I’ve had this other blog for more than 6 years now where I write all about the things I do in Glasgow with my own kids (it’s at Glasgow With Kids if you fancy a wee look). There are a few hundred ideas for days out and things to do in Glasgow over there, but over here on Scotland With Kids I couldn’t not write about the city I’ve lived in for most of my life.
Glasgow is so often overlooked by tourists and holidaymakers, whom if they’re looking for a city break automatically head to the capital to see the castle and all the sights over there. But Glasgow has a lot of history, more than 90 parks and an absolute tonne of great things to do with kids. I am definitely biased towards Glasgow, and my love of the city I grew up in has only grown since I started exploring it with my kids too. But if you do visit Glasgow I hope you love it as much as I do!
Here are some of our favourite things to do as a family around Glasgow. A few just to get you started, because there are loads more than what’s on this list!
Glasgow Science Centre & Science Tower
Cost: £11.50 adults, £9.50 concessions, £3 to add on planetarium entry & £3.50 to add on tower visit
The Glasgow Science Centre is worthy of at least a few hours, if not an entire day out. There is so much to pack into a visit here; explore and play in the 3 floors full of interactive science exhibits, see a live science show, joining a workshop and you can even add on a planetarium show (they have shows to suit various age groups) to your visit. The Glasgow Tower is a little bit temperamental in it’s opening hours, but if it is open, it is really worth a visit because on a good day the views are stunning from the top. You can see the entire city, and all the way along past the Erskine Bridge in the west.
There’s a restaurant downstairs, a starbucks in the same building and the cineworld IMAX cinema is there too. At the age of 3 it’s my youngest kid’s favourite place, and at the age of almost 40 this is still one of my favourite places to visit in Glasgow!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
First opened more than 100 years ago, Kelvingrove is a firm favourite with most Glaswegians and visitors alike. Apart from being a really beautiful building (which kids don’t care much about) this is a space where families can explore at their own pace. There are quite a few exhibits that kids will love including the spitfire, the floating heads, the natural history exhibits, the bee hive and the rainforest exhibit.
There’s a restaurant downstairs and a cafe on the ground floor if you need a bite to eat. The museum is also set within the grounds of the beautiful Kelvingrove Park; well worth a wander round if you’re in the area.
This is a woodland haven within the city of Glasgow; you wouldn’t believe you’re right in the middle of the city when you visit Pollok Park! Take a stroll through the woods (all paved so it’s great for buggies, scooters, wheelchairs etc), have a wander through the walled gardens at Pollok House and find the fairies and dinosaurs there, or find the highland cattle.
You can also check out Pollok House (entry fee applies) and the Burrell Collection while you’re there. Both have a cafe so you can grab some cake and a cuppa or some lunch while you’re visiting too. (Note: The Burrell Collection is undergoing refurbishment and will reopen to the public in Spring 2021.)
Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship
Cost: Free (Parking can be expensive though.)
I’ve added these together as one activity because they are right next to each other and although you could easily visit one without the other, they do feel like one attraction. In the Riverside Museum you can see hundreds of different types of vehicles – bikes, trains, trams, buses, cars and even a horse drawn cart. Head down the old time street and check out the old shops; have a a wee trip (not a real one) on an old Glasgow Subway carriage; see the model boat collection upstairs; play on an old Glasgow bus and check some interactive exhibits. This is quite a hands-on museum and is a great place for families to spend a few hours.
Just out the back of Riverside Museum you can scrub the deck atop The Tall Ship. The Tall Ship Glenlee is one of just 5 Clydebuilt sailing ships that are still afloat today. See what the life of a seaman aboard a cargo ship would have been like back in the early 1900’s, and discover the history of this sailing ship. There is a small soft play down on the very bottom floor of the tall ship. (Note: Any time we have been in the past few years the lift has been out of order making this museum very wheel unfriendly.)
From July to October you can get right to the door of both museums via the Govan Ferry. A great way to get there if you’re using the Glasgow Subway and it adds a nice bit of extra excitement into your day!
A day out on the Glasgow Subway
Cost: All day tickets cost £3 for adults and £1.50 for kids. Under 5’s go free.
Speaking of the Glasgow Subway… Kids will love jumping on the Glasgow Subway and heading out for the day. Who doesn’t love a train ride?! As a day out, this can be as inexpensive as an underground ticket, just jumping off at stops with free activities and things to do. Or you can add lunch or a paid activity in and make a big day out of it.
You can get to quite a few Glasgow museums and parks on the Glasgow Subway, the science centre, cinema, soft play, mini golf, roller skating, see some buskers about the town… There’s a lot to choose from. Mix and match your own day out and suit it to whatever budget you like. Glasgow With Kids has a great article listing things to do for families at many of the underground stops.
Botanic Gardens and Loop & Scoop
Cost: Botanics are free to enter, plus whatever you buy in Loop & Scoop!
Head along to the west end and spend a few hours exploring the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Check out the Kibble Palace and other glasshouses, take a walk down in the botanic gardens arboretum and have a play in the little kids play area in the botanics
Once you’re done, if you walk out the main gate and along Great Western Road for a few minutes you’ll come to Loop & Scoop where you can fuel up on churros, ice cream and a good cuppa. Once of the best ways to end a day out!
Soar at Braehead
Cost: Each activity is priced individually
Their tagline is action packed days out in Glasgow, and that’s absolutely what you’ll get at Soar, Braehead. You can ski or snowboard in real snow, watch the action on the slope from the cozy Bar Varia, head to the arcade, play mini golf, ten pin bowling, see a movie in the cinema, go trampolining, have a turn on The Big Slide and climb the walls in ClimbZone. Plus loads more.
Once you’re puffed out, head to one of the many places to eat including Five Guys, TGI Fridays, Nandos, China Buffet King, Toni Macaroni, Pizza Express or Bar Varia. If you didn’t bring a jacket for rainy weather with you to Glasgow, this is the place to stock up on your outdoor and performance clothing.
The oasis of green space in the centre of Glasgow is by far the oldest of Glasgow’s many parks. Within the park you’ll find the Doulton Fountain, McLennan Arch and Nelson’s Monument. The Glasgow Humane Society (the oldest practical lifesaving organisation in the world) is based within the green and you’ll often see rowers practising up and down the river at the Eastern end of the park.
The park also has a couple of playparks, of which the big sandy playwark at the Templeton end of the green is definitely the best for older kids. The wonderful Free Wheel North is right next to this where kids and adults can hire one of dozens of types of bikes and trikes for £1 for 20 minutes. You will also find the People’s Palace museum here in Glasgow Green, which is home to the beautiful winter gardens. (Note: the winter gardens are closed for essential refurbishment with no date currently stated for reopening.)
If we ever have some spare time in Glasgow city centre we love heading to The Lighthouse. Here you can head up two separate towers to see the centre of Glasgow from above. The first can only be accessed by a lift, and when you get to the top you are encased in glass. There is a Glasgow piano here and sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll come across an accomplished player having a bash at it! The second tower is accessed through a Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibit leading through to a tall spiral staircase of 140 or so stairs which takes you to the top of the tower. It’s outdoors and you can get almost 360º views from the top all over the city. My kids love a trip up here.
Head to The Doocot cafe for some grub or a cuppa and there’s also a really lovely gift and souvenir shop at the bottom when you’re leaving.
Cost: Each activity is priced individually
The Kinning Park area of Glasgow has a few streets of big warehouses that are just packed with indoor activities. There’s Wonder World Soft Play, roller skating and roller discos at Roller Stop, hours of bouncy fun at Inflatanation, bouldering at The Climbing Academy and trampolining at Ryze. There are loads of different activities to choose from so it’s a really fantastic place to head if you’re at a loose end on a rainy day.