30 family-friendly things you've got to do in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

The school summer holidays have officially started which means one thing for parents; you’ve got to come up with fresh, fun ideas on how to entertain your children for six whole weeks. I’ve got your back as i’ve pulled together 30 ideas on how to rock the summer holidays:


1. Go art spotting

Take the kids on a Nuart and Painted Doors trail. Turn it into a game with your little ones and see how many they can spot.


2. Find their muse

Continue education throughout the summer in a fun way with a trip to one of the region’s many museums. For the budding historian visit The Gordon Highlands Museum or Blairs Museum. For those interested in science venture to Aberdeen Science Centre or the Zoology Museum. If their heart belongs to the sea then sail over to the Maritime Museum. Or if they love toys look no further than Little Treasures Toy and Dollhouse Museum.


3. Visit the Winter Gardens

Now this was one of my all time favourite things as a kid – I loved going to see the terrapins at the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. Make sure to keep an eye out for the “disappearing frog” too.


4. Visit one of our beautiful parks

There are so many great parks and gardens that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Grab the family and head off to one of them with a picnic and a frisbee for an afternoon. Many of them have children’s play areas and some have pets corners too. Visit Hazlehead Maze for a fun challenge and see who can make their way to the centre quickest.


5. Go to a farm

Speaking of pets, head along to a farm and meet some cute farmyard animals at Doonie Rare Breeds Farm and Belwade Farm. Not only is it a fun day out but studies also show that there are many educational benefits that come with visiting a farm.


6. Meet some Highland Cows

If your little ones enjoy being around animals then don’t miss a chance to meet some of Scotland’s most iconic animals, Highland Cows.


7. Meet the fairies

Take a walk through Aden Country Park and Rothienorman Park where you’ll find sweet little fairy woods – dotted with cute little homes of mythical creatures. Remember to treat the fairy woods with respect as it can upset the fairies otherwise.  


8. Be an aquarist

Meet an array of sea creatures that live in the Moray Firth at Macduff Marine Aquarium. For the budding marine biologist don’t miss a special behind the scenes tour that will allow you to experience what it’s like to be an aquarist for a day.


9. Take to the sea

Take to the water with some watersports activities – we offer surfing, paddleboarding, raft-building, coastal rowing, kayaking, dinghy sailing, water zorbing and even scuba diving in North-east Scotland so there is plenty to choose from. Check out this blog on watersports you’ve got to try here.


10. Hit the beach

Thanks to 165 miles of coastline there are a number of gorgeous beaches that are perfect for building sandcastles, paddling in the water and hunting down pretty shells. Don’t miss dune surfing at Balmedie Beach for a little added adrenaline.  

FOR VA USE ONLY Aberdeenshire Coast Balmedie2.jpg low res


11. Get a different perspective

See Aberdeenshire’s incredible coastline from a whole different perspective with Stonehaven Sea Safari. You can opt for a castle trip which includes Dunnottar Castle, the sea safari wildlife trip or the 4 Brothers Seaside Supper which includes a meal at the Quayside Fish & Chips. 


12. Take a walk

There is an abundance of beautiful walking routes here. Whether you opt for strolls in ancient forests, great estates and heathery moors or along the picturesque coastline this is a sure-fire way to tire out little legs.


13. Catch some fresh powder

It’s not just during winter that you can hit the slopes in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Head along to Aberdeen Snowsports Centre for a go shot at skiing, snowboarding and tubing this summer.


14. Enter a storybook

Another favourite of my childhood was a trip to The Den and The Glen (although in my day it was called Storybook Glen). It has an indoor facility and an outdoor playpark where you can meet your favourite enchanted characters.


15. Go nature spotting

Uncover your inner David Attenborough with wildlife spotting. Look out for dolphins leaping in Aberdeen harbour and seals sunbathing at Newburgh Beach. Read this  latest blog on the exciting wildlife you can spot here.


16. Go to the carnivals

Codona’s is packed with fun including ten-pin bowling, dodgems, mini golf (both indoor and outdoor), video games arcade, two floor laser tag arena, aerial assault course, karaoke room and an outdoor amusement park (featuring my personal favourite: The Waltzers).


17. Go for a swim

Another one of my favourite places as a kid; the Beach Leisure Centre. A leisure pool complete with flumes, wave machine and rapids. Alternatively check out Stonehaven Outdoor Swimming Pool where you can swim under the sun or stars in temperatures of 29C.  


18. Take to the ice

Next door to the Beach Leisure Centre is the Linx Ice Arena where you can watch your children evolve into the next skating sensations like Torvill and Dean. There are public skating sessions as well as parent and toddler skating sessions and ice skating lessons.


19. Feel the adrenaline

Feel the adrenaline with a visit to Transition Extreme where you can try your hand at rock climbing, skateboarding or the outdoor ropes course.


20. Unleash your inner Tarzan

On a similar note if your children love adventure don’t miss Go Ape high ropes course. Daring crossings, speedy zip wires and unforgettable Tarzan swings all overlooking the gorgeous grounds of Crathes Castles estate.

Go Ape 9


21. Castles, castles and more castles

Aberdeenshire is Scotland’s castle country and you may not know is that many castles now offer children’s puzzles and activity sheets to keep them entertained throughout the castles tours. This summer you can also enjoy outdoor movies at the castles including Grease, The Greatest Showman, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park to name but a few. 


22.Try local traditions

Another awesome event that is great for family days out is to attend a Highland Games event. There are several taking place over the summer in the area including Braemar Junior Highland Games where children between the ages of 5 to 18 are given the opportunity to participate in the games.


23. Make a daring escape

This is an idea for the slightly older children. A fast-paced challenge solving puzzles using strategy, creativity and logic in an attempt to escape before you run out of time.


24. Go to the cinema

There are lots of family friendly films showing over the summer including the latest Toy Story 4, Spider Man, The Secret Life of Pets 2, The Queen’s Corgi, The Lion King and X-Men. Head along to a showing at The Belmont Filmhouse.


25. Become a chocolatier

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Try your hand at becoming a master chocolatier at The Chocolate Bar or Cocoa Ooze. I can’t guarantee that any of that chocolate will make it home though and you’ll be able to resist eating it as you go along…


26. Giddy up

Yeehaw round up little cowboys and cowgirls for an experience which is far better than “neighhh-bad”. Hayfield Riding Centre in Aberdeen and Glen Tanar Equestrian Centre in Aboyne both offer hacks through picturesque woodland trails. Or try something different with a trek at Candysclan where you’ll get the opportunity to groom, plait and tack ponies before enjoying a stroll leading the ponies around Strathdon.


27. Visit an activity centre

Choose from an extensive selection of activities at an activity centre. Deeside Activity Park, Knockburn Sports Loch and Lochter Activity Centre offer go karting, quad biking, archery, targets, fly fishing, orienteering and watersports.


28. Meet huskies

For all the dog lovers out there do not miss Huskyhaven. Experience the thrill of mushing with a team of Siberian Huskies.


29. Go Geocaching

Take part in Scotland’s only official Geotour – a modern day treasure hunt where you can track down the treasure also known as “caches”.


30. It’s like learning to ride a bike

Take advantage of our many cycling trails and purpose-built bike parks. Tarland Trails offers 3km of family friendly mountain bike trails and for the more experienced rider The Deeside Way and Loch Muick both offer stunning views.

Family at Scolty Hill Banchory low res7


For more information about what to do in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire just go to visitABDN.com/what-to-do.

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