What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids

What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids – Aberdeen is known for oil, whether it’s booming or crashing, when it’s actually a great city to be a child or to bring (up) a child.  It’s ideal city break material and cheap weekend accommodation too – I’ll explain why later on.

For example it’s a great place to explore as over a quarter of the land in Aberdeen consists of open space, including parks and gardens, and it’s just won the Britain in Bloom City Category AGAIN!  So here’s my top things to do in Aberdeen with kids.

What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids

The wonderful David Welch Winter Gardens in Duthie Park

1 Hit the Parks – What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids

In my mind Duthie Park next to the River Don is the best park in Scotland for children, beating anything in terms of facilities I’ve seen in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Brave talk I know! With a bandstand, lots of green space to kick a ball, boating ponds with pedaloes, paths for little scooters and bikes, three playgrounds (the one with little houses is fantastic for toddlers upwards), a spiralling walk up to a viewpoint and a cafe there’s a on offer for free.

The cherry on the cake is the David Welch Winter Gardens – these indoor botanicals, brilliant for any age to explore, include a Arid House, a Japanese Garden and Corridor of Perfumes. Colour, scents, new temperatures and texture at every turn. Kids enjoy looking out for the giant goldfish, the terrapins, the mechanised frog, Nessie and the talking cactus. One idea is to park up near the Bridge of Dee, walk along the river harassing the ducks as you go, then visit the Park.

Aberdeen with kids

A sculpture in Hazelhead Park

Hazelhead Park in the west of the city is also a great option for children. Again, lot of opportunities for bike-riding, running and stretching little legs but there’s also a big play park, lots of sculptures dotted around the grounds, a cafe, a Petting Zoo and the Hayfield Riding Centre is just outside the park. From an adult point of view the Queen Mother Rose Garden is stunning in bloom and you’ll also find the Piper Alpha memorial here highlighting the city’s extremely close ties to the oil industry.

Anther popular park for children is Westburn Park (across the road from Victoria Park so you get two for the price of one) in the west end of the city. Or head to Old Aberdeen to the playground of Seaton Park.

2 Hit the Beach

Aberdeen Beach is epic, it may not be warm, but it’s epic. We’re talking miles of golden sand, it’s buggy heaven as well as popular with surfers, runners and pirates (OK, I’m kidding about the pirates). You’ll undoubtedly spot huge oil vessels just offshore waiting to access the city harbour so it’s a little bit different from your average beach. The park run currently sets off every Saturday at 0930 so a great way to exercise with your family in great scenery.

What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids

Aberdeen Beach – Aberdeen with kids

The beach is also home to Codona’s Amusement Arcade – we’re talking roller coasters, arcades, ten pin bowling and traditional seaside attractions – you can just see the big wheel in this photo.  Smugglers Cove soft play and street market is especially good for little ones. Most of the cafés along the beach front are child friendly, Sand Dollar Cafe serves notably good food and is welcoming to the small people.

If you like a flume, wave machines, currents and water guns then Aberdeen’s Beach Leisure Centre is calling your name. Its four flumes range from Wipeout (the clue is in the title) to exhilarating tube rides where you feel like you’re flying but you can still have your baby on your lap. The wave machine is also more dramatic than it sounds! My toddlers LOVE the Beach Leisure Centre. There’s also the Linx ice arena and various pitches/courts for all manner of sports.

Transition Extreme is at the beach too. Here you can BMX and skateboard on the indoor ramps freestyle or book a class. There’s also indoor and outdoor climbing walls.

If you like history the traditional fishing village of Footdee is located at the end of the beach. The idiosyncratic outhouses are colourful and quirky, great for a stroll. There’s also a playpark at the Footdee end of Aberdeen beach.


Aberdeen Zoological Museum

3 Hit Up Old Aberdeen

The site of Scotland’s third university Old Aberdeen is excellent for a historic stroll. Take in King’s College, the cobbled streets, the scheduled ancient monument Brig O Balgownie and St Machar Cathedral.

From a kid’s point of view I’d recommend Seaton Park, again good for a play park and a run around, but a hidden rainy day gem is the University of Aberdeen’s Zoological Museum. Mr Toddler loved coming face to face with a huge elephant skeleton, a crocodile, a whale and a turtle to name a few numerous beasts in skeleton form.

He also loved the Biodiversity Room where he could handle snake skins, shells, feathers, spiders and all sorts of weird and wonderful bits of nature.

Next to the museum is the Cruickshank Botanical Gardens.  Used for student research and home to over 2000 plant varieties it’s a lovely walk on a bright day. Read a full guide here.

4 Get Nautical

The city’s modern Maritime Museum tells the story of Aberdeen’s links with the sea. From whaling, to the fastest clipper on earth, to fishing and the cutting edge oil industry this museum, over four floors, covers it all.

What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids

Glen at the Den – What to Do in Aberdeen with Kids

5 Get Sketchy

Den at the Glen – I don’t think how to put this but if you want to see cartoon characters gone slightly wrong, like I’ve personally been let lose with papier mache, then this is the place to go. The characters are so utterly odd (Lisa from The Simpsons is my ultimate favourite – what on earth happened to her? – Please does anyone have any photos they’d be willing to share?) but kids love it.

Youngsters charge around looking for the next cartoon and are happy in the nappy. I love the imperfection of  it. The farm animals are a huge draw and a genuinely worthwhile attraction  – a real Highland Cow, pigs, sheep and fowl. And the soft play area (Den in the Glen) is also a great hang out for little ones with food and drink available.

6 Get Historical

Little history buffs can visit the Gordon Highlanders Museum to uncover the history of one of the nation’s finest regiments. Or the Tolbooth Museum tells the story of crime and punishment – from witch persecution to the kidnap and export of children in the 18th century. There’s harrowing stories behind these cell walls.

7 Get Rural

Doonie’s Farm on the outskirts of the city offers a muddy, mucky, animal friendly farming experience that children love.

8 Get Walking

There is a host of family friendly hikes, hillsides and trails in Aberdeen and shire. Click here to discover more. 

Aberdeen with kids

Aberdeen with kids – Mr Toddler checking out his room at Skene House, Whitehall.

9 Visit the New Aberdeen Art Gallery

Reopened after four years, and a splendid refurbishment, this gallery is now up to date, interactive, fun and accessible for kids. Read all about it.

Aberdeen with kids – Where to Stay

The most family friendly city centre accommodation I’ve found is at the Skene House Hotel Apartments – serviced self-catering apartments with the benefits of a hotel and breakfast served in the morning. A real home from home when travelling with children. Get the tots to sleep then chill out in your own living room.

Due to the oil industry accommodation can be expensive throughout the week due to the ebb and flow of rig workers and business travellers therefore many a bargain can be picked up at the weekend. During an oil crash, prices drop so whether it’s boom times or bust a weekend break in Aberdeen is always a great option for visitors.

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  1. Reply

    Samantha Rickelton

    November 1, 2016

    How bad! I didn’t even realise Aberdeen had a beach. It looks like a lovely city to visit. I’d love to try a dolphin adventure cruise. #citytripping

    • Reply


      November 1, 2016

      Yes,the ties with the sea are still, inevitably, very strong!

  2. Reply


    November 1, 2016

    You have certainly given a new dimension to Aberdeen! The beach is beautiful and even better that you can spot dolphins. I wonder how warm it gets there in summer? Great list. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • Reply


      November 1, 2016

      It’s not a hot, sunshine destination. 20-25 degrees is a good day, but even in warmer weather the air is always fresh, never that muggy, dead air. I always say pack layers! 🙂

  3. Reply


    November 1, 2016

    I have to admit, I really didn’t know much about Aberdeen at all – the granite city name and the oil but neither instantly make you go aha, I must visit with kids. Or that you could hit the beach and go dolphin spotting! Your post has introduced me to a whole new side. Looking forward to the Aberdeenshire follow-up. #citytripping

    • Reply


      November 1, 2016

      Aberdeenshire’s offering is pretty special. Naturally a lot of people head to Edinburgh when they do Scotland but there are so many other cities, towns and villages with their own identity and attractions. I’d get a shock if Aberdeen and shire were suddenly hugely overrun with tourists!

  4. Reply

    Cultural Wednesday

    November 1, 2016

    You had me at the pedalos!

    • Reply


      November 3, 2016

      I like the little kids (usually with a granddad) operating the remote controlled little boats on the pond. Super cute!

  5. Reply


    November 2, 2016

    Duthie park sounds amazing – my dad was in the oil industry and worked in Aberdeen for a few years so we visited often, but there was nothing like this back then, I just remember the dark granite stone mostly. #citytripping

    • Reply


      November 3, 2016

      What happy memories ! lol You poor thing, sounds almost harrowing. We do so much with our boys round here and we’re spoiled for choice. (Will be attempting ice skating on Friday with a 2 year old – wish me luck!)

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