There’s plenty of things to do in Scotland with the family, and whether you’re just heading up for a short break or a longer holiday you’ll want to make sure you’re seeing the best the country has to offer. Remove whisky and top-drawer scenery from the equation (because, let’s face it, children aren’t going to get giddy about staring into the horizon, no matter how beautiful that horizon may be), and you may be wondering just what’s left to offer? Between battlefields and beaches, citadels and castles, mountains and interactive museums, keeping kids amused during family days out in Scotland is a piece of cake.
And to top it all off, our fantastic range of large holiday homes in Scotland certainly means you’ll have somewhere beautiful and unique to stay, but to make sure everyone’s entertained while you’re out and about, we’ve put together our best family activities in Scotland for you below!
1. Hurtle through the trees at Go Ape
Why go ? Kids getting restless? Swing into action and take them to one of Go Ape’s tree-top adventure sites, which can be found in Peebles, Aberfoyle and Crathes. Each site has its own unique appeal. The Peebles courses gives zip-liners views of Glentress Forest and features the highest zip wire in the country. Aberfoyle boasts two of Britain’s longest wires, both of which extend for more than 400 metres, while the Crathes course is set on the grounds of a historic castle, within spitting distance of its turrets and towers. Your little adventurers must be at least 10 years of age to take part, so those still in single digits will have to make do with watching their elder siblings from the ground.
Book: Online at goape.co.uk
Location: Various Locations
2. Drive through the Highland Wildlife Park
Why go: There’s something about animals that gets kids jumping for joy. If your lot love the zoo back home, they’re bound to enjoy this. Part-safari, part regular zoo, Highland Wildlife Park allows visitors to drive their own vehicle around the main reserve, or you can join one of the guided Land Rover Tours instead. The reserve is populated by bison, deer, elk, vicuna, horses, and even two male polar bears. There is also a healthy birdlife population, many of whom have settled here of their own accord. After cruising through the main reserve, park the car and check out the rest on foot. The walk-round section has even more curious creatures, including a European wolf pack, a herd of reindeer and an Amur tiger.
Book: Online at highlandwildlifepark
Location:134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh,EH12 6TS, Scotland
3. Ride the real-life Hogwarts Express
Why go: Surely one of the best family days out in Scotland, this one is a definite crowd pleaser with kids and adults alike. It may not leave from Platform 9 ¾ and you won’t find chocolate frogs for sale from the tea trolley, but aside from these minor discrepancies, the Jacobite steam train, which runs along the West Highland Line, is about as close to the magical Hogwarts Express as a muggle can hope to get. The famous 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct that this train route runs over even featured in several of the films as the route of the Hogwarts Express.
Book: You can purchase tickets online at westcoastrailways
Location: Jesson Way, Carnforth,Lancashire, LA5 9UR, Scotland
4. Lock ‘ em up at Inveraray Jail
Why go: Little has changed at this prison and courthouse complex since the 19th century, when it served as a functioning jail for all kinds of people, from hardened criminals guilty of unspeakable crimes to poor unfortunates locked up for petty misdemeanours. Costumed characters dressed up as wardens and prisoners add a theatrical touch to the experience, while audio headsets provide gory insight into the kind of things prisoners would have to have endured here in times past. The jail’s interactive touch pads are a big hit with kids.
Book: Online at inverarayjail
Location: Argyll,Scotland, PA32 8TX, Scotland
5. Visit the National Museum of Rural Life
Why go: A great family day out, this museum is far more engaging than its name suggests. It incorporates a working 1950s-style farm complete with a tractor and living, breathing animals including Aberdeen Angus cattle, pigs, sheep and Clydesdale horses. There is also a period farmhouse, which looks like a time capsule preserved from decades past, as well as exhibits tracing the development of farming in Scotland. Seasonal activities, such as harvest-themed events, festive fairs and the chance to see the newest additions to the farm (whether foals, lambs or piglets), are great for kidlings.
Book: No need to book just turn up!
Location: Wester Kittochside, Philipshill Road, East Kilbride, G76 9HR, Scotland
6. Search for sea creatures with EcoVentures
Why go: The Moray Firth is prime turf for marine wildlife watchers who want to glimpse some of the graceful species who hang about in these waters. Owned by an experienced local skipper, EcoVentures operate wildlife-centric tours of these waters, explaining the history, sights and nature of the area as they take passengers out to sea. If luck is on your side, you’ll encounter the Moray Firth’s resident colony of bottlenose dolphins and perhaps even spot a seal or even the camera-shy minke whale breaching the water’s surface.
Book: Trips can be booked online at ecoventures
Location: Harbour Workshop,Victoria Place, Cromarty, IV11 8YE, Scotland
7. Storm Eilean Donan Castle
Why go: Standing on an islet at the meeting point of three lochs, the dramatically set Eilean Donan Castle is as picturesque as they come. The original fortress was destroyed during the Jacobite Uprising of 1719, and the castle that stands here today is actually a reconstruction. A trivial detail like that won’t bother young squires and maidens though, who will find the weapon displays, replica swords, spy holes, cannons and battlements ideal fodder for the imagination.
Book: No need to book just show up!
Location: Dornie by Kyle of Lochalsh, IV40 8DX, Scotland
Our fantastic and friendly concierge team is here if you’ve got any questions or queries about our properties – and they can help find you the ideal accommodation too, no matter how old the kids are or the kind of amenities or extras you’re after to ensure the perfect holiday. Our blog is fit to bursting with great travel articles and tips too! Head over and check out our Scotland Travel Guide or our pick of the top winter holiday destinations in Scotland.