Today I’m sharing what we got up to on our second day adventuring in Newcastle. Have you seen yesterday’s post yet? This trip was all about finding some #littlediscoveries in Newcastle with CrossCountry trains before Little Miss starts school next week. We had a fab time including an overnight stay at Sleeperz Hotel.
The next morning we woke about 9am. Little Miss watched an hour of My Little Pony while I got dressed and packed. It was great being able to leave our bags at reception so we didn’t have to cart them around Newcastle. The staff were so friendly and we had tickets to ensure we got the right bags back. We then walked the short distance to Central Station to catch the metro to Haymarket. I really love that Newcastle is connected by the Tyne and Wear metro making it so easy to get to the airport, the coast and all the way to Sunderland. This opens up so many more activities in the area and it’s so cheap! Haymarket is only two stops from Central Station but with a small child it’s a fair walk so being able to hop on the metro was great. We grabbed a Starbucks breakfast before walking to The Great North Museum, formally known as the Hancock Museum, or it was when I was a child!
When I was a kid we used to go to the Hancock Museum at least once a year during the school holidays with my parents, usually before we went to see Disney on Ice. I also went a couple of times with the school. Just walking up to it brought back great memories of family days out and now I was taking my own little girl for the first time. It’s free to get in however they do ask for donations to help with the running which I was more than happy to add to giving how beautifully maintained the whole place was, and how friendly the staff were. As I was posting live to our Livvybird Adventures instagram the staff were great with comments on our photos. I loved the addition of technology which Little Miss really enjoyed. There were touch screens at all the displays so Little Miss could interact, these weren’t there when I used to go so there was a lot of sign reading to know what was in each case now LM could just touch the screen and it showed her which definitely kept her attention giving she is only 4. Her favourite room was the one with the dinosaur skeleton and the live King Pythons (which I hated haha). It was so great seeing things I remembered from my childhood such as the real mummy and some of the animals. We were there a good hour and a half before grabbing a drink from the cafe and sitting out on the lawn in front of the museum in the sun while I researched where to go for lunch. Had we thought in advance the lawn is a perfect place for a family picnic if you’re visiting on a budget!
After having a read through of Samantha’s Top 10 Child Friendly Restaurants in Newcastle on her blog North East Family Fun, I decided on The Botanist also having heard rave reviews from my non mummy friends.
As I mentioned above a lot of my non-parent friends had raved about The Botanist but until I was looking for great places to eat in Newcastle with a child I had no idea that Little Miss would enjoy it too. However I’m so glad we went as I’m no completely in love with the place and they really catered to Little Miss. The Botanist is situated in the old Monument Mall. The entrance is opposite Waterstones and it’s next door to Jamie’s Italian. It’s quite hidden and I couldn’t see the door until someone came out. Take the lift! There are about four flights of stairs that I was not prepared for haha. On arrival we were offered three places to eat; the bar area, a lovely seating area off the bar or upstairs on the terrace. As Little Miss was desperate to go up the spiral staircase so we chose the terrace. I will be doing a whole review on our experience so stay tuned for that. The terrace is an open roof area so it was a bit chilly so we chose a relatively sheltered table. LM had a little watering can with an amazing old world map colouring sheet along with her menu. The wait staff had a tablet to take orders on that really intrigued LM and she was even able to click on what she wanted to eat (burger, chips and peas) which was right up her street. I went for the deli board which was £10.95 for four items. The food arrived timely and as the colouring sheet was so big I didn’t once have to get the iPad out as it was enough to entertain her until she could eat. The food looked as good as it tasted, as did the cocktail. Despite it being very busy, I didn’t feel rushed and after we were done I was allowed to walk around to take some photos. The decor and theming is spectacular, it’s worth going just for a look. I’m so happy with this ‘little discoveries’ we will be back!
After lunch Little Miss saw a sign for possibly her favourite thing to do in the city, the red double decker sight seeing bus. She was so excited so I could hardly say no and it was totally worth it just for a sit down after eating so much.
We have done the City Sightseeing Hop on Hop Off tour once before in Edinburgh so Little Miss knew what to expect. It was £8 for me and Little Miss was free. The whole tour if you stay on the bus seemingly takes just over an hour and visits points of interest in Newcastle and Gateshead. We went from Monument all the way to Central Station which took 40 minutes. We went along the Quayside and saw the bridges, over to Gateshead to the Baltic and Sage then up through Grainger Town past the castle before arriving at Central. We sat in the open roof area and Little Miss sang a song the whole way about how this was her favourite bus in the world. We don’t have double decker buses in our town. I sat back and listened to all the history of Newcastle and despite having lived in the city I learnt so much. The tour was really informative and perfect if you’re not in Newcastle for long but you want to learn more about the city. Your ticket is valid for 24 hours so you can hop on and off all day if you want to explore each area a bit more.
From Central Station we walked 5 minutes to our last stop of the day the Centre of Life Science Museum, somewhere else I haven’t visited since I was a child.
As a child the Centre for Life was somewhere we came on school trips, much like the Hancock. Today it costs £14 to get in but over the summer children go free with a paying adult. Compared to the Great North Museum there is so much more for younger kids to do. In the main room there are loads of interactive exhibits that LM really loved. It’s a great way to get kids interested in science and although at 4 she had no idea what she was doing, she really enjoyed herself. At the moment the main exhibit at Life is the Inside Out Animals which is on until the 3rd of January, if you’re into biology this is a must see and although LM looked interested it was hard to explain to her exactly what was going on. She definitely preferred the room where she could experiment. I definitely think a child between 7 & 10 would get so much enjoyment at Life as there are shows, the Planetarium and a 4D simulator that Little Miss was just a little bit too young for. Upstairs there is a young explorers area that was probably her favourite place. There is a mass of soft play, a tree house, dressing up and some paper based activities. In total we spent a good few hours in the Centre of Life and I have to say Little Miss was entertained the whole time.
We left the Centre of Life exhausted so we collected our bags from our hotel, hit our Starbucks opposite the train station and waited for our train.
Over all, we had an amazing time. I had forgot how much there is on offer in Newcastle and we didn’t get everything I wanted to do done but I guess that leaves us some things to do if we come down again in the October half term. I really want to catch the Alice in Wonderland exhibit at the Laing Art Gallery, and we’re yet to visit the Discovery Museum (I couldn’t find it as my phone battery died). I love how connected everything is making travelling around so easy. Although I personally didn’t enjoy living in Newcastle, it was amazing to go back and retrace my steps with my daughter. We were never bored, never short of places to eat and the history I learned on the bus tour was amazing. I know on first glance Newcastle doesn’t look like it would be a fun filled trip for a child, but it really was.
CrossCountry Trains are asking you to share your Little Discoveries over on Instagram by uploading a photo of your favourite #littlediscoveries from your hometown or a place you enjoy visiting in the UK and using the hashtag for the chance to win big. But be fast, it closes on the 6th September!