Durham has recently been voted the top city in England and the second best city to visit in the UK in a national poll. Readers of The Guardian and The Observer were asked to pick their favourite cities, countries, hotels and attractions to visit and have voted Durham ahead of Bath, Newcastle and Liverpool in the prestigious awards. Edinburgh was the only city this year to receive more votes than Durham. The beautiful and compact heritage city was singled out for its ‘historic charm’ and furthermore the accolade comes shortly after Guardian readers voted for Durham Cathedral’ as Britain’s best building and Durham scooped 6 Gold awards in the North East Tourism Awards.
When you visit Durham with the family it’s easy to understand why the city has received such accolades and it really is the perfect base to explore the wider county for a long weekend or half-
Church services are held in the Cathedral every day and there are regular concerts, exhibitions and other events. Visitors can also see the Monks' Dormitory, Tower, Treasury Museum and Audio-
Durham Castle continues as the heart of University College, and home to over 100 students and staff. It is now one of twelve colleges within the University. Durham, the third oldest university in England, after Oxford and Cambridge, is a leading centre for education and research. The Castle is used for University ceremonies, public events and, during the vacations, as a venue for conferences, banquets and holiday accommodation. Interesting guided tours for visitors are conducted by the students throughout the year but entrance to the public is by guided tour only and it is advisable to book these in advance.
The compactness of the city and easy access to the Castle and Cathedral make it ideal for families to explore. Downhill from the Castle and Cathedral you can still trace Durham's mediaeval layout in the narrow winding streets. In the city there’s a wide range of shops with safe pedestrian walkways, including the refurbished Victorian Indoor Market and the new Prince Bishops development, but it also offers a haven of peace with pleasant walks along the wooded river banks where the children can run freely or the family can take the opportunity to take boat trip on the River Wear. The University Botanic Garden has trees and plants from all over the world and is well worth a visit. The city is well served with museums illustrating the county's fascinating blend of Christian, social and industrial heritage.
From Durham it is easy to explore the Durham Dales, part of the North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These dales offer some of the country's finest scenery -
The animal lovers in the family have a of superb at Hall Hill Farm, Broom House Farm and Tweddle Children's Animal Farm. At Thorpe Farm parents can search out culinary delights in the shop while the kids watch the birds of prey at falconry centre. For history lovers find why taking a bath in Roman Times was about more just with a trip to Binchester Roman Fort in Bishop Auckland, or let the past come life at award-
For the ultimate fun trip Diggerland is a great day out of diggers and dirt! This is an adventure park experience where children and adults can drive REAL construction machinery. With over 15 rides and drives there's something for everyone at Diggerland including Spindizzy, unique to Diggerland, prepare to feel the ultimate adrenaline rush on this world famous attraction. If you want to get some real JCB experience try out your excavating skills on the giant dirt diggers, or drive a monster JCB 3CX. For a more sedate ride you can relax and take in the views from 50ft in the air on the Skyshuttle.
Take a tram ride into the past at Beamish, a world famous open air museum telling the story of the people of North East England in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times and an ideal place to visit for families. Stroll around the shops and houses of the Edwardian Town or go underground at a real drift mine in the Pit Village. Visit the miners’ cottages, pop into the Co-
Throughout the year Beamish hosts an exciting programme of events suitable for all the family, from a Georgian Fair to the Great North Steam Fair and much more besides, including a whole season of Christmas! There really is something for everyone. What’s more, there’s no extra charge for these events -
The Fun Shack is the North's largest indoor playground, open 7 days a week and perfect for families rain or shine! Kids will have a great time at a kid's crazy kingdom with 19,000 square feet of indoor fun for kids up to 12 years or under 5ft 1in tall. It includes a soft play area and a small town village, trampolines, cinema, football court, PS2's, ten pin bowling and go-
Other options for family entertainment include Krazy Kingdom, a centre including soft play, ten pin bowling, electric go-
For family friendly accommodation in Durham the Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County located centrally in Old Elvet has family rooms and a leisure club with swimming pool or if you prefer self-
.........Situated on the banks of the River Wear, the Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County offers sensational views of England 's famous Durham Castle and Cathedral both of which are within easy walking distance. This upscale hotel, part of which dates back to the 17th century, offers modern amenities while preserving historic charm and exquisite features such as antiques and original prints. Elegantly furnished family rooms feature a dedicated workspace, mini-
At Hamsteels Hall families are welcomed to stay in recently converted stone barn conversions set in beautiful countryside. The family friendly, well appointed self-
.......The property is ideally situated for touring Durham and Northumberland, and only a short drive away from attractions such as Beamish Open Air Museum, the Baltic Art Gallery, The Centre for Life Museum (which is one of the newest family attractions in Newcastle), The Millennium Bridge, The Angel of the North, Bede's World, Hadrians Wall, Durham County Cricket Club, the Metro Centre with over 300 shops and lots of entertainment for the younger visitors such as Metroland , or venture farther afield to Holy Island, Kielder Reservoir, Bowes Museum, Raby Castle, Killhope Wheel, Cragside Hall etc. Diggerland is only 2 miles away -