12 best family days out in Scotland: Cheap things to do with your kids

Welcome to our family days out Scotland section! Here we’ve listed our top 12 favourite things to do in Scotland with the family…

From exploring Scottish legends, wildlife spotting and waterpark fun, we’ve got loads for you to see, and all are budget-friendly, too.

1. Loch Ness cruises, Inverness

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Anyone who’s ever heard of Nessie, the supposedly three-humped lake monster that lurks beneath the surface of Loch Ness, will be dying to come and explore the legendary lake themselves, and what better way to do it than by taking to its waters on a cruise? Loch Ness by Jacobite offer a range of tours to embark on whether you just want to explore the lake or you can choose to fit in some more sights along the way, like Urquhart Castle (pictured), which stands proudly on the northern shore of Loch Ness.
Best for: Kids with wild imaginations!
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2. Bowhill Country Estate, Selkirk

An enchanting secluded estate surrounded by a beautiful lake and acres of woodlands, Bowhill is one of Scotland’s hidden gems. With plenty of outdoor activities – fishing, hiking, horseriding and indoor estate tours (even a theatre!) – there’s fantastic fun come rain or shine. If you live close by, check out the kids’ club with different activities each week for budding rangers.
Best for: The adventure playground… zip wire included!
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3. Almond Valley Museum, Farm and Discovery Centre, West Lothian

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Animal lovers will go wild for Almond Valley’s farm. And with an array of indoor and outdoor activities – from the petting farm to the indoor adventure playground and the giant pillow (yes, a GIANT PILLOW!) – there’s plenty to keep kids entertained. Plus, across the river you can explore the woodland gardens and interactive museum.
Best for: Under 10s.
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4. Stirling Castle, Stirling

Stirling Castle is the Scottish heart of all things art, culture and celebrity in the 16th century. Take in the stunning architecture of the Royal Palace and visit the surrounding castle buildings including the breathtaking Palace gardens. Make sure to check out the Palace Vaults for a magical trip into the costumes behind the court jesters or the Regimental Museum housing exquisite artefacts from conflicts around the globe. Plus you may just get a visit from some of Stirling’s most famous (and controversial) residents…
Best for: Dressing up in the castle’s fancy dress box
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5. Dundee Science Centre, Dundee

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Visit one of the UK’s biggest science centres with over 80 hands-on exhibits for an all round sensory experience your kids will love! Have a go at making your own fun, wacky sounds with the Music Mayhem exhibition, whilst under 5s can discover the ‘Musical Mystery Bus’ – an interactive, live show run throughout the day.
Best for: Interactive experience
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6. Blair Drummond Safari Park, Stirling

We bet you hadn’t counted on spotting any of the Big 5 on your trip to the Scottish lands! Get up close and personal with wildlife from around the globe at one of Scotland’s most famous safari parks. Animals include zebras, lions, tigers, meerkats, elephants, giraffes to name only but a few. Take a boat trip around Chimp Island, enjoy the stunning sea lion show or take a ride at the fun fair and get your face painted – there’s absolutely loads to do! Don’t miss the ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks throughout the day to get even more inspired by these amazing creatures.
Best for: Value
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7. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

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Spend the day exploring Edinburgh’s iconic castle overlooking the nation’s beautiful capital. Home to some of Scotland’s most legendary royals, fought over in ancient battles and later used as a jail for enemies of the state – this mighty fortress has overseen some of the greatest moments of Edinburgh’s history. Download the family-friendly itinerary and let the kids lead the way as they navigate through the castle with a series of clues…
Best for: Spectacular views over the city
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8. The Time Capsule Water Park, Lanarkshire

If you’re not sure you can quite rely on the Scottish weather,the Time Capsule is a perfect day out come rain or shine. Experience the Storm Chaser flumes in the tornado pool, glide across the newly refurbished ice rink or let off some steam at the fitness centre, there really is something for everyone.
Best for: Rainy days
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9. Mabie Farm Park, Dumfries

Mabie’s has something for all the family, from donkey rides, to quad bikes, to paddle boating, kids can try new adventures, and explore the Scottish countryside in this beautiful and action-packed farm. Plus, every afternoon, (with expert supervision of course) kids get the chance to feed and handle some of the animals.
Best for: Boys’ toys!
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10. Deep Sea World, North Queensferry

If you’re kids are fascinated with sea life and dream of deep sea diving and underwater exploring, this one must be on your list. As Scotland’s National Aquarium there’s plenty to see and do. Meet Stella the stingray, enjoy the beautiful range of the tropical fish and get a true ocean-floor experience in the UK’s longest underwater tunnel.
Best for: Shark dives (yes, really!)
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11. The National Museum of Flight, East Lothian

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If the thought of flying through the skies thrills your little ones, or even mum and dad, then you must visit this former airfield and explore the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day, including the chance to get on board Scotland’s only Concorde. You will spend hours being entertained with interactive exhibitions, supersonic experiences, historic hangars, an assault course and acres of green grass and fresh air. Plus, under 5s can enter for free!                                                          Best for: Aviation buffs                                                                                                                                              Tell me more…

12. Jacobite Steam Train, Scottish Highlands

Fans of Harry Potter will go wild as they imagine they’re off to Hogwarts on the Jacobite Steam Train, which passes over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, a location featured in the Harry Potter films. Described as the greatest railway journey in the world, this 84 mile round trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes, from  the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis! Great for train enthusiasts but also a perfect exploration for the whole family.
Best for: All the family                                                                                                                                                 Tell me more…

Do you know of any great things to do in the Scotland of England with the family? List any hidden gems you know about on our Facebook page and we might even feature them in our round-up!