One of the best things we started doing a few years ago was asking family to get the kids vouchers for days out or annual passes instead of toys. (They still get plenty of toys, but this helps to limit the amount of stuff coming into the house at this time of year. As we all know, there’s a lot of it!)
Obviously a family membership is only worthwhile if you’re actually going to use it. But one thing I will say is that you are far more likely to go to a place, even for just a few hours, if you have a pass for it. So just bear that in mind if you’re considering getting one. (Or asking Santa for one.)
Anyway, annual passes are a brilliant idea for gifts. I mean, you’re giving a day out (or multiple days out!) that otherwise could be pretty costly. So here is a wee list of annual passes that we’ve absolutely loved having, or are planning to get!
National Trust for Scotland
This is one we use monthly at least. Mainly at the Museum of Rural Life & Greenbank Garden until it’s a dry non-school day and we can zip off to Culzean Castle for a daytrip. We’ve also used this pass at various other places including at Brodick Castle in Arran and Castle Campbell at Dollar Glen, two of our favourites. In addition, if you are in any other part of the UK you can use your NTS pass to get into National Trust venues for free. We’ve used ours at Stonehenge and the Giant’s Causeway amongst others. They’re super handy!
This pass gets you into soooooh many castles. And we love a good castle. Historic Scotland passes are on our list for this Christmas so next year is going to be full of castle exploring. If you take a family of 4 to Edinburgh Castle & Stirling Castle once your entire years’ membership has almost paid for itself. This Historic Scotland are running a deal giving 15 months membership for the price of 12. An excellent Christmas gift!
Glasgow Science Centre
We’ve had these every year since the biggest was tiny. We’re still here every few weeks and the kids are never bored. When they’re open until 5 (not during winter) we sometimes even pop along for an hour & a half after school. We’d never just pop in for an hour if we didn’t have passes. It just wouldn’t be affordable; which is probably my favourite thing about having passes for anywhere! Anyway, these passes are very well used!
Blair Drummond Safari Park
This is a family pass we had this past year (plus two years ago too) and we’ve used it loads. We’ve been to their special events this year; Easter & Halloween are big highlights at Blair Drummond. We have popped along for an afternoon a few times as well & just did our favourite things for a couple of hours. We definitely wouldn’t have done that without the passes.
This place is perfect for kids up to about age 10 and we used these passes when we had them more than any others. It’s good for any weather as there are quite a few indoor play bits and barns as well as all the outdoor stuff.
Briarlands is a great place to meet up with friends. It’s so open the kids can have almost free rein to play and you can still see them. Lovely cafe as well. It’s a particularly brilliant place for younger kids. There’s a great wee tractor ride and strawberry picking in season.
Loch Lomond Sealife Centre
Loch Lomond Sealife Centre do an annual offer in the Lennox Herald for a year’s membership for the cost of one entry. We’ve had these a few years and I find it a great wee place to spend a rainy hour or two. Personally, now we’ve been a few times, I wouldn’t pay the full price to take the kids there as we tend to zip through it pretty quickly. The aquarium isn’t the biggest, but this deal is absolutely brilliant value for money.