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Sunderland City guide, including Sunderland Hotels

As one of England's newest cities, Sunderland is a city with a difference. It combines a modern, bustling centre with a relaxing green environment, stunning coastal scenery and a refreshing attitude to life. In Sunderland, quality of life and quality of environment go hand in hand. The rapidly improving city centre has an enviable location, set right on the mouth of the River Wear, next to an award-winning coastline and surrounded by easily accessible countryside. Add to that a range of outstanding heritage, cultural and sporting attractions and you'll find that Sunderland has everything you need for an ideal short break. Places of interest: Sunderland has one of the few national museums based outside London - the National Glass Centre.

It has a Winter Garden, a 21st century palm-house in a city-centre park; one of Britain's earliest Christian churches; and a university that is a fashionable destination for young film-makers. Penshaw Monument is one of the North East's most prominent landmarks; it was built in 1844 in honour of the first Earl of Durham, John George Lambton. Located opposite Herrington Country Park, Penshaw Monument stands magnificently above the city on a limestone hill in the middle of the Great North Forest and affords views as far as Durham Cathedral and the North Pennines. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens was awarded second place in the Large Visitor Attraction category, Excellence in England awards, Sunderland's museum is hugely popular with visitors of all ages. A range of fascinating multimedia presentations tell the city's story from its early foundations to the present day.

One of the galleries boasts an extensive collection of paintings by LS Lowry, who considered Sunderland his “second home”. The National Glass Centre is based in an innovative new building on the north bank of the River Wear. It is dedicated to promoting glass and all its uses; in design, technology and as a vehicle for artistic expression. Here you can explore the history of glass making in the UK and see examples of the contemporary glass maker's art. It is a fascinating experience for visitors of all ages. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is located on the top floor of the City Library and Arts Centre. It has received critical acclaim for its changing exhibitions programme, featuring the current work of local, national and international artists. Fullwell Mill is the most complete windmill in the North East and is located just north of Roker. Built in 1821 from the magnesium limestone from nearby quarries, it features a purpose-built visitor centre that offers a glimpse of the workings of a 19th century windmill. The ancient art of corn milling is demonstrated during the guided tour of the mill's five floors.

Things to do: The award winning beaches and nearby parks play host to a number of Sunderland's annual outdoor events. These include the annual international air show and the Waterfront Weekend featuring world music, art and theatre. There are some spectacular coastal walks to suit all ages and the sands of the city's beaches at Roker and Seaburn are the perfect place for walking and jogging. The cliff-top parks to the north of the city, allow you to walk the Bede's Way or follow the Walney to Wear cycling routes. Roker & Seaburn Beaches just north of the city centre provide a wonderful seaside playground for adults and children alike. Washington Wildfowl & Wetland Centre is a great family day out. This recreated wetland provides a 'stop over' and wintering habitat for migratory water birds after their passage over the North Sea. It is a haven for curlew and redshank and a breeding ground for flocks of herons. The Wetland Discovery Centre offers a view of the wide range of wildlife and a programme of art exhibitions. Marine Activities Centre is Sunderland's main focus for all types of water-based sports and leisure activities, from sailing and canoeing to pleasure fishing or a river cruise.

Take a boat trip out along the Wear to enjoy the varied riverscape or try out more water sports and other activities at the centre. The Sunderland Wall is Europe's premier indoor climbing centre, where the facilities and courses cater for everyone from the novice to the die-hard crag rat. Sunderland International Air show attracts over a million visitors every year to the seafront at Seaburn to watch the thrilling displays by jet fighters, vintage aircraft, helicopters and aerobatic teams, including the world famous Red Arrows. Food & Drink: You will find that Sunderland offers the visitor the choice of world cuisine. From Italian cuisine to the latest Japanese sushi bar, you'll find a huge range of restaurants sure to get your taste buds tingling and your mouth watering. Marine Activities Centre boasts an Italian restaurant with panoramic sea views. The Roker Hotel/Restaurant is one of the most popular venues in the area, providing great service and food, along with a private bar for all dinner parties. Chaplin is a traditional pub in every sense, benefiting from a prime city-centre location and outdoor picnic tables during the summer months. Vivaldi is near the Winter Gardens. It is a plush, modern venue offering.

Italian dishes from seafood risotto to spinach gnocchi, and more exotic dishes such as Szechuan cured beef with crisp rice noodles and duck on garlic mash. Throwingstones restaurant serves the needs of visitors to the National Glass Centre. This ground-floor restaurant is where you can relax with a cappuccino or tackle a full three-course meal. Hotels & Accommodation: Sunderland offers a range of visitor accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Available accommodation ranges from three and four star hotels to cosy guest houses and bed & breakfasts. Quality Hotel Sunderland The Balmoral & Terrace Guest Houses Chaise Guest House Entertainment In the evening enjoy Sunderland’s theatres, bars and clubs. Chase is a retro-styled bar complete with large leather sofas and a grand spiral staircase. Downstairs there is a large L-shaped bar while upstairs there are two bars and a wood-floored dance floor. DJs play R&B, soul and house every night.


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