FREE Easter fun in Central Scotland Challenge
Free Days out in Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Edinburgh and West Lothian.
So it’s the school holidays again and you have *insert your kids* at home, bored, restless and looking for fun places to go. It can be really hard to find the motivation to get up and go places - that and a constraint. Money. Kids are off and you might feel like going out everyday (or every other day) is just going to cost a fortune!!
If you don't fancy reading all the way through, download my basic 'places to go' here! (I'll also post it on to my Instagram Stories and highlight for those who would like to screenshot it!)
This is where my idea for #freeupmyEaster came from. To give some ideas of places around you (Central Scotland) to go for a FREE day out! I’ve chosen places that we’ve actually been to so I can give you a real background on what’s there, what’s good and bits to avoid (usually the cafes - haha) I’ve also made a FREE printable sheet of these places so that you can print it out, stick it on the fridge and on days where you’ve made it to 9 am and they’re asking for lunch it might give you an idea of where to go!
Ps, this list is only basic but hopefully will give you some inspiration!
- Helix Park and Kelpies
The Helix play park is fantastic for older school-age kids. Eilidh (7) loves the big slides as does Oscar (3) there’s a great sensory bit for children with disabilities or wheelchair users but it’s loved by all children! Especially it’s a moveable ramp that bounces up and down as you cross it! There’s a big lake which is the perfect size for a decent walk without being too tiring for little legs. There’s a small coffee/snack stop at the park that also has toilets but the main cafe (which is really good!) is located at the Kelpies. The whole park is totally accessible and a brilliant pace to bring scooters, rollers blades or bikes as it’s all flat! If you haven’t been to the Kelpies you should definitely check them out. You can go on a tour of them to learn about the history and go inside the huge structures but we haven’t done it.
Want to go for a bigger walk here?!
if you cross the canal at the back of the Kelpies you can walk to ‘Love and Kisses’ it’s a huge strange piece, which looks like it’s been modelled on Kim K’s bum but the kids love running up it and sliding off the edge *the sculpture that is not Kim K’s bum*
2. Calendar Park and House
Although most of the main park has now been taken away (the slides have been there since I was little!) for refurbishment there’s still lots to do here!
At the far end of the house, there are two new zip lines which are always great fun. Ps, because these are new the ground is really muddy so take wellies!! If you go straight up the hill from the zip lines, into the woods, there’s a new obstacle course with different bits to climb and balance on. The trail is a good size for people with preschoolers as it’s not too long! It leads round in a loop back to the play park.
Rainy day here? I thoroughly recommend Calendar House. The interior is still beautifully kept with gorgeous panelled walls and wide staircases. There’s lots of indoor the history of Falkirk and depending on which day you visit you can get into the Victorian kitchen (they sometimes have people in character telling you stories). There’s also usually an exhibition on - I think it’s an art one at the moment. The cafe here is brilliant - go for the scones!! And has incredible views onto the lawn at the back of the house! All FREE (except the scones 😉)
3. Muiravonside and New Mills Farm
This hidden gem is fantastic for kids of all ages! The farm has a good selection of farm animals and some sassy alpacas too! *G loves coming here because they have Silkie hens like ours*
You can follow the easy routes down to the River Avon and through pebbles on or skim stones.
There's also the Aqueduct that takes the canal from Falkirk to Linlithgow. Oscar and Matilda and I walked this last year and loved it - except on the way back. My god, I won’t forget that day! (Oscar was only 2 and had his balance bike, Matilda was about 7 months and I took her in the carrier. Oscar wet himself so half the way back I had Matilda in the carrier, Oscar WET on my front and a bike in my other arm - haha!!)
They also have a new obstacle course leading up to the play park. The play park is kinda old now and could do with improvement but the spider's web is great!
Great place for a woodland walk. There are a few different circuits you can walk. There’s plenty sticks and climbing trees for the kids to explore. Great if you also have a four-legged friend joining in the fun! This is also home to Canada Wood Kitchen, great for lunches and a mean steak dinner. It has such a lovely cosy atmosphere!
5. Jupiter wildlife centre
Part of the SSPCA Jupiter wildlife centre is in Grangemouth. It is signposted but as you’re going in it doesn’t look like somewhere to take kids but believe me it’s brilliant! Depending on what day you go there’s a little ranger centre that has lots of FREE activities from pond dipping, mink beast hunts and general info about the wildlife there. It’s a small walk around the whole place but lots of different things to see. The kids favourite is pond dipping - we once caught a little eel!! All of their activities are free except ones that have been pre-arranged for groups but they are £1-2 max usually and very informative and kid-friendly!
- Devilla Forest.
Large car park right off the road. There are many different walks to go but we usually follow the red squirrel trail! It is a good place for spotting red squirrels and other wildlife there’s good kid-friendly fact boards all around the walk. It should only take about an hour to go round and it’s a really nice walk. Ps, we’ve found the start of the walk can have lots of dog poo but it doesn’t last for long! ** pick it up dog owners **
2. Pittencreif, Dunfermline
This park used to be so good. They had a huge slide which was always popular with the kids and two other sections with a good selection of play equipment but vandals set some of it on fire - why?! But I’m still mentioning here as it’s a great place to feed squirrels! Take money nuts or nuts for wild birds along with you and walk into the wooded area and the squirrels come running! Great place for a walk. Ps, there’s also a hidden park within one of the walking routes!
Perfect if you fancy a day out on scooters, bikes or roller skates etc flag path from the car park to play park. The play park has recently been improved and looks really fun! I’d say mainly for under fours as there isn’t much challenging play equipment!
4. Beach day!
If you have followed us for a while you know we love a beach day. We love East Neuk beaches. Our favourites being Kingsbarns, Elie, Tentsmuir and Broughtyferry (its Dundee so don’t know if considered East Nuek?!) so grab the spades and have some fun!
5. Lochore Meadows
A brilliant play park and loch! They have a water-sports facility too if you’re feeling adventurous. The play park has a really cool slide (I’m really am a mum - haha) it’s great for all ages as there’s lots of different play equipment! The last time we were there the cafe was closed but we tend to picnic when we’re on days out!
- Riverside Museum
Plenty car park space and it’s only £2 I believe!!
Has a great range of cars, trams and all other transport. The play fire engine is a favourite place for my kids (and everyone else’s!!) It has great park access compared to other museums (I’m looking at you National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh) It has a great zebra crossing play upstairs with working traffic lights that the kids love! They’re also picnic friendly - hoorah.
2. Chatelherault Country Park
One of our favourite Glasgow parks. A great play area that’s hidden in the woods, plenty space for a bat, ball and frisbee games (a favourite of ours) there is also a cafe and visitor centre! We came here on a big family picnic with cousins, aunties and uncles!
3.Kelvingrove art gallery
This is the kid's favourite museum. Most likely because there is a dinosaur bit! They also have a huge organ that gets played at 1 pm. The cafe is amazing! Especially the lemon drizzle cake, yum!
There is a great rainforest section and a huge section all about Scottish history! The car park is free but always hard to get a space.
Recently redeveloped and it’s brilliant! It’s designed to look like a crannog, it has two levels with bridges and musical instruments, slides coming out of different ends! Matilda struggles to find a good place to play as the upper level is very open and is quite high! There are baby swings but they’re out away from the main park so it’s tricky when you have more than one child with you! Every time we’ve been it’s been packed so get there early if you’re planning a visit. There’s also a bouncy castle and trampoline ‘show style’ play that you need tickets for and a good walk around the small loch.
5.Palacerigg country park
They’ve made lots of updates here recently! The visitor centre is small but has lots of fun bits for kids. The play park is really good with a large sand play area, swings, climbing wall and zip line. There’s a track for little barrel cars which I’m sure is under £2 for a shot. You can also visit and feed the animals. Bags of feed are 50p and the kids can enjoy feeding goats, sheep and hens from their hands. There are some good walks around the centre including a treetop walkway. It’s been there for many, many years but I’m sure it’s sturdy enough!! You get a great view of all the deer in the field.
Great play park for all ages! There is two zip line - perfect for racing. Huge spiders web and big slides. There’s great walks all around. You can walk up to the visitor centre at the deer park and down to the loch. There’s always lovely sheep and baby highland cows the last time we were there!!
Good play park and old steam train engine that kids can explore. There is good sand play, good walks and grassy areas! It’s right next to the Scottish owl centre if you fancied popping in there too!
3. Almondell country park
The play park is very basic but there is some really nice walks and a few bridges over water to cross! It’s super pram friendly too. The kids love skimming stones in the water!
It used to have this amazing tyre swing that the kids adored but it’s no longer there - boo! The main play park has a few different sections great place for all ages! There is a spiders web, good school-age child climbing frame and it looks really appealing for kids. There’s also a loch and different short walks you can do!
5.Linlithgow Loch and park
We’re here so often. It’s fairly close to us and we love walking around the loch. If you decide to walk around - it’s not a huge walk maybe an hour and a half with wee ones! Halfway round there is a wooded area where we (and others) have been building dens! The kids adore den building and tree climbing! Once you’re around the loch you could visit Linlithgow Palace ( part of historic Scotland so free if you’re a member) also a good couple of play parks next to the loch. Oliphants bakers on the Main Street is great for picking up a little treat!
- Vogrie Country Park
Great park and good walks all around. There are some unusual fun bits like a giant bike sculpture (that you can get a boost up on to) and some giant chairs - good photo op! There are also some really great leapfrog poles. Which I thought - easy! But I didn’t jump high enough, smacked my crotch and fell into the bark - hahaha.
2. Ikea. Oh no, wait, that’s for me.
3.City centre fun
The kids love riding the train - ok not free but once you’re there, there’s plenty to do that is free! We’ve been meaning for aaaages to park at Ingliston and get the tram into the centre - which is cheaper and a different experience for the kids! There’s the national museum of Scotland and city centre grassy area where you could take a picnic! We always we went to the dentist in Edinburgh as kids and go to Russel Bromley for our new shoes twice a year we loved the opportunity to explore the city having grown up in the countryside!
Ok so it’s a bit farther than Edinburgh but we took the kids here last year and they loved it! There was a little woodland play park and the sand was beautifully white! A really clean beach too! ** and has toilets **
You can download and print a simple version of this here.
I'll also post it to my stories on Instagram so you can screenshot it and keep it in your phone!
Still feeling uninspired or thinking - I’ve been everywhere here, how do I make it fun and exciting (for me) and the kids?
Good question, one of the best ways I find to stay somewhere like a park for a long time is to have a bit of a plan or have something organised. In our shed, I have a canvas bag filled with outdoor toys. Which includes; tennis rackets, balls, a frisbee, a parachute (the play kind - I’m not THAT adventurous!!) a picnic mat and some various other outdoor play bits. Most of which we’ve collected other the years or picked up in b&m. If we’re going out I always take this with us or leave it in the boot during the summer. We get them out on a big patch of grass and just make up some games! The kids love it and I get involved and have fun too!
Make a day of it!
So you’re thinking of going to the park - it’s nice in the afternoon but the mornings pretty miserable. Head to the library and pick up some books, you could get some books about bugs and go on a bug hunt at the park or pick up ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ and follow the steps in the book using your imagination! Our favourite is picking up and a book about having a tea party or bears and having a teddy bears picnic! We did it last year ( I even took a disco ball and hung it in the tree above us!) and had a picnic below.
Mini road trip!
Decide on your start and end point. Doesn’t have to be a huge journey. But every time during that journey that you see a play park - you have to stop and get out and play!! My kids love this game as if there’s a play park in each town we pass they love having to get in and out the car. We make them really quick trips like ‘one shot at each thing then back in the car!!’ And onto the next. It’s also a good game to practice reading road signs. I’ll let Eilidh look for any brown signs for places of interest and we’ll follow it and see what it’s like!
Rainy Day, Indoor Play?
I've had Play.Hooray prompt cards for so long now and still find them so good for quick little play activities that are great for those rainy days or in-between activities if you're trying to limit screen time! I'll link them here
I hope this has given you some inspiration! I’ll mention for the challenge although we’ll not *technically* be spending money we do have a few annual passes to various places including
The five sisters zoo
St. Andrews Aquarium
Wonderworld soft play
Xcite sports venue
We also have day tickets for Briarlands Farm, Stirling and The Deer centre in Cupar.
We have so many because we love a day out!! Many of them were also birthday gifts for the kids - great if they have more toys than they need!!