Last year I promised to round up the best family friendly restaurants we’ve experienced in Aberdeen and shire. We tried to narrow it down to ten but it was too difficult, so eleven it is! We haven’t visited everywhere but we’ve taken our kids out a lot and this is what we found…
In no particular order…
1 Fly Cup, Inverurie – As well as serving excellent cakes, Fly Cup has a wonderful play room for little ones. It’s also within a short walk to Strathburn Park so ideal for letting the cherubs run wild. Fly Cup is a social enterprise which provides individuals with learning disabilities training and employment opportunities in the catering industry, so every penny you spend here is for a good cause. [Free, ample parking too.]
2 The Ashvale Fish Restaurant, Great Western Road, Aberdeen. You can’t go wrong with quality fish n chips and kids. The Ashvale is a hit with families of all ages. Fish n chips are the signature dish but there’s a range of traditional fare and healthy options on the menu such as poached fish, grilled fish, vegetarian offerings, steaks and burgers. It’s a great location for big family meet ups and informal nights out due to its size and swift service. A notably family friendly destination and a great weekend treat. [Free, ample parking.]
3 Mains of Drum, Banchory – This modern garden and gift centre is nice for a nose about and is synonymous with Aberdeenshire ‘rural leisure’ but the restaurant upstairs is a gift for parents. It’s spacious with ample high chairs and a range of seating set-ups. The light lunches are varied, such as cullen skink, panini and baked potatoes. There’s a microwave available to customers: ideal for heating any baby food or milk. Mains of Drum holds the “Taste Our Best” slogan which is a recognised award given by Visit Scotland for a “commitment to delivering high quality Scottish Produce prepared with care and delivered with passion”. They list their local suppliers here. If you like what you’ve eaten maybe pick up more Scottish goods at the food hall. [Free, ample parking.]
4 The Pavilion AND Sand Dollar, Aberdeen Beach – All the wee cafes along the beachfront welcome children. The Sand Dollar possibly has the best reputation for food. It’s always busy with a cross-section of tourists and locals from all walks of life, but there’s always room for little ones and a popular choice with parents. The Pavilion doesn’t cost as much and serves up great slabs of cake! Be it after a bracing walk along the beach, whizzing along the length of the promenade by scooter, exploring the traditional fishing village at Footdee, braving the rides at Codona’s Amusement Park or swimming at the Beach Leisure Centre there’s plenty reasons to drop by a beachside cafe after the sea air rouses the appetite. [Free parking but can be busy.]
5 Crolla’s Gelateria, Rosemount Place, Aberdeen – There are lots of ice-cream parlours but Crolla’s stands out as it has a large seating area, offering light lunches as well as a huge range of ice-cream made on site. Famous for its cold stone ice-cream, choose your ice-cream flavours, your toppings and your sauces to create your own personal concoction. Or do as I did and settle for Turkish Delight flavour- in my book you can’t get better than that.
6 Belwade Farm, Aboyne – After enjoying a riverside walk and visiting the horses of the World Horse Welfare centre in Aberdeenshire, it’s tempting to try Belwade’s generous portions of hearty home cooking in a family friendly setting. Food is served with two great views: out across the Deeside hills from the terrace; or down onto the paddock where horses are rehabilitated. [Easy, free, ample parking.]
7 Tempo, Bon Accord Centre, Aberdeen – A pop up cafe in one of the busiest shopping centres in Aberdeen, Tempo gives you a time-out with your kids. With little tables and chairs and a play zone for children, parents can relax here. Tempo also has a very novel payment structure. As its name suggests you pay for the time spent inside, all the food (such as toast, cereal and cakes), teas and coffees are free. And the silver lining is that all the profits go to CLAN, a charity offering emotional and practical support to people affected by cancer, their family, carers and friends in the north east of Scotland.
8 Crathes Castle, Banchory – As well as a National Trust Cafe, serving light lunches, coffees and tray bakes, the cafe at Crathes is right next to a new playground. And let’s not forget an actual castle to explore, a walled garden and Go Ape nearby for any agile little monkeys. [Check opening hours as many properties close for the winter. Easy parking, free to members.]
9 Molly’s Cafe Bar, Stonehaven – Sausages, Haddock Goujons, Chicken Goujons, Mac n’ Cheese are available at Molly’s, served up with excellent sea views. All Kids’ meals are served with Chips and Beans or Peas, followed by a Yummy Molly’s Ice cream and accompanied with a Fruit Shoot, Milk or Juice. Stonehaven has a picturesque harbour, a soft play centre on the beachfront, a castle to explore and a beautiful beach for mini adventures. [Free parking]
10 Amarone, Union Street, Aberdeen – If you’re looking for a smart choice then we had a very positive experience in Amarone. We celebrated a family birthday here and the range of Italian cuisine suited everyone; from casual pizzas and pasta, to seafood and steaks, there was a lot of choice. The decor is also smart and stylish so it felt like a celebration. There also happened to be a face painter onsite doing the kids’ faces for free so we felt really welcome.
11 Ardoe House Hotel – I still can’t get Ardoe’s Young Diner’s Afternoon Tea out of my mind. Luxurious setting for little ones to indulge.
Parents’ Choice as chosen by Tots2Travel readers. Top Choice = Cafe Andaluz on Bon Accord Street, Aberdeen. Other mentions include Buchanan’s at Woodend Barn, Mains of Drum and Banchory Lodge Hotel (all in the Banchory area), and Formartine’s in Tarves.
Parents’ Choice for Chain Restaurants as chosen by Tots2Travel readers. Top Choice = Carluccio’s and Wagamamas (both Union Square). Other mentions include Pizza Express (Belmont St, Chapel St and Union Square), Zizzis (Union Square) and Giraffe (Union Square).
One reader sang the praises of Rosie’s Cafe in Rosemount, Aberdeen ideal ‘for a pancake and coffee/milk. They have toys for little ones (which the staff will usually bring to your table). Plus, best pancakes in Aberdeen, hands down! -It’s all really reasonably priced and for a good cause (Rosie’s is a social enterprise) too. The only downside, like a lot of Aberdeen cafes, is the access. There’s a step up to the door so manoeuvring a buggy can be tricky but not bad for space when you get inside.’ That’s a pretty thorough review. Thank you.
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