Darlington, with its rich history and vibrant culture, offers a plethora of experiences and activities for locals and visitors alike.
From exploring its historical landmarks to indulging in outdoor adventures, the town has something for everyone. In this article, we will uncover the best things to do in Darlington, ensuring you make the most of your time in this charming town.
Darlington, nestled in the heart of County Durham, is a town that seamlessly blends its fascinating railway heritage with its stunning natural landscapes. With a wide range of attractions and activities available, Darlington promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
- Spend a delightful day at South Park, a picturesque park that boasts expansive green spaces, vibrant flower beds, and a serene lake. Rent a boat and enjoy a leisurely paddle, or simply bask in the tranquility of this oasis in the heart of Darlington.
- Take a moment to visit the Darlington Arboretum, a hidden gem that showcases a diverse collection of trees and plants. Enjoy leisurely walks among the colorful foliage, and find a secluded spot for a peaceful picnic surrounded by nature’s beauty.
- Explore the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, a haven for nature enthusiasts. Spot an array of wildlife, from graceful birds to elusive mammals, as you soak in the serene and unspoiled natural landscapes.
Uncover Darlington’s History
- Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Darlington at the Darlington Civic Theatre. Set foot in this historic venue and be captivated by its stunning interior. Experience captivating performances and events that showcase the town’s rich cultural heritage.
- Marvel at the grandeur of the Darlington Hippodrome, an architectural marvel that stands as a testament to Darlington’s cultural significance. Admire the ornate details that adorn the building and catch a show or performance that will leave you enthralled.
- Step into the lively atmosphere of the Darlington Market Hall, a bustling hub of activity that has been at the heart of the town’s trade for centuries. Indulge in a unique shopping experience as you browse through an eclectic array of stalls offering everything from local produce to handmade crafts.
Indulge in Culinary Delights
- Treat your taste buds to a mouthwatering culinary experience at The Old Yard Tapas Bar, where you can savor a delectable array of tapas dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Let the flavors transport you to the sun-soaked streets of Spain.
- Sample authentic local flavors at the Darlington Farmers Market, a vibrant marketplace where you can find an abundance of fresh produce, homemade treats, and artisanal products. Engage with passionate local producers and discover the true essence of Darlington’s gastronomic scene.
- Retreat to one of the charming tea rooms scattered throughout the town, such as Cupcakes Tearoom or The Stables Tea Room. Indulge in a traditional afternoon tea experience, complete with delicate sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a selection of tantalizing cakes and pastries.
Explore the Surrounding Countryside
- Embark on a scenic drive to witness the breathtaking High Force Waterfall, a majestic natural wonder that will leave you in awe. Marvel at the sheer power of the cascading water as it tumbles down the rugged cliffs, creating a spectacle of beauty and serenity.
- Lace up your hiking boots and venture along the Pennine Way, a long-distance trail that offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside. Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance and reconnect with nature as you traverse this picturesque route.
- Discover the Raby Castle, a magnificent medieval fortress that stands surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. Wander through its historic halls and explore the meticulously maintained grounds which provide a stunning backdrop for a day filled with history and natural beauty.
Discover the Darlington Railway Heritage
Darlington Railway Heritage – Temporarily closed – Reopen in 2025
- Explore the Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum, a captivating venue that brings to life the incredible history of the railway. Delve into the world of steam engines and learn about the monumental impact of the Darlington-built locomotives.
- Visit the North Road Station, hailed as the oldest railway station in the world. Marvel at its architectural beauty and take a step back in time to learn about its significance in shaping the modern railway system.
- Take a leisurely stroll along the Stockton and Darlington Railway Path, a scenic trail that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Immerse yourself in the birthplace of railways as you discover informative plaques and markers along the way.
Hidden gems in Darlington
Things to do in Darlington indoors, during winter, or all year round
Darlington Arts Centre
Hosts a variety of exhibitions, performances, and workshops throughout the year.
Darlington Museum is located in the town centre, and tells the story of the town’s history and culture. The museum is home to a variety of exhibits, including:
- A recreation of a Victorian street
- A display of archaeological finds from the local area
- A collection of art and artifacts from the town’s history
- An interactive exhibit on the life of George Stephenson, the “Father of the Railways”
The museum also has a number of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions cover a wide range of topics, from the history of local businesses to the work of contemporary artists.
In addition to its exhibits, Darlington Museum also offers a number of educational programs and activities. These include workshops, lectures, and tours. The museum is also a popular venue for school trips.
Darlington Museum is a great place to learn about the town’s history and culture. It is also a fun and educational place to visit with a family.
Here are some specific things you can see and do at Darlington Museum:
- See the Victorian street and imagine what it was like to live in Darlington in the 19th century.
- Learn about the town’s rich archaeological heritage, from the Roman era to the present day.
- See a collection of art and artifacts from Darlington’s history, including paintings, sculptures, and furniture.
- Find out about the life and work of George Stephenson, the “Father of the Railways.”
- See a temporary exhibition on a wide range of topics, from the history of local businesses to the work of contemporary artists.
- Take part in an educational program or activity, such as a workshop, lecture, or tour.
Darlington Museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Admission is free.
Crown Street Gallery
Crown Street Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in the heart of Darlington. The gallery is managed by Creative Darlington, and showcases the work of local, regional, and national artists.
The gallery has a varied program of exhibitions throughout the year, covering a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and multimedia. The gallery also hosts a number of events and workshops throughout the year.
Crown Street Gallery is a great place to see the latest in contemporary art, and to support local artists. The gallery is also a great place to visit with a family, as it often has interactive exhibits and family-friendly events.
Here are some specific things you can see and do at Crown Street Gallery:
- See a variety of contemporary art exhibitions throughout the year, covering a wide range of mediums.
- Attend an event or workshop, such as an artist talk, a film screening, or a family-friendly activity.
- Meet and talk to the artists whose work is on display.
- Purchase art from the gallery shop.
- Take a guided tour of the gallery.
Crown Street Gallery is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm. Admission is free.
The Forge is a creative space located in the heart of Darlington. It is a place where people can come together to learn, create, and collaborate. The Forge offers a variety of workshops and activities, including:
- Jewlery making
- Digital art
The Forge also has a number of studio spaces that can be rented by artists and makers. The Forge is a great place to learn a new skill, to work on a creative project, or to simply relax and be creative.
The Forge is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Admission is free.
Here are some specific things you can see and do at The Forge:
- Take a workshop on a variety of creative skills, such as pottery, glassblowing, or woodworking.
- Work on a creative project in one of the studio spaces.
- Attend an event or exhibition.
- Browse the shop for handmade goods and art.
- Have a coffee or lunch in the café.
The Forge is a great place to be creative and to connect with other creative people. It is also a great place to visit with a family, as it often has family-friendly activities.
Darlington truly is a destination that caters to various interests and preferences. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, a food connoisseur, or simply seeking relaxation, Darlington has it all.
Discover the town’s railway heritage, immerse yourself in its natural beauty, uncover its fascinating history, indulge in culinary delights, and explore the stunning countryside. Darlington promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Finally, don’t forget Darlington’s hidden gems, such as David Mach’s Train Sculpture, the Pharaoh’s Daughter, The Black Poplars, Ketton Packhorse Bridge, Decorative Metalwork, the Stockton & Darlington Railway Skerne Bridge, George Stephenson’s Tunnel, The Joseph Pease Drinking Fountains, Darlington Arts Centre, Crown Street Gallery, and The Forge.
What is the best time to visit Darlington?
The best time to visit Darlington is during spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and the town’s natural beauty is at its peak.
When will the Head of Steam Darlington Railway Museum reopen?
At present, the Darlington Railway Museum is undergoing major redevelopment work, and it is expected to reopen after significant improvements in 2025.
Are there any free attractions in Darlington?
Yes, there are several free attractions in Darlington, including the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum, South Park, and the Darlington Indoor Market.
Can I visit Darlington with my family?
Absolutely! Darlington offers a range of family-friendly activities, such as exploring museums, enjoying the parks, and partaking in outdoor adventures.
Are there any guided tours available in Darlington?
Yes, there are guided tours available in Darlington, allowing you to delve deeper into the town’s history and culture. Check with the Darlington Visitor Information Centre for more details.
Where can I find accommodation in Darlington?
Darlington provides a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses. The town centre and its surroundings offer a range of choices to suit different budgets and preferences.