Aside from shopping, Middlesbrough has lots of great hidden gem destinations for family days out. From museums and parks..to forests and nature reserves 🙂
Dorman Museum – (free for anyone to visit)
Earth in Space
This unusual gallery unashamedly sets out to visually excite the visitor. Containing a full size dinosaur model, human skulls, a mineral mine, audio-visual presentation and large display objects around a spaceship-like table under a starry sky it also has a serious purpose.
The gallery attempts to weld a number of seemingly disparate themes together to make us think about our place in the universe.
Interpretative themes explored include the origin of the universe, the formation of planet Earth; comets, asteroids and meteorites; rocks & minerals; evolution & extinction; geological time; and local geology.
Of particular interest are displays of extinct life, local fossils, rocks and minerals from around the world, one of the largest Ichthyosaur heads ever found and a set of meteorite slices including a piece of rock thought to come from Mars!
H2O is a discovery gallery where visitors are encouraged to interact with objects, equipment and live specimens all connected in some way to the theme of water.Examine sea life under a microscope. Watch a video of life on a coral reef or offshore at Redcar. Pump up the bubble machine and create your own shining silver bubbles. Try to beat the water pressure pipe. Water the plants using an Archimedes Screw. Try to name all the objects and specimens on display. Create electricity with the water wheel or try to load the ship without tipping it over.
These are just some of the activities available within H2O.
But watch out for the Blue Shark!
RSPB Saltholm Wildlife Park – (Free to visit but donations welcome)
If you’re new to birdwatching, Saltholme is the perfect place to start. These family-friendly wetlands have a helpful visitor’s centre, hides and screens which let you get up close to water rail, yellow wagtails and terns, plus a family discovery zone, cafe, play area and accessible trails.
Four wildlife viewing hides, along with viewing screens and the viewing gallery in the visitor centre, to help you get closer to the wildlife which calls Saltholme home. Still wanting more? From early spring to mid-summer all manner of plants and flowers bloom in the walled garden, designed by celebrity gardener Chris Beardshaw.
Check out their trail guide here!
Stewart Park – (Free open air park)
Stewart Park covers approximately 120 acres and consists both of mature woodland and arboretum on the southern side, and open parkland on the northern side. Two sets of lakes provide a habitat for our water fowl.
There’s also a pets corner with many types of domesticated animals, fallow deer, highland cattle, llamas and goats.
The park also features a new children’s play area, trim trail, outdoor table tennis and mini golf.
Nature, heritage, orienteering and tree trails
Captain Cook Birthplace Museum – (1 child free per paying adult with Max Card)
The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum is housed in a purpose-built building close to the granite urn marking the site of Cook’s birthplace cottage in Stewart Park, Marton.
The museum commemorates the life and achievements of Captain Cook, the world’s most famous navigator and tells his story through themed display galleries, temporary exhibitions, associated activities and events and a lively education programme.
There is full disabled access throughout and additional facilities such as the Discovery Room (education and activities), the Endeavour Room (meetings and events), the Resolution Resources Room (archive and research), gift/book shop, and a café.
Preston Park Museum – (Adult £2.50, Child/Concession £1.50, Family (2A+4C) £5)
Step over our clock ticking backwards and enter a time gone by. Experience what life was like in 1895 as you take a stroll down our replica Victorian Street. Meet our costumed interpreters and sample delicious cakes in our traditional tearoom.
Step back a hundred years into our very own Victorian Winter Garden, a unique and beautiful tropical paradise. The Winter Garden was added to the Georgian Hall in around 1890, a celebration of the Victorian fashion for indoor gardens and exotic planting. Sit in the shade of the majestic Trachycarpus palm or watch the sun setting across the park from the ideal viewpoint.
The Halls and its people
Explore the history and discover the ambitions of the two families that made the Hall what it is today- the Fowlers (Georgian era) and the Ropners (Victorian era).
Collectors and collecting
Celebrating the museum’s exciting and varied collection, highlights include Colonel Spence’s ‘Weapons Explosion’, plus the Clephan and Ions Collection.
Ormesby Hall – (National Trust – Adult £5.40, Child £2.70, £13.50 family)
Family home with beautiful formal gardens, surrounded by sprawling parkland
Nestled in Middlesbrough is the green oasis of Ormesby Hall, once home to the Pennyman family. This classic Georgian mansion is surrounded by 250 acres of parkland and farmland which offer year round seasonal walks with a colourful Victorian formal garden accompanying the mansion.
Uncover the family’s stories from ‘wicked’ Sir James to Colonel Jim, survivor of the First World War, and the theatrical exploits of his wife Ruth. Then experience the life of a Victorian servant and explore the Laundry and Kitchen.
Ormesby Hall also has a yearly events programme and provides a unique venue for weddings and functions.
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – (Free for anyone to visit)
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, part of Teesside University, is moving forward with a civic agenda, to reconnect art with its social function and promote art as a tool for changing the world. With this vision, we see ourselves as a ‘useful’ museum.
We wish to have an influence on society, taking a leading role in addressing current issues within politics, economics and culture. Our programmes encompass urgent themes such as housing, migration, inequality, regeneration and healthcare.
We offer changing exhibitions, collection displays, learning activities, projects, and community-focused initiatives that involve multiple artists and publics. These programmes promote creativity for everyone in ordinary life, through education, activism and making.
We have been developing relationships with constituencies in Middlesbrough and beyond. Our ambition is that these help us shape who we are: a public site, open and accessible, diverse and inclusive, and used by all.
Guisborough Forest – (Parking £3 all day)
With an orienteering course, trimtrail, sculpture trail and play areas, Guisborough is a great place for a family day out. If you climb the heights of Highcliff Nab or Hanging Stone on a fine day you will be rewarded by fantastic views over Teeside and the coast.
The Rat of the Highway is here!
The Highway Rat is the latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book to be brought to life on our forest trails. Follow the panels, complete activities and interact with the forest as you head on a journey with The Highway Rat and all the characters from the story!
Highway Rat trail dates and information
It is aimed at younger children, but the whole family can enjoy completing activities and spotting characters. You can find the start of the trail at Pinchinthorpe visitor centre and it is about 1 mile in length.
Join the Highway Rat on his journey through the forest with the Highway Rat Activity Pack! The pack contains an activity leaflet plus an extra activity sheet, a Highway Rat mask, stickers of the Highway Rat characters, a pencil and a crayon. Buy your activity pack from Pinchinthorpe visitor centre for just £3.