This week one of my readers got in touch to ask for some suggestions for a winter's day out. Their toddler is turning two at the end of January, they had wanted to visit a farm, but found that lots of the bigger farm attractions are closed until the February half term.
So I had a scout about and there are a few options still open if you have a child obsessed with Old McDonald, or just fancy a getting some fresh air and letting the kids have a run around outside. The best bit? Most of today's suggestions are free, or you just need to spend the price of a cup of coffee in a tea room.
bill quay farm (FREE)
Bill Quay Farm is lovely. It's pretty small. The type of place that we visit pretty regularly but only ever stay about 45 minutes. There are sheep, pigs, cows, geese, goats, chickens in barns and fields outside. Some of them are obviously used to visitors as they'll come right up to you and there are signs up letting you know which of the animals you can touch in their pens. There is also a small animal room where you can see things like chinchillas and hamsters etc in cages. There is a cafe, but this is now closed until summer. The farm is a registered charity, and whilst they are free to visit they always appreciate donations. If you are looking to make a day of it, then it's pretty close to Role Play in Hebburn, a fab kids play centre that I always recommend. You can read about our visit there on this blog post.
Bill Quay Farm Opening Times:
Outside, Toilets & Handwashing: Daily 9am-5pm
Animal Housing: Daily 12pm-5pm
Cafe: Daily 10.30am-4pm
OUSEBURN farm (FREE)
Ouseburn Farm is another farm which is run as a charity. They do great work in enabling people to work with animals. The farm is smaller than Bill Quay, our visits are often only about 15-30 minutes, but again it's a good one to pop into quite regularly, if you are just looking for a bit of fresh air. Its free to enter, but again donations are always appreciated. It's worthwhile taking some cash with you as they often sell vegetables which have been grown on the site. As well as the farm animals they have an indoor room with some smaller animals including tortoises. The cafe upstairs is really reasonably priced, but if you were looking for a full day out with kids, you could head just around the corner either to Ernest afterwards to grab something to eat, where the food is great and they have a small selection of toys for kids to play with, or go to Seven Stories which is brilliant for pre-schoolers with lots of interactive areas for them to play with the exhibitions.
Ouseburn Farm Winter Opening Hours
Mon-Fri - 9.30am-3.30pm
Sat - 10.00am-3.30pm
Now I have never been to Broomhouse Farm, but after getting in touch with them to get information for this post, I will certainly be visiting in the near future. It all sounds so nice. They have a coffee shop which serves meals and snacks, and in the warmer months they have a woodland adventure trail which looks great for kids and adults. All year round there are animals to see. At the moment if you visit you can see sheep, pigs, goats. Usually you can also see hens, ducks, turkey but these are not allowed out in the fields right now due to the avian flu restrictions. The coffee shop has a children's menu with colouring sheets and a few books and soft toys to entertain the kids, as well as a big outdoor space for running. It all sounds lovely, but the bit that really won me around is the FREE Little Farmers sessions that they hold on Mondays in term time at 10am. Aimed at 3-4 year olds the sessions are 45 minutes long and cover a range of activities such spending time in the farm , forest , orchard , garden or listening to stories. If you fancy it (and who wouldn't, I'm gutted both me and Mr Sprog work Mondays, but we'll have to go along to it at some point) then arrive very promptly and make sure everyone is well wrapped up.
Broomhouse Farm Opening Times: Farm Shop Open everyday 9am-5pm (10am-4.30pm on Sundays) Coffee Shop Open everyday 9.30am-4.30pm
Please do call in advance to book Sunday Lunch or Afternoon Tea.
mOORHOUSE farm shop(Free)
Moorhouse Farm Shop is another place I am yet to visit, but it comes highly recommended by blogger North East Family Fun. Check out what she thought of it, with loads more info about the farm shop in this post. As well as having animals such as goats, chickens and pigs to look at there are both outdoor and indoor playspaces, with a sandpit, toy tractors. If you wanted to visit a couple of places whilst you are near Morpeth then Carlisle Park is great, loads of open space, ducks to feed, a big play park, and if you hold off until the summer they have a paddling pool for the kids too. If the weather isn't great and you are looking for indoor fun for the kids, then Treasure Island soft play is one of the better ones that I've visited for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Even though we've been there on a weekend it's never felt too full and none of the equipment is too big, so toddlers should be able to explore it all. My final option for making a trip to Moorhouse Farm a day out, would be to pair it with a visit to Heighley Gate garden centre, much more than just a shop, it has a small soft play, loads and loads of statues and models of animals and even a dinosaur themed mini golf which would be perfect for slightly older kids. When we visited before Christmas my toddler was transfixed with looking at them. North East Family Fun has got all of the mini golf here.
Moorhouse Farm Shop Opening Times
Farm Shop:Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5.30pm Sunday 10.00am – 4.00pm
Coffee Shop:Mon – Sat 9.30am – 4.00pm Sunday 10.00am – 4.00pm
beamish museum's farm(Included in Annual Pass)
Now whilst I wouldn't suggest that you go and pay of the annual pass for Beamish just for the farm, if you have one already then it's somewhere that you can call into whenever your kids fancy a run around and to see some animals. Beamish in general is very family friendly with the tram and train rides, the fairground, and all of the space, but my toddler's favourite bit is the farm. Depending on the day, sometimes the animals are out in the fields, but we'll usually see a couple of horses, goats, the infamous standing pig, and loads of chickens. You can read more about why I think Beamish is so great for little kids in our post here.
Opening Times: 31st October 2016 to 5th April 2017
Open 10am to 4pm. Closed Mondays and Fridays from 2nd January to 17th February 2017. Last admission 3pm.
From 6th April 2017 to 29th October 2017
Open daily, 10am to 5pm.
Last admission 3pm.
Washington Wetlands isn't strictly a farm, but if you are looking for animals then its one of the bigger local attractions which are open year-round. With indoor and outdoor play areas there is lots to keep the kids entertained as well, of course as the many different types of birds, and other animals, such as otters, to see. *Peppa Pig Alert* They are even holding puddle jumping championships everyday during the February half term. Blogger Babyfoote just visited this week. Read about her trip with two pre-schoolers here.
Washington Wetlands Opening Times:
Winter (November to March) 9.30am to 4.30pm (last admission 3.30pm, 1pm on Christmas Eve)
Summer (April to October) 9.30am to 5.30pm (last admission 4.30pm)
Costs, £10.40 adults, £5.25 children, under 4s FREE.
the long drives
My last two aren't farms either, but two big attractions which, whilst a long travel, are an absolute bargain at the moment. First up is South Lake Safari Zoo, which we visited and loved last week. See lions, tigers, wolves. Get up close with vultures, emus, monkeys, and capybaras in the safari walk, and play in their fab huge play area, and it's all... wait for it... FREE. They have extended their free entry offer until 11 February. Think it sounds too good to be true? Well I kind of did too, but went and it really is free (although like many, donations are appreciated). You can read about our trip here.
My other long drive choice, is Flamingo Land, which i'm not sure I've ever been to, even as a kid. I will have to take mine soon enough. Over the winter they have a fab offer to visit their zoo, as if you follow this link you can get family entry to the zoo for £20.
Phew I'm done. Another post which hopefully shows that even in winter there are loads of places that the kids can be entertained, and as we are in the depths of skintest, frugalist January, I'm so pleased that most of the options are actually free. Where have I missed that you would recommend? Leave me a comment in the box below.