The best days out for kids in Scotland

Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful lakes, fells and mountains in the UK as well as vibrant cities full of culture and tradition. Taking children on holiday means that you can appreciate all of this from a child’s point of view, often the most wonderful way to see new sights. Here we bring you a selection of some of the greatest places to visit in Scotland for all the family.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

You can’t visit Scotland without taking a trip to the majestic Edinburgh Castle. Overlooking the cosmopolitan capital city and home to some of Scotland’s most legendary kings, children will delight in looking around with their own family-friendly itinerary, full of clues to help them. From the Crown Jewels to the enigmatic Stone of Destiny, they will not be bored for a minute. Let them find their way to Mons Meg, one of the greatest guns in Europe and let them witness the firing of the One O’Clock Gun, a popular Edinburgh tradition.

Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh

This popular zoo not only has over a thousand animals but is a highly-regarded centre of education and conservation. View the koala bears from the Hilltop Safari Ride, see Giant Pandas and Penguins and discover the magical trail of giant Chinese lanterns! There are daily talks, including ‘Feed of the Day’ and don’t miss Penguins Rock and the Budongo Trail. Be sure to check out Wee Beasties, an exhibition of reptiles, amphibians and insects. You can also handle some of these if you feel the need!

The Edinburgh Dungeon, Edinburgh

If your kids love a bit of ghoul and torture, they will love the Edinburgh Dungeons! Over an hour of theatrical line-ups including notorious murderers such as the cannibal Sawney Bean, who resided in the caverns of Galloway. Be careful to not get eaten as you pass by! There are 360 degree performance stages with special effects shows with revolting smells included to add to the atmosphere! There’s also a boat ride and witch hunt as well as the temptingly-named Drop Dead: Drop Ride. This may be too much for little ones so we would advise teenagers only.

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, Inverness

Children will be chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster! You can look around yourself but far better to take a cruise along the Loch – otherwise you may just miss her. There are some brilliant tours available, such as Loch Ness by Jacobite, some of which just take in the loch and others which take in other lovely sights such as Urquhart Castle and Caledonian Canal. Kids will love the live sonar on board which watches out for Nessie while they listen to the celebrity-led audio guide which immerses them in the legends of the lake. Take eager beavers to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in Drumnadrochit afterwards to learn more; it takes visitors through themed areas exploring the Loch over the last centuries.

Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh

Mini-historians will love this trip to the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth, overshadowed by the ancient volcano of Arthur’s Seat. Get them to research the Scottish kings and queens beforehand and see if they can recognise them hanging on the walls of The Queen’s Gallery. Find out where Mary Queen of Scots once lived and check out the fascinating Royal Collection exhibitions. While there, you can also visit Holyrood Abbey where you can walk through the abbey nave and gardens and view the royal vault. The Gothic structure of the abbey is brilliant for aspiring photographers, especially on a cloudy day where haunting photos can be taken and sent to friends back home!

Almond Valley Museum, Farm and Discovery Centre, West Lothian

Brilliant for children who love our furry friends, this centre offers a farm where children can see the animals in their old stone buildings, and get the opportunity to handle some. It also has an indoor adventure playground and the most exciting part, a huge pillow that children can bounce up and down on to their heart’s content! Surrounded by woodland gardens, there is also an interactive museum to keep little brains occupied, as well as trampolines, pedal carts and tractor rides for the more active child. You can pause for breath in Morag’s Milk Bar where you can buy scrumptious healthy snacks and then finish at one of the 44 activities on site. Here, there really is something for everyone!

Blair Drummond Safari Park, Stirling

Get a taste of Africa at one of the UK’s best safari parks. Meet lions and tigers, elephants and giraffes, zebras and many more. Head for one of the interesting ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks which explains all about these wonderful animals. Kids will love the sea lion and bird shows and for little ones, there are fair rides, face painting and a carousel. Hop aboard a boat to Chimp Island or take a pedal boat out on the lake. You can work your way around the centre and you will still not be able to fit it all in!

The Time Capsule Water Park, Lanarkshire

A holiday just isn’t complete without a trip to the water, be it sea, lake or a water park. This colourful mass of slides and flumes is so much fun – try the 10m high Storm Chasers, the Tornado Tantrum and the Tsunami wave pool. If you want to get completely drenched, stand under the great tipping bucket on Splashdown Island or float along the calmness of Riptide River, at least until you get to the end where you will get a surprise! The centre also has an ice rink if you prefer not to get wet, though this of course depends on how many times you fall over! Tiny tots can splash about with mum and dad at Cove Island where it isn’t so busy, and older children who just like to do their own thing can be pointed in the direction of the 25m swimming pool where they can set the pace.

Loch Lomond Sea Planes, Balloch

Take to the skies in a Cessna 208 sea plane which will fly you over the mountains and rocky coasts of the Isle of Skye. You will fly for just under an hour between 500 and 5000 feet and get amazing views of the Outer Hebrides as well as other outlying islands of the area. You can take off on land, water or the beach – all of which add to the experience! Whilst it is not the cheapest day out, it is one that you will not want to miss if you have a special birthday or occasion to celebrate during your trip.

Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine

Before going to the museum, head to Irvine Beach, one of the most gorgeous beaches in the area. You will be greeted by a huge expanse of golden sand overlooked by tall sand dunes and marram grasses. Take a beach picnic and head down to the sea, laden with bats and balls for family games, as well as a shelter in case of windy weather! Toddlers and small children can collect buckets of water for their sandcastles and older children can swim and play games such as beach rounders or volleyball. Finish off the day with a visit to the Scottish Maritime Museum on the harbourside which has models of ships as well as lifeboats and other maritime paraphernalia. While you are there, you can hop on board the MV Kyles, the oldest floating Clyde-built vessel in the world.

If these adventures sound too good to be missed, why not have a browse through our Scotland cottages for somewhere to stay in between days out?

Posted by Elianne Reed on 22nd September 2017