Sunderland – Family Day Trip Ideas

As a Geordie I didn’t venture into Mackemland as a kid unless it was to visit Crowtree Leisure Centre to swim or ice skate. The Bridges seemed like a poor cousin to the MettyCentre, so we certainly didn’t go there to shop. Heaven forbid! I’ve recently started to work in Sunderland on occasion, so decided to Google what attractions there are in the area. I knew Crowtree was gone, so wondered how parents entertained their sprogs over on ‘the Dark Side’!
Times do change in Wearside, and The Bridges is far better than I remember it. The kids didn’t want to be dragged shopping though. I was intrigued by Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, especially as it was a free activity. With all the dining out I do we have to watch the pennies in other ways as a family! My niece and Jnr both said they’d visited with their respective schools and enjoyed it, so it seemed like a good option for us. We wandered round the gardens outside in the sun before heading inside.
The very helpful customer service lady gave me a guide to the exhibitions around the building and suggestions for interesting areas. We headed straight to the Winter Gardens, located at the rear of the building. It was very warm inside, as you’d imagine for all the tropical plants it houses. Coupled with the warmth outside it was a bit too much for me!
We did the rooftop walk to see the William Pye steel water sculpture in all its glory and sat and watched the Koi swimming round, but I needed to escape to cooler climes after a while.



The museum has specific areas designated to the different collections it houses. We enjoyed looking at the works of L.S. Lowry, the 20th Century Sunderland exhibition with interactive elements and seeing a piece by one of my favourite artists, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. One standout piece is the Victoria Hall Rocking Horse. It’s hard to find, but very poignant. The museum is well worth a visit and there’s plenty of stuff to keep the kids amused.


As no trip out for us is complete without a pit stop for cake, we chose The Good Apple Cafe as a venue to rest our weary legs. I prefer supporting local independents rather than places like Costa or Starbucks.
The cafe itself is welcoming and comfortable. We had a wide range of cakes to chose from, and some of the savoury options sounded delicious. All the food is vegetarian or vegan, and they even offer gluten-free bread.



Jnr chose a raw Caramel Shortcake square, while my niece had a vegan Rocky Road. Both were really chocolatey and didn’t last long. Jnr’s definitely contained coconut, and reminded me of a Bounty.
They host tasting events on occasion similar to those held by Painted Elephant in Newcastle (see my brutally honest review here), and I’d be interested in attending. I think Good Apple lives up to its name and we will definitely pop in again when we’re in the area.
Thanks for reading,
Pip x






  1. North East Family fun

    I've never been to the Winter gardens and didn't realise they were free! I fancy the trip now!

  2. Tenminutesspare

    I really enjoyed a trip to the winter gardens ages ago. This is a helpful reminder to go again sometime. The food at that cafe looks and sounds delicious.

  3. Emma Phillips

    The kids will enjoy it! We left a donation, but I was surprised it was free too. Just like Laing, definitely worth it.


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