Things to Do in Glasgow with Kids – I love Glasgow. I studied there and had a total ball, but I’ve never set foot in the city with children. As we approached with the kids in the back of the car I sensed this trip would be very different to my student days. So where do you take kids in this buzzing city? *Contains affiliate links
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum / Glasgow Science Centre / Winter Gardens / Scotland Street School Museum / University of Glasgow and the West End / National Museum of Rural Life / Food & Drink / Accommodation
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – As well as beautiful pieces by the Glasgow Boys and Scotland’s favourite painting (Dali’s Christ of Saint John on the Cross) the free Kelvingrove Museum is also home to floating heads, an aeroplane, gigantic stuffed animals and DINOSAURS. Tot heaven!
The museum is in Kelvingrove Park which is an attraction for any age or demographic. With a great play park for little ones, it’s scenic and central – great to push a buggy around or chase a toddler.
The Science Centre – A great rainy day option the Science Centre covers four floors of exploration and allows every competitive parent to nurture their own child genius. We messed with DNA, experimented with the numerous hands-on interactive displays, steered our own ship and hit the soft play zone in the Big Explorer Zone.
For an additional £3 we attended the planetarium’s Space Explorers, a show designed for ages seven and under. The movement of the 360° film, screened across a 15-metre hemispherical dome, was mesmerising and confusing for our tots who tilted and leaned in accordance with the spaceship. The shows are led by astronomer-presenters, who I’m sure appreciated Mr Toddler shrieking ‘MOON’ at every planet we approached, regardless of which one it actually was.
In Glasgow Green there are epic play parks – I completed one with Mr Toddler that I’m pretty certain was designed for marines (it’s so full on). There’s also picturesque water fountains and it’s all in close proximity to the old street market known as the Barras. We picked up a tube of bubbles and enjoyed the Green in the sun.
Then we ducked into the free Winter Gardens, a beautiful glass house, and surrounded our kids with exotic plants and palms. The People’s Palace, also set in the Glasgow Green, tells the story of Glasgow’s people from 1750 to the end of the 20th century.
For any Charles Rennie Mackintosh fans, this is a child friendly and free attraction to visit, designed by the man himself. A mix of different classrooms, from Victorian times into the 60s, create a really different and approachable way for children to learn about education and Mackintosh. For a list of Charles Rennie Mackintosh attractions across Glasgow to consider with wee ones click here.
I’m a bit biased as I attended the University of Glasgow. But strutting around the West End, running beneath those cloisters and dipping into the free Hunterian Museum isn’t a bad wee outing for a kid. It’s a striking building in a great part of city. And it gives you an excuse to grab a drink or coffee in Ashton Lane.
Scotland has four national museums* and its National Museum of Rural Life is situated roughly thirty minutes outside Glasgow in East Kilbride. The museum tells the story of the people, the machines, the land and the crops that are the backbone of Scottish food production. Then it’s time to jump on the ‘Farm Explorer’, a tractor and trailer, to visit the actual farm where tots can get up close with gorgeous piglets, horses, cows and hens. The farm’s guides takes you from stable to sty to yard and talks you through the lives of the animals before letting guests tour the original old farmhouse. You can either walk back to the museum from the farm, through signposted fields and lanes, or jump back on the tractor and trailer. Amazing day out for kids.
If you want informal dining with an area for tots to explore then the Merchant Square in the Merchant City offers a range of quite casual restaurants with a central area for kids to ‘discover’. Mr Toddler met another toddler and remarkably they both liked running in circles – who knew?! We chose a casual Italian called Fratelli’s and the staff were great with our kids. A similar lay out is on the ground floor of the Buchanan Galleries.
We also enjoyed the children’s menu at Bill’s. We dined early, about 6pm, and were eating alongside girls’ nights out sampling the colourful cocktail list, romantic couples and pals having a catch up but it’s the kind of place where everyone fits in.
For a very central and very family friendly dining experience try D’Arcy’s in Princes Square. With toy boxes, children’s menus, swift service and complimentary balloons for kids, what’s not to love?
For a grown up children’s menu I was impressed with the Hanoi Bike Shop in Glasgow’s West End. I’ve visited this informal, on trend Vietnamese restaurant with pals, and never perceived it as a kid’s venue. But the children’s menu is cleverly Vietnamese, but adapted for wee ones. Not a chicken nugget in sight. It also offers a Gluten Free and Vegan menu.
Glasgow also runs a load of kids events so check out what’s happening when you’re visiting. We were tempted by a 5km Bubble Run, yip that’s jogging through bubbles with your buggy, bringing back my Ibiza days, so there’s lots of quirky festivals and activities to choose from. Glasgow’s still smiles better.
We kept it simply and stayed at the new Travelodge on Queen Street in the very centre of the city. We drove from Aberdeen to Glasgow. The city has a good public transport system, from the buses to ample taxis to the famous Clockwork Orange (metro) which is loved by locals and visitors alike. There’s very easy parking at all the attractions I highlighted. We were guests at the Science Centre and the National Museum of Rural Life courtesy of Visit Scotland and ASVA.
*The four national museums are the National Museum of Scotland, The National Museum of Flight, The National War Museum and the National Museum of Rural Life.
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