Last weekend the Scotlanders travelled to Dundee on a mission to discover just what the city had to offer and I brought my daughter along too so we could hunt out some family fun. We were not short of options and I was glad we had the whole weekend to explore. Here is my guide to keeping the kids happy in this city of discovery.
1. Dundee Science Centre
Where else could you shoot out a nose like a bogey, move a ping pong ball with your mind or turn yourself into a gorilla? This place is packed with experiments you can try out in a fun exciting way so the kids are still learning but they don’t quite realise it. We learned about morse code, the solar system, dinosaurs, played games with robots, sat on a hover craft and tried out some optical illusions.
2. Camperdown Wildlife Park
This park in Dundee has been around for as long as I can remember and I have fond memories of playing here as a child so I was excitied to be returning with mine. Lemurs, bears, otters and meerkats are amongst the animals here and there is also wolves, tortoises, peacocks, goats and a whole load more. You could easily stay here for the full day if you explore the park just outside. A slow paced, spread out kind of place you can stop for picnic, or just sit for a bit and not feel rushed or hurried.
3. Camperdown Country Park
Just next door to the wildlife park is Camperdown Country Park, the largest public park in Dundee. At over 400 acres there is ample space to run around and a state of the art play area for kids of all ages mean that you can relax while the kids burn off some energy. It’s nice to get out the city and spend some quality time with the kids getting back to nature, and imagine what all that fresh air does when you get home!
We jumped on the number 73 bus from the city centre and had a wee ride to the beach at Carnoustie. Even though the weather was wild and windy we loved it. What a gorgeous beach! There is something about beaches in Scotland when the weather is crazy, it just seems to make them even more beautiful. We had a long walk along the sand and a play at the fab wooden play park, which was huge! A ten minute bus journey back towards dundee and we stopped at our second beach at Monifeith. Another stunning beach with a play park and some funky standing stones. The last beach was at Broughty Ferry where we stopped for a visit to the castle. A lovely little village with cracking independent shops. We had lunch at italian Visocchi’s and had some of their award winning ice cream. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
This large ship is a well known site in Dundee and welcomes visitors into the city from its home on the Tay. Captain Scott’s ship the RSS Discovery is fascinating and the kids will love hearing about it’s voyage to the Antartica through the multimedia exhibitions and hands on activities. What kids doesn’t like to pretend to be captain of the ship.
6. DC Thomson
No trip to Dundee would be complete without a walk to see Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx on the High Street. DC Thomson, the publishing company behind such comic classics as Beano, Oor Wullie, The Broons and the Dandy is based in Dundee and if you head to West Marketgate you can find the real Bash Street.
7. HM Frigate Unicorn
Another of Dundee’s famous ships is berthed in Victoria Docks and was built as a sailing frigate for the Royal Navy. Launched in 1824 it’s the most complete original ship in the world and is stunning to look at. When you step on board you are transported back in time.
8. New Olympia Swimming Pool
I visited the old swimming pool here so many times I lost count and I, as well as most of the locals, loved it. I imagine it must have been a daunting task to design a new pool that could live up to reputation of the old one but they more than succeeded. This fantastic new pool has four slides with screens that lets you pick your music, crazy wild waves, diving boards and a lazy river. There is a pool with lanes for competitions, a nice cafe and state of the art gym.
9. Dundee Ice Arena
It’s not easy to find things to do at night with the kids once darkness falls. One of the things I love to do is have a family night at the hockey. Dundee’s elite hockey team, the Dundee Stars play in the winter months most weekends at the ice arena and its an exciting night. The fans are excellent, singing, cheering and banging drums and you can’t help but be swept up in their enthusiasm.
10. The Law
Head for the Law and watch the kids faces when you tell them there are standing on a 400 million year old extinct volcano. With 360 degree panoramic views this is a must for anyone visiting the city. Impressive views guarantee you will leave with fab photos as a souvenier. You can walk up the windy hill or if your feeling lazy you can drive to the very top.