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The summer holidays can often put a huge strain on parents, both emotionally and financially, so these free days out might just help to save your sanity and your cash! With endless moans and groans, and fights over electronics, it is tempting to start counting down the days until they are safely back at school.
However, I hope that these tips will give you some inspiration for having fun for the rest of the holidays.
Free family things to do in Dumfries and Galloway
Days out are a great way of entertaining the kids and keeping them happy, but the cost of these can often add up. That’s why I have put together a list of some great FREE days out in my home region of Dumfries and Galloway, as well as some suggestions for the rest of Scotland.
You can easily spend a day or two wandering round some of the fantastic museums in Dumfries.
Start at Dumfries Museum which, for a small museum, is packed full of interesting things. They generally have great activities for kids over the summer too, so check out the website before you go.
From there head down the hill to the Robert Burns Centre and follow the river to the Old Bridge House Museum, which was always a favourite with my kids. After crossing the Old Bridge, turn right onto the Whitesands and pop in to Burns House, where Robert Burns spend his last few years.
You could finish off with a visit to the recently refurbished Dock Park, which is a brilliant area for children.
A day in the West
Aldouran Wetland Garden is one of my favourite free places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway. As a child, I remember making many visits to the wooded area in Leswalt and my abiding memory will be the smell of garlic and the carpets of gorgeous bluebells.
However, the woods and the wonderful gardens are now home to a host of other exciting things as well, such as squirrels, wild birds, fairies and even a Gruffalo. Make a point of visiting it this summer and you will not be disappointed.
If you are travelling from further afield, you could combine a visit to Aldouran with a trip to Agnew Park in Stranraer. Again, I spend many happy days playing there in my younger years, but it again has changed over the years. It offers a great experience for children with the playpark, water and sand - always a winning combo with kids.
In Dumfries and Galloway we are incredibly lucky to be home to 5 of the 7 Stanes Mountain Biking Centres. With Glentrool and Kirroughtree in the west, and Dalbeattie, Mabie and Ae in the centre of the region you can be assured that you are never far from one of these centres.
Bikers will know that the facilities they provide truly are world-class, but you don’t need to be a serious biker to enjoy these places. Some of the trails are really family friendly and can be enjoyed without specialist bikes, although bikes can be hired at some of the centres.
The walking trails are also varied and wonderful, with Mabie and Kirroughtree having fantastic playparks for the children to enjoy. Ae has an amazing cafe, with fantastic cakes and a lovely outdoor area for kids to run about.
Check out the 7 stanes website for further details on each of the centres. Dumfries and Galloway Council also offer an amazing range of activities over the summer months, many of them completely free. Follow their Facebook page for latest updates.
As a family, some of our happiest times have been at the beach, having a sausage sizzle. Building a fire and cooking sausages over it is just great fun – the kids love collecting the wood and stoking the fire and the finished sausage rolls taste so much better than ever before. Don’t forget the marshmallows though, because toasting them over the fire is just the best fun!
In D and G we are spoilt rotten for beaches, but our particular favourites are Powillimount, Carrick and Brighouse Bay.
At the other end
A couple of great free things to do at the eastern side of our region are Station Park at Moffat and Annan Museum. The park has a fantastic kids’ play area, boating pond, putting as well as a brilliant interactive water area which the kids will play in for hours.
Annan Museum is a small, but interesting museum, which hosts many events and exhibitions throughout the year. Although it is not free, the Devil's Porridge museum in Gretna is a Visit Scotland 5 star attraction, telling the story of the largest munitions factory in the world during the First World War.
For the more adventurous
There are some great walks in D and G, that the more adventurous kids would enjoy.
Heading up past Moffat and up the Grey Mare’s Tail is a challenging walk, that is very steep and dangerous in places, but well worth it for that first view of Loch Skeen at the top.
Portpatrick offers a couple of great walks that are pretty steep in places, up to Dunskey Castle and on to Knockinaam, or up past the Golf Course and head towards Killantringan via Sandeel bay.
Another lovely walk, with a bit of challenge thrown in, is Waterloo monument from New Abbey. Kids will love the big stone steps and the views from the top are amazing.
Screel, near Palnackie, offers a lovely walk for the whole family, with panoramic views over the coast towards the Lake District and inland towards to the Galloway Hills.
If you want to venture further afield, then the following places are within easy reach of Dumfries and Galloway and all offer brilliant, FREE things to do for the whole family.
There are a host of free museums in Scotland, which offer an amazing way to spend a day. Our family favourites are Kelvingrove, the Riverside Museum and Scotland Street School Museum in Glasgow. The National Museum, The Museum of Edinburgh and The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh have all been visited on numerous occasions too.
Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life at Coatbridge is a brilliant day out, which will be enjoyed by all generations. Grab the grandparents too and make it a real family day out.
For something a bit different why not check out Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail to admire the huge pieces of artwork dotted around the city.
The Helix at Falkirk is an awesome day out, with bike and walking trails, as well as a splash zone and playpark. The magnificent Kelpies are also on site, as well as a watersports lagoon. These attract a charge, but the rest of the centre is free to access.
I hope that this post has given you some inspiration to get out there and make the most of all that summer in Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland have to offer.
Have you got any other ideas for free or cheap days out in D & G or Scotland?
Please pop them in the comments below, so that everyone can benefit from them. For more ideas about how to make your money go further, why not like my Your Money Sorted page, where I share tips and suggestions for living life to the full, without breaking the bank.
I am Eileen Adamson, Your Money Sorted coach, working online with UK based women. I can help you to develop a better relationship with money and feel calm, relaxed and positive about money. This will allow you to feel confident, in control and able to make good financial decisions. Through creating a good relationship with money you can then live the life that YOU want to lead.