14 family day trips from Glasgow that everyone will remember going on as a kid

Nothing beats Millport on a sunny day...but we can't guarantee that last part.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Bank holidays, sunny days off work or even a jaunt further afield in the rain - the lighter months are here and we can't wait to make the most of them.

If you're anything like us, then days off from work might remind you of simpler times, when a family outing took you 'doon the watter' with granny in tow, already salivating at the thought of her evening fish supper.

You know those day trips because every family has taken them from time to time; the bucket and spade day at the beach or a fun-filled trip to a local attraction.

Here are just some of the memories we have of leaving Glasgow behind for the day - feel free to share your favourite spot (or any we've missed!) over on Facebook and Twitter.

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A day at the beach in Ayr/Troon/Saltcoats/Largs

Wish you were here! Sharon-Anne Taney, left, and Maria Grant build a sand castle in the sunshine on Ayr beach back in 1981.
Wish you were here! Sharon-Anne Taney, left, and Maria Grant build a sand castle in the sunshine on Ayr beach back in 1981. -Credit:Daily Record

We know, everyone has their favourite spot - so we can’t possibly just pick one. Whether it was building sandcastles at Ayr, going slightly upmarket at Troon, enjoying an ice cream sundae at Nardini’s in Largs or taking a slide down the pink elephant chute in Saltcoats (this definitely existed, right?) - it’s fair to say that the Ayrshire coast has long been the number one destination for Glasgow families on a day trip. Everyone has their favourite chip shop or ice cream spot and bringing it up is bound to cause heated debate. But name us a more iconic spot for a great Scottish day out? We’ll wait.

Gazing at Ailsa Craig from Turnberry's shores

The sight of the majestic island that is Ailsa Craig even now is one that continues to take the breathe away, but its nothing compared to seeing it as a nipper when our eyes were glued to the tele watching Virgil, Brains and co on Thunderbirds. Why? Cause it's the double of Tracy Island, from the TV show. And island plenty of us made at home with the help of Blue Peter instructions. And such was the majesty of seeing what looked like the real thing in Aisla Craig that family car trips along the coast to Ayr got extended down to Girvan so the young ones could eye-spy it.

Caravaning at Craig Tara

Playing in the sand at Ayrshire beach.
Sandcastles? Old hat... -Credit:Daily Record

Okay, this iconic caravan park was more of a week-long jaunt than a day trip - but are you even Glaswegian if you haven’t listened to your Granny go on about special summers at Craig Tara? With staycations more in vogue than ever, we have a feeling this Ayrshire hotspot is about to get hotter (metaphorically speaking…we can’t guarantee that it won’t pour down throughout).

Cycling round Millport

Crocodile rock in Millport.
Crocodile rock in Millport. -Credit:Daily Record

Don’t tell us you haven’t done it; Hop on a wee ferry, hire yourself a bike (seriously, those shops must make a killing every summer), cycle as far as your wee legs can carry you and then stop to look for crabs on the beach. The stuff of sweet Scottish summertime dreams.

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Visiting the Bonnie Banks

Loch Lomond is just a short drive away.
Loch Lomond is just a short drive away. -Credit:Getty

Loch Lomond - one of our favourites. Are you a touristy west coast fan likely to head to Luss or do you prefer the laid-back vibes of Balmaha? Have you been heading to Milarrochy for a fresh water swim since you were yay high? Or did your family play it safe at Balloch, on the bottom tip of the loch? No matter where you went (and still go today), it’s fair to say that Loch Lomond has always been a playground for Glaswegians looking to escape the city. The national park is full of absolute gems and every family has their favourite spot.

Getting adventurous on the isle of Arran

Brodick Castle in Arran.
Brodick Castle in Arran. -Credit:National Trust for Scotland

The more adventurous among you may have headed to Ardrossan to catch a ferry to Arran for a proper day trip - from Brodick Castle to climbing Goatfell, we’re guessing a few Glasgow families have fond memories of the island, known as ‘Scotland in miniature’.

Stepping back in time at New Lanark

Travel back to the 1700s at New Lanark.
Travel back to the 1700s at New Lanark. -Credit:Hotel Connexions

History, but make it fun - this historic cotton mill was one of the places you were dragged to if your parents wanted to impart a social education your way. But with its woodland walks, giant watermill and brilliant gift shop (decked out like a Victorian corner shop), there was always a reason to enjoy it even if you had no idea who Robert Owen was or why he cared so much about mill workers. You had your penny sweets and your tin whistle and that was enough to satisfy you for hours.

Making a splash at the Time Capsule

The Time Capsule.
The Time Capsule. -Credit:Daily Record

The biggest fun in a million years! 90s kids were enthralled by this dinosaur-covered fun land, whether they were swimming, ice skating or bouncing around in the soft play area. Was it as fun for parents? We’ll leave that one up to them - but the wave machine and the river rapids were always full of screaming adults, so we have a feeling you were just using the weans as an excuse to go swim under a roaring T-rex. Fair play.

Saying hello to the animals at Palacerigg Park

There were peacocks! If that wasn’t enough to convince you to brave the wilds of rural Cumbernauld, we don’t know what would. This lovely wee woodland was once populated by farm animals (sadly they’ve been moved out in recent years) making it the ideal place to occupy the wee ones for a few hours by telling them to “look at the goat!” and “see the piggy over there?” Not going to lie, we’d be delighted to see them all now, never mind when we were kids …

Stuffing a fish supper into your face in Oban

Oban is the gateway to a number of Scottish islands along the west coast.
Oban is the gateway to a number of Scottish islands along the west coast. -Credit:Daily Record

When you were bored of the Ayrshire coast and Loch Lomond no longer held an appeal then Oban was the next port of call - a few hours away so not great for those us who suffered from childhood travel sickness (sorry, mum and dad) but worth it if you could stomach your fish and chips on the other end. There’s nothing like sitting on the waterfront with a fish supper and watching the ferries go by, even now - and then a climb up to the legendary folly lets you work back off again (all the more important as creaky-boned adults).

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Going wild at Blair Drummond Safari Park

What was essentially our Edinburgh Zoo, the Stirling safari park must have had the phone ringing off the hook for bookings back when the Lion King was filling seats at the pictures. While some parents might have been cheeky enough to stick some of the kids in the boot to shave some pounds off the admission price, whatever it did cost back in the day was most certainly worth it. And it wasn't just the animals that had us with 'cheezers' as wide as the Clyde, with the zip slide and the big slide rivalling the sheer joy felt as we cast our eyes on the llamas and company.

A Giraffe and staff member Fiona Jacques at the park in 1998.
A Giraffe and staff member Fiona Jacques at the park in 1998. -Credit:Daily Record

Earning our cycling 'wings' at Robertson Park in Renfrew

For some of us this really was without question the place that got us more excited than any safari park, beach visit or swim ever could - the chance to ride our wee bikes on what for us was an actual road with markings and wee routes to follow. The park in Renfrew was a site of true nipper cyclist pilgrimage, where we learned to look out for others and stop at junctions long before we ever sat our Cycling Proficiency tests in primary school. Unfortunately it seems in recent years the markings have faded and the cycle track area fallen in to general disrepair.

Going down the pit at Summerlee

The tram at Summerlee Heritage Park.
The tram at Summerlee Heritage Park. -Credit:Getty Images

Another reason to visit Coatbridge…yes, really. This place may have been trying to teach you about life at a noisy, dirty Iron Works, but we were all too busy enjoying the more fun aspects of life back in time. The vintage tram ride, a chance to go down a real mine shaft with a hard hat on and a machine that made your, ahem, stunning artwork drawings into badges - heaven for a kid on summer holidays.

Seeing what life was like on a real farm at Blackshaw Farm Park

Possibly for many of us the site of our very first Tarzan impression of swinging on a rope to fall on top of some bales of hay or the first time we got to ride on the back of a farmers trailer. A visit to the farm, in West Kilbride, really was the perfect day out when we were little, as we got to have loads of fun, eat our wee picnics and say hi to a few animals while we were at it and dream of one day running our very own farms in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle.

Visitors having fun at the old Blackshaw Farm.
Visitors having fun at the old Blackshaw Farm. -Credit:Daily Record

Article first published in July 2020.