25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England

This post will share 25 FREE days out across North East England and was published in April 2024.

Please always check with venues direct for the most up to date information and opening hours before heading out. 

Public transport info was checked in April 2024 but timetables do change. Please either check a venue's website for current travel info or use Rome2Rio to plan your route before checking timetables direct with providers. 

This post shares 25 FREE indoor days out across North East England, ideal for a rainy day. Of course there is nothing wrong with wrapping up and exploring the great outdoors in bad weather too, if that's more your cup of tea, you might like one of the following posts: 

If you don't mind spending a bit of cash, you might also like to check out my ultimate North East Rainy Days post which shares over 100 ideas for indoor days out across the region. I have mini rainy day guides for Northumberland and Consett too

Or how about swimming? Not free but usually a good low-cost option that will keep the kids happy. Here's our guide to the best swimming pools in the North East. 

Free Rainy Days Out in Northumberland 

Barter Books 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - barter books

Barter Books is a cosy place to spend an hour or so. Bring in some of your old books and barter them for new (to-you) books, curl up by the fire and read and don't miss the fantastic train which runs along the top of the bookcases.

  • Public transport info: Several buses stop in Alnwick Town Centre including X15, X18 & X20

  • Parking: FREE onsite car park  NE66 2NP or alternative parking in Alnwick Town Centre 

  • Website: https://www.barterbooks.co.uk/

  • Read our Full Blog Review: Barter Books Review 

Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - morpeth chantry museum

This is only a small museum but it's interesting to learn about the history of Northumberland pipes and see some of the variations up close. 

  • Public transport info: A short walk from Morpeth Train Station & Bus Station (buses include X11, X14, X15, X18 and 43

  • Parking: Available in Morpeth Town Centre. I recommend Stanley Terrace North which has 350 spaces (NE61 1PA) or Newmarket East which has 106 spaces (NE61 1PR)

  • Website: https://museumsnorthumberland.org.uk/morpeth-chantry-bagpipe-museum/

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - the sill

The Sill is a fantastic museum in the heart of Northumberland National Park. The permanent landscape exhibition is filled with hands on fun and sensory activities. We love the sand pit where you can create your own landscapes. There's usually a temporary exhibition too so always something new to see. 

Grace Darling Museum 

This small museum in Bamburgh shares the incredible story of Grace Darling. 

Free Rainy Days Out in Gateshead 

IKEA SmaLand 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - IKEA SmaLand

Did you know there is a free supervised soft play in IKEA? It's first come, first served and does get busy on rainy days but what a fab resource! 

Shipley Art Gallery 

This is a free art gallery in Gateshead with a collection of fine art, craft and design. 

  • Public transport info: Several buses stop close by including the 21 Angel and 52. Gateshead Interchange Metro Station is a 20 minute walk. 

  • Parking: Limited free street parking is available outside of the gallery NE8 4JB

  • Website: https://shipleyartgallery.org.uk/


25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - baltic

We love the Baltic! It's a varied day out with fun glass lifts to ride, viewing platforms with incredible views, sensory play areas, interesting exhibitions and craft activities. You can pick up FREE tea, coffee and juice in Baltic Front Room too. 

Free Rainy Days Out in Newcastle 

Seven Stories 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - seven stories

Seven Stories features seven floors of interactive fun for families with a focus on stories. Expect colourful and engaging exhibitions, to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog, books to read, puppet play, dress up, crafts and more. 

  • Public transport info: Manors Metro is around a 15 minute walk away, several buses stop close by including the 22 and Q3. It's a nice walk along the Quayside from Central Newcastle. 

  • Parking: We usually park in Ouseburn Central (NE6 1LH) which has 57 spaces and is just behind Seven Stories. Alternatively, there is usually ample parking at Spiller's Quay (NE6 1BU) around a 10 minute walk away. Both car parks are paid.

  • Website: https://www.sevenstories.org.uk/

  • Read our Full Blog Review: Seven Stories Review 

Discovery Museum

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - discovery museum

Discovery Museum is a brilliant free museum with a Science Maze filled with interactive experiments to try. There's also an interesting local history section, museum trails, a huge boat, small play area for under 5s and more. 

  • Public transport info: Newcastle Central Station (for trains/Metro/buses) is a short walk from the museum 

  • Parking: There is limited street parking directly outside of the museum. I prefer Grainger Town Multi Story (NE1 4AU) or Times Square Multi Story (NE1 4AD) which are both a short walk away. 

  • Website: https://discoverymuseum.org.uk/

  • Read our Full Blog Review: Discovery Museum Review 

Laing Art Gallery 

The Laing Art Gallery is in the heart of Newcastle City Centre. You'll find a range of free-to-visit exhibitions (as well as some paid temp exhibitions) as well as a small free circus-themed play area for under 5s. 
  • Public transport info: The gallery is a short walk from Haymarket/ Monument Metro Station and Haymarket Bus Station.

  • Parking: Saville Place Car Park (NE1 8AG) or the NCP Car Park on John Dobson Street (NE1 8HL)

  • Website: https://laingartgallery.org.uk/

Lit & Phil / The Common Room

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - the common room

Located next to each other and both stunning and important historical buildings, the Lit and Phil is the most incredible library - in fact it's the largest independent library outside of London. 

The Common Room is an important heritage venue and home to the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. You'll find changing STEM exhibitions inside. 

Public transport info: Both are super close to Newcastle Central Station (for trains / Metro / buses) 

Great North Museum 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - great north museum

The Great North Museum is a well-loved free-entry venue with an interesting permanent collection ranging from dinosaurs and elephants to mummies and Hadrian's Wall. There's usually an interesting temp exhibition upstairs and a play space for under 5s too. 

The Farrell Centre 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - the farrell centre

Just across from Great North Museum, you'll find the Farrell Centre. It's focus is architecture and town planning which is showcased through engaging exhibitions. It's a fun place for kids with FREE LEGO build areas, a small soft play block area, craft activities and more. 
  • Public transport info: Haymarket Metro and Bus Station are a short walk away 

  • Parking: Claremont Road Car Park is the closest (NE2 4AA)

  • Website: https://www.farrellcentre.org.uk/

Free Rainy Days Out in Sunderland 

Sunderland Winter Gardens & Museum 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - sunderland museum and winter gardens

We were really impressed with a recent visit to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. There is LOADS to see from gems and fossils to recreations of your bedroom in the 80s, dinosaurs and mining. There's usually a temporary exhibition too and an on-site library. 

National Glass Centre 

The National Glass Centre is at risk of closure by 2026 so visit while you can! This National museum shares the history and design of glass with regular glass blowing demos, exhibitions and free activities. 

Free Rainy Days Out in Teesside 

Dorman Museum 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - Dorman Museum

The Dorman Museum is closed until Spring 2024. Please check their page for an opening date. 

This museum is fantastic with dinosaurs, fossils planets, dress up, an old town and more. If you haven't been before I'd definitely recommend. 

Mima Art Gallery 

The Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art showcases a range of modern art exhibitions with an art trolley for kids available on Saturdays. 
  • Public transport info: Located in Middlesbrough Town Centre and a 10 minute walk from the town's bus and train stations 

  • Parking: Several car parks in the town centre (including the Mima Car Park - TS1 2AZ)

  • Website: https://mima.art/

Kirkleatham Museum 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - Kirkleatham Museum

This is a lovely museum with a range of child-friendly exhibitions including the Saxon Princess, First World War & Steel Making. There are regular visiting exhibitions too. 

Free Rainy Days Out in North Tyneside 

Stephenson Railway Museum 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - Stephenson Railway Museum

This museum is fab for kids who love trains - you can see a variety of engines and carriages throughout the years and enjoy some train-themed play and crafts too.

Please note, the museum is free admission. Train rides are chargeable. 

Free Rainy Days Out in South Shields 

The Word 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England- The Word South Shields

We LOVE the Word. There are changing exhibitions which are always bright and fun for kids as well as free telescopes you can use to look out over the Tyne, interactive digital tables, digital art stations, craft areas and lots of books to enjoy too. 
  • Public transport info: The Shields ferry stops just outside and South Shields Interchange is a short walk away (for buses and Metro)

  • Parking: There is an on-site car park (free with time restrictions and you need a ticket - NE33 1JF)

  • Website: https://theworduk.org/

South Shields Museum & Animal Corner

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - SOuth Shields Museum & Art Gallery

South Shields Museum is definitely worth a visit. You'll see a giant lion, some traditional seaside memorabilia, temporary exhibitions AND a creepy crawly/reptile corner which is home to real animals. 

Free Rainy Days Out in Durham 

Durham Cathedral

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - Durham Cathedral

Although Durham Cathedral is a free entry venue, they do request a £5 donation from those who are able to. 

Durham Cathedral is a stunning building and they are super child-friendly with trails and activities regularly available. There is the Harry Potter connection too (you can see the filming location) and during school holidays, the cafe usually runs a kids eat free deal. 

  • Public transport info: Durham Cathedral Bus stops outside of the Cathedral and stops at the Train Station and Market Place. 

  • Parking: There is no on-site parking. Park in Durham City and walk up to the Cathedral or catch the Cathedral bus. I also recommend the Park+Ride scheme and use Belmont myself (DH1 1SR). Park & Ride users can take the Cathedral Bus for free 

  • Website: https://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/

Museum of Archaeology / Palace Green 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - Palace Green

This place is just next to Durham Cathedral but often missed. Inside you'll find a range of interesting exhibitions and galleries including Roman and Medieval artefacts, objects from Ancient Greece and even some pre-historic weapons and tools. 

The libraries are beautiful too and worth a visit.

Oriental Museum Durham 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - Oriental Museum Durham

Our writer Gaia shared a glowing review of Oriental Museum Durham which is filled with activities for children ranging from giant games to LEGO, trails and crafts. The museum shares collections from Ancient Egypt to modern China and is devoted to the cultures of North Africa and Asia.

There are regular free additional activities and events at the museum too so do check out their what's on page. 

Theatre Hullabaloo Sensory Play 

Theatre Hullabaloo hosts a range of low-cost events but is also home to a lovely sensory play area which changes themes regularly. At the moment, it's Zen Garden which is a play adventure inspired by peace and calm of the natural world.

Expect bamboo percussion instruments, an interactive dancing screen, sand pattern play and more. This theme ends on 1 June 2024 but will be replaced by something similar - see their website (under 'things to do') for up-to-date info.
  • Public transport info: Theatre Hullabaloo is located in Darlington Town Centre and accessible by train and bus

  • Parking: There is no on-site car park. Park Place West Car Park is a 6 minute walk away (DL1 1AA) and alternative parking is available in Darlington 

  • Website: https://www.theatrehullabaloo.org.uk/

Locomotion Shildon 

25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England - locomotion shildon

Locomotion Shildon is a fairly large museum housing lots of trains, engines and carriages from across the years. There are play trains, you can climb aboard some of the vehicles and there are often additional free activities too (especially in school hols). 

If your children love trains, you have to visit! 

The museum is free to visit but there is a small charge for optional train rides on selected dates. 
  • Public transport info: The museum is a 3 minute walk from Shildon Railway Station and Bus #1 (from Darlington) and #5 (from Bishop Auckland) stop just outside of the museum. 
  • Parking: Free on-site car park (DL4 2RE)

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25 FREE Days Out for Rainy Days in North East England


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