Newcastle has gained itself a bit of a bad reputation of late (yeah well done Geordie Shore!) meaning it’s not exactly top of the list when planning a family holiday. However, having just come back from a 2 week UK road trip, which included a couple of days in Newcastle, I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t been, then you’re missing out!
Where to Stay
Like most big city’s, Newcastle is a hive of activity and whilst that’s great in the daytime, it’s maybe not so good when you’re trying to get the little ones settled down for the night. In all honesty if you want total quiet you’re best off staying outside of the city centre or get yourself some ear plugs pronto! We stayed in a family room in a hotel located right next to the Central Station, which was obviously noisy. However, the hotel reception staff were great and made sure we were in a room at the very top of the building so noise was kept to a minimum. It’s always worth phoning ahead to find out where your room is likely to be situated, but to be honest most hotels are aware that families require rooms away from the street or bar areas.
In terms of the different city locations to stay in, here are your choices:
- Quayside – swanky, luxury, central location.
- Westgate Road – mixture of chic boutique and trusted chains.
- Jesmond – cheap and cheerful, does what you need it to do.
- Ouseburn – popular with students and young professionals.
Getting Around Newcastle
Newcastle has a great transport system so getting around is easy. Take your pick from the Metro, train or bus, but in my opinion by far the best way to get around is to explore the city on foot. If your kids aren’t the walking type, and let’s face it not many of them are when they think there’s another option, help things go a bit more smoothly by downloading a walking activity sheet. We found a great one online that took us all long the Quayside hunting for clues and meant we saw and discovered things that we definitely wouldn’t have found had we just been walking around willy nilly. Plus walking means free… and we love the free stuff right!?!
Where to Eat in Newcastle
As with any city, there are plenty of places to eat in Newcastle and it caters for even the fussiest of eaters. While we were there we ate out at Las Iguanas and Zizzi’s and had exceptional meals and service at both. You can’t really go wrong with a chain restaurant, especially when they have an extensive kids menu, a kids activity pack to keep them busy while the adults get to indulge in some actual adult conversation for once, and if there’s a cocktail menu with 2 for 1 cocktails as well, then that’s two happy adults right there! Grey Street is the place to go for restaurants, just remember to always book during the busy times and accept that if you are out late then yes you may witness some drunken goings on and you’ll likely have to play ‘dodge the dropped kebab’ on your way back to where you’re staying.
What to Do in Newcastle
As someone who is a self confessed control freak, I am all about the planning and the best way to save money is by booking activities or entrance tickets in advance. Groupon’s latest deals on top activities in Newcastle will really help out when you’re at the planning stage and will also give you a much wider idea of the type of activities available.
You really don’t need to spend a fortune when it comes to entertaining the kids, and often it is the simple things that are enjoyed the most. We loved the area along the Quayside and whether it’s trying out some of the outdoor gym equipment, hopping back and forth over the many bridges that span the River Tyne, watching the kittiwakes as they swoop over the city, or finding the 33 celebrity plaques along the so-called Newcastle and Gateshead walk of fame, there are plenty of things you can do as a family that will get you moving and away from the screens for a few hours.
If you love art then a stop off at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is an absolute must. Based in the old Baltic Flour Mill on the Gateshead side of the Tyne, this 6 storey art gallery is free to get into (hooray!) and is a great introduction to modern art for kids. There’s plenty of space for them to interact with the art and burn off a bit of steam in the process, plus there’s a viewing platform to look out across the city and you’ll see the kittiwakes nesting too. We went during the Easter holidays and there was a fabulous interactive exhibition which involved kids going mental with coloured tape and paper in a giant hall. Imagine throwing Mr Tumble and Mr Maker into a room and challenging them to a ‘tape off’ and you’ll have some idea as to what this room looked like. The kids loved it!
Another freebie must see, especially if you are into your art, is a trip out to see the Angel of the North. We stopped off there as we were leaving the city to head to our next destination and it truly is one of those bucketlist sights that needs to be seen.
So as you can see, Newcastle is way more than lashed up lads and scantily clad lasses larging it up on the toon. It’s a city of culture, of bridges, a hive of activity and the home of one of the friendliest, most comforting accents you’ll ever hear.
You can find out where else we stayed on our UK road trip in My A to Z Guide To Surviving A UK Road Trip With Kids.