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Running out of summer holiday ideas? Try something different with this alternative list of north east attractions

Looking for something different this summer holidays? Picture: Highland Folk Museum by Sandy McCook
Looking for something different this summer holidays? Picture: Highland Folk Museum by Sandy McCook

Take inspiration from these unusual, challenging and fun activities across the north east.

So you’ve done all the beaches, swing parks and endless play dates. Inspiration is running short, and so is cash.

Not to worry. We’ve pulled together a list of activities across the north east that offer something a bit different without breaking the bank.


Tubing at Adventure Aberdeen Snow Sports. Picture by Chris Sumner.

Whizz down Tubey McTubeface – Garthdee, Aberdeen

Adventure Aberdeen Snow Sports Centre has a huge range of activities for all the family. Splash out on some ski sessions of for a low-cost day out, let the kids have a go at tubing down the dry slopes. Suitable for ages five and over.

Further info

An alternative way to discover the west end of the city. Picture: Shutterstock

Embark on a spy mission – West End, Aberdeen 

See the granite city through fresh eyes with this spy mission treasure trail. The trail is self-guided and suitable for all ages. Trail maps can be downloaded at home or sent to you by post, for £9.99. The trail takes you on an adventure around the west end of the city, where you will uncover clues in buildings and monuments in a bid to complete the mission.

Further info 

Golf with footballs? What’s not to love? Picture by Colin Rennie

Have a go at footgolf – Hazlehead, Aberdeen

A quick, accessible and fun alternative to golf! Kick the football around the course obstacles and into the football-sized holes. Whoever completes the course in the smallest number of kicks is the winner.

Further info

A warm welcome awaits you at Wynford Farm Park.

Meet the animals at Wynford Farm Park – Kingswells, Aberdeen

From twisty river, enchanted forest, giant play barn and animals ranging from cute and fluffy to scaly and scary, there’s no end of fun at this farm. At £9.95 for adults and kids over two (under twos are £4.75) it’s not the cheapest day out, but it does cover the whole day, including animal handling sessions.

Further info

Discover the haunting Balmoral Cairns – Aberdeenshire

There’s lots to see on the Balmoral Estate. Picture supplied by Alicia Storie

For something a bit different, take a day out to discover the 11 burial cairns at the Balmoral Estate, including Scotland’s very own pyramid. The cairns were erected by the Royal Family, and the monument to Prince Albert from his ‘broken hearted widow Victoria R’ is a staggering sight. The walk also features beautiful scenery and fine views over Deeside.

Further info

Highlands and Moray

If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins jumping at the Scottish Dolphin Centre.

Check out the whale bones at Scottish Dolphin Centre – Spey Bay, Moray

Look out for the amazing bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth, or take a tour of the Tugnet icehouse – the largest in the UK. There, you can learn all about generations of fishing history and even see some giant whale bones.

Further info

Ready to fly at Morayvia.

Climb on board a real military aircraft – Kinloss, Moray

Morayvia is a museum with a difference – here, there’s no ‘hands off’ dusty monuments. Instead, there’s something for all the family and you’re welcome to climb aboard. Take the controls of a Sea King Helicopter or get in the navigator’s seat of a Nimrod. A really interesting day out for all ages.

Further info

Discover hundreds of years of Highland life. Picture: Highland Folk Museum by Sandy McCook

Step back in time at Highland Folk Museum – Newtonmore

Grab a fountain pen and inkwell for lessons in the school house. Say your prayers in the kirk. Venture inside the thatched cottages for a taste of Highland life, 18th century style. With over 35 historic buildings, this is a fascinating day out. And it’s free! High Life Highland just requests a small donation to cover the running costs.

Further info

Soar like a bird over the Sutherland coastline – Durness, Sutherland

The Golden Eagle Zipline is the most northerly zipline in the UK, suspended 100 feet above the unspoilt beaches of Durness. It’s not for the faint hearted, going at speeds of up to 45mph, but it’s an exhilarating experience if you’re feeling brave! This activity is weather dependent, so check the website before you go.

Further info

Come on in, the water’s lovely! Picture supplied by North Coast Watersports.

Surf’s up in Thurso – Caithness

Caithness’ west coast has some of the best waves in the world. North Coast Watersports runs lessons for all ages and abilities from the stunning sweeping sands of Dunnet Beach. Your instructors know their stuff, too – they include current or former Scottish surf champions. Try your hand at surfing or paddle boarding and take in that big Caithness horizon.

Further info

Step back in time in Lerwick.

Try your hand as a crofter – Lerwick, Shetland

What was it like to live off the land in 19th century Shetland? The Croft House Museum presents a traditional 1870s croft house complete with thatched roof, peat fire and box beds. This summer, the museum is also running crofting demonstrations, garden planting and hap stretching.

Further info

More maps from the Schools & Family team

Watching your wallet? Here are some free summer activities across the north

Summer fun: Our ideas for educational outings in the north-east

Rain shelved your plans? Here’s our pick of rainy day activities in the north and north-east