Try your hand at making puppets with your child
1. The Tall Ship
Aye-aye captain – all aboard the Tall Ship! The main attraction at this nautical-but-nice exhibit is the Glenlee, just one of the hundreds of ships once built in Glasgow’s historic shipyards. Children can learn about the boat’s history, have a go turning the wheel, meet a sailor and explore the numerous decks and creepy cabins tucked below. There’s even an under-5’s play area in the hold.
Every day, there’s extra family fun with Daily Captain’s Challenge and Mouse Hunt – a chance to count how many model mice are hiding onboard. The tall Ship is berthed next to the new Riverside Museum – combine both for a brilliant family day out. Whether your little ones have a pirate obsession or just love messing about on boats, the Tall Ship is bound to stoke their imagination.
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2. Loch Lomond Sea Life Aquarium
Dive into a magical underwater world, just 20 minutes from Glasgow’s centre. This impressive aquarium is part of the national Sea Life chain. Children can say hello to Scotland’s largest collection of sharks, watch sleek otters frolic and play, and stroke a starfish or get up-close with a crab at the interactive rockpool – a perennial favourite with little ones. Other attractions include green turtles, seahorses and orange and white striped clown fish – the original little Nemos.
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3. Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre
From the Muppets to Punch and Judy, children have always loved puppets and this centre is dedicated to the craft of making them. It also holds regular fun puppet shows on Saturdays for children – recent performances have included versions of favourite tales such the Three Little Pigs and the Emperor’s New Clothes. The puppeteers practise a variety of techniques – marionettes, shadow, tabletop and rod puppets. There are also regular puppet- and mask-making workshops for mums and dads who fancy developing some professional puppetry skills – you’ll find no sad DIY sock puppets here…
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4. Pollok Country Park
Want to escape the city, but don’t fancy the long drive? This sprawling park is only three miles from Glasgow’s bustling centre, but has an idyllic country feel that both children and parents will love. In fact, it was voted the best park in Britain in 2007, and it’s easy to see why: there are woodland walks galore, play areas, pretty picnic spots and a mountain bike circuit (remember to bring sets of two wheels for the whole family). Also look out for the resident Highland cattle and Glasgow’s ‘gentle giants’ or heavy horses at the Old Stable Courtyard. And keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, including woodpeckers, weasels, otters and more. If you want to make a day of it, you can also visit The National Trust’s Pollok House, situated in the grounds of the park, as is the world-famous Burrell Collection.
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5. The Tenement House
Snoop inside this this old Glasgow tenement flat, owned by the National Trust, to get an atmospheric snapshot of how people lived in the old days, right down to the soft furnishings, ornaments on the shelves and pictures on the wall – there are even working gaslights in operation at this home. Children’s quizzes are available all year to keep the kids entertained as they go round, and there are plenty of chances to get hands-on with objects from the past. Living history doesn’t get much better.
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6. Waterfront Leisure
This buzzing leisure centre has all the ingredients you need for a wild and wet family day out – a tropical wave pool, an ice rink complete with disco, two flume rides and the longest tyre ride in the country. For water babies who love to splash about, there’s a great toddler pool complete with slide. Mum and dad can also check out the new sauna and steam room next to the pool for some much-needed me-time. Don’t miss the ‘penguins’ on the rink – a cute aid to help little ones get to grips with skating on the ice.
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7. David Livingstone Centre
As its name suggests, this National Trust property was the original home to the famous Scottish explorer. Here you can read his diaries, snoop in his notebooks and see his personal possessions,including the red shirt he wore when he met Sir Henry Stanley – the man who reputedly muttered the immortal phrase ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’. The museum is completely buggy friendly, there are costumes to try on and regular hand-on activities for children. Outside there are 20 acres of grounds to explore, including woodland gardens and a play park, plus don’t forget to check out the shop and cafe. And look out for bats, owls and foxes while exploring the gardens at dusk.
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8. Cumbernauld Outdoors Centre
Is your little one wild about owls, kestrels and hawks? This bustling outdoors centre is home to World of Wings, the largest public bird of prey centre in Scotland – they’ll be thrilled to meet noble eagles, beady-eyed vultures and more. The adventurous activities for older children and teens include archery, paintballing and driving 4×4 cars. It’s also a good place for older children’s birthday parties.
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9. Burrell Collection
Give your little ones a dose of culture in a lovely woodland setting. Inside this world- famous museum, nestled in the beautiful Pollok Country Park, you’ll discover an awe-inspiring collection of works by artists including Rodin and Cezanne, plus exotic examples of Chinese, medieval and Islamic art, and more. However, this is no stuffy museum only suitable for grown-ups – there’s a changing rosta of family friendly activities, including Wee Wednesdays (fun for under-5s) and monthly family film screenings.
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10. Falls of Clyde
Get to grips with nature at the stunning Falls of Clyde Nature Reserve, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which stretches along a gorge in the Clyde Valley. Scramble along the paths by the river and spot a spectacular waterfall or two, then head into the ancient woodlands for some birdwatching – look out for owls, wrens, kingfishers and falcons as well as deer. There’s a shop, cafe and you can peek through binoculars and telescopes at the Visitor Centre – see if you can spot the peregrine nest. Ideal for a family day out – look out for special events in summer, too.
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