Family days out by train

Last updated: Thursday, 27 July 2023

Kids love trains! Whether it’s seeing them zooming by, enjoying a ride on one or getting a toot-toot from a driver, trains can be a lot of fun. Make the train part of your next family adventure with Kids for a Quid tickets.

Our Kids for a Quid tickets are valid on Off-Peak services all year-round (not just during school holidays!), meaning taking the train for a family day out is always a great idea!

How Kids for a Quid tickets work

These fantastic value tickets are easy to get your hands on. First of all, the adult needs to hold a valid ticket. This can be any ticket, valid for travel on off-peak services. Kids for a Quid tickets can't be bought online so you'll need to get yours from a ticket office or on board the train if no ticket office is available. Each adult travelling can take up to four children with them for £1 return each, so why not bring along a few friends?

We've rounded up some of our favourite places to visit by train that the whole family can enjoy. Carry on reading for inspiration for your next family day out.

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Make the most of your Kids for a Quid ticket

Kids visit free at selected attractions across Scotland

When you buy a Kids for a Quid ticket, not only do the kids travel for the bargain price of just £1 return, but you can also get one free child entry into selected attractions across the country. All you need to do is show your Kids for a Quid ticket at the attraction ticket desk when you purchase one full price adult ticket. We’ve popped a few of the most popular attractions that you can get one free entry for below, or you can see all the attractions here .

Kids visit free at Camera Obscura

Always a lot of fun no matter what your age, Camera Obscura is home to five floors of interactive, hands-on exhibits. The rooftop terrace gives fantastic views of the surrounding areas and the Camera Obscura itself offers a whole other perspective of the city.

Closest station: Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Zoo has been a family favourite for years! Just a short bus ride from the city centre (hop on the number 26 from Princes Street) you can easily spend a full day visiting all the animals, listening to the keeper talks and burning off some energy in the play parks.

Closest station: Edinburgh Waverley or Haymarket

Follow in the footsteps of Captain Scott and his crew to learn about his expedition to the Antarctic aboard RRS Discovery. This five-star visitor attraction is located just across from Dundee train station so it’s incredibly easy to get to by train.

Closest station: Dundee

Beaches with lots to do

Scotland has so many incredible beaches! And give most kids a bucket and spade, and they'll be happy for hours. Some beaches have more than just the sand and the sea to entertain so we’ve picked out a few that make for a brilliant day out, both on and off the beach.

In content - little girl eating ice cream on the beach

The beach at Arbroath is perfect for a family day out – clean, white sand and water perfect for paddling. And when the kids have had enough building sandcastles the indoor funfair at Pleasureland is a great way to round off a day. Alternatively, West Links Park, which is just next to the beach has fantastic play areas for kids of all ages, a paddling pool, crazy golf, go-karts and trampolines. You couldn’t want for much more!

Closest station: Arbroath

The beach in Aberdeen has long been a jewel in the crown of the city. The award-winning beach is perfect for a family day out building sandcastles and paddling in the sea. And if you want to take the adrenalin levels up a notch, Codona’s amusement park is brilliant for all ages. From the thrill seekers in the family to the youngest members, there are rides that everyone will love.

Closest station: Aberdeen

Not only does Ayr have a fantastic expanse of golden sand to enjoy, but the large grassy area is perfect for the kids to have a kick about on too once they tire of sandcastles. Next to the beach there’s lots more to make it a fun-filled day out. You’ll find a kids play park, putting green and crazy golf. If you find you need to shelter from the sun (or rain!), Pirate Pete’s Family Entertainment Centre has soft play, mini golf and laser games.

Closest station: Ayr

Fancy exploring more of Scotland's top coastal destinations with the family?

Read our 'Trains to the Beach' guide

Places with great playparks

Finding a fantastic play park can be the difference between a good, and a great, family day out - it gives children the chance to run around and burn off any excess energy and the adults the opportunity to have a bit of a sit down … depending on the ages of the kids. Here are a few of our suggestions for places the whole family can enjoy that also have a fab play park.

Situated in the beautiful South Lanarkshire countryside, Chatelherault Country Park is a brilliant place for a family day out. Not only are there lots of walks that all ages can enjoy, but the kids play park is fantastic. With equipment for big kids and little kids, everyone can run around for an hour or two. And when it’s time to refuel, there’s a café in the visitor centre or pack a picnic and take a seat at the front of the Hunting Lodge to enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside.

Closest station: Chatelherault

Take the train to Balloch to enjoy a day out on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. In just under an hour from Glasgow, you’ll be surprised to feel a million miles away. Balloch Country Park has a couple of play parks in the midst of the beautiful parkland, making for a great place to sit and enjoy the views while the kids burn off some energy. If you’re heading over to Loch Lomond Shores for a spot of shopping or some food, you’ll find another great playpark to keep the little ones happy.

Closest station: Balloch

From the city centre, follow the path alongside the River Ness and you’ll soon arrive at Whin Park. If your kids like to explore, take the route through the Ness Islands, encouraging them to keep their eyes peeled for Nessie! Once you arrive at the park there are loads of playframes, swings and slides to enjoy. There’s a boating pond too, open between April and September. And for all rail enthusiasts – big and small - a ride on the park’s miniature railway is a must! Ness Islands Railway | Owned and operated by Highland Hospice

Closest station: Inverness

Free attractions

Family days out can add up rather quickly so finding things that are free to do for all the family is always a bonus. Thankfully, there are lots of fantastic places to visit that don’t cost a penny up and down the country. Here are a few of our favourites:

Riverside Museum Glasgow

Glasgow’s transport museum has been a firmly family favourite for years. There is so much to see here, from the city’s old trams to steam trains, fire engines, old cars and bikes. For younger kids there are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep their attention. The Tall Ship Glenlee is berthed behind the museum and is also free to visit so it’s worth taking the kids on board to scrub the decks and ring the ship’s bell.

Closest station: Partick

Summerlee is a brilliant choice for a family day out with so much to see, interact with and enjoy. The museum takes you back in time to learn about North Lanarkshire’s industrial past through fascinating interactive and static exhibits. There are lots for kids to interact with all year round, and extra activities run during school holidays too. You also won’t want to miss having a ride on an old Glasgow tram to visit the mine and miner's cottages. Mine tours are available. And when it’s time for a break, there’s a great play park with plenty of picnic benches too.

Closest station: Coatbridge Sunnyside and Coatbridge Central

The National Museum of Scotland has something for everyone, no matter what their interests are – from wildlife to flight to scientific innovations, the museum showcases it all. For families, the aptly named Family Galleries shouldn’t be missed! For under 5’s ‘Imagine’ on Level 1 has everything to excite and ignite their imagination, and on Level 5, ‘Adventure Planet’ is perfect for older kids.

Closest station: Edinburgh Waverley

For more ideas of free things to do in Scotland, take a look at Visit Scotland’s dedicated webpage .

Make travelling with kids as easy as possible

Travelling with kids can sometimes feel a little daunting so we’ve put together some extra articles to help ease your mind to make a family day out by train as much fun as possible.

We've pulled together some helpful information about taking the train with your little ones, covering everything from taking a pram on the train to what to do if you get separated.

Read our top tips for travelling with kids

On longer journeys it's natural that kids will get a bit restless and need a bit of entertaining. To help you out we've created lots of activities for kids to enjoy. They cover loads of different seasons and topics, some can be done without the need to print, and others can be downloaded and printed out to enjoy on your next journey.

Visit our children's activity page

Still not convinced? Here are our reasons why you should take the family on a day out by train.

We can't wait to welcome you and your family on board soon!