10 of the best free things to do in Glasgow

Fuel your child's interests without breaking the bank with these fun free things to do around Glasgow...

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1.  Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)

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Unleash your little ones’ arty sides with a visit to Glasgow’s iconic Gallery of Modern Art, situated bang in the centre of town in a neoclassical gem. There are regular free crafty activities for children aged three to 11 in the school holidays (think mask-making or building wire sculptures) as well a regular Saturday Art Club, for hands-on messy fun. Don’t miss the regular kids’ storytime in the library. And, of course, there are oodles of artworks to for both children and parents to admire, including works by modern masters Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Also look out for changing exhibitions – no wonder GOMA is Scotland’s most visited modern art gallery.

2.  Hunterian Museum Glasgow

If your kids have the history bug, then they’ll adore the Hunterian Museum. With quirky exhibits ranging from dinosaur fossils to Roman coins and Egyptian mummies, there are countless amazing ancient treasures to discover. Tucked away on Glasgow University’s campus, the Hunterian is divided between the main museum, a Zoology Museum and an Anatomy Museum. A real find, and one well worth seeking out.

3.  Queen’s Park

This pretty Victorian park with inspiring views is ideal for a relaxed sunny family afternoon out, and you won’t have to spend a penny. There are two play areas, a skate park for older children and exotic glasshouses housing prickly cacti and other green wonders. Toddlers will love the displays of exotic birds, reptiles and tropical fish – and look out for eight-legged friends, the furry tarantulas. Bring along a picnic or visit the park cafe for refreshments, and stay alert for seasonal events at Easter, Halloween and Christmas.

4.  Riverside Museum of Transport

Love trains, planes and automobiles? You’re in the right place. Set in a spectacular brand new building by the water (designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid, her very first in the UK), the Riverside Museum is bound to impress mums and dads as well as the kids. Inside you can clamber over vintage trams and buses, marvel at models of cars and bicycles and take a stroll straight into the past thanks to recreated streets and shops dating from the 1890s right through the the 1980s.  Afterwards step out onto the riverside and enjoy the fabulous views.

5.  Fossil Grove, Victoria Park

Lure your children away to a magical fossilised forest at Glasgow’s most ancient attraction. At Fossil Grove you can see eleven eery fossilised tree stumps that are no less 300 million years old, discovered back in 1887. [Note Open from April to September only]. There’s also a small museum housing further relics and info. Victoria Park itself is worth a visit in its own right, with a boating pond, pretty floral displays and a children’s play area. Don’t forget to lose yourself in the only maze in Glasgow, too.

6.  The People’s Palace

Step into the past at The People’s Palace, which tells the story of Glasgow from the 18th century right up to the modern day, showing how people lived and worked in the city in days long gone by. The colourful exhibits include a recreated dairy store, a one-room tenement flat and  the ‘steamie’ for some traditional 1950s clothes-washing – no time-saving spin cycles for grubby romper suits here. 

Next door, the covered Winter Gardens brings the steamy jungle to life for little ones. This Victorian glasshouse houses exotic palms, and tropical plants,  including banana and coconut trees. Look out for special events for under-5s in the Winter Gardens, including jungle-inspired story-times.

7.  Bellahouston Park

Whether you simply want a pretty place to push your baby in the buggy, or a bigger day out with older children, this fabulous park has the lot –  play areas, peaceful flower gardens and facilities including cycle trails, bowling and pitch and putt for any Tiger-Woods- in-training. No wonder over a million people visit it each year. Don’t forget to check out the House For An Art Lover, designed by Glasgow’s most famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (admission charge applies here). As well as admiring the house’s beautiful original features, stop for coffee and cakes in the cafe, and browse in the enticing shop.

8.  Kelvingrove Museum

A must-visit for parents looking to entertain the kids on those endless rainy days – this is Scotland’s most-visited museum, and brilliant for families. It’s stuffed full of thousands of intriguing objects, from paintings to Egyptian treasures – there’s even a Spitfire aeroplane and a giant model of an elephant. The Mini Museum caters specifically for younger children, and throughout there are plenty of hands-on displays with interactive buttons and levers to bring the past to life. Every Saturday and Sunday there are regular family Discover! Events, exploring a different part of the museum. There’s also a good child-friendly restaurant and coffee-shop, plus plenty of baby-changing facilities.

9.  Botanic Gardens

Encourage green fingers and take budding botanists to Glasgow’s famous historic Botanic Gardens – the attractions include the impressive Victorian Kibble glasshouse, where you can see exotic orchids and Australian tree ferns. Outside there are plenty of mature trees and verdant gardens to explore, including fragrant herb patches. A lovely place for a family stroll at any time of year, with plenty of paths and lawns for fizzing toddlers to dash about on.

10.  Tollcross Park

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Just three miles outside Glasgow’s city centre, Tollcross Park has a brilliant range of things for both tots and grown-ups to enjoy. For the young ‘uns there’s a farm, complete with goats and sheep, while the state-of-the-art environment centre has interactive attractions to keep little fingers busy. If you follow the nature walk, you might be lucky enough to glimpse bats and foxes at dusk. For mums and dads, there are beautiful rose gardens – best seen in full bloom in July and August – and the Secret Garden, a sensory space brimming with fragrant plants, where regular poetry readings and drama events are held.

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