Have you always wanted to visit Scotland? If so, enjoy some of the best outdoor Scotland family vacation ideas and photos from our latest trip. You and your family will never forget these amazing kid friendly fun outdoor activities in the Scottish highlands.
Unforgettable Outdoor Scotland Family Vacation Adventures!
I love taking family adventure trips! When I think of Scotland, I think of castles, bagpipes, whiskey, golf and of course The Outlander. Yes, I’m a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s books! One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Scotland was the way she wrote about the beauty and history of the land.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover Gabaldon was spot on in her writing! Scotland is a beautiful wild land with much more to offer visitors than the usual tourist spots you see in photos.
If you are lucky enough to visit Scotland, exploring nature is a must! I think it’s important to get my city kids into nature as much as possible on our family vacations, and that’s why I love National Geographic Family Expeditions.
This was my second trip with National Geographic, last year we went to Yellowstone Park and The Grand Tetons. I really can’t say enough good things about them!
In addition to a fun family vacation, National Geographic Family Expeditions take us on amazing outdoor activities in national parks we had never heard about before. Plus, you’re with other families, which for me is a bonus because I love meeting new people.
This year we met THE MOST wonderful families! Not only did I make life long new friends, but so did my children. It was so sad when we had to leave our Scotland family vacation.
Scotland outdoor adventures you must do someday!
Here are a few nature trips I highly recommend for the family if you ever get a chance to visit Scotland. These are amazing adventures you might not read about in the tourism guides.
Kayaking with Seals
Did you know that 50% of the world population of seals are in Scotland? So if you visit, don’t miss out on seeing them! We had an incredible experience kayaking in Arisaig Bay where friendly sea seals would swim right next to us to say hello.
It was a windy rainy day on the sea for us, so I needed to focus on paddling and sad I wasn’t able to bring my iPhone to get photos on the water. The sea was crystal clear when the sun would peak out, but on that rainy day it was mostly dark… so imagine our surprise when a dark head the size of a person popped up out of the water next to our kayak! I about had a heart attack the first time a seal showed up next to us. Ha!
Because I was in a larger kayak with my daughter and she refused to paddle (sigh), we were far behind our group. Little did I know, that was THE BEST spot to see the seals since they follow the kayaks. We could see dozens or more heads popping up in front of us as they watched the other kayaks.
Parent Tip: When kayaking in the sea, never go with your daughter. Just don’t. LOL! I swear if she was with anyone else, she would have paddled the entire time and never complained.
Most of the kids, ages 13 and up did great in a kayak alone. Even with the rain and wind, kayaking with seals was by far our favorite experience in Scotland! We have so many funny stories, most of which include us trying to get dressed in the warm clothes our guides provided and just getting out into the water.
After spending well over 15 minutes putting on all of our gear, my son tells me he has to pee and my daughter had lip balm in her jacket pocket that was poking her in the chest. This photo was the best I could do. Ah… memories!!! Ha!
We finally got the chap stick out and all was well. 🙂
Since nobody in our group got any photos, here is a great video of some kayakers in Scotland who had a calm day at sea and a seal pup actually got on their kayak. So cute!
Hike Glen Nevis
A Scotland family vacation wouldn’t be complete without visiting some places you see in movies. At Glen Nevis, you’ll see waterfalls and enjoy the backdrop for the Quidditch field in the Harry Potter films.
The drive from Fort William to Glen Nevis is gorgeous! The countryside is lush green hills with shaggy haired Scotland coos (aka cows). Watch out for the curvy roads and roaming sheep. The trails we walked were very easy and absolutely breath taking!
Canoe Loch Tay and Explore a Scottish Crannog
Loch Tay is a gorgeous long, narrow lake that is among the largest in Scotland. Located in the central highlands of Scotland, you can rent canoes near the small village of Kenmore in Perthshire. Be sure to keep an eye out in town for J.K. Rowling because she owns an estate near here!
Island hop on your canoe around Loch Tay. Paddle by a small island here where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert enjoyed eating breakfast. Explore an island with ruins of an old 3 story stone fort covered with vines and secret trails!
Stop for a delightful lunch at the Taymouth Marina Restaurant near the the The Scottish Crannog Centre.
Enjoy going back in time to learn more about what life was like in the Highlands some 2,500 years ago during the iron age. Tour a real Crannog, an ancient home built over the water, and try your hand at woodworking techniques and making fire.
Feed the Red Deer in Cairngorms National Park
When we were told we would be driving to see some deer and feeding them, I had no idea they meant we would be standing on a beautiful hill surrounded by mountains as hundreds of deer and their fawns ran towards us!
If you ever get a chance to take a Scotland family vacation in the highlands, put this on your list!
Feeding the red deer was one of our favorite things on the trip. The deer were all very sweet and our kids had a blast!
I highly recommend visiting Rothiemurchus in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park to get a ranger tour of the deer farm, just watch your step!
Loch of the Lowes
If you love nature, take a day to enjoy the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre.
The Loch of the Lowes is a beautiful lake full of a variety of woodland creatures and aquatic life. It’s near the adorable historic town of Dunkeld.
There you can observe osprey in their nests, beavers and various birds with telescopes. Then hike the trail through the gorgeous highland countryside to enjoy the view of the loch and wildlife.
Watch the osprey LIVE on the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s webcam here.
I hope you enjoyed some travel tips and photos from our Scotland family vacation!
We also explored castles, cities and enjoyed some amazing food. I can’t wait to share more details about our Scotland travels soon.
- National Geographic Family Expeditions
- Visit Scotland ~ more great travel information about Scotland.
Here are more family vacation tips you might enjoy…
Originally published on July 24, 2017. Last Updated on May 15, 2021 by Amy Locurto