It might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re planning a day out, but there are plenty of things to see and do in Middlesbrough, plus the town is home to a growing number of arts and cultural events.
There are also plenty of shops and restaurants, from high street stores to independent boutiques and department stores such as Psyche.
So, what can you do on a day out in the Boro?
This striking contemporary art gallery opened in 2007 and hosts temporary exhibitions of fine art and crafts from 1900 to the present day. Previous exhibitions have included work by Picasso, Matisse, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. Admission is free.
You can also check out the Bottle of Notes sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, which sits just outside mima in the Centre Square.
Watch a game at the Riverside
In Middlesbrough we have a cry to reflect our feelings and frustrations as supporters of our home team. “Typical Boro!” we wail, whenever they lose a game.
Still, the Riverside Stadium has hosted some fantastic games over the years; including two magnificent matches from our Europa League years where Boro fought back from 3-0 down to win 4-3. I was at one of these games and the atmosphere was phenomenal!
Bungee off the Transporter Bridge
Middlesbrough is home to the famous Transporter Bridge, which has the distinction of being the only bridge in the UK that you can bungee jump from. If you’re feeling brave, you can climb the 210 steps to the top before diving the 160ft down towards the waters of the River Tees.
Enjoy INTRO festival
Formerly Middlesbrough Music Live, this annual music festival is held across the town on various stages both outdoors and in local bars and clubs. In previous years, performers have included Biffy Clyro, Kasabian, Bloc Party, Editors, The Zutons and many more.
Visit Mela festival
Middlesbrough Mela is one of the North East’s largest multicultural festivals and takes place over two days every summer. It features a combination of live music, foods from around the world and craft and fashion stalls.
Take part in Middlesbrough Literary Festival
For two weeks in June, Middlesbrough hosts a series of workshops, talks and events for writers and book lovers. You can enjoy author readings, flex your writing skills or take the opportunity to meet members of the publishing industry.
Visit Dorman Museum
The Dorman Museum is great place to take the family and hosts a range of exhibitions throughout the year, from arts and culture to science to history. But beware, as some of their exhibitions are darker in tone, such as the current Instruments of Medieval Torture collection.
Temenos is the first of the five proposed sculptures that form the Tees Valley Giants project and was created by Anish Kapoor and structural designer Cecil Balmond. It sits alongside the River Tees, close to Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium.
Every year in February, Middlesbrough hosts the week-long Animex International Festival of Animation and Computer Games at Teesside University. The university is home to some fantastic courses in these fields, not to mention DigitalCity, which supports entrepreneurs and start-ups in the digital industries. The festival focuses on the creative side of animation and game design and aims to educate, inspire and entertain.
Have coffee or get inked at Mink
When it opened, Mink was billed as the UK’s first coffee shop and tattoo studio. The quirky cafe is full of restored features and items that were rescued from scrap yards and given a new lease of life. Mink also aims to bring the finest coffee and culture to Middlesbrough, by hosting regular events from burlesque nights to live music and poetry readings.
Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could head to pretty much any restaurant or takeaway and order yourself Middlesbrough’s number one delicacy – the parmo!
Read the rest of the So I’m a Smoggie series.