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Suggestions for Kids in Loch Ness area

We currently have a trip booked (well, flights are booked at least) to London and Paris for my kids' March Break. My kids are 12 and 8 turning 9. We were supposed to visit Disneyland Paris on this trip. Because of all the restrictions traveling between the UK and France, we're thinking Paris is out for sure. The rest of the trip we're still on the fence about. We were thinking as an alternative to Paris, we could spend some time in London and then take the train up to Edinburgh for a few nights, then rent a car for a few days to tour around Scotland. My kids will mostly enjoy this since they do like visiting historical places as well as natural sites, however it's not nearly as exciting to them as Disneyland Paris! My son's 9th birthday is on our last day. If we go to Scotland instead of Paris, this would put us around Loch Ness for that day, probably spending the night before in Fort William and spending the night of his birthday in Inverness. Is there anything that kids in particular would find really fun in that area? The Jacobite Steam Train is not running until April so that's not an option. They love doing adventurous things and I'm just trying to find something out of the ordinary that would make my son's birthday really fun for him! Any suggestions?

Posted by
1277 posts

Here is a site that you may find useful: www.visitscotland.com March is a little early for some of the ticketed sites to be open. I suggest going to Edinburgh and Glasgow for year-round events. A Historic Scotland site shows Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, which is the home of "Nessie". We went to Scotland for My Husband's Birthday in April; it snowed! We went to Scotland in September and the weather was better, maybe a little damp.

Posted by
492 posts

Not sure if your kids are as in to Harry Potter as they are Disney, but if you're planning on spending any time in Edinburgh there's tons of Harry Potter related stuff to do there - walking tours and such. There are also ghost tours - City of the Dead Tours in Edinburgh offers a more family-friendly, kid-focused one that isn't designed to scare the bejeebus out of anyone. With Loch Ness itself, there's the actual loch and "monster"-related activites - the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and monster-hunting outings and boat trips that could be kinda fun. I know when I went as a kid what would have been an otherwise boring lake cruise for my brothers and me was made thrilling by the prospect we were set to see the Loch Ness monster at any moment.

More Edinburgh stuff -
https://www.camera-obscura.co.uk/
https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/museum-childhood (though not sure when the Museum of Childhood will reopen)

Posted by
81 posts

They love Harry Potter as well so I’ll make sure to check that out!

I know the weather probably won’t be great then but the weather is crappy in Ontario that time of year as well so I’m used to it! Lol.

We will most likely need to end in Inverness since that’s the only location in Scotland that I can get an easy jet flight to connect to our flight from London back to Toronto the same day. I currently have the flight from Paris to London booked with easy jet so it would be good to be able to use that flight credit if we cancel!

Posted by
492 posts

Ohh well in that case, if they love Harry Potter (and please don't think you have to do all this, because it could totally overtake a vacation. Just a few ideas to consider)

  • A number of filming sites from the movies are located around places you're already thinking of going. Edinburgh, highlands between Edinburgh and Fort William, Glencoe, Glenfinnan viaduct, countless other places.
    https://independenttravelcats.com/harry-potter-filming-locations-in-scotland/ - that is a Harry Potter enthusiast's own travel blog and they give a good run down of filming locations and how to get there, as well as advice on which ones could be more worthwhile than others or easier to get to.

Lots can be visited on one's own, and may are also included in Harry Potter themed tours.

  • In Edinburgh itself, cafes JK Rowling wrote the books in and other locations around the city that inspired people and places in the books can also be found. Victoria St. is said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley; in Greyfriar's kirkyard is the grave of an actual Tom Riddle (possibly the inspiration for Voldemort's name); and so on. There's all kinds of info available online for self-guided walking tours, as well as guided walking tours available that can be a lot of fun for families (though some of what they say can be taken with a grain of salt, in the spirit of fun. While there is no doubt certain locations in Edinburgh did absolutely help inspire elements of the books or have verified connections to them, other connections are less certain and guides can sometimes get carried away hehe. But it's still all fun).

One thing we have planned as well is a Harry Potter themed escape room. Could be a fun activity for a family and there's a number of options for them in both London and Edinburgh.

Then of course there's the Warner Brothers studio tour in London (Leavesden actually) - it's not an amusement park and so there's no rides and stuff, but has actual sets and props and stuff from the films and they're already accepting bookings in April.

(funny enough we had a trip planned to London and Paris and I canceled the Paris portion for the same reasons you did, to keep things within one country and avoid too many travel restrictions. When we decided to replace Paris with Edinburgh we decided to make our trip what I'm calling "The Ultimate Harry Potter Vacation" - we're going overboard with Harry Potter themed stuff so I have countless ideas and plans haha)

Posted by
81 posts

Wow, thanks for all the info! I will definitely look into all the Harry Potter stuff! We definitely want to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London if we go, and yikes, they already have limited times available for the dates we would be in London so we might need to make some quick decisions here!

Posted by
492 posts

Yeah I'd absolutely book your studio tour tickets sooner rather than later. It won't be long before it's entirely full up well on through to early autumn.

Posted by
5671 posts

Have you googled Scotland with kids? It brings up many article and suggestions. It may help you expand beyond Harry Potter. :). If you have a budding scientist make sure include Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on the list. I loved it, as former geology major and a bit of a science geek. When I went it was packed with kids, mostly Scottish, which is might be interesting for your kids.

The other thing to consider is train rides. In Aviemore and Fort William there are steam train. Or you can check out this. There is a wonderful transportation museum in Glasgow.

Pam

Posted by
81 posts

I did Google it, I just didn't find anything especially exciting in the Loch Ness area for my son's birthday, which is why I figured I would ask here to see if I could find any more ideas! We were supposed to go to Disneyland Paris so he's not super thrilled about hiking or going on a boat ride for his birthday instead. We've got some ideas for the other days of our trip that I know my kids will enjoy, I was just hoping to find something really fun for a kid on that specific day. As I mentioned, unfortunately the steam trains are not running in March so those are not an option but that would be fun!

Posted by
2953 posts

I'm seconding the recommendation for the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in Drumnadrochit. It's great for all ages, IMO. Not kitschy nor silly -- reasonably scientific and very well done.

https://www.lochness.com/

This indoor experience is about 10 minutes from Urquhart Castle, which is very much an outdoor experience as the castle is a ruin. There are guided walking tours from time to time throughout the day, and costumed interpreters. The site on the shore of Loch Ness is spectacular.

Posted by
28806 posts

I understand your concern about travelling between the UK and France - I share them which is why at the moment I'm not travelling anywhere - but at the moment there aren't any difficulties going between France and the UK for vaccinated people.

Nobody knows what March will bring but at the moment other than a test or two, probably going away quite soon, it isn't difficult.

Posted by
81 posts

Ok the Loch Ness centre looks like it could be fun! I will look into if more carefully.

I see that they eased the restrictions between the UK and France in the past few days and I missed it! It's hard to keep track with all of the constant changes! It seems more feasible now but I'm still hesitant with all the testing it adds a level of anxiety to everything and just a hassle constantly trying to find testing sites. We haven't had covid yet (and amazingly have only had one outdoor exposure!) so the anxiety of catching it while we're on vacation and having to quarantine somewhere is very real! We also currently have to get tested twice and isolate until we get the arrival test results back when returning to Canada so every additional test we add to that just stresses me out! We've already spent over $1200 in covid tests in the past few months just to return to Canada from the US twice (once for a vacation, once to visit my family) so it's honestly just become exhausting to me! I'm leaning towards just making our vacations as simple as possible, and visiting just one country at a time and following all of their restrictions just feels much simpler to me right now!