20 Best Things to Do in Darlington

Darlington is located on the banks of river Skerne in the North-East part of London, with its nearest airport being Teesside International Airport. Darlington is renowned for its market, which it has housed for over 800 years. Those who visit love to walk along the busy streets of Darlington, all of which offer an extensive variety of restaurants and high street shops. Darlington is also known for its Railways, it had the world’s first locomotive passenger railway, Stockton and Darlington railway. Therefore It is considered to be the birthplace of the modern railway.

For those who enjoy a traditional and sophisticated weekend away, look no further than Darlington. Below is a list of the top 20 places to visit in Darlington.

Shop at Darlington Market Square

Darlington Market Square
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Darlington Market Square is one of the oldest markets in the town. It has a beautiful entryway with a Tower clock and seating areas for visitors to rest. For food lovers, this is the perfect place to pick up ingredients as it is filled with shops selling fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, meat, cheese. Additionally, many come to browse the fine selection of clothes and jewellery stalls. They also have small cafés and restaurants where you can relax and unwind.

Retail Therapy at Darlington Covered Market

Darlington Covered Market
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Darlington Covered Market is located near the horse market. It is one of the great destinations for shopaholics. As the name suggests it is an indoor shopping spot. It has a variety of shops like the Market square, but also provides other services like salons, a spa, and so on. It is closed on Sundays and it is open until 5 pm on the other days.

Shopping at Queen Street shopping center

Queen Street shopping center is a shopping mall in Darlington. It is one of the hot spots in the UK to buy high-end fashion. It offers a wide variety of stores to buy things like clothes, jewelry, accessories, souvenirs and decorations. There are often other events that take place at the centre. They also house a variety of café and restaurants which serve some of the most exquisite food.

Visit the Head of Steam Darlington Museum

Since Darlington is known for its rich railway heritage, this museum is a must-see. It showcases the history of Railways from the early 19th century onwards. It has a rare collection of unique railway engines. This museum will definitely help you to gain knowledge about the evolution of railways from both  the early days and modern times. They also have activities to entertain kids, making it an all inclusive area. There is an old platform ticket machine in a working condition; you can collect that ticket as a unique souvenir from the birthplace of railways.

Walworth Birds of Prey

Walworth Birds of Prey provides a lifetime opportunity of being able to be in close contact with the birds like owls, falcons, hawks, and many more. They provide various fun activities such as a close-up flying demonstration of birds hunting, where you can hunt rabbits with the guidance of the hawk and with the company of ferrets and a dog. This is the best place for not only bird lovers, but also families wanting a fun day out. The establishment even offers and encourages visitors to sponsor the birds if they wish to. It is important to note that from 2020 visitors have to book in advance. Contact details and the procedure regarding booking is available on their website.

Thornton Hall Gardens

Thornton Hall garden is a huge garden with a large variety of shrubs, trees, vegetable plots, and colorful flowers. It is a well-maintained garden with plenty of seats and openspace. The gardens also serve refreshments like tea, sandwich, and cakes. They also sell a wide range of plants.The best time to visit is spring and summer. However, it is only open for a limited number of days, the dates on which they are open can be found on their website.

Raby Castle

Raby Castle
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Raby Castle  is one of the most beautiful Castles in the UK. The interior is a sight in itself, as it holds a large collection of paintings, furniture, textiles, and so on from different parts of the world. It has a lake outside, which offers the perfect photo opportunity. The Coach house has well preserved old carriages, chariots, and coaches used by the members of the royal family in the 18th century. Some of these carriages are converted into cafés where the visitors can sit and sip teas and other beverages.

Pay your respects at St. Andrews Church

St. Andrews Church, Darlington was built in 1125. It is the oldest church in the town. Though the building is very old it is well maintained. It is one of the best places to relax and walk around. Visitors praise the church for it’s a calm and serene atmosphere. It also has a war memorial display on the grasses outside the church.

Drinkfield Marsh Nature Reserve

Drinkfield Marsh Nature Reserve
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Drinkfield Marsh Nature Reserve has a lake, grassland, and plenty of places to walk. The lake is fenced by naturally grown reeds. There are narrow paths that visitors navigate while enjoying the reserve's variety of wildlife, including: ducks, swans, moorhens and kingfishers.

Medieval Ulnaby Farm shop café

Medieval Ulnaby Farm shop Café serves delicious high-quality homemade food like cakes, tea, coffee, snacks, and ice creams. There is a farm shop which sells fresh meat and a gift shop which has many different items. There is a play area outside and they also allow the children to visit and feed the donkeys, goats, pony, and Llamas with animal foods in the near-by field.  Near the field you can also find ruins of the abandoned village of Ulnaby.

Relax in Piercebridge Roman Fort & Bridge

Piercebridge Roman Fort and Bridge are roman remains in the village of Piercebrige. This site is well-maintained. There are information boards on the sides which will definitely enable you to imagine the walls, fort, and the bridge. You can stroll along the riverside. The sunrise and the sunset in this setting is enjoyed by many.

Stroll at the South Park

South Park
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South Park is one of the best place to visit alone or even as a group with kids. It is one of the very clean and well-maintained parks in the UK. River Skerne runs through this Park. You can walk along the river banks with a view of water, trees, and flower beds. It has a clock tower, bandstand, fountain, Polam Lane Bridge over the river, play area, skate park, bowling, gym, and café. There is plenty for all ages to do.

Visit the Brick Train

Brick Train
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Brick train is a huge sculpture, as the name suggests it is a model of a train built using bricks. It is built by David Mach on the outskirts of Darlington. It has been built using 185,000 bricks and is a spot that reflects the rich railway heritage of Darlington.

Fishing at Maidendale Nature Reserve

Maidendale Nature Reserve is a site with many ponds and one of the best ways to explore nature is by visiting this place. You can spot a wide range of wildlife like House sparrow, Reed bunting, kestrel, butterflies, frogs and many more. There are wooden walkways and a lot of space for fishing and pond dipping. This area is perfect for a family day out in the summer months.

Stanwick Iron Age Fortifications

Stanwick Iron Age Fortifications is huge remains of the Iron age fort. The place is filled with ramparts, ditches, trees, and a lot of greenery. You can stroll around this place which at times may feel like walking in the woods. It has very beautiful scenery and is a perfect location for photos.

Tees Cottage Pumping Station

Earlier Tees Cottage Pumping Station was the place where water was pumped from the River Tees and was supplied to the town. This heritage is still well maintained here. You can still watch them pump water from the River Tees but it is no longer supplied to the town. They have a blacksmith shop, a miniature train, and a tea room.

Paddock Farm Nursery & Water Gardens

Paddock farm Nursery and Water gardens have nine water gardens, each garden is a different theme which offers several experiences. They also have a pond, a tea room, and a tropical fish center. Children will definitely have fun watching fishes and tasting the delicious homemade snacks and meals at the café.  It is open on all the days of the week and the entry is FREE.

Broken scar Picnic Area

Broken Scar Picnic Area is a large open area with a river running alongside. It is an ideal spot for a picnic. They also have benches so you can just relax and watch the slow movement of the river and the birds that often flock to the area . You can also stroll along the river bank which many do in the summer months. There is a little play area for kids to enjoy as well as an on-site ice cream van.

Watch a show at Hippodrome, Darlington

Hippodrome in Darlington was built in 1907. They perform plays, comedies, opera, music, and dance. It has two-floored seating, upper circle, and lower circle. The place looks grand with their interiors and the red comfortable chairs with a lot of space for the legroom. There is also a café area with a lot of seating. For those who love theatre and culture, a visit to this venue is a must. Even when there are no shows running, the establishment offers visits to their art gallery.

Treat yourself with desserts at KASPAS

One of the most popular dessert chains, Kaspas offers a variety of the most delicious desserts. With seating options of both booths or smaller tables, this establishment offers a casual yet exquisite dining experience. They offer everything from sundaes and milkshakes, to brownies, cookies and waffles.