Updated April 2018
We all know how difficult it is to please kids all the time. Where we are gobsmacked by the stunning Scottish mountains, lochs and forest, kids will probably be less impressed.
Having a teenager myself I know how impossible it is to get them to even lift their heads up from their phones and computers. What they need is to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. Easier said than done you might say. Well yes, I don’t recommend taking them anywhere without a phone signal (what a disaster that would be – queue Kevin and Perry style huffing and puffing), at least not for any longer than a couple of days. But if you are looking for things to do with kids in Scotland I have come up with some ideas. Through a lot of experimenting I have come up with the following list of things of activities you can try out with your little bundles of joys, and you never know, you might even get a glimpse of that smile you haven’t seen since they were 11.
Remember, any activity you do has to be cool! Even though they might surprise themselves and actually have fun, what they are really thinking is 'how cool would this photo be on Instagram?', or how cool will my pals think I am when I tell them what I’ve been doing (also good bargaining tools – think how good the photos would be on your Instagram son).
1. Canoeing or Kayaking
There are canoe hire shops almost anywhere near a stretch of water. 90% of Scots live within 10 miles of a canoeing site so it should be easy to find somewhere. Get them in a wetsuit or buoyancy jacket and out into the water, especially somewhere stunning (photos!). It’s surprisingly easy if it’s a nice calm day and they should be pleased they managed to do it successfully. This was a good one for us and now we do it quite regularly. Elie Watersports in Fife hire out canoes and wetsuits, or you can have a go on a banana boat or paddle boat, or have a lesson windsurfing or sailing. NaeLimits near Grandtully in Perthshire also has loads of activities water based and land based from the easy to the build up one’s courage type of activity like cliff jumping and canyoning(!) For kayaking you could try Splash Rafting, as well as kayaking they could try river bugging, canyoning, abseiling and loads of other activities. Kayaking £50 for a half day including all equipment and wetsuit.
2. Go Karting
Not those wooden ones their dads make. Proper big fancy ones. Especially good with a friend so they can race each other. If you are looking for things to do with kids in Scotland that will get you mega brownie points this is it. Scotland has two Kartstarts, one in Kirkcaldy and one in Aberdeen who do Arrive and Drives, just turn up and have a go. On Monday evenings between 6.30 - 9.30 you can turn up altogether and ride 100 laps for only £37. There are races specifically for the under 16’s. There is also Extreme Karting in Edinburgh and ScotKart in Glasgow.
Arrive and go Kirkcaldy - £17.00 for 10 minutes, £22.00 for 20 minutes. Open 12 noon-10pm Mon-Fri, 12 noon - 9pm Sat-Sun
Michealston Ind. Est.,
3. Skiing or Snow boarding
On real snow or on artfificial slope. There is tuition available in any of the ski centres in Scotland including the Nevis range, Glencoe, Glenshee or the Cairngorms. Or if you find that a bit scary or aren’t near any of them Snow Factor in Renfrew is a brilliant place, not only has it got the slopes, it is part of Soar INTO which has a cinema, bowling, climbing walls and laser tag and loads of good restaurants and cafes. You can book them into lessons or if they can already ski or snowboard you can book time on the slopes and a chairlift pass. There is also Scotland's only Ice Bar there. Snow Factor do a fun Ski Taster session for kids 7+ where they get to have a go without having to do a lesson, it cost £29 per person. Midlothian Ski Centre near Edinburgh has artificial slopes too. Perfect for any stroppy teenager.
Soar Intu Braehead,
Kings Inch Road,
Glasgow, PA4 8XQ
4. Pottery painting
One for the girlies perhaps, Pottery painting has suddenly became cool. Because there is now such a huge selection of things to paint, like jewellery holders, door hangers etc it’ll let them get their creative groove on. Another plus - there is usually a cafe attached for the mums or dads to have a coffee. Potter around in West Lothian and Muddy Boots in Fife both do pottery painting on their farms and there are studios in Edinburgh, Dunkeld, Stirling and loads of other places. Prices at Potter Around range from £3-£30 depending on which item you choose to paint.
5. Indoor Ice Wall/ Rock climbing
This will help them burn off the energy. From what I’ve seen teenagers love this. Kinlochleven, near Fort William has the National Indoor Ice climbing Wall, which is the largest in the UK. There are also climbing centres in Ratho, Edinburgh and in Glasgow. The instagram photos here will be seriously impressive. A beginners session at Ice Factor costs £25 for kids and £30 for adults for a 1 1/2 hour taster session on the 50ft Ice climbing wall. The rock climbing wall is the same price and if the kids have experience there is more advanced walls to climb.
6. Adventure Golf
These fantastic crazy golf centres have came over from America and are a brilliant way for your teenager and their friends to spend an afternoon. Unlike the old fashioned little metal hats etc in the middle of a field these centres are huge, themed, colourful and can be quite tricky. There is a Florida style one in Duloch Park in Dunfermline, a pirate themed one in Aberdeen, a Jurassic park one is Glasgow or a paradise island in Livingston. They are also almost always open at night so it’s good during the winter when their did not much else to do. The Adventure Gold Island in Fife costs £14.00 per adult, £6 for kids under 14 and £4 for kids under 4. There is also a family pass 2 adults + 2 kids or 1 adult and 3 kids for £24.00.
Adventure Golf Island,
Fife Leisure Park,
7. Activity Centres
These are good for a full day, where they can try lots of different activities. Cluny clays in Kirkcaldy offers golf, archery, clay pigeon shooting and Segways. Centres like Creiff Hydro, The Galloway Activity Centre and Craggan Outdoors in the Cairngorms do loads of activities like watersports, abseiling, laser tag and paint balling. Most of the activities will have instructors teaching them and they are all set in stunning surrounding. I find staying close by a good option. The activity team will be happy to recommend a nice place to stay and some good restaurants nearby.
8. Stay overnight somewhere unique
Scotland has some amazing accommodation. How about sleeping in authentic Mongolian yurts at the foot of Ben Nevis? Or in a lighthouse in the North Rhinns of Galloway? In my experience kids love staying somewhere weird, that they can boast to their friends about and Scotland has loads of unique accommodation dotted around. One tip though, wifi can be sketchy at best in some of these places, which can be great for us adults, but best to check if you don’t want the stroppy moods when it comes to 9pm and their latest vlog has been uploaded and they can’t watch it. Have a nosy on booking.com and search for your chosen location. You can also search airbnb, Cottages and Castles and Huts and Cabins.
9. Visit some film locations
Scotland has some beautiful landscape so it’s no wonder so many films have been shot here. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was shot in Glencoe and at Doune Castle. Scenes in Harry Potter were filmed at Fort William and you can take the Jacobean steam train to Mallaig over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, like Harry, Ron and Hermione did to get to Hogwarts. Braveheart was filmed around Glen nevis and Loch Leven and the Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian was used for the Di Vinci code. World War Z with Brad Pitt was filmed in Glasgow although signs and cars were changed to make it look like Philadelphia. Transpotting of course was filmed in Edinburgh and Captain America, The First Avenger’s opening scenes were filmed in Culross, Fife. Also filmed here was the upcoming TV series Outlander, which, although not being shown in the UK yet, should be popular when it arrives here. It is also filmed in Falkland, Fife and Doune Castle.
10. Go on a ghost tour
Several companies in Edinburgh, St Andrews and Glasgow do walking ghost tours. The guide will dress up and walk you around the haunted streets, telling stories and making you jump right out your skin. Edinburgh even has a Ghost tour bus, and of course the Edinburgh Dungeons are there too. You can visit The Real Mary Kings Close, a warren of underground streets preserved from the 17th century or perhaps visit the vaults with Mercat Tours.
28 Blair Street,
How do you keep your teenagers busy on holiday? Do you find it difficult? Or do they enjoy themselves exploring the outdoors as much as you do?