Some days you just want to get out of the city and into the great outdoors for a day of summer fun. Glasgow is situated less than an hour from much of Ayrshire with its sandy beaches and rocky shores, the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, the rugged terrain of the Trossachs, the rolling green hills of the Campsie Fells, plus the Ochil Hills and the Kilpatrick Hills, the coastline of Inverclyde and some of Argyll, plus so much more. Too much to choose from… How do you decide where is good for families?
Well, here are 10 of our favourite summer day trips from Glasgow. We’ve got walks, places to play, places to cool down, ferry trips, art, lochs… All come with a free fix of vitamin C; all great for families. And all within an hour of Glasgow. Enjoy exploring!
Dumfries House is a completely free day out located south of Glasgow, in East Ayrshire. It has a couple of great play areas including the engineering park where kids (or adults) can guide water along a network of troughs and wheels and pipes. The new treetop play area has rope bridges and slides, and the adventure play area will let the kids burn off some energy. As will a run around the maze to find the pond and pagoda at the centre. The beautiful gardens are well worth a wander round too. Great for dogs (though they do need to be on lead) and has a good cafe. Wheel friendly too.
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/dumfries-house
This is one of our favourite days out if we want a stretch of the legs. It’s a good wee walk up the lovely grassy hill. The first cairn takes about an hour to reach, and you can keep following the grassy trail along to another few that aren’t too much farther. Take a picnic for the top, and then if it’s a hot day head down from the car park to the waterfalls to have a wee splash or a dip in the pools by the Fells to cool down when you’re done. Perfect summer day.
Great for dogs. No toilets, and not wheel friendly.
Culzean Castle & Country Park
Probably the best play area around, the wild woodland is an amazing space for bigger kids to run riot. And the fort play area with its slides, swings, climbing and balancing bits, is fantastic for the smaller ones, or a game of hide and seek for everyone. Beautiful beach here too (both sandy and rocky, something to suit everyone), walks through stunning forest or along the coast, and walled gardens with a Gruffalo trail. Could easily spend an entire day here.
Great for dogs (though not allowed in play area), has a lovely cafe and an ice cream shop. Some parts are wheel friendly too.
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/culzean-castle
Nothing beats a trip to the island of Cumbrae on a summer day. Millport has some beautiful sandy bays and rocky beaches; so take a bucket and spade and a net for sandcastles and rockpooling. Or you can buy your beach toys from Mapes of Millport. Hire your bikes from Mapes too and cycle round the island, or head to the front for a game of mini golf, a play on the trampolines or the bouncy castles if they’re open (which in high season they usually are). With a ferry trip to get there, an ice cream, a chippy at the end or some hot doughnuts from the front back in Largs… Millport is the absolute epitome of summer day trips from glasgow!
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/daytrip-millport
East Yonderton Farm PYO
It’s not summer if you don’t go gorge yourself on freshly picked strawberries and have some many left over that you need to make enough jam to last you the rest of the year. East Yonderton is located in Renfrewshire out next to Glasgow Airport. Keep up to date with when their strawberries are ready via their facebook page.
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/berry-picking
The Falkirk Wheel
More of an afternoon trip than a whole day. The splash park at the Falkirk Wheel is a great little water play area, plus there’s a play area here with slides and climbing frames, and a few food vendors including some exceptional ice cream. Can’t beat that on a sunny day!
Dogs allowed but not in the splash area or play park. (There is not really any shade here though so it’s probably not the best place for dogs). Toilets available and good for wheels.
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/falkirk-wheel
Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reservoir
Located at New Lanark Heritage Centre, the Falls of Clyde Reservoir has some beautiful walks through the Clyde valley. There’s a wildlife garden, a brilliant wee play area and big waterfalls to see. It’s an excellent day out, and the trees provide plenty of shade on a sunny day.
Good for dogs. Cafe available in New Lanark Heritage Centre. The walks aren’t good for wheels.
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/new-lanark-falls-of-clyde
Gourock Outdoor Pool
Outdoor swimming on the banks of the Forth of Clyde. Tunes going in the background, a backdrop of the Kilpatrick Hills. A heated pool under the summer sun. Makes you feel a bit like you’re at the country club.
More info here: glasgowwithkids.co.uk/gourock-outdoor-pool
An outdoor sculpture park might not sound like the most fun thing for kids, but this place never ever disappoints. Located out towards Edinburgh, Jupiter Artland has so much to explore that you can easily spend a whole day here. (Last time we visited we spent so much time there that we got locked in at the end!) With space to run free and so many exhibits to see, this is one of our favourites for a day trip for sure.
No dogs allowed. Toilets available. Good for buggies.
More info on our sister site here: scotlandwithkids.co.uk/jupiter-artland/
Three Lochs Forest Drive
Did I save the best for last…? I might just have. Located just off the A821 after Aberfoyle the Three Lochs Forest Drive is an epic drive around a forest with walks through big trees and three stunning lochs. Take your swimmers if you fancy having a splash or a dip in one of the lochs (Loch Drunkie, the second one you come to, is my personal favourite). Or if you have a SUP this is the perfect place to get out for a paddle. Have a picnic or a bbq while you’re there. Just be sure to take the smidge just in case you need it.
Good for dogs. There are toilets located at the campsite, but it’s a one way road to get there and the campsite is near the end of the drive. Good for bikes, not good for buggies.