Scotland’s adventure playground, Perthshire boasts mind-blowing landscapes of mountains, lakes and rivers offering family holidays and breaks with lots of scope for getting active and feeling at one with nature. This is a haven for cyclists, anglers, hikers, bikers, rock-climbers, horse-riders and other lovers of the great outdoors, but with so much space, you’ll never feel crowded out.
Remote but not too far from civilisation, Perthshire has plenty of beautiful villages and small towns with great shopping (the craft shops are fantastic), coffeeshops and pubs. Meanwhile the people, rightly proud of their history and independence and full of Celtic charm, are very child-friendly – your kids will be scooped up, poked, prodded and welcomed with a smile.
Things to do with kids in Perthshire
Jump on a pony, climb a mountain, paddle along a river or cycle along any number of fantastic routes. Visit distilleries and museums, parks and gardens, historic houses and villages with fantastic craft centres. Walk in any number of gorgeous glens then settle down for a picnic amidst stunning scenery.
If you don’t get your fill of exciting animals in the wild, head for Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre in the midst of beautiful countryside, with a hatchery, chick and bunny handling, a play park and an indoor barn with daily animal feedings. Or head out into the highlands on one of its safaris, with the opportunity to strike it rich gold- and gem-panning then celebrate your newfound fortune at the Safari Lodge Café.
Marvel at the salmon making their way home at the Pitlochrd Dam Visitor Centre, with a viewing chamber and the chance to learn all about how the fish make these amazing journeys.
Head for Glengoulandie Country Park, which has something for everyone (including fishing), or ActiveKid Adventure Park, a working farm with trampolines and climbing frames thrown in for good measure.
Explore Perth, capital of Perthshire and a good base. Small and easy to get around, it has great shopping (lots of quirky specialist shops), art galleries, wonderful places to eat, theatres, grand public parks and the striking Tay Street promenade, where you can mooch away an afternoon. On a rainy day, head for Noah’s Ark Family Entertainment Centre, with a play barn, go-karting, bowling and a golf centre and driving range, or Perth Leisure Pool, with 5 pools, an outdoor lagoon and flumes.
Visit the iconic Scone Palace, which has stacks of facts for grown-ups to wallow in (it was capital of the Pictish kingdom, centre of the Celtic church, the seat of parliaments, and the crowning place of kings), is ideal for buggy-pushers (it’s all on one floor), and has plenty of space in its grounds for kids to run about chasing the peacocks, as well as a great play-park, the great Murray Star Maze in which to lose the children, grazing Highland cattle, plus a smattering of rare breeds.
With bookworms, stop at Aberfeldy Watermill, opened by Michael Palin in a converted watermill that also sells bread.
Perthshire’s small towns and villages are full of child-friendly coffeeshops and pubs offering ample scope for family dining. To really sample the flavours of the region (and get some interesting souvenirs to boot), sample some of Perthshire's produce. Farmers' markets have seen something of resurgence in recent years in the UK, and Perth's, held on the first Saturday of each month, is arguably the best-known in Scotland, showcasing for local producers and growers through its fish, meat and game, baked goods, fruit wines and liqueurs, honeys and preserves, fruit and vegetables, sweets and herbs.
When to go to Perthshire
The best temperatures in Perthshire and Scotland as a whole occur between May and August, and with its high latitude, those long balmy summer evenings have an extended twilight that will allow you to fit more into your day. However, autumn is also an incredible time to visit, with the leaves putting on a show that rivals that of New England.
Although you can splurge in Perthshire, on the whole this is a good choice for budget-friendly family holidays and breaks, especially if you self-cater.
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