10 of the best family days out near Glasgow

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10 days out in Glasgow for the family

Days out with the family should be a lively mix of learning and fun. Here's our pick of top attractions for families around Glasgow and things to do with the kids

Be inspired to step outside the city centre for indoor and outdoor family attractions filled with history, fun and wildlife

1. Gleniffer Braes Country Park

Glasgow Gleniffer Braes Country Park

Drink in the views over Paisley and the Lower Clyde Valley from the moors and woodland walks of this 480-hectare country park. Gleniffer Braes comes complete with dramatic gorges and waterfalls – perfect for sparking curious young imaginations and spotting an abundance of wildlife. There are also two play areas with equipment for big kids and smaller tots.

2. Climbzone, Braehead

Braehead Climbzone near Glasgow

A trip to Climbzone isn’t for the faint-hearted as you’ll face one of the UK’s largest freestanding climbing walls. Kids aged seven and up can work their way around 70 routes up and along the indoor wall.

If that’s not enough to get your pulse racing, you can combine your visit with a go on the zip slide, cargo net and Burma bridge of the Skypark aerial assault course. Or take a leap of faith off the 15m-high Drop platform. All activities are led by instructors and must be booked in advance.

3. M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park

Glasgow M and Ds theme park

If you’re looking for a day out to please the whole family then there’s plenty going on at M&D’s to cover all interests. For thrill seekers there’s more than 40 rides and theme park attractions like the Big Wheel, Dodgems and Flying Carpet. And for animal lovers there’s Amazonia – Scotland’s largest indoor tropical rainforest. Here you’ll find over 70 different species including tarantulas, pythons and marmoset monkeys.

If the weather isn’t playing ball then head inside for a coffee while the kids have fun in the soft-play centre. Older kids can set up a game of bowling in the park’s ‘glow in the dark’ alley.

4. Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life

Glasgow Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life
Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life © CultureNL Ltd

Grab a snapshot of Scotland’s industrial past at this free attraction built on the site of a former iron works. Take a guided tour of the mine, which was in operation right up until the 1980s, and pick up a retro treat from the traditional sweet shop. For a small fee you can also ride the Edwardian tram.

Inside the museum’s main exhibition there’s working machinery from the colliery and hands-on displays. Young visitors will make a beeline for the play park with its sandpit and climbing ropes.

5. North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre near Glasgow

Delve into the history of Motherwell in exhibitions covering the area’s Roman times through to its more recent industrial past and the modern day. One feature you can’t miss is the fifth-floor viewing tower. Reach the top of the Climb Thru Time exhibition and you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, which stretch as far as Ben Lomond on a clear day.

The Heritage Centre also hosts art exhibitions and a programme of kids’ craft activities. Entry to the centre is free but there may be a small charge for some activities.

6. Strathclyde Country Park

Near Glasgow Strathclyde Country Park

For an active day out with the kids, head to this country park that was the venue for the water sports competitions of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Whatever the time of year you can take to the lake on bumper boats, pedalos and canoes. If you fancy something a bit more lively there’s speedboat trips and waterwalkerz.

Off the water you can hire bikes, hit the adventure playground or go in search of wildlife on the park’s nature trails.

7. National Museum of Rural Life

Glasgow National Museum of Rural LifeThe National Museum of Rural Life. © Sean Bell

Find out how your garden grows, why bees are so important to bio-diversity and meet the latest fluffy arrivals at this countryside attraction. The award-winning museum in East Kilbride tells the story of rural living in Scotland through an exhibition of vintage harvesting machinery alongside a 1950s working farm.

Don’t miss the tractor and trailer ride or seeing the dairy cows being milked as they would have been nearly 70 years ago.

8. Scottish Maritime Museum Dumbarton

Near Glasgow Scottish Maritime Museum© Scottish Maritime Museum

Learn about the engineering prowess of the shipbuilders behind the famous Cutty Sark at this museum, which features the world’s first commercial ship testing facility – the Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank. The Denny Brothers' tank stretches the length of a football pitch and is an awesome sight and brings home the vision of the men who built and tested new ship designs here between the 1800s and 1960s.

Have a go at designing, modelling and testing your own floating hull. And find out about the Denny Brothers’ other engineering successes in the worlds of helicopters and hovercraft.

9. Newark Castle

Close to Glasgow Newark Castle

It’s not often you find a historically significant building overshadowed by modern industry, but Newark Castle is one such place. This Jacobean tower house dates from the 1400s and boasts architectural features that make it one of the finest examples of its time. Yet right next door are the shipyards of Port Glasgow.

Explore the cellars, which once housed wild animals brought into the port for trade, and climb to the rooftop for views across the Firth of Clyde.

10. Loch Lomond SEA LIFE Aquarium

SEA LIFE Aquarium near Glasgow

Find out what happens below the surface of Scotland’s lochs and meet the country’s largest collection of shark species at the aquarium. There are daily feeding sessions at the tanks during which you can eyeball deep-sea predators like the grim-faced moray eels, enormous stingrays and the poisonous lionfish.

SEA LIFE is also home to a small collection of Asian short-clawed otters, a seahorse breeding programme and rock pools where the kids can get close up to small sea critters.

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