Beamish Museum : Top Tips for Visiting

This post is based on (and includes photos from) our numerous visits to Beamish over the years. Prices and information last checked in Summer 2023. Please always check with venue direct for the most up-to-date info before heading out as information can change over time. 

I do sometimes work with Beamish but this specific post is not an advert. 

Beamish Museum : Top Tips for Visiting

Beamish Museum is one of the best attractions in the North East (I would argue the world). It's an award winning open-air living museum where you can step back in time and experience history from across the North East from the 1820s to the 1950s. 

There is lots of hands on fun and walk through experiences, many special events across the year and your Beamish Unlimited Pass allows unlimited entry for a full year during normal daytime opening hours. 

Beamish is accessible to all and dog friendly. 

I have been visiting Beamish for many years now and in this post, I'm going to share 21 tips for making the most of your visit. 

Beamish Museum : 21 Top Tips for Visiting 

1 - Save 25% when you travel by bus 

Did you know, if you travel to Beamish Museum on any Go North East Bus, if you show your ticket on arrival, you'll receive a 25% discount off standard individual admission?

There are several buses which travel to Beamish Museum and drop you right outside of the museum entrance. Find out more and check timetables here. 

2 - Book ahead online to skip the admission queues 

There are three queues on arrival and plenty of staff to assist you. There's usually a short / no queue for existing passholders and then two queues for those who are purchasing a Beamish Unlimited Pass - one for those who have pre-purchased online and another for those who are just paying on the day. 

Once you have purchased a Beamish Unlimited Pass, on future visits you skip the main queues at the entrance building and just flash your pass at the side gate to gain entry. But if it's your first visit or you are renewing your pass, it's much quicker to purchase your pass online first. 

Once purchased online, you join the 'online bookings' queue and just flash the barcode in your email at the admissions desk and you'll be handed your passes. This queue is way shorter and goes down much more quickly than the main admissions queue.

In fact on our last visit, we were advised to book online whilst standing in the main queue which meant we could then switch to the 'online bookings' queue and and get pretty much straight in. It's effectively a free queue jumper and the price is exactly the same. 

3 - The Best FREE Activities 

There is so much to see and do at Beamish Museum - you really are spoilt for choice. Once you have purchased a Beamish Unlimited Pass you can visit as much as you like during daytime opening hours over the year and although there are some extras you can choose to spend a little extra on, you really don't have to and you can visit lots of times, still have loads of fun and not spend an extra penny if you wish. 

Here are a few of my personal highlights: 

1820s Pockerley 

This section takes you back into the Georgian era and you can take a Steam Train ride on the waggonway through the Georgian landscape hauled by a replica of Puffing Billy. I mean who doesn't like a steam train ride? I love that this is all included at no additional cost too. 

Steam train rides only run on selected dates so do check the Beamish website for current timings. 

They often run special events in this area too and I use the field for military displays and re-enactments. 

1900s Town 

The 1900s Town is the perfect place for a little potter with lots of little shops and houses for you to pop inside and have a nosey around. The sweet shop is not to be missed and you can visit their workshop and watch how they traditionally make some of their sweets by hand. The lovely staff are always happy to answer questions about the process and it's really interesting. 

The old Co-op is brilliant and their shelves are filled with long-forgotten items. 

The 1900s Town is a feast for the senses and as you walk past Herron's Bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread is honestly intoxicating. 

Car enthusiasts will enjoy a look around the 1900s garage and some of the vehicles from the Beamish collection and the traditional bank is a real trip down memory lane. SO different from the Monzo app I use on my phone now! It reminds me of the bank from Mary Poppins. If you're brave enough, you can visit the Victorian Dentist on Ravensworth Terrace. 

Some of the buildings are complimented with staff in traditional outfits who can share a story or two. Do ask them questions. 

1900s Pit Village 

A visit to the Old School House in the 1900s Pit Village is a must. You can pull up a seat at a traditional classroom desk, try writing on an easel, take a look at some of the Victorian teaching material and try some traditional playground games. 

The Miner's Cottages are so interesting to walk through but personally, I love their gardens and you can usually see an abundance of what looks like prize-winning fruit, veg and companion planting growing in them as well as the odd chicken clucking about. 

You can meet some pit ponies in the stables and there is often some kind of live music to enjoy in the Hetton Silver Band Hall. 

1900s Colliery 

I didn't realise that Durham was once home to 304  mines! That's a huge number and the industry is obviously a big part of our region's history. 

At Beamish, you can live through some of their experience and take a guided tour of the drift mine underground. Guided tours take place regularly across the day and are included at no additional cost. No need to book - just turn up. 

There are a few safety aspects which you have to be aware of and can check here. 

1940s Farm 

This is another of my favourite areas of Beamish. You can visit the farmhouse and learn more about wartime Britain, say hello to the ducks, geese and pigs and my husband's personal favourite - admire the tractors! 

1950s Town 

The 1950s Town is a fairly new addition to Beamish and there is still a fair bit planned in this area thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Players. 

There's loads to see and do including a Welfare Hall & Baby Clinic, Playground, Bowling Green, 1950s Houses & Police Houses and Front Street with various 1950s shops. 

As this area covers the period closest to my own personal lifetime, it feels like a real trip down memory lane and there are quite a few reminders of my own grandparent's houses here. 

You can watch my 1950s House Walkthrough Video here

1950s Farm 

A second farm has opened at Beamish. At the moment it's only open on weekends. You can see chickens and a turkey plus visit the farm house and learn about traditional farming skills.

On our most recent visit they had pretend cows you could 'milk' and hobby horses to clip clop around on. The views across Beamish are brilliant from here too. 

Transport at Beamish

Unlimited travel is included at Beamish at no additional cost and there are a few options including Vintage Buses, the Pockerley Waggonway and the Tramway. 

4 - Ride the Tramway 

The Beamish Trams run in a circular route and stop off at most of the main areas around the museum across the day. They usually run at 20 minute intervals. 

Unlimited rides are included at no additional cost - just wait at a tram stop and hop on / hop off. The drivers and conducters are all dressed in period costume which really adds to the journey. 

This is one of the best activities to do with young children who will love waving out of the window at passers by. 

5 - Then Walk around Beamish 

We tend to walk around the museum now and take a circular route. It's mostly flat and you can expect to walk 13k-15k steps and cover 3 miles across the full circular route including popping into the various areas. Now that the kids are older, I do prefer walking and Beamish is a fantastic place to get your steps in/go for a family walk with plenty to see en-route. 

There is free WiFi across most of Beamish and my tween tells me it's good for Pokemon hunting as you walk around.  

6 - Don't Bring a Picnic 

Usually I would be the first to say bring a picnic to save a bit of cash (and of course you can do this) but honestly the food is so good here that it would be shame to miss out.

Their traditional fish and chips are the best you'll ever have, the homemade gingerbread from the bakery is divine, the ice creams are too good to resist and of course, there is the traditional sweet shop too (Rhubarb and Custards for me).

There's lots of choice and yes, there are queues but if you plan a later lunch, they do go down fairly quickly and you will miss the biggest crowds. 

I do recommend bringing a flask of coffee to enjoy with your cakes from the bakery (saves time!) and a water bottle - Beamish is part of the free water refill scheme. 

There is nearly always a bit of a queue for the traditional sweet shop but it's very well managed and goes down super quickly. You can pick up a leaflet in the queue which lists items for sale and prices so by the time you get to the counter, there's no dithering. 

If you don't want to / are unable to queue, there are pop up market stalls in the town and they sell pre-bagged sweets with no need to queue. 

Generally, the food venues with the shortest / no queues are John's Cafe (1950s Town), British Kitchen (1940s Farm) and Sinkers' Bait Cabin (1900s Pit Village). There is plenty of picnic tables and seating and some pop up stalls selling ice creams / drinks on busier days too. 

7 - Tips for Bringing Your Dog 

Beamish Museum is one of our favourite places to take Fozzy. He loves it! Pet dogs are welcome on leads in the following areas: 

  • Museum Grounds 
  • Transport (lower deck at conductor's discretion)
  • 1820s Waggonway & Shed
  • 1900s Colliery Yard 
  • Rowley Station 
  • The Sun Inn Pub 
  • Entrance Building 

There is usually some form of covered outdoor seating somewhere too - ask on arrival for their current locations. 

There are plenty of dog water bowls dotted around the museum. 

8 - Don't Try & See Everything at Once 

This is something I'm very guilty of - trying to cram every area into every visit. Although doable, it is tricky to see and appreciate everything Beamish has to offer in one day. 

Instead, I'd recommend making use of your Beamish Unlimited Pass and planning several trips across the year, focussing on a few different areas on each visit. You'll be much less rushed and it won't cost you anymore. 

9 - Don't Miss the Playground 

You'll find a playground next to the Welfare Hall in the 1950s area. It's traditional in style and a lovely place to let the kids have fun while you take a rest. There is a roundabout suitable for wheelchairs and an accessible swing too. 

10 - Optional Extras to Budget For 

As mentioned earlier, it is perfectly possible to visit Beamish and not spend any further £ but there are a few optional extras you may wish to budget for. Card/Contactless payments are preferred. 
  • Sweets & Food 
  • Fairground Rides - Tokens are £2.50 each or 5 for £10. Each ride is one token 
  • Mini Golf - £2.50 per person (under 5s are free) 
  • Gift Shop 
  • 1950s Hairdressers - £5 per hairstyle 

We love visiting the funfair and if you visit on a nice day, it's definitely worth the extra spend. The atmosphere is fab here. If you don't wish to visit the funfair / are on a strict budget, you can avoid this area with a bit of pre-planning (check the map to see how). 

11 - Tips for Wheelchair Users 

Beamish is an accessible attraction and although some of the historic buildings are not accessible, it is certainly possible for wheelchair users to enjoy a day out here.

There is an on call Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (above) - just let any member of staff know you need to use it and they'll call it for you. There is also free wheelchair hire, accessible parking, multiple accessible toilets (including a changing places toilet) and carers go free. 

The 1950s Playground includes an accessible swing and a roundabout suitable for wheelchair users. 

You can bring your own mobilty scooter or hire one from the museum for £12 (+£25 refundable deposit). 

For visitors with sensory needs, sensory bags and inclusive trails are available. 

It is clear to me that Beamish has accessibilty at the forefront of everything they do. For example they have included wheelchair lifts in the new 1950s houses so wheelchair users can experience the first floor rather than being limited to the ground floor and the new playground features accessible play equipment.

I feel like they do everything they can to make the attraction accessible to all and I'm sure if you have any suggestions on how they can improve further, they'd love to hear from you. 

Read more about access at Beamish here: Accessibility at Beamish 

12 - Arrive Early or Late

Beamish can get busy, especially on event days and if you'd like to beat the crowds I recommend arriving for opening time or visiting later in the afternoon. 

13 - Visit Both With & Without the Kids 

In the past, we have always visited Beamish with our children and made a full family day of it. Quite often we visit with extended family too. 

But more recently, we have tried to make the most of our Beamish Unlimited Pass and have visited for a little date day without the kids too.

Beamish is perfect for a dog walk / pint in the Sun Inn and if you visit on a weekday in term time, you can often have many areas to yourself (although watch out for school trips).

14 - Sensory Bags,  Quiet Spaces & Max Card Discount 

Beamish Museum has their own access panel who have helped to put together these sensory bags. They can be collected at the museum entrance for a £10 refundable deposit. Each bag contains headphones, sensory book, lavender bag, football rattle, Beamish Top Trumps and Jacob's Ladder. 

Max Card Holders can receive a 25% discount on individual Beamish Unlimited Passes - see here for t&cs / more info. 

Beamish can get busy, especially in the 1950s Town, 1900s Town and 1900s Pit Village. There are plenty of places where you can escape for some peace and quiet though. I generally find the 1940s farm to be pretty peaceful and the grass / picnic tables just behind the funfair provide lots of space with hardly anyone else about. 

It's worth mentioning that most of the staff/volunteers at Beamish are Dementia Friends trained and the cottage in the 1940s Farm often hosts activities for people living with dementia and their families. 

15 - Check Social Media / Opening Times / Events Before Visiting 

There are so many events that take place at Beamish across the year. Their schedule is jam packed and there is something for everyone from car shows and military displays to flower shows, harvest festivals, christmas decorations, Twelfth Night celebrations, steam events and rallies, horse shows, regular band and singing performances, baby clinics, baking demonstrations and suffragette marches. 

Do make notes in your diary of events taking place across the year so you don't forget. 

More recently they have really diversified their events offering and you can expect UFO clubs and Mr Gay Europe too. 

Sometimes on special event days, the museum needs to temporarily close their car park when it reaches capacity. If they need to do this, they generally put a post out on social media so do check before visiting. 

16 - Chat to the Volunteers 

The volunteers are fantastic and if you want to get the most from your day, ask them about what they're doing. Don't by shy! Their stories and knowledge are fantastic. 

17 - Group Discounts are Available 

If you're visiting as part of a group, do enquire before your visit as group discounts are available. 

18 - Recommended Places for Dinner Nearby 

There are quite a few options nearby. I have personally enjoyed meals at The Stables at Beamish Hall, South Causey Inn, the Black Horse Beamish, the King's Head Lanchester and Beamish Park. All very good options but I think Sunday Lunch at Beamish Park is the best. 

The Shepherd & Shepherdess Pub is just outside of the museum and although I haven't visited myself, it does receive good reviews. 

On our most recent trip, we stopped at Cafe Lutz in Whickham which was less than a 15 minute drive from the museum and ideal if you're travelling home North. Sunday lunch is a bargain at £9/£13! Check out our video review here. 

19 - Under 5s Go Free 

Under 5s love a day out at Beamish - travelling on buses and trams, meeting farm animals, saying hello to the volunteers, enjoying an ice cream, playing in the's toddler heaven! Beamish is accessible for pushchairs and prams too. The best part is, under 5s are admitted free of charge. 

20 - Don't Miss Christmas at Beamish 

Christmas is my favourite time of year to visit Beamish.Visiting Beamish during the day at Beamish is included with your Beamish Unlimited Pass at no additional cost. 

The atmosphere is just so festive with lots of decorations, carol singing, festive treats for sale and Santa even drives around the museum on selected dates in his vintage car and gives everyone a wave as he passes. 

We love Elf Woods and spotting the mischevious elves around the museum. You're never too old! A festive trip to Beamish is an excellent option for tricky teens who may have outgrown other Christmas events. Even they will be tempted with a ride on the tram, the christmas lights and a festive hot chocolate. 

21 - Always Pick Up a Map 

Or take a photo of a map and ask on arrival about special events taking place that day or any new areas which have recently opened. Even if you're a regular visitor, there is nearly always something new to see. 

Find out more about visiting Beamish here:


1 comment

  1. I haven't been to Beamish since I was at school and we went on trips. It still looks as wonderful as ever! x


© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig