My Top 5 Picks for Family Outdoor Activities in Sunderland



Sunderland is a beautiful city and I feel so blessed that I had a chance to live there when I was a kid. Last time I was there, my husband, kids, and I had the pleasure of discovering some truly magnificent spots that stand out for their fun, engaging, and family-friendly atmosphere.

Today, I’m thrilled to share our top 5 picks for family outdoor activities, places that have given us countless memories and laughter.

1. Stadium Of Light

Stadium of Light - Sunderland

The Stadium of Light has a current capacity of 48,707, making it the ninth-biggest football ground in England. It was built on the former site of the Monkwearmouth Colliery and opened in July 1997 with a game against Ajax. The stadium stands on the banks of the River Wear, serving as a landmark for Wearside.

Inspired by Sunderland’s industrial heritage, its design incorporates elements from glass-making, shipbuilding, and coal mining. The experience of watching a game at this stadium is on a completely another level. If you have time, I strongly recommend bringing your family here. Your kids will be forever thankful for the memories.

How to get there?


Sunderland is the closest main line train station, a 10-15 minute walk from the city center. For route planning and train details, visit National Rail.


The Tyne and Wear Metro connects to the Stadium via Stadium of Light and St Peter’s stations. Post-match, fans going towards South Hylton need to use St Peter’s station, and those heading to Newcastle should board at Stadium of Light station. For Metro details and to plan your journey, check Nexus.  There’s also a ‘Take the Kids for Free’ offer available all year.


Buses 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 15, and 16 stop close to the stadium. The main bus station, Park Lane Interchange, is a short walk from the stadium.

By Road

The stadium is easy to reach from both the A19 and A1, via Wessington Way (A1231).

Parking Warning: Stadium parking is limited, and passes are often sold out. On match days, stadium car parks close 30 minutes before the game starts and reopen post-kickoff. They close at the final whistle and reopen 30 minutes later. Be aware of police and local authority parking restrictions in over 60 streets around the stadium, as they are strictly enforced.

2. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

View of the winter garden in Sunderland

This is an Informative museum where we learned a lot about the city and its people. It was so interesting to hear about the city’s rich history. The museum spans four floors filled with engaging galleries and exhibitions. Alongside, the beautiful Winter Gardens is a beautiful addition.

Entry to the museum is free, though some exhibitions and activities might have a fee. There are rooms that offer activities for children so you don’t have to worry about entertaining your kids. My little ones had an amazing time.

When can you visit the museum?

Day Area Opening Hours
Monday-Friday Museum Shop, Ground Floor Galleries, Library 9:30 am-5:00 pm (Late night opening on Wednesday until 7:00 pm)
Monday-Friday Upper Level Galleries including the Art and Special Exhibitions Galleries 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Monday-Friday Winter Gardens 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday All areas 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Sunday All areas Closed

How to get there?

By Car

  • From A1:
      • Exit at Junction 62 on A1, either coming from north or south.
      • Follow A690 towards Sunderland.
      • Continue on A1231 towards Hendon, then proceed to Burdon Road.
  • From A19:
    • If heading south on A19, exit for A183.
    • If heading north on A19, exit for A690.
    • Continue on A1231 towards Hendon, then proceed to Burdon Road.

By Metro/Train

  • Sunderland is the closest Tyne & Wear Metro station. It also has train services to Newcastle and Middlesbrough. The museum is approximately 100 meters walking distance from the station.
  • To find and book train schedules, check Trainline.

By Bus

  • Many buses stop near the museum on Fawcett Street, Borough Road, and Burdon Road. These locations are all within a two-minute walk to the museum.
  • Buses include Stagecoach lines 23, E1, E6, and Go North East lines 33, 35, and 36.

Note: The museum does not have its own parking. You can park at the nearby Tatham Street open-air pay and display car park. The park only accepts payments through the RingGo app, available for download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

3. Roker & Seaburn Beaches

Also referred to as the “Roker Riviera“, these beaches have won the Blue Flag award. You can enjoy sandcastle building on the golden sands, and the kids will love it. The promenade and seafront are ideal for leisurely strolls. Roker Pier offers a perfect location for a scenic walk. Lifeguards are on duty at the beaches, making them safe for paddling.

When you get tired, you can take a break and get some refreshments at Pier Point at Roker or some other cafe. You’ll find plenty of choices, don’t worry.  The good thing is that the Independent bars and restaurants in the area remain open year-round.

How to get there?

  • Bus: 18A E1 E2 E6
  • Train: NORTHERN
  • Underground: GRN

4. National Glass Centre

National Glass Centre Sunderland

Once you enter a modern glass and steel structure, you’ll find exhibition spaces, artists’ workshops, production areas, a craft & design store, and a top-rated café/restaurant. National Glass Centre is affiliated with the University of Sunderland.

It offers a variety of changing exhibits, educational initiatives, and activities tailored for schools, families, adults, and children.  It’s a place that inspires creativity and enjoyment, so no one will get tired – neither you and your partner nor your kids.

Opening times: 10 am-5 pm daily.

How to get there?

By Car

  • From A1:
      • Exit onto A1231 towards Washington/Sunderland.
      • Continue on Sunderland Highway A1231.
      • Follow Wessington Way A1231.
      • Look for brown signs directing to National Glass Centre on Liberty Way.
  • From A19:
    • Take the A1231 slip road towards Sunderland/Gateshead if heading south on A19.
    • Take the A1231 slip road towards Gateshead/Newcastle West/Sunderland North/Airport if heading north on A19.
    • Continue on Wessington Way A1231.
    • Follow brown signs to National Glass Centre, Liberty Way.

By Bus

  • Take the E1 from Sunderland City Centre to Roker Avenue, a short walk from the entrance.
  • The 700 Sunderland Connect bus runs from Park Lane and City Campus.
  • The 702 bus runs from Sunderland Interchange to St Peter’s Campus, near The Glass Centre, starting 16.09.19.


  • Part of the Coast to Coast (C2C) route.
  • Cycle parking available in the top car park and riverside.
  • A cycle hub is located beside the Centre on the riverside.

By Train or Metro

  • Regular services between Sunderland and Newcastle.
  • Direct rail link from Middlesbrough to Sunderland every hour. Check Trainline for schedules.
  • A 10-minute walk from St Peter’s Metro Station to the Centre. Walk along Dame Dorothy Street towards the coast, then right at the roundabout with the Centre’s flags.

By Air

  • Newcastle Airport and Teesside International Airport are both around 45 minutes from Sunderland.

By Taxi

  • Station Taxis offers accessible taxis. Call 0191 555 5555.

Note: You’ll need to pay for parking at National Glass Centre Car Park, which is located at the front of the building and accessible from Dame Dorothy Street.

5. Herrington Country Park

Herrington Country Park. Penshaw Monument

For all of you who have a few little adventurers at home, this is a place for you! We discovered it by accident, we weren’t planning on visiting it, but once we stopped to take a break, we were all amazed. It’s such a beautiful and peaceful place!

This park provides many options to keep it moving like walks, running and cycle trails, family cycling with Sustrans, an adventure play area… You can also try skateboarding, Nordic walking, model boat sailing in the lake, and see a variety of sculptures that celebrate the heritage of the area.

All in all…

Our trips around Sunderland have been memorable. The places I’ve listed are our favorites because they offer something fun for everyone. I hope this list helps you and your family find good spots for outdoor fun in Sunderland. These are places where my family enjoyed our time together, and I think yours will too.

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