Best family days out in Scotland holiday cottages

Best family days out in Scotland

Jemima Kirkwood 13 December 2019

“The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories.” – Og Mandino

We love this quote! Memories are what we take with us into our future, so when planning a holiday with your family, consider Scotland as the destination to help your children remember the fantastic location you took them too. But why Scotland?

The readers of the influential travel guide Rough Guides have recently voted Scotland as the most beautiful country in the world. Being up against New Zealand, Finland, Norway and South Africa, this can only be seen as a huge accolade to our country and this vote can back up that Scotland would be a place they will never forget.

Adventure awaits in Scotland, so here we have listed what we consider to be some of the best attractions in Scotland for families which offer fantastic days out and lots of fun! Keep this in mind for your Easter holiday plans!


Landmark is one of Scotland’s most popular forest adventure parks, located in the Highland village of Carrbridge within the Cairngorms National Park. Easily reached from many nearby towns and villages - including Nethy Bridge, Dulnain Bridge, Boat of Garten, Kingussie, Aviemore and Grantown-on-Spey - it makes for the perfect spot for a day out with the kids if you are visiting this part of Scotland. This park is a child’s dream and is, in fact, aimed at a wide age range with all sorts of activities and adventures to experience. So the parents will have loads of fun too!


  • Tree Top Trail – A raised walkway through pinewood, perfect for spotting squirrels as they scurry about the trees and forage for food.
  • Tropical Hot House – An enchanting bio-dome filled with exotic butterflies, plants, budgies, parakeets and Asian quail.
  • Interactive Areas – Bamboozelum, Wonder Wood and The Lost Labyrinth will entertain for hours and challenge those who enjoy puzzles and the weird and wonderful.
  • Adventure rides – The rollercoaster will twist and turn you until you laugh out loud, and the flume rides will keep you running up and down or more thrill-seeking drops. Check the height restrictions for child safety.
  • Dinosaur Kingdom – Scotland’s unique dinosaur experience exhibits 22 species of pre-historic beasts which are lifesize!!! Meet a 20-foot-tall T-Rex which is more lifelike than is comfortable! Who will be more scared – you or the kids?

This is a full day of entertainment for the whole family. There is a restaurant and café for those who need to rest and refuel, but there are also ample picnic spots for the warmer weather. There is nothing like eating a sandwich whilst ferocious dinosaurs tower above you!

Address: Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Carrbridge, Inverness-shire, PH23 3AJ.

Opening times: 10am – 4pm (2nd Jan  - 6th March) Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Check the website for December entry times.

Stay close by: Learag is a comfortable bungalow sleeping 6 in Tomatin, just 15 minutes from Carrbridge. 2 dogs welcome.

Find out what else you can get up to in this area with our guide to the Cairngorms National Park

Highland Wildlife Park

This nature reserve is the wildest you can get for a wildlife park in Scotland, perfect for days out with kids. Here you can discover Scottish wildlife and endangered animals of the world in a spectacular Highland setting whilst spending time with your family, helping them read and learn all about them. You will have experienced a whole host of animals by the time you leave, including tigers, fox, deer, elk, wolves and ox as well as an array of birds too!


  • The main reserve – Drive it safari-style in your own car, at your own speed and enjoy every moment. Wildlife includes bison, Bukhara, red deer and Prezwalski’s horse. You can go around as many times as you like!
  • Amur tiger enclosure – Marvel at the beautiful female tiger as she relaxes in her luscious and leafy enclosure.
  • Woodland walk – A lovely woodland walk where you can spot a variety of birds, Scottish wildcats and the majestic Eurasian eagle owls.
  • Wolf Wood – As you walk along the raised walkway, you will meet the European wolf pack and a herd of European forest reindeer.
  • Polar Bear Watch – Hamish is the first cub to be born in the UK in 25 years! It was a huge triumph for this park and they are proud to now have four bears. Hamish will turn two years old on the 18th December 2019.

A day here is a day well spent. There is a lovely restaurant next to the monkey enclosure which offers a lot of entertainment as you warm yourself up with a coffee or bite to eat. Remember to take warm clothes in winter months as not to cut the day short, and you also may want to take in a winter picnic!

Address: Kincraig, Kingussie PH21 1NL

Opening times: 10am – 4pm (Jan – March 2020) The park is open all year round excluding the 25th December. On snowy days, please call ahead to check the park is open.

Stay close by: Hill View Lodge, sleeping 14, is a stylish rural lodge set in the Highland village of Kingussie, just 10 minutes from the wildlife park.

Discover more magical wildlife parks and nature attractions throughout Scotland with our guide on wildlife centres in Scotland

Glentress Forest Mountain Biking

Britain’s finest mountain biking location! This is a mountain biker's heaven, being set in the heart of the stunning Tweed Valley offering a full range of tracks including green, blue, red and black graded trails. Scotland has seen a dramatic rise in cycle tourism in the last five years, offering everything from touring to mountain and road cycling, and many come from far and wide to experience this country by bike. This can be a really fun day out for you and the family, probably suiting 8+ years old - anything younger may be more of a trial! Hit the trails, get muddy and hungry, refuel and then start again!


  • An extensive range of trails - For all abilities, from beginner to experienced.
  • Bike hire – There are some excellent local cyclist specialists which provide hire bikes, sales and a repair service.
  • Cycling tuition and coaching – There are a number of local organisations that offer cycling tuition and coaching in Glentress Forest. Read more 
  • Free day out – The trails are free to use; all you have to pay for is parking.

The area offers a rich variety of things to do with the small Borders towns of Peebles and Innerleithen the ideal base for visitors, so for those who don’t fancy the downhill thrills, there are other things to do close by while the others get muddy!

Finding the forest: 1.5 miles east of the small town of Peebles on the A72, some 30 miles south of Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders. The entrance to the forest is clearly marked and if you look out for the Glentress Hotel then you are very close - it lies just at the entrance to the forest.

Opening times: Car parks close at 6pm. Check Glentress Website for all information on trails and weather conditions.

Stay close by: The Old Lardersleeping 4, is set within 5000 acres of estate ground. The perfect retreat after a day of riding. 2 dogs welcome.

Scottish beaches

Whatever location you pick in Scotland, you are bound to be nearby a beach. All around the west, north and east coast, there are gorgeous sandy beaches which offer hours of fun and splendid days out. Seasonally, your beach activity can change to suit the weather.

In the summer, they are perfect for swimming, sandcastles and sunbathing but in the autumn and winter, you want to wrap up a bit warmer and perhaps enjoy some blustery walks, beach football or a game of tag! Whatever time of year, a beach is a great place to visit and can provide endless imaginative fun.

Our top 5 beaches

  1. The Secret Beach (Nairn) This is an absolute hidden gem that not a lot of tourists know about. Reached by a country road and a short walk, it boasts a long sandy beach where dolphins are often spotted.
  2. St Cyrus Beach (Aberdeenshire) Located midway between Aberdeen and Dundee on the east coast, this superb white sand beach is part of the St Cyrus Nature Reserve and is lined with craggy cliffs and sand dunes. Perfect for picnics!
  3. Luskentyre Sands (Harris) This is easily one of the most spectacular beaches on the Isle of Harris, one that goes on for miles and looks tropical with its crystal-clear turquoise water.
  4. East Beach (Lossiemouth, Moray) Traditionally a popular location for surfers, this beach comprised of sand and pebbles is the place to be to spot the famous resident Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins.
  5. Mellon Udrigle (north-west Highlands) This north-east facing beach comprises a broad expanse of white sand sloping into turquoise sea with views of distant mountains, one of which is Suilven, 25 miles away! A hidden spot, not known to everyone and perfect for quality family time.

Check out our range of waterside holiday homes, many of which are located near the sea, as well as lochs and rivers. We also have holiday homes on the Scottish Islands with the Isle of Arran being one of our most popular destinations. Make your beach holiday dreams come true today!

Dundee Science Centre

The weather can be temperamental in Scotland throughout the year, therefore it is always good to have a rainy-day activity up your sleeve, as you never know when you are going to need to pull it out. This is a great choice for families with inquisitive kids who have an interest in the world around them. A local learning resource as well as a tourist magnet, everyone who visits is bound to leave with some new and interesting facts under their belt; there are dozens of interactive displays, and hands-on exhibitions so you can all while away the hours whilst learning something new.


  • Exhibitions – Fascinating exhibitions and daily shows are put on throughout the centre for you and the family to enjoy.
  • Educational shows - Throughout the year, you can enjoy shows that cover different themes keeping it interesting and different.
  • Annual Dundee Science Festival – An array of events from interactive live shows, creative workshops and family drop-in events.
  • Infusion Coffee Shop – Situated off the reception area offering lunches, light snacks and hot and cold drinks. Open 9.30am – 5pm.

This would be an interesting place to take the children, and parents get a lot of enjoyment from a few hours spent here too, as they see their children’s minds open to a whole world of science. It would also keep the teenagers off their phones for a number of hours!

Address: Dundee, DD1 4QB

Opening times: Every day – 10am – 5pm

Stay close by: Tigh Sorcha, sleeping 12 and 4 dogs, is a comfortable and spacious holiday home in St Andrews, not far from Dundee.

If you are looking to take your family to Scotland for your next break, check out our family-friendly holiday homes. They can make the perfect base from which to explore and provide comfortable and homely accommodation for you and your loved ones.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

Top things to do in Glasgow

Our Glasgow guide walks you through the best local activities for families, couples and even your furry friend.

Our guide to Inverness

Read our guide to the beautiful city of Inverness, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, before your holiday.

Guide to best dog walks in Scotland

With dramatic scenery, endless woodland and plentiful beaches, Scotland has it all and is a total haven for dogs and their owners alike. View our best walks here.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cottages & Castles is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cottages & Castles | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.