3 Day Itinerary For A Family Friendly Mini Break in Durham, UK

I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to be travelling again! With so much change to overseas travel restrictions, it feels like UK staycations are the way to go this summer. We recently planned a family friendly Durham mini break, with help from the new This is Durham inspiration hub. The hub is full of inspiration for a Durham staycation and lets you book experiences and accommodation all in one place - making the planning process a lot more enjoyable! 

Our Durham mini break included a 2 night stay at the quirky and child-friendly South Causey Inn, but you could definitely extend this to 3 or 4 nights and follow the same itinerary. Below is a detailed run down of our Durham itinerary, which features brilliant bookable experiences including Beamish, The Living Museum of the North and Adventure Valley. Plan your own trip to Durham using this itinerary and I guarantee it will be an experience both you and your kids will love.

This post has been sponsored by This is Durham. All views are my own.

A 3 day itinerary for a family friendly Durham mini break

Day 1 - Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Beamish Museum is a world famous open air museum, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s and 1950s. Costumed staff play different characters and each have roles that bring history to life in the most hands-on and immersive way. It’s the closest thing to stepping back in time and is a truly magical experience for both adults and children. It’s located near the village of Stanley which is a 22 minute drive from Durham city centre.

Beamish Museum spreads over 300 acres of beautiful Durham countryside, so you need to allow a full day to explore it all. The best tip I can give for visiting Beamish Museum is to visit the 1900’s Town as soon as you arrive and explore all the shops and houses. This is the most popular and busy area of Beamish Museum and is much quieter in the mornings. By the afternoon the town is busier and you may have to queue to go into the most popular shops and attractions. 

Whilst younger children won’t understand the concept of ‘going back in time’, there is still a lot for them to experience including seeing the animals at Home Farm, catching an old fashioned open top bus and visiting the traditional fun fair complete with helter skelter and carousel. There is plenty of open space for them to run around in and it all feels very safe.

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 for Beamish Museum 

Day 2 - Adventure Valley

Adventure Valley is the North East’s biggest family adventure park, packed with over 50 indoor and outdoor attractions. Set in a beautiful open valley, kids are free to safely run wild and explore everything there is to offer including activities, shows, animal zones, indoor soft play and the new for 2021 train ride. It’s a 15 minute drive from Durham city centre.

Adventure Valley caters for children of all ages and there was a huge amount of age-appropriate things for Theo at age 2.5. We visited on a gorgeous sunny day, so we spent most of the time outdoors in the valley exploring all the slides and play areas. Theo loved the course of wobbly bridges and the new for 2021 train ride.

We stopped for lunch at Cafe Italia in the indoor PlayTown, which serves lots of child-friendly meals and snacks as well as pizzas and all the usual cafe food. It’s not gastro food but it’s quick and convenient. There are also lots of benches around if you prefer to bring a picnic.

As parents, we found Adventure Valley to be a really fun and easy day out as Theo was so entertained by everything there. We enjoyed following him around, letting him explore everything and have new experiences (such as the giant inflatable pillows). You could spend anything from half a day to a full day here, depending on the stamina of your little ones! We spent about 5 hours there.

If you have young children, Adventure Valley is a must for your Durham mini break.

Book tickets for Adventure Valley 

Day 3 - Seaham Beach

For the final day of our Durham mini break, we visited Seaham Beach which provided a nice contrast after two busy days at Beamish and Adventure Valley. Seaham beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in Durham and is best known for its colourful glass pebbles. We saw lots of the pebbles ourselves and noticed some ‘beachcombers’ collecting pebbles from the sand.  Seaham beach is a 30 minute drive from Durham city centre.

I recommend parking for free at Seaham Hall Beach Car Park (post code SR7 7AF). Here you’ll find the North Beach Coffee Bar which has toilet facilities and sells great ice cream. There are no toilets or cafes on the beach so it’s worth getting your refreshments and using the loo here before you go down to the beach. From this car park there are steps that go directly down to Seaham beach. Easy peasy.

Seaham beach has some stunning coastline and is a mixture of sand and pebbles, which is ideal for kids as it means they can build sand castles and collect the pebbles (one of Theo’s favourite things to do!).

When we arrived I couldn’t believe how calm and clear the water is. I have recently got into cold water swimming for the mental and physical benefits, and when I saw the water at Seaham beach I knew I had to get in and go for a swim! It was such an invigorating experience that I’d love to do again soon. Theo watched on in confusion and enjoyed paddling on the shoreline.

After spending about 3 hours at the beach we ventured into Seaham town. There is not a huge amount of things to do here but there's Lickety Split (a fun 1950s themed ice cream parlour) and Downeys does the best fish and chips in town (recommended to us by a local). Both establishments are located on North Terrace.

Where to Stay: The South Causey Inn

We spent 2 nights at the brilliant South Causey Inn, which I would definitely recommend, especially as it’s a 5 minute drive from Beamish Museum. The hotel is a really vibrant and popular place with locals as well as guests. There are lots of different themed rooms, some with hot tubs and outdoor spaces. We were given a courtyard family room, which meant that Theo had his own bedroom area that we could close off with a heavy curtain. The food at the South Causey in is brilliant and it’s dog and child friendly.

Whilst the rest of the UK seems to be flocking to the South coast, I was very happy to stay up North and discover more of the incredible county of Durham.

Are you planning a Durham mini break? Have you visited Durham before? If you enjoyed this post or have any questions about visiting Durham, please leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x

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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.

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