Kids are full of surprises - you never know just what topic or interest is going to be the flavour of the month. Luckily, in Scotland there is a huge range of family attractions which will no doubt ignite the curiosity of your little learners and provide the perfect family day out.
Scotland really is for kids. Step into the past and different worlds at our castles, historic ships, science centres and more brilliant places that children will love.
If your wee ones go dippy for dinosaurs…
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
They may have been extinct for millions of years, but dinosaurs are often very much alive in the minds of youngsters. If a close encounter with a T-Rex will make for a memorable holiday highlight, then head to Dino Park near Dumfries to see replicas of Mesozoic-era reptiles.
Budding palaeontologists should not miss the chance to visit the charming Staffin Dinosaur Museum on the Isle of Skye to see preserved dinosaur fossils and footprints, or the life-sized skeleton cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
For princes and princesses who are enchanted by fairy tales…
Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire
Scotland's castles are amazing places to imagine yourself living out the pages of a storybook. Stirling Castle has costumed characters that bring history to life, and in the palace vaults kids can get dressed in medieval garb and have a go at playing Renaissance-era instruments.
In Angus, child-friendly Glamis Castle has plenty to see inside and out, as does Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway. For breathtaking coastal ruins, plan a family day out to Tantallon Castle in East Lothian or Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire.
Find more castles that kids will love in Scotland.
Do you have a few budding history buffs in your household?
Skara Brae, Orkney © Iain Sarjeant
Kids who love history will also love Scotland's castles, but there are lots of other fantastic attractions where they can get to grips with Scotland's fascinating and, at times, tumultuous history. School-age kids will love the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, where they can discover the history of one of Scotland's most exciting battles and use 3D technology to try out their own medieval battle strategies.
Visit the prehistoric village of Skara Brae in Orkney to see a true archaeological treasure and see a place which was inhabited before the Egyptian pyramids were built. Fans of the Vikings will also love the Norse heritage of Orkney and Shetland, or they can head to Vikingar! in Largs to discover more about these ancient seaborne plunderers in Scotland.
Find more history and heritage attractions in Scotland.
Do your kids go giddy for adventure on the high seas?
Tall Ship, Glasgow
Arr, arr mateys! Scotland has some incredible nautical attractions where you can climb aboard a berthed ship and feel like a captain for a day. In Glasgow, there's the Tall Ship at Riverside, which has been around the world four times, whilst in Edinburgh, the Royal Yacht Britannia offers a majestic maritime experience.
Bring your spirit of adventure to the RRS Discovery in Dundee, the vessel that took Scott and Shackleton on their first expedition to Antarctica. The River Tay is also home to the HM Frigate Unicorn, a 19th century Royal Navy ship.
Inverness is where you'll find the fantastic Ship Space, which has an 88-ft-long scale model of the Titanic, as well as a whole host of other fantastic marine attractions. In Irvine, kids can find out about Scottish boat building and more at the Scottish Maritime Museum.
For youngsters who go loco for trains…
Jacobite steam train at Glenfinnan, Highlands
All aboard! Kids can imagine that they are off to Hogwarts as they ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, which passes over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, a location featured in stunning scenes of the Harry Potter films.
Thomas the Tank Engine enthusiasts shouldn't miss the chance to ride the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway on one of the 'Days Out With Thomas' special events. This heritage railway is also home to Scotland's largest railway museum.
Discover more steam and heritage railways in Scotland.
For little aeronauts who have their heads in the clouds…
National Museum of Flight, East Lothian © Paul Dodds
If the thought of flying through the skies thrills your offspring, then check out the country's aeronautical-themed attractions. In East Lothian, the National Museum of Flight is home to Concorde, the pioneering aeroplane capable of supersonic flight, and lots of other amazing aircraft under two hangars.
Near Dumfries lies the Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum where you can uncover fascinating wartime history and more, or visit the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre - it's one of the oldest airfields in the UK and has a replica Spitfire.
In the Highlands, located not far from Forres, is Morayvia. Staffed by former air force crew, it's here you can see Nimrods and a search and rescue helicopter. Or visit the Highland Aviation Museum near Inverness Airport where you can sit in the cockpits of various planes.
If they want to see creatures big and small…
Five Sisters Zoo, West Lothian
There's a huge wealth of zoos and wildlife parks across Scotland where children can find their favourite species from all across the globe. Edinburgh Zoo is famed for its giant pandas and penguin parades, or enjoy a safari experience at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, and see the likes of giraffes, tigers and zebras.
Not far from Aviemore is the Highland Wildlife Park, home to red pandas and rare Scottish wildcats, whilst in the east, kids can become a zookeeper for the day at Dundee's Camperdown Wildlife Park. In West Lothian, you can feed a lemur at the Five Sisters Zoo!
Find more on wildlife attractions in Scotland.
Or visit aquariums with oceans of marine life…
Deep Sea World, North Queensferry
For some fishy fun, explore one of Scotland's many great attractions where you can discover fascinating sea creatures. Deep Sea World in North Queensferry is Scotland's national aquarium. Walk through an underwater tunnel and see the biggest collection of sharks in Europe!
St Andrews Aquarium is home to dangerous piranhas and lionfish, while at Sea Life Loch Lomond you could feed a turtle or a shark. At the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary near Oban, you'll find rescued seals and sleek otters. Although not strictly an aquarium the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick is a great place to discover the wonderful birdlife and seals of Scotland's east coast.
Find more marine life centres in Scotland.
If your youngsters fancy themselves as eager farmhands…
National Museum of Rural Life, East Kilbride © Ruth Armstrong Photography
From bouncing spring lambs to big shiny tractors, farms have huge draws for kids, and luckily Scotland's got some fantastic attractions where you can get a flavour of life in the country.
The National Museum of Rural Life, just 13 miles from Glasgow, has a Georgian farmhouse where you can experience what life was like on a farm in the mid-20th century. There's a whole host of farm favourites to meet, including Tamworth pigs, Ayrshire cows, Blackface sheep and Clydesdale horses.
In Ayrshire, Dalgarven Mill is home to the Museum of Country Life and Costume. Set in a restored Victorian grain mill, it will feel like you've stepped back in time as your browse the fascinating exhibits. Or experience a real dairy farm at Cream o' Galloway, not far from Castle Douglas. Explore the farm, have a go at adventure activities and, of course, try the delicious ice cream!
Check out more farm attractions in Scotland.
Are your kids mad scientists in the making?
Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh
Curious kids love to know how things work. Expand their little minds and feed their inquisitiveness at one of Scotland's amazing attractions dedicated to fun science and learning. At the Glasgow Science Centre, you can connect with the cosmos at the planetarium, or in Edinburgh's Dynamic Earth, you'll be taken on a journey through time and space as you discover how our planet came to be.
For a sensory experience, head to the Dundee Science Centre, which has fantastic exhibits dedicated to exploring the five senses. At the Aberdeen Science Centre, take part in real experiments where things have a tendency to fizz, defy gravity and even explode!
Take a look at other science-related attractions in Scotland.
For beach babies who love to be beside the sea…
Scotland has miles of coastline with stretches of sand which are perfect for rockpooling, paddling and sand castle building - all things wee ones love to do at the beach. But if the weather is changeable, try these places where you'll find indoor family fun as well as brilliant beaches.
By Ayr beach you'll find Pirate Pete's, a family entertainment centre with adventure play, mini golf, laser tag and fun fair rides. In the north east, Aberdeen beach is home to Codonas. As well as a sizeable outdoor amusement park, there is ten-pin bowling, pirate-themed adventure golf and Smugglers Cove indoor play in the sunset boulevard complex.
Discover more beaches in Scotland.