Travel back in time or into the future at museums in Tyne and Wear
Meet a T. Rex, explore space and ride a tram around a living history museum – there's plenty to keep you busy in Newcastle's museums. With permanent collections complimented by temporary displays and touring exhibits, as well as specific activities for kids and discounted annual subscriptions, you can return again and again.
A museum with a whole lot of history, the Great North Museum was purpose built as a natural history museum in 1884. Following a £26million redevelopment in 2009 it's currently home to exhibitions covering ancient Egyptians, Hadrian's Wall and the plants and animals of the North East of England, as well as replica T. Rex skeleton. Visit the planetarium for shows exploring stargazing, space exploration and marine reptiles of the dinosaur age. Upcoming highlights from their temporary exhibition programme include North East Wildlife Photography Exhibition (7 Jul–3 Sep) and 'Not as it is written' – Black Pittsburgh in voice and image, which explores the civil rights struggle in Pittsburgh, USA (7 Oct–1 Dec). Barras Bridge, Newcastle, NE2 4PT, free, charges for planetarium
Newcastle is home to the International Centre for Life, a science village where organisations do groundbreaking work – the world's first cloned human embryo was produced here. Within the complex is the Life Science Centre which boasts a state of the art planetarium, interactive exhibits and live theatre shows all celebrating STEM. Don your lab coat and grab a pipette in the experiment zone, create music and chain reactions in the curiosity zone and explore the wonders of your mind in the brain zone. Be sure to try the 4D Motion ride, complete with moving seats, 3D visuals and even smells. Until 7 Jan you can visit Dino Jaws, an exhibition from the natural history museum about, dinosaurs. It features life-size animatronic dinosaur heads and offers you the chance to examine a huge poo to find traces of Euoplocephalus' last meal. Who would say no to that? Times Square, Scotswood Road, Newcastle, NE1 4EP, £13 (£10; children £7.50; under 4s free; family £34)
Of course Newcastle has a castle. Like many castles across the country, it isn't all there but you can still visit the Castle Keep and its 13th century gatehouse the Black Gate, once part of a much larger fortress. Explore ancient passageways and chambers and learn about Newcastle Castle's history as a Roman settlement and medieval stronghold. The events programme includes regular historical talks, after dark tours, murder mysteries and film screenings. The Black Gate, Castle Garth, Newcastle, NE1 1RQ, £6.50 (£5.50; children £3.90; under 5s free; family £15.90)
This city centre museum is the place to learn about Newcastle. Here you can discover all sorts about the city at the Newcastle Story, which takes you on a journey from Roman times to the early millennium. Discovery Museum also covers industrial and maritime history and is home to Turbina, once the fastest ship in the world. As well as these permanent exhibitions there are also temporary exhibitions focused on the North East. All the Fun of the Fair (until Sun 1 Oct) charts the history of Newcastle's much-loved Hoppings fair, first held on the Town Moor in 1882 and Enigma & the North East (until 1 Apr 2018) explores how people from the North-East played a vital role in helping the codebreakers at Bletchley Park. Blandford Square, Newcastle, NE1 4JA, free entry.
Set out across seven stories of a building (clever) the National Centre for Children's Books celebrates children's books, their creators and their readers through exhibitions and events. Visit the Attic to celebrate Jim Kay's full colour edition of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, with a Diagon Alley backdrop and the chance to shop in Flourish and Blotts. The Story Station has sensory play for under 4s and teddy is very welcome at Bears! (until 18 Feb 2018), an exploration of bears in children's literature. Add to your own library at their independent children's bookshop, which stocks titles for babies to young adults. 30 Lime Street, Byker, Newcastle, Tyne & Wear, NE1 2PQ, £7.70 (children £6.60; toddlers £2.50; babies free; family £23.10)
About ten miles south of Newcastle city centre is Beamish Museum, a working museum set in 300 acres of countryside where you can discover what life was like in North East England in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times. Visit the 1900s pit village, 1940s farm and Rowley Station and travel the site by tram. Following generations of 'unselective collecting' (you offer it, they'll take it) they have amassed a vast collective of items, on show in the open store in the regional resource centre to check them out. Beamish were recently granted £10.9million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and plan to reconstruct a 1950s town, they've already 'collected' a cinema and a cafe to rebuild in the town. Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG, £16 (£14; children £11; family £35.50–£49.50)