Tyne and Wear Metro is encouraging families to get out and about during February half term to visit some of the region’s free attractions.

By jumping on board a Metro families can visit a range of places easily across Tyne and Wear including the Great North Museum: Hancock, Bill Quay Community Farm, Rising Sun Country Park, The Word, National Centre of the Written Word and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

Families can use Metro’s free adventure book, ‘Metro’s little book of things to see’ , which is available from Nexus TravelShops and is also available to download from www.nexus.org.uk/metro/offers, to keep the kids entertained on their journey by looking out for animals, artworks and places across the Metro network ticking them off as they spot them.

School holidays can often be an expensive time for parents, so Metro is also encouraging families to take advantage of its Pop Pay As You Go cards to help cut down on the cost of days out.

Pop Pay As You Go is an easy way to pay for transport across Tyne and Wear and is an ideal way for adults to travel around the region. Using a Pop Pay As You Go smart card saves passengers money on every trip they make on Metro, and the card can also be used to buy tickets on all local buses in North East England.

Metro Services Director, Chris Carson, said:  “We are encouraging families to make the most of the school holidays and explore all the fantastic things the region has to offer. We are very lucky to have so many free attractions in Tyne and Wear and our adventure book is a great way to plan a fun-filled day out to entertain the whole family.

“We also hope Metro customers will take advantage of our Pop Pay As You Go cards to help them save money so they can plan more days out during the February half term.”

Newcastle

  1. Great North Museum: Hancock

The Great North Museum in Newcastle city centre is a great place to visit especially on a rainy day.

Not only does it have two free permanent exhibitions – Fossil Stories and Living Planet where children can see a full-size T-rex skeleton, a full-size model of an elephant as well as a great white shark – but it is also hosting a special half term programme.

Children can enjoy a week of fun, family-friendly activities including meeting exotic insects and creatures in its minibeasts session and making a hat for its Peculiar Pangolin Parade. No booking is required.

Find out more at www.greatnorthmuseum.org.uk/whats-on/half-term

Closest Metro station: Haymarket.

  1. Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene is the perfect place to visit if you love being outdoors. The narrow wooded valley follows the river Ouseburn between South Gosforth and Jesmond Vale and is home to a lot of wildlife.

One of the best loved parts of Jesmond Dene is Pet’s Corner. This popular attraction is home to animals of all shapes and sizes, including alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, goats and sheep alongside rabbits and colourful birds and much more.

Find out more at www.jesmonddene.org.uk/

Closest Metro station: Ilford Road / West Jesmond

Gateshead

  1. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

The Baltic is a great place for children to discover their artistic flair and every weekend the gallery hosts free activities for youngsters based on its current exhibitions.

On Saturdays at 11:30am children can attend Family Quest and spend some creative time with BALTIC Crew to find out more about contemporary art in an informal and imaginative way. Then on Sundays between 2pm and 4pm children can join in with Meet & Make, BALTIC’s free drop-in activity with a BALTIC artist.

During half term children can join in ‘Make Some Noise’ a special drop-in session with BALTIC artist Bex Harvey which involves creating sound machines and exploring sound making. The sessions run daily from 1:00pm to 3:30pm from 14th – 18th February. No booking required.

For more information go to www.baltic.art

Closest Metro station: Gateshead

  1. Bill Quay Community Farm

Tucked away in Gateshead is Bill Quay Community Farm which is home to its rare breeds of pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and geese. It also has a small mammal area with chinchillas, degus, Chinese hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs, which are the perfect focus for any children’s day out.

The 25 acre farm not only farms for food, but also to learn, preserve rare breeds and provide activities for the local community.

For more information go to www.billquayfarm.org.uk

Closest Metro station: Pelaw

North Tyneside

  1. Coastal Walk

Families who love spending time outdoors can enjoy one of North Tyneside’s award-winning Blue Flag beaches – Tynemouth Longsands (south), King Edward’s Bay and Whitley Bay (south).

The North Tyneside coastline is busy all year round and is a great place for families to get active or unwind. Starting off at King Edward’s Bay in Tynemouth families can walk along the shoreline and explore rock pools before heading to Longsands.

This beach is extremely popular with surfers but also offers great walks and views, and is perfect for children to let off steam with ball games or a paddle, if they’re feeling brave.

For families who want to walk further, they can head through Cullercoats and along to Whitley Bay where they can take a stroll along the promenade or on the beach.

Alternatively, families can start at any point along the coast and if they visit Tynemouth at a weekend they can pop by Tynemouth Market at the Metro station.

Find out more at www.visitnorthtyneside.com/the-coast.

Closest station: Tynemouth, Cullercoats or Whitley Bay

  1. The Rising Sun Country Park

The Rising Sun Country Park set in the heart of North Tyneside is a great family day out, ideal for long walks, spotting wildlife and animals.

Covering 400 acres the park includes an organic farm, a nature reserve, a countryside centre, numerous ponds, woodlands and extensive areas of grassland.

There’s a play park area, a cafe, picnic areas and a farm, where visitors can see pigs, calves, poultry, sheep, ducks and small animals.

For more information go to www.my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/385/rising-sun-country-park

Closest Metro station: Palmersville

South Tyneside

  1. The Word -National Centre for the Written Word

The Word in South Shields is the perfect place to visit if you love reading and being creative.

Home to 70,000 books visitors can enjoy a range of experiences, activities and facilities such as a digital media wall and FabLab to an immersive storytelling experience and interactive touch-tables.

This half term families can catch the last week of the centre’s swashbuckling exhibition – Shiver Me Timbers: Pirates on Page, Stage and Screen. Children can enjoy learning about some of the most iconic pirates over the centuries and be transported back in time to explore piracy.

Find out more at: www.theworduk.org/

Closest Metro station: South Shields

  1. South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery is the ideal place to visit if you want to learn lots of new facts.

The museum celebrates the rich heritage of South Tyneside and the people who shaped it. Spread over two floors visitors can explore a range of displays, exhibitions and works of art telling the story of the borough’s social, industrial and maritime history.

Visitors can come face to face with the skeletons of animals from sea, land and air and marvel at reals bones, teeth and fossils in the museums current exhibition Bones: Skeleton Secrets of the Animal World.

During half term children can take part in a Tremendous Tuesday event on February 13th and enjoy family craft activities inspired by the museum’s stories. The event will run from 11am until 3pm and is free. No booking is required.

Find out more at www.southshieldsmuseum.org.uk/

Closest Metro station: South Shields

Sunderland

  1. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

Families can discover Sunderland’s fascinating history at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

With a collection dating back to 1846 there are plenty of surprises especially Wallace the Lion. He was part of a touring wild animal show which visited the city during the 1800s with then famous African tamer Martini Maccomo.

Visitors can also see the first Nissan car to roll off the production line at the Sunderland factory in 1986; learn about the area’s shipbuilding past; view LS Lowry works and explore the Winter Gardens with a botanical collection of more than 2000 plants and trees

During half term children can discover a range of amazing dinosaur models in the Jurassic Gardens including a baby T Rex, a stegosaurus, a triceratops and some pteranodon.

Find out more at www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/sunderland-museum-winter-gardens.

Closest Metro station: Park Lane or Sunderland

  1. Roker and Seaburn Beaches

Sunderland’s twin beaches at Roker and Seaburn are the perfect place to unwind for the whole family.

If you’re looking for some seaside fun then head down to the coast where the kids can run off some excess energy or build sandcastles and you can sit and relax with a picnic. Then you can walk along the promenade and seafront or enjoy a stroll along the Roker Pier.

Families can also visit nearby Roker Park, which has play areas, a lake and a miniature railway so another great place to keep the kids entertained.

Find out more at www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/roker-and-seaburn-beaches.

Closest Metro station: Seaburn

For more information on Pop Pay As You Go, visit www.nexus.org.uk/pop/payg.

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