School’s out!

The school holidays are upon us. From now till the middle of August, we’ll all be looking for ways to keep the kids entertained, especially since heading abroad isn’t on the cards. 

Luckily, lots of places are opening up again, meaning this summer offers more options than last year. Here’s our pick of some local ideas and some daytrip options slightly further afield. Some places will require pre-booking, but there are plenty of places to visit for free as well…

Aberdeenshire Council offers some free Summer Camp places for children as part of their Holiday Recovery Programme. There are half day camps for primary and secondary pupils and some for children with additional support or special needs. The first batch of camps are being held in Banchory, Inverurie, Kemnay, Laurencekirk, Turriff, Mintlaw and Stonehaven. For more information and to book, visit http://bit.ly/SumCmps. 

David Lloyd Aberdeen also offer kids’ activity sessions including tennis coaching and swimming lessons. The region’s public swimming baths have
reopened too, or you visit Stonehaven’s Olympic-sized heated open air pool. There’s a paddling pool for small children, a chute, sessions with inflatables and some midnight disco swims, which would appeal to teenagers. The sun terraces and Splash café are popular with parents too. You can find out what’s happening and book at stonehavenopenairpool.co.uk. 

Aberdeenshire’s beaches can offer a cheap day out.  Take a packed lunch, pack a bucket and spade, a kite or a Frisbee or simply wander about collecting shells, poking about in the rock pools and playing games. Balmedie and Cruden Bay are both popular. For a more energetic day, Aberdeen Beach offers the chance to walk along the sand, then head to Queens Links for some food in the cafés and child-friendly restaurants, or a trip to the funfair. Wristbands offer access to all the attractions at Codona’s, though you must book at least a day in advance. You can also go karting or ten pin bowling and some wristbands include a pizza. Check codonas.com for options. 

If you’d rather stay inland, then soft play centres like the Den and the Glen are great for younger kids, while older ones will enjoy a trip to one of the local trampoline parks such as JumpIn at Altens or Inverurie’s Skyline. Brechin Garden Centre has a country park with lots of children’s activities, from giant trampoline cushions, to pedal karts and slides. Pre-booking is essential at each of these venues. 

There are plenty of free or low cost opportunities to combine play with getting back to nature. Try a forest walk on Forestry Commission land or one of the National Trust for Scotland’s estates. Some, such as Drum Castle, offer free playgrounds while others have more adventurous, fee-paying, options like Go Ape at Crathes Castle. Visiting some of the region’s ruined castles can provide an interesting day out for junior history buffs, while pony trekking at one of the region’s riding stables or a falconry display at Huntly might be just the thing for a would-be knight. 

A trip to the Grampian Transport Museum at Alford or a karting facility like Deeside Activity Park or Lochter might spark a lifelong interest in motorsports, while stock car racing at Crimond Raceway is always exciting whether you’re eight or eighty. Check out the meetings at crimondraceway.co.uk. 

In the not wholly unlikely event of rain, then a visit to the Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum or the Aquarium at Macduff can be a lifesaver, as can local libraries. Again, pre-booking may be required and it’s worth checking well in advance for workshops and craft activities.

Fingers crossed for summer spent making happy memories.

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