With lots to see on our own doorstep, jumping in the car or on the train for a summer day trip is a great way to spend a Saturday, keeping the kids entertained during the school holidays. We’ve rounded up a few top spots to head to easy to explore in a day and be home in time for tea- Scottish weather permitting.
A popular family seaside destination, Largs sits directly west of East Renfrewshire on the coast. A charming Victorian promenade is the hub of the town’s activity, offering views of the Isle of Cumbrae, just a mile from the shore. A multimedia Viking-themed attraction, Vikingar, is a popular family spot, celebrating the Viking history of the town, when a fleet of Viking longboats were defeated by the Alexander III as they tried to land ashore in 1263. A trip isn’t complete without a fish and chip supper enjoyed on the pebbly beach followed by a stop at the famous art deco ice cream parlour, Nardini’s. Kids will be kept happy with putting greens, play parks and amusements or it’s just a short drive away to Kelburn Castle and Country Park, the brightly decorated 13th century castle, straight out of a fairy tale.
Journey time: 50 min approx. by car. Rail links via Glasgow Central Station.
A daytrip to Arran, the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, is just a short drive away and then a hop on the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick. The island is celebrating its history, heritage and archaeology in 2017, including its Machrie Standing Stones, Lochranza Castle and Giant’s Graves, all top spots to explore. Often referred to as ‘Scotland in miniature’ the island offers a bit of everything, from spectacular scenery, lovely local produce and plenty of chances for wildlife spotting. Challenge kids to spot one of Scotland’s big 5, with red deer, golden eagles, otters, seals and red squirrels all thriving here. Goatfell peak can be undertaken in a day and is the perfect way to work up a thirst for an Arran Ale. From golfers and cyclists to shopping enthusiasts, Arran has activities to suit all ages and tastes. A summer programme of events, including Broddick Highland Games and a Malt and Music Festival add to the entertainment on offer.
Journey time: 2 hour 30min approx. by car, including ferry journey. Several crossings daily by Caledonia MacBrayne Ferries. Rail links from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan.
Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
The bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the surrounding Trossachs National Park offer up lots to see and do on a summer day trip. There’s the spectacular scenery, worth the trip in itself, and there are spots for BBQs and picnicking on the loch side as well as water sporting opportunities for the more adventurous. Loch Lomond Shores retail centre offers shopping and dining as well as the Sea Life Aquarium and nearby Bird of Prey Centre. Walking and mountain climbing opportunities abound in the beautiful Trossachs. Steeped in Scottish history, legend and myth and a landscape of lochs, glens and mountains, the area is as popular today as it was over 100 years ago when Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott visited and started a tourism trend that has continued to this day. The Steamship Sir Walter Scott offers an unforgettable adventure out onto Loch Katrine.
Journey time: 45 min approx. by car to Loch Lomond Shores. Rail links via Glasgow Queens Street to Balloch.
Dumfries and Galloway
More picturesque landscape beckons in Dumfries and Galloway with its rocky and sandy coastline to its lush, dense woodlands and hills. The area is also historically and culturally rich, being the home to Robert Burns for his later years at Ellisland Farm, a leading visitor attraction today. There are castles and medieval fortresses to explore, due to the proximity to the English border, including Caerlaverock Castle with it’s moat and imposing battlements and Drumlanrig Castle, the impressive 17th centuary Renaissance style great house. Once home to the Duke and Duchess of Buccluech, it’s magnificient rooms and art collection are open to explore along with 120,000 acres of the Queensberry Estate. Art lovers will enjoy the Dumfries Art trail in Dumfries town centre, an independent collaboration between local artists, makers and craftspeople that have work on display at galleries and open studios in the town. Or visit Logan Botanic Gardens in Port Logan near Stranraer and discover a remarkable collection of unusual and beautiful plants.
Journey time: 1hr 30 min approx. by car to Dumfries. Rail links via Glasgow Central.