If you're looking for budget-friendly or free things to do in Darlington, you've come to the right place! There are a range of activities throughout the borough that are ideal for a variety of budgets, so take a look at this list to see how you could have a low cost day out.
1. Explore a local park
Darlington is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the area, with two winning Green Flag status in 2022. The first is South Park, which is a great option for a picnic or to keep kids entertained with the fantastic playground and bird aviary. And the second is West Park, which is loved by dog walkers for its meandering paths, but also those who love a treasure hunt to find hidden sculptures.
There's also Stanhope Park that's right next door to the town centre, so you can tie in some shopping too, and The Denes, which links six green spaces to form a park that stretches 1.5km along the river.
2. Go to a free town centre event
If you're after something family-friendly on the weekend or during the school holidays, our town centre events could be perfect for you! You can expect a line up of little and large events throughout the summer and winter that are free for everyone to attend. From the ever popular Proms in the Park to Darlington's Pride Weekender, there's something for everyone. Take a look at what's on to start planning your trip.
3. Do a trail
People of all ages love a trail, whether they're educational or just for fun. There are several trails to do in Darlington, including the Heritage Trail, which takes you around the town centre to learn about the history of each site. There's also the Darlington Circular trail as part of the Stockton & Darlington Railway walking routes, that shows you significant points in Darlington's railway history.
If you'd like a trail that's a little more child-focused, you can take a look at the Huntee website. With Huntee, you can create a free account to access fun and immersive digital trails across the North East and there's a great trail in South Park! There are clues to answer, things to find and ways to explore that'll help you to complete the trail.
4. Visit a play space
Darlington is a really great place to bring toddlers and young children - there's always something going on for them! If your little one loves getting hands on, they'll love one of the many play spaces. Theatre Hullabaloo often have a free play space that anyone can visit, CuriosiTeas offers very low entry prices to spend time in the play cafe, and Hartbeeps have a range of affordable baby and toddler classes and groups. By taking your little ones to one of these spots, they can learn and play in a safe and fun environment.
5. Have a picnic
If you don't fancy visiting one of the many town centre restaurants, pubs or cafes, why not make up your own little picnic to enjoy? There are several places where you can lay out a blanket and a homemade fest, but Broken Scar Picnic Area is one of the most picturesque. This space is right by the River Tees and next to Tees Cottage Pumping Station on Coniscliffe Road.
Once you've finished your food, you can have a slow wander up the river and take in the views. There's also a little playground for children to enjoy and you could take a look in the Pumping Station (check the website for opening times and days), but there is a small entry charge.
6. Visit Piercebridge Roman Fort and Bridge
Did you know that there used to be a Roman fort and bridge in Darlington? If you head to Piercebridge past High Coniscliffe, you can park up near The George and find the ruins of an old bridge. These ruins show where the river used to be back in the Roman era! And if you take a 10 minute walk to the other side of the river, you'll be able to see the foundations and ditches of the fort. There are information boards dotted around to give you an idea of how the fort might have looked and how big it could've been, so this is a great look into the history of the area.
7. Try a walking or cycling trail
Darlington is home to beautiful countryside and stunning nature reserves, so getting out on your bike or for a walk is the perfect thing to while away the hours. Some of the walks include Brinkburn Local Nature Reserve, which is a flat, gentle walk, and Drinkfield Marsh with its pond, grassland, wildflowers and woodlands. There are also plenty of popular cycling routes, such as a loop from Cafe Italissimo in Middleton St George to town and back, or the Staindrop loop from North Road. Take a look online to find a whole host of routes.
If you have any other suggestions for a low cost day out in Darlington, please let us know and we'll add it to our list!