Glasgow is a compact city and easy to get around. Amazing attractions, fun-filled activities and a great mix of family friendly restaurants and entertainment on offer, make a visit to the city an experience the whole family can enjoy.
There are loads of great experiences to be had no matter when you visit. Here’s some of our top picks.
The city’s number one must visit attraction is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. With fascinating displays from Arms and Armour to Natural History, from Sir Roger the Asian Elephant to a 1940s Spitfire, there is so much to see.
Other highlights include the Riverside Museum which showcases the city’s vast transport collection and the Tall Ship, which has a regular programme of maritime themed events and activities to keep the kids entertained. Families will also enjoy Scotland Street School - designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh - where kids can dress up and find out what school was like in years gone by. The People’s Palace Museum is a fun and fascinating place to learn about the city's social history through artefacts, photographs and hands-on displays. **The People’s Palace is closed for approximately 12 weeks (from December 31, 2018) to allow essential building works to be carried out as a result of the Winter Gardens closure. Or head to the the oldest house in Glasgow, the Provand’s Lordship which dates back to 1471. And best of all, all these fantastic attractions are FREE to visit!
Head to the 6th floor indoor viewing platform in The Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane, just off Buchanan Street, for some brilliant views across the city centre roof tops. Great for a game of eye spy! For the older kids, challenge them to climb the 134-steps spiral staircase to the building’s highest exterior point – a sure way to tire them out!
And as a city known for its passion for the beautiful game, a tour of one of the city’s iconic football stadiums –Celtic Park, Ibrox Stadium or Hampden Park and adjoining Scottish Football Museum are a must.
If you’re looking for more action and adventure, the city has a whole host of activities for the family to try out. The Glasgow Science Centre is a fantastic (and educational) full day out – including hundreds of interactive exhibits, a state-of-the-art Planetarium and spectacular live Science Shows the kids will love!
Looking for something a bit more energetic? Cycling enthusiasts of every level are well catered for with facilities like Free Wheel North cycle centre where kids can go and have fun on trikes, tandems and go-carts, or for those with their own wheels, head to Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike Trail, Cuningar Loop or the Skatepark at Kelvingrove Park. For serious thrill-seekers, why not book in a family session at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome for a chance to ride the same track that’s hosted some of the world’s top cyclists!
If adventure is what you are looking for, head to Pinkston Watersports – Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course and flat water basin for canoeing and kayaking, Glasgow Ski and Snowboard Centre or The Climbing Centre for a chance to scale courses up to 16 metres high.*
Slow the pace down slightly and take the younger kids along to one of the city’s 90 parks and gardens to enjoy a run around in the fresh air. Glasgow Green has a huge adventure play area, there’s a children’s farm at Tollcross Park or head to Pollok Country Park to see the heavy horses and Highland cows!
*please note age restrictions will apply – please check in advance.
For rainy days, why not go along to a 'Bring the wee one' family cookery masterclass at Tennent's Training Academy. Sessions include Pizza Party, Cupcake Masterclass and Burger Bonanza. Don your aprons and have fun learning to make some scrumptious creations.
Dragging the kids around the shops isn’t normally the most pleasurable experience but thankfully in Glasgow, there are loads of top family-friendly shops so the kids are in for a treat. The St Enoch Centre is home to The Disney Store along with Scotland’s only Hamelys that has the must have toys and games and a calendar of great experiences too from toy demos to meeting Superheroes! Buchanan Galleries also located in the heart of the city’s Style Mile, has over 90 shops including The Lego Store, The Entertainer toy shop, Flying Tiger Copenhagen and the uber-popular Smiggle stationary store.
The city’s malls also have a great selection of cafes and restaurants for pit stops too – there’s the street-food hub in Buchanan Galleries, Kimble's in St Enoch Centre for delicious hot chocolate and light bites and the restaurants in Princes Square are always popular with families as the kids can enjoy a run around in the courtyard.
Princes Square and St Enoch Centre also host regular baby and toddler events with reading and singing sessions – check out their websites for details.
Places to eat and drink in Glasgow can be found in abundance but it’s always good to get top tips on where to go that will ensure the kids are well catered for.
Pizza and pasta is sure to please at family favourites such as Paesano, Di Maggios, Jamie’s Italian and Celino’s. If you fancy a more hipster style hang-out head to Mono on King Street for their fantastic vegan menu or Dennistoun Bar-B-Que on Duke Street for amazing burgers!
The iconic Hard Rock Café on Buchanan Street has a popular kids menu and fun, seasonal events. Singl-end cafe and bakehouse on Renfrew Street and now on John Street in Merchant City is the hot spot for brunches, cakes and bakes or head to the award-winning Tantrum Doughnuts in the west end (or their shop on Gordon Street) for mouth-watering treats but be quick, once they're gone, they're gone! Meanwhile, D’Arcys in Princes Square has got it covered when it comes to the little ones with classic kids dishes, a big bunch of toys and games and face-painting at the weekends!
Or for an afternoon that your little prince or princess will just love, head to Cup Tearooms in Virginia Court for their Children’s Afternoon Tea. Three delicious tiers of cakes, sandwiches and fruit including a children’s tea or mini milkshake.
If that lot hasn’t completely exhausted the little treasures, check out some of the other great family-friendly entertainment on offer.
Sports fans can catch the Glasgow Warriors rugby team at their home ground in Scotstoun or head to the Emirates Arena to watch the UWS Sirens netball team or Glasgow Rocks basketball team in action. Look out for the halftime entertainment from the Scottish Rockettes dance troupe too!
North of the city centre, all the action is at the Peugeot Ashfield Stadium where you can experience the thrill of the Glasgow Tigers Speedway.
The Scottish Youth Theatre have regular Family Storytime shows which are fun interactive performances mainly aimed at 3-7yr olds and the Scottish Mask and Puppet Theatre in the west end is an enchanting experience for young and old with weekend shows and workshops.
Glasgow is a very walkable city but to make the most of your time there are some inexpensive transport options to keep you on the move. Top of the list has to be the City Sightseeing Bus Tour, a great way to get around some of the city’s top attractions while learning loads of fun and fascinating facts. The service operates every 15 minutes, seven days a week. The tour also has a ‘Ghoulish Glasgow’ commentary, specially created for the kids, featuring ghastly, ghostly facts about the city’s history – sure to delight your little devils!
Glasgow also has one of the oldest Subway networks in the world and with only 15 stops and two lines, it’s handy for reaching some of the city’s best attractions (the lines serve the city centre, west end and southside), and almost impossible to get lost!
As you work your way across the city, make sure you look out for the colourful and quirky street art by following the City Centre Mural Trail. See how many of the murals you can spot and who can spot them first!
Meanwhile, getting to the city is really easy too, thanks to the Kids Go Free ticket with ScotRail where kids up to the age of 15 can travel free with each paying adult.
It’s clear the family will be well entertained in Glasgow but if you want to venture a little further out of the city then there is loads more on offer.
After all that activity, take a rink-side seat at the 3,500 seat state of the art Braehead Arena and enjoy the action on display from Glasgow's only professional ice hockey team, The Glasgow Clan, as they face off with other teams from across the country in the UK Elite League (Sept-April). Join the Glasgow Clan supporters, known as the Purple Army, and their Highland Cow mascot, Clangus, in the electric atmosphere at Castle Clan. A great family night out, plus the fastest and most exciting team sport in Glasgow!
Or try out the amazing Loch Lomond SEA LIFE Aquarium where you can see the largest collection of shark species in Scotland or the National Museum of Rural Life where you can explore the 1950s working farm and enjoy loads of seasonal activities.