The Ultimate Day out in Durham; Visiting Beamish Museum

A definite highlight of our recent Durham staycation was our visit to Beamish - The Living Museum of the North. I had visited Beamish as a child with my family, and it was so special to be able to return, now as an adult with a family of my own. Beamish Museum is a world famous open air museum in Durham, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s and 1950s. I've put together this Beamish Museum guide to help you plan your own visit to one of the most popular attraction in Durham.

History is brought to life at Beamish Museum with costumed characters and interactive experiences, such as catching the traditional open-top bus into town and buying treats in the old-fashioned sweet shop. It’s definitely the closest thing you can get to stepping back in time and a great way to make history fun for young ones. Beamish is located close to the village of Stanley in Durham.

This Beamish Museum Guide has been sponsored by This is Durham. All views are my own.

Beamish Museum Guide

Beamish Museum spans over 300 acres of peaceful countryside, so you can expect to get plenty of steps in during your day out. It’s definitely a full day out experience and there is plenty of ground to cover. However, a ‘hop on hop off’ bus route is in operation all day which is handy and a really fun part of the whole Beamish experience. As soon as we got through the entrance hall, we caught the bus to the 1900’s town where we started our day. This was a really good place to start as it was nice and quiet and we got to explore all the shops with barely any other visitors there.

The main areas of Beamish Museum are the 1900s Town, the 1900s Colliery, the 1900s Pit Village, the 1820s Colliery, the 1940s Farm, the 1950s Welfare Hall and Rowley train station (which often runs steam engine rides at weekends and bank holidays).

Paying for admission once to Beamish Museum means you can visit for FREE for a whole year, and kids under 5 get free admission. It’s £19.50 for adults and £11.50 for children aged 5-16. Book tickets to Beamish Museum and other bookable experiences in Durham via the This is Durham hub. It’s a great place to start planning and booking your next Durham staycation!

A Beamish Highlight: The 1900s Town

I personally think that the 1900s town is the highlight of Beamish Museum. Exploring all the shops and houses is a totally magical experience, especially thanks to the real characters who bring it to life. Watch fresh bread being made in Herron’s Bakery, visit the residents of Ravensworth Terrace, browse the grocery, drapery and hardware shops and pop in for a pint or a snack at the Sun Inn. You can even visit the dentist and see how teeth were pulled out in the 1900s!

Don’t Miss: The Traditional Fun Fair

A great addition to Beamish Museum is the traditional fun fair. If you’re visiting with young children, this area is sure to surprise and delight. My son Theo is 2.5 years old and he absolutely loved going on the traditional helter skelter and carousel ride. Tokens for the rides can be purchased within the fair. Please note the fun fair is only open during the summer months.

Where to Eat

One of the best places to stop for lunch at Beamish Museum is the Tea Room at the 1900s Town, which serves tasty and traditional food including soups, sandwiches, scones, cakes and hot dishes such as rarebit. This is where we ate during our recent visit to Beamish which was a lovely experience. Another option is Davy’s Fish and Chips which is located in the 1900s Pit Village. There are other catering options spread around Beamish Museum, but they are all currently for takeaway only. You can also bring a picnic from home.

Beamish Museum fairground merry go round

The Travelista’s Top Tips for visiting Beamish Museum

  • Start your day out in the 1900’s town to avoid the potentially busier afternoons
  • Get chatting to the locals! Everyone who works is Beamish is incredibly friendly and they’re trained to tell you about the history of each area
  • Wear comfortable shoes - you’ll be doing lots of walking
  • The best place to enjoy a picnic is in Redman Park in the 1900s town
  • There are pram-friendly paths all the way around Beamish Museum
  • Pay for admission once and visit for FREE for a whole year

A visit to Beamish Museum is an absolute must for any Durham mini break or staycation and is a fascinating experience for both adults and children alike. I can’t wait to return again when Theo is a little older so he can truly appreciate the magic of going back in time.

Book tickets for Beamish Museum

Have you visited Beamish Museum before or are you planning an upcoming visit? If you found this Beamish Museum guide helpful or have any questions, please leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.


  • It’s been way too long since I visited Beamish. I was at school last time I went. Sounds like a good idea for a day out.

    • Thanks Stuart. This was my first time visiting Beamish since I was also a child and it was equally as enjoyable! I loved noticing things frrom my childhood memories and also finding new things.

Leave a comment

Travelista is an online publication and community for the adventurous modern woman covering travel, style, family, home, career and wellbeing.