From beautiful beaches and countryside, to theatres, museums and galleries, there’s plenty to see and do in Sunderland. Many of the city’s attractions are free and all offer a great family day out, packed with fun.
Sunderland is a welcoming, bustling city set right on the coast and at the mouth of the river Wear. It boasts wide sandy beaches and acres of relaxing and invigorating green spaces. Culturally its offer includes many interesting places (listed below), while its underground music scene is considered one of the most vibrant in the United Kingdom. This proud city by the sea also has a fascinating history, outstanding sporting attractions and great programme of events and festivals.
What to see and do there?
Sunderland has a wide variety of attractions and events, offering a fun-packed day out, and many of them are free.
Monkwearmouth Museum – station from 1848 transformed into a railway museum
National Glass Centre
North East Land Sea and Air Museum – museum full of vehicles from World War Two
Ryhope Engines Museum – industrial museum
Hylton Castle – highly decorative gatehouse-tower of a castle built shortly after 1400
St. Andrew’s Church – cathedral of the arts and crafts movement
History outside (plus parks):
Penshaw Monument – half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens
Roker Pier and Lighthouse – protecting the entrance into Sunderland’s harbour since 1903
Albany Park – great place for walks with extensive grassed areas and woodland plantations
Barnes Park – the largest park of the city offers space for wonderful walks, playing areas, bowling greens, tennis courts and a café
Down at the Farm – seasonal attraction offering animal interaction and beautiful countryside between February and October each year
Hettons Lyons Country Park – featuring a sporting lake, fishing lakes, football pitches, it’s also part of the national cycling network
Mowbray Park – at the heart of the city sits Mowbray Park, one of the oldest parks in the North East of England and often described as the jewel in the crown of the city centre
Roker and Seaburn beach – wide and sandy, with rocks to the north and south, a boating lake, display gardens and a model railway…Roker and Seaburn beaches have been favourite spots for hundreds of years. The golden sands are a sandcastle builders paradise and with lifeguards on duty they’re great for paddling. The wide open promenade and landscaped seafront make for a perfect stroll in the sea air too. If you really want to take in the air though, a stroll along the restored Roker Pier is perfect
Sculpture Trail – interesting cycle trail on the riverside between giant sculptures
Keel Square – main square of Sunderland
Royalty Theatre – one of the region’s oldest amateur theatre groups, where we have been entertaining Sunderland for the over 90 years
Sunderland Empire Theatre – the biggest theatre in the North East guarantees you an exciting programme of events, staging season after season of dazzling entertainment featuring West End musicals, classical ballet and spectacular dance productions, cutting-edge comedy and drama, plus music concerts and family shows including the annual star-studded pantomime
MFA Bowl – with its private function suite, flexible opening hours and great facilities, MFA Bowl is the perfect venue for many types of parties, club hire and music events
Marine Activities Centre – is Sunderlands’ Activity Centre overlooking Roker beach. Operated by the charity The Marine Activities Centre; its objective is to provide access to outdoor activities to all sections of the community, operated on a not for profit basis
Karting North East – go-karting venue also offering other activities including tomahawk, paintball court, off-road buggy driving and much more
Gravity Force – it’s the UK’s ultimate trampoline park with hundreds of trampolines tailored for people of all skill levels
Some of the best bistros and restaurants:
D’Acqua – French, English and Italian dishes in a romantic cellar with ambient lighting and French oak floors
Grosvenor Casino Restaurant – modern chain casino with gaming tables and slot machines, a grill restaurant and a late bar
The Courtyard Café and Bar – modern café and restaurant serving lunches, light snacks and evening meals as well as award winning cask ales. Set in the courtyard of the Arts Centre Washington, it’s a great place to eat before experiencing the music, theatre, comedy or art of the centre
The Lounge Bistro and Bar – run by Head Chef Darren Grey, who is supported by the catering students to create mouth-watering cuisine, using fresh, locally sourced and seasonable produce. There are also offered coffee mornings, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, as well as themed evenings throughout the year
Spending time, rather than money, with friends or a family is so important: sharing experiences and creating lasting memories. Sunderland has a surprising mix of fun things to see and do indoors and out, as well as good value places to eat and drink that can keep you happy and entertained.