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50 top ideas for a family day out in Scotland this summer

Summer has arrived in Scotland and that means lots of daylight hours to fill, so you’ll need plenty of ideas to keep the wee ones busy!

We’ve put together a few suggestions for fun things to do in Scotland with kids, as well as some great events to attend across June, July and August. From brilliant beaches to fun farm parks, and from Highland games to on-the-water adventures, we declare that boredom will be banished this summer!

Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire

Sailing for kids at Portsoy Boat Festival, Banff, AberdeenshireSailing lessons at the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy, Aberdeenshire

  1. Set sail to the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy for a great family day out on 25 – 25 June.
  2. Things heating up? Then make a splash and join in with an inflatable fun session at Stonehaven Open Air Pool. On 9 July, head to the Stonehaven Folk Festival Aqua Ceilidh, where you can enjoy dances including the ‘Splashing White Sergeant’ and ‘Drip the Willow’.
  3. Watch white horses come crashing in and race down rolling dunes at Balmedie Beach, just north of Aberdeen.
  4. Make your way to the magical Crathes Castle at Banchory on 4 July for the ranger-led Crathes Children’s Walk, where you’ll learn all about the cute, small and furry inhabitants of the grounds. Or, experience some tree-top adventures at Go Ape!

Argyll & The Isles

A SeaFari Adventures trip to the Corryvreckan whirlpool, Argyll

A SeaFari boat trip to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool in Argyll

  1. Hop on a ferry (or fly!) to the Inner Hebrides to enjoy the many delights of the Tiree Music Festival (14 – 16 July) – it’s one of the most family-friendly festivals around.
  2. Brace yourself for a fast-paced Seafari Adventure! Departing from Easdale, near Oban, daily RIB trips run to the impressive Corryvreckan, the world’s third largest whirlpool!
  3. Step into some storybook magic and follow the Gruffalo Trail through Ardkinglas Woodland, near Loch Fyne.
  4. Discover the prehistoric landscapes surrounding Kilmartin House Museum in Mid Argyll, dotted with ancient burial mounds, cairns, stone circles and artworks dating back 5,000 years.

In and around Aviemore

A wildcat at the Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig, by Kingussie, Highlands

A Scottish wildcat at the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kingussie

  1. Fill your day with countless thrilling adventures, from runaway timber train rollercoasters to aerial assault courses at Landmark Forest Adventure Park at Carrbridge.
  2. See snow leopards, Scottish wildcats, red pandas and even a polar bear at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie.
  3. Time travel hundreds of years into the past at the open air Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore and discover how early Highland people lived and worked.
  4. Head to Loch Garten Osprey Centre at Abernethy to catch a glimpse of the resourceful EJ, a magnificent female osprey who bravely protects her nest.

Isle of Arran

Kayaking in Brodick Bay, Isle of Arran
Kayaking in Brodick Bay, Isle of Arran

  1. Paddle power! Skirt the shorelines of the Isle of Arran and have a go at kayaking with Arran Adventure.
  2. Perched on the dramatic peak of Goatfell, Brodick Castle is made for explorers with gardens, woodland trails and hills to discover.

In and around Dumfries

  1. Get ready for fun – magic tricks, dressing up, puppet shows, crafts and more await at the Galloway Children’s Festival at Soaperie Gardens in Kirkcudbright on 25 June.
  2. Feed the animals, fly down the astroslide, or row around the boating pond at Mabie Farm Park at Mabie, near Dumfries.
  3. Try pond dipping or go on a bug hunt during June’s Bug Month at WWT Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, and spot and identify lots of brightly-coloured Beautiful Butterflies at this special event on 27 July.

In and around Dundee

  1. Fill a basket with delicious summery berries and go fruit picking at Charleton Fruit Farm, near Montrose, before hitting the adventure play area.
  2. Get up close to some wild critters at Camperdown Wildlife Centre, near Dundee, and meet donkeys, lemurs, the European brown bear and many other furry friends.

In Edinburgh & The Lothians

Street performers on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh FestivalsStreet performers on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festivals

  1. Spend time in the Children’s Discovery Centre at the Royal Highland Show on 22 – 25 June or wander around the show ground and see hundreds of pedigree farm animals.
  2. In East Lothian, get an adrenaline rush as you try cable wakeboarding at Foxlake Adventures near Dunbar, or head to the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick for a programme of summer events from 1 July – 14 August.
  3. Soak up culture in the capital and experience events taking place during the Edinburgh Festivals across the summer. Boogie along to the musical offerings at the Jazz & Blues Festival or watch incredible street performers dazzle audiences at the Festival Fringe.

In and around Falkirk

The Falkirk WheelThe Falkirk Wheel

  1. Head to the The Helix for outdoor fun sessions for all ages from 7 July – 17 August, including a magical Little Red Riding Hood picnic and a hands-on den and furniture building workshop.
  2. Experience a day out on the tracks with Thomas the Tank Engine and friends at Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway on 29 – 30 July and 9 -10 September. Be sure to book tickets in advance!
  3. At the Falkirk Wheel, explore canal paths on a Segway, roam around the canal basin in a buoyant water walker, hire an electric boat, or go paddling in a canoe.

Fife

Culross Palace and Gardens in the Royal Burgh of CulrossCulross Palace, Culross, Fife

  1. Bring your sense of curiosity to the Crail Festival, from 19– 29 July, where there are crabbing competitions, ceramics and crafts workshops, fossil hunting, junior golf and a sandcastle building competition.
  2. Explore the fascinating Royal Burgh of Culross, one of Scotland’s prettiest 17 -18th century villages with its fabulous ochre-coloured Culross Palace which features tiny rooms, mysterious passageways and intricately painted ceilings.

In and around Fort William

  1. Take the gondola up the Nevis Range and try some great outdoor activities, including whizzing down the ZoomTrax 40 m tubing slide – it’s free!
  2. Take a trip on the Scenic Chair Ride and enjoy gorgeous views over the Leanachan Forest and the Great Glen. The two-person chair leaves from the Gondola top station during the summer months only.

In and around Glasgow

  1. Journey back to the 1820s at the New Lanark World Heritage Site. This summer, admire impressive models of worldwide landmarks made from pieces of LEGO at the fantastic Brick City exhibition.
  2. Take a dip in the salt waters of the Gourock Outdoor Pool. There’s a kids’ pool, diving boards and the water is always heated to a comfortable 29˚C!
  3. Let your hair down at Mugdock Country Park near Milngavie on 28 – 31 July for the small and quirky Mugstock, a family-friendly music festival.

In and around Inverness

Highland dancing at the Inverness Highland Games, InvernessHighland dancing at Inverness Highland Games

  1. Have a Highland fling at Piping at Forres: European Pipe Band Championships on 24 June and enjoy great family events – under 12s go free!
  2. Enjoy the buzz of Inverness Highland Games on 15 July. As well as traditional spectacles and family fun, there will be piping competitions and heavy events to look forward to.
  3. Try to spot beautiful dolphins frolicking in coastal waters from the Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay, near Fochabers.

In and around Loch Lomond

  1. Does a competitive spirit run in your family? Then head to Loch Lomond Highland Games on 15 July and take part in the children’s race or the tug o’war.
  2. Walk to the waterfall, try to spot red squirrels from the special squirrel hide, or fly across the forest canopy on one of the UK’s longest zip wires at the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, east of Loch Lomond in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.

Orkney

  1. Join in Orkney’s midsummer celebrations at the St Magnus International Festival. This year, it celebrates the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of Orkney’s patron saint, Magnus, from 16 – 24 June.

Outer Hebrides

Family fun at the Hebridean Celtic Festival, Isle of Lewis <em/><sm> © Leila Angus / BrighterStillHebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway, Isle  of Lewis. Credit Leila Angus/BrighterStill

  1. Voyage to the Isle of Lewis for Hebridean Celtic Festival on 19 – 22 July, where as well as Celtic, world and roots music, there’s plenty on for kids, including a circus skills workshop and a kids’ zone!

Perthshire

Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay, Kenmore, PerthshireWorkshop at the Scottish Crannog Centre, Perthshire

  1. Delve into archaeological wonders at the Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay, a thatched roundhouse built in the shallows of the loch. Learn about ancient Iron Age techniques with several events during the summer.
  2. Experience the best of the countryside at the Scottish Game Fair, held at Scone Palace on 30 June – 2 July, where you can find falconry and gun dog displays or try activities such as archery and clay pigeon shooting.

The Scottish Borders

  1. Hit the waves and try surfing at Coldingham Bay with St Vedas Surf School, suitable for kids aged eight and above.
  2. Experience pedal power at 7 stanes Glentress mountain biking centre, near Peebles, where you can hire bikes and get tuition and tips before hitting the graded routes.

In and around Stirling

Lions at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling Lions at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling

  1. Got what it takes to lead an army on the battlefield? Put your medieval military tactics to the test in the interactive 3D Battle Game at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.
  2. Earn your stripes at Blair Drummond Safari Park and learn about endangered species with several summer events.
  3. Add a splash of educational fun to the summer holidays with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce themed tours at Stirling Castle from 23 – 25 June.
  4. Discover musical treats for the whole family at Doune the Rabbit Hole from 18 – 20 August in the glorious surroundings of Cardross Estate.

Shetland

St Ninian's Isle, Shetland

The sand tombolo at St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland

  1. Get in touch with Mother Nature at the Shetland Nature Festival, held 1 – 9 July, where you can get up close to comical puffins or try to spot orcas out at sea.
  2. Stroll across the beautiful tombolo to St Ninian’s Isle, a natural sandy causeway, and maybe even have a paddle along the shoreline!

If you can manage more than a few of these, then you definitely deserve an ice cream!

Looking for more inspiration for things to do with kids in Scotland? Then browse for things to do for families and search for great events.

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