The landmark House of Fraser department store in Darlington is still often called by its former name of Binns by locals. As well as a great range of clothes, household goods and furniture, it also has a brow bar, skincare treatments and a restaurant.
Cornmill Shopping Centre in the town centre has a good range of shops including New Look, Next and Waterstones as well as cafés.
The Imperial Quarter is the place to browse for lovely independent shops, restaurants and cafés.
For more independent shops and eateries, a firm favourite is the charming Yards – Buckton’s, Clark’s and Mechanic’s.
Darlington Market is not to be missed on your shopping trip. This traditional indoor market opened in 1864 and is still the best place to get local produce. Take time to look around this Grade II-listed Victorian hall and its historic features. Then pop into the Savoury Café to taste the famous Darlington Savoury sandwich with sausage meat and onions.
The Raby Hunt restaurant has two Michelin stars and is run by self-taught chef James Close. It is expensive but the food is exquisite and the tasting menu enables you to eat your way around the world while travelling just six miles out of Darlington.
Al-Forno is a gorgeous Italian restaurant in Darlington with a super range of pizzas, pastas, meat, and vegan dishes. It also does a fab Sunday lunch and a mean ‘parmo’, the classic Teesside dish of breadcrumbed fried chicken with bechamel and cheese.
The Tomahawk Steakhouse in Darlington is a firm favourite with all meat lovers. Choose from Himalayan Salt Chamber or Wagyu beef and local meats as well as fish and vegetarian dishes. The sharing platters are fabulous and you get to pick four side dishes to go with your choice of meat.
SALT in Darlington is a quirky restaurant with a fine line in comfort street food. The names of their burgers are priceless! Who would have thought to call a burger My Dad Is Bald? You can also choose Bao buns, quesadillas, vegetarian dishes and more.
Dinner in The Orangery is highly recommended for an unforgettable special occasion. Head chef Steven Lamb has put together some sumptuous tasting menus as well as the a la carte menu. It’s fine dining and does come at a price but it’s worth it for the setting as well as the food.
Maxine’s restaurant is also in an exquisite setting. It’s part of the Bannatyne Hotel, which is a Grade II listed townhouse in Darlington’s West End. The restaurant uses the best local produce to create traditional British and other favourite dishes from around the world. You can also meet at the hotel for drinks, breakfast, snacks or traditional afternoon tea.
The Darlington Hippodrome is a magnificent Edwardian auditorium, which opened in 1907. Now you can see many musical and theatrical performances in the 1,000-seat theatre.
The Hole in the Wall is a popular town centre pub over two floors. The downstairs is where you’ll find the main pub while the upstairs is for events or larger groups. There’s a good selection of food to accompany your beer from the local area.
For a great night out, try Ignite nightclub which includes the Aster cocktail bar and VIP booths.
For a fabulous atmosphere, head to The Quakerhouse real ale and music bar.
Cricket lovers can enjoy a match at Darlington Cricket Club which was set up in 1827 and has played in the top division for more than 120 years.
The Head of Steam Museum in Darlington is on the route of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. So you can visit the site of the world’s first passenger railway powered by steam.
Darlington’s Grade II listed South Park is a beautiful place to play sports, visit the café, see the parrots in the aviary, or take the children to the play park.
Darlington Clock Tower is a popular place to meet in the town centre. Joseph Pease gifted the clock tower to the town in 1864 and the bells inside are the sister bells to those in Big Ben in London.
Get active in the Dolphin Centre, which is a sports centre with a swimming pool, fitness activities, soft play, bar and bistro.
Take a look at the Grade I listed Skerne Bridge built in 1825. This railway bridge carried the first train carrying coal and passengers and is the oldest railway bridge in continuous use anywhere in the world.
Walk the five-mile Broken Scar trail by the River Tees and see the Victorian Tees Cottage Pumping station.
The Brick Train sculpture by Scottish artist David Mach celebrates Darlington’s railway heritage. It is modelled on the steam locomotive, Mallard, which set a world speed record for steam locomotives of 126mph in 1938. The Brick Train is by the A66 and was built using 185,000 bricks.