pumpkins and over the festive period you can expect beautiful Christmas decorations and in the summer, lots of outdoor events, harvest festivals and beautiful flowers. With the Preston Park annual pass, you really do receive excellent value for money. 

No booking is required - simply turn up and purchase your annual pass at the admissions desk. The layout of Preston Park can be a little confusing for first time visitors as there is lots to see in multiple areas, the staff are lovely though and will point you in the right direction. If you can't find somewhere mentioned in this post, please ask them and they will help. Make sure you keep your annual pass safe as you will need to show it when you revisit (which I guarantee you will want to do). 

It is worth mentioning that the adventure playground, skate park and little cafe are free to visit and you don't need to pay for an annual pass to visit these areas. Just turn up. I highly recommend you do visit the other areas though, they are worth it. 

The museum and grounds are mostly accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs (you can read their accessibility information here) and there are toilets including baby change and accessible loos across the site. 

Lots of people bring their dogs to enjoy the extensive grounds and walks around Preston Park and they are welcome. Dogs however are not permitted in the adventure playground, skate park, museum & gardens (with the exception of assistance dogs). 

October Half Term at Preston Park 

The following activities are included with regular museum admission / your annual pass and do not need to be booked. Simply drop in! 

Birds of Prey 

The North Yorkshire Moors Birds of Prey will be visiting every day from 23 - 31 October. Come and meet the owls between 10am - 4pm. 

Magical Creatures Event 

Find Six Magical Creatures (from 23-31 October) hiding in the Victorian Street and Museum. To capture them, you will need to: 

*Make your own magic wand 
*Create a magic potion to help send the magical creatures back home
*Print your own magic spell bookmark 

Pop-Up Pumpkin Patch 

Admission to the Pumpkin Patch is included with your annual pass and no pre-booking is required. The patch opens on 23 October with a limited number of Pumpkins to pick and purchase for £3 each on the day. These are limited so please check Preston Park's social media to check availability.

Photo opportunities and wheelbarrows available. 


A Magical Victorian Christmas at Preston Park 

Credit : Preston Park

Every weekend from Saturday 27 November - Sunday 19th December. All events (with the exception of Father Christmas visits) are available on a drop-in basis with no booking required. You do need a ticket / annual pass which can be purchased on the day. See further down this post for prices. Activities include: 

  • Christmas decorations, festive wreaths and twinkly lights on the Victorian Street 
  • Meet the reindeers 
  • Drop-in festive crafts 
  • Festive drinks from the tearoom 
  • Meet Father Christmas in his Grotto (must be pre-booked, find out more info here)

Location  

Preston Park, Museum & Grounds | A Visitor's Guide - map

Preston Park, Museum & Grounds are a 5 minute drive from Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees. It should take around an hour to drive from Newcastle and is easy to reach via either the A1 or A19. 

Use postcode TS18 3RJ. There is ample free parking with a main car park and two overflow car parks. We last visited on a sunny Sunday in the school holidays and found a spot no problem. There are disabled parking spaces available and two electric charging points too.

Preston Park is on several bus routes and Eaglescliffe Railway Station is a 12 minute walk away (see here for more information on both). 

The museum operates relaxed openings on the second Sunday of every month. You can find out more here. 

Victorian Street 

Admission to the Victorian Street is included with the annual pass. You need to walk through the museum entrance to get to it and it kind of feels like you are entering another world as you leave the adventure playground behind and step back in time. 



The cobbled street squeezes a lot in and is a nice place for a sit down or just to have a wander. Some of the Victorian shops are open and you can go inside (and sometimes purchase items too). 


The street usually has old-fashioned toys available for kids (and grown ups if they fancy) to have a go with.


There is an old fashioned Police Station which is interesting. 


But a real favourite is the traditional sweet shops where the shelves are lined with jars of treats and they are weighed in front of you using proper scales. Prices are so reasonable too with a small bag setting you back 50p. Try and bring cash if you can. 

Preston Park, Museum & Grounds | A Visitor's Guide  - sweet shop menu and prices



Preston Park, Museum & Grounds | A Visitor's Guide  - victorian toys





There is a cute traditional toy shop which sells toys and games. Pocket money toys are available too with a mini wooden train setting you back just £2.50. 


Oh and they usually have a table with produce from the garden with an honesty box too (again, bring cash). 







There is a Victorian tearoom on the street where you can buy traditional cakes and stop for a drink. Again, prices are really reasonable. Not somewhere you can purchase a full meal but there are various cakes, scones, ice creams and drinks. No booking - just turn up. There is seating inside and out. They take card payments here. 




Preston Park, Museum & Grounds | A Visitor's Guide - Victorian Tearoom menu




I especially love visiting the Victorian Street at Halloween when it is decorated with pumpkins. 


Walled Garden 

Entry to the walled garden is included with your annual pass. Exit the Victorian Street after the toilets and follow the signs. 

It is fairly large and features a wide variety of seasonal fruit, veg and flowers growing. It is a beautiful place for a walk and little ones loved running around with the butterflies during our last trip. There is seating in the garden and they usually have some kind of free trail / activity for kids running too (on our last visit it was a carrot hunt). 

I love this area of Preston Park and find it so interesting. Plus I like to compare how their veg is growing compared with mine at homes and steal a few ideas for things I might like to try at home too. They have a couple of pumpkin patches in the garden too and it was nice to see how they are coming along (better than ours at home if you are interested). 




Just beside the Walled Garden is an Orchard with picnic tables and lots of apples on the trees. You are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy here. 

Woodland Walk 

Entry to the Woodland Walk is included with your annual pass. Whenever I share info / photos from this area, I always receive messages from people saying they have missed it. This area is easy to miss so I will do my best to describe it to you. 

Exit the Victorian Street as if you are going to the Walled Garden. Have the Walled Garden in front of you and the Victorian Street behind you. Turn right and walk for 20 seconds. You will see a little sign and the entrance to the woodland walk. It is kind of between the Victorian Street and Walled Garden. 

Preston Park mud kitchen


The Woodland Walk is fab! It is a short circular route through some woodland with various activities to try along the route including animals to look out for, fun facts, tyres to climb over, horse swings, dens and a brilliant mud kitchen too. 






Last October they had a brilliant Scarecrow Trail running through the Woodland Walk too which we enjoyed (and it was included with our annual pass). 

Preston Park Scarecrow Trail


Adventure Playground & Skate Park 

The Adventure Playground and Skate Park is just by the car park and free to visit with no booking / annual pass required. It is one of the best in the North East but can get busy. 

There are plenty of picnic tables in and around the playground and you are welcome to bring a picnic or Cafe in the Park serves snacks and light bites but it can get busy (see here for opening hours/info). 

There are public toilets next to the playground and lots of green space and grass for big family picnics / kite flying / ball games etc.... Lots of groups seem to bring their own camping chairs and use the grass opposite the playground as a base for a friend / family get together or group meet up. 

Preston Park Skate Park

The playground is great for all ages. There are dedicated areas for all age / ability groups and the equipment is in good condition. There is a sand pit too. 




Preston Park Adventure Playground






Museum & Galleries 

The Museum & Galleries span two floors of Preston Park and are always worth popping into. Admission is included with your annual pass. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions (check out their website to see what's on at the moment) and the galleries include some hands on fun for kids too. 



At the moment, an 'Extraordinary People' exhibition is taking place in the gallery upstairs. It is dedicated to the stories of extraordinary people from the region and all walks of life during this exceptional time. It is an uplifting exhibition and one I would recommend catching before it ends on 3 October. 



There is also currently a space dedicated to Toys R Us downstairs and we enjoyed looking around the retro toys - especially the Troll dolls and Star Wars collection. Oh and an original Playstation. A nice walk down memory lane for kids of the 80s/90s.




The main museum and galleries share the history of Preston Hall and the people who lived here, life around the River Tees, entertainment through the years (look out for TVs and computers you may have once had at home) and more. There are sometimes trails running through the museum too (we completed a Where's Wally trail a few years ago for example). 






Walks, Grounds & Mini Train

There are various walks to enjoy around Preston Park. Walks along the river are popular and you can easily access Quarry Woods Nature Reserve which is now flooded and provides home to newts, toads and frogs alongside lots of birds and wild flowers. Access to the woods is near the car park and it is a popular place for dog walkers. 


The Teesside Small Gauge Railway is located behind the bandstand. It is operated by volunteers and seperate from the museum. Please check their Facebook page for timings.   Generally, they run on Sunday afternoons from 1pm-4pm from Easter - October Half Term (but do always check as this can change, especially if the weather is poor). Fares are £1.50 for adults and £1 for U18s, children under 3 travel free when accompanied by an adult (one adult per child). Cash only, no booking. Just turn up. 

Preston Park Train Rides
Credit | Teesside Small Gauge Railway



Events

It is always worth checking Preston Park's event page as there is always something to look forward to. During our last visit, there was a pop-up farm courtesy of Farmyard Flyer. 

This event is included with admission/annual pass and also available on Sunday 22 August 2021 and Sunday 29 August 2021. No booking - just pop along and meet / feed / stroke / learn about various farmyard animals in the orchard. We loved it and got to feed an Alpaca and stroke some rabbits as well as learn all about this beautiful pony. 



Other upcoming events include: 
  • Get Crafty every Tuesday & Thursday until 31 August. Drop in and enjoy some craft time in the museum's music room. No additional cost (included with annual pass/admission) 

 

Butterfly World


Butterfly is separate to Preston Park but as it is next door and many people will combine visits to both attractions on the same day, I wanted to include a little mention in this post. Admission is £16 for a family pass (up to 2 adults and 3 children). Kids aged 4 and under go free. Pay once and visit as many times as you like across the day. Find more info over on their Facebook page here. 

It does get busy if it is raining. 


I recommend visiting Butterfly World on arrival, enjoying Preston Park and then visiting Butterfly World again before you leave to get your money's worth. It is hot in there (a tropical environment) and it is fairly small but it a lovely place to walk around and you will be surrounded by hundreds of exotic butterflies flying all around you. I love it. 

There are Koi Carp ponds, a reptile house and meerkats too and you can see various Chrysalis' ready to hatch as well. 













Top Tips for Visiting Preston Park and Museum 


  • There is lots to see and do. I would recommend for all ages from babies up to teens. Grandparents will enjoy it too 
  • Picnics are welcome 
  • Bring a mix of cash (for the sweet shop & mini train) and card 
  • If your kids are likely to play in the mud kitchen, pack a change of clothes 
  • Bring scooters / skateboards / helmets if your kids have them for the skate park 
  • Ask staff if you can't find a particular area - they are super helpful 
  • Don't miss the cake from the Victorian Tearoom 
  • There are plenty of toilets on site 
  • Most areas are wheelchair and pushchair accessible 
  • Keep your ticket somewhere safe - it acts as your annual pass and you will want to revisit 
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1 comment

  1. When I was a kid and lived in Stockton we always used to visit Preston Park and have school trips there. It was always a fun day out. x

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