There’s no getting away from the fact that between the presents, the decorations and the food, Christmas is the most expensive time of year for most.
The problem parents and carers can face in January with the kids off school for two weeks is keeping them entertained and spending quality family time together without spending even more over the festive period. But if you’re feeling the pinch in January, there are plenty of ways to spend the day out without breaking the bank.
From getting out in the great outdoors to a beach or park (as long as you wrap up warm!) to learning something new at a museum or one of the region’s many historic sites, there are a few ways you can plan a day out on the cheap that will keep the whole family entertained. Here are five ideas of plans to make in the New Year that will only cost you the travel and the price of some lunch.
Have a beach adventure
Now, hear us out on this one – yes, the beach is typically a go-to in the summer months and not when it’s freezing cold, but a day at the coast has its own charm in winter as long as you wrap up warm. The kids can build a sandcastle or explore some rock pools while the grown-ups take in the views of the beautiful North East coast – the perfect place to blow away the cobwebs and get the imagination going no matter what age you are.
If you need inspiration on which beach to visit, you could try one of the top ten voted for by ChronicleLive readers, with picturesque Bamburgh taking the top spot followed by Tynemouth Longsands in second place and Seaton Sluice in third. Or take a look at which of the region’s beaches have won the prestigious Blue Flag Award this year ranking them as among the best in the country, a list which includes Whitley Bay, Roker and Seaburn.
Play at a park
If you’re not near the coast, you most likely have a local park you can visit – and while this may be another destination that you usually wouldn’t go near until the warmer weather arrives, there’s plenty of fun to be had all year round at your nearest park. From play areas to some good old wildlife spotting, there are parks and woodlands around the region where you and the little ones can easily spend a day exploring in the fresh air.
Why not travel to the enchanting Newcastle park that was recently crowned by ChronicleLive readers as the best in the North East – Jesmond Dene, which is home to winding paths, ruins of an Old Mill dating back to 1739, and the free Pets’ Corner mini zoo. Or for more inspiration on where to visit, check out the ten parks in the region that were awarded the Green Flag status this summer, including Leazes Park, Roker Park, and The Rising Sun Country Park.
Visit a museum or gallery
Of course, it’s fair to say that you might not feel like spending the day outside at the beach or a park if the weather is particularly wintry, but heading indoors doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to fork out. Why not visit one of the region’s many free museums or art galleries this January – many of which have free workshops and talks you can attend alongside fascinating exhibits offering insight into centuries gone by.
There are loads of museums to choose from across the region, including the Great North Museum Hancock and the Discovery Museum in Newcastle city centre which have been family favourites for generations. The former is home to the likes of dinosaur fossils and ancient Egyptian artefacts, while the latter tells the story of the city’s maritime, scientific and technological importance to the rest of country and the world and is home to trains, ships and a Victorian fire engine.
Browse a market
If your family loved visiting Christmas markets over the festive season, the fun doesn’t have to stop in the New Year with markets to explore across the region all year round. The vibrant atmosphere provides plenty of entertainment on its own, and you can choose how much you want to spend on the likes of warm drinks, delicious street food and unique gifts while browsing the rows of stalls.
A favourite in North Tyneside is Tynemouth Market, which is on every Saturday and Sunday and can be easily reached by Metro – under the cover of Tynemouth station, it’s an ideal one to visit in winter weather. Another popular choice is the Quayside Market in Newcastle, which has been a popular weekend attraction since at least 1736 – check out some other markets around the region here.
Explore the region’s history
And finally, if you’re looking for a free day out that will fascinate all ages, you’ll find no shortage of historical attractions in the region. The North East sits on a rich bed of history, from Roman ruins to medieval castles, and while some sites owned by the likes of the National Trust and Historic England cost money to explore, there are plenty of free options too.
In Newcastle city centre alone there are heaps of fascinating historical buildings, from the Roman castle that gave the city its name to the 13th century friary-turned-restaurant Blackfriars – some have free entry, while others require booking but are worth visiting just to see the outside if you want to save money. You’ll notice that many of the most famous spots in the city have blue plaques on their walls – why not spend a day taking a tour of some of the lesser-known sites with this guide?