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The 10 best outdoorsy family holiday activities in Dumfriesshire


In today’s financial climate, we’re all looking to save money on our summer holidays – not just through the cost of accommodation, but our spending money, too. That’s why we’ve sought out ten of the very best family-friendly activities in Dumfries & Galloway, perfect for primary school age children.

Powfoot Beach

1. Bountiful beach days

Here’s an idea for a low-cost day out – head to the beach! The South West Scottish coast is lined with gorgeous beaches, from expansive golden sands to secret hidden coves.

Kids can be kept occupied for hours at the beach, with rockpools to explore, sandcastles to build, picnics to be devoured, and sea to be paddled in. What’s more, whilst they splash and play, you can relax on the sand with a good book.

At Queensberry Bay Leisure Park, you’ll have Powfoot Beach right on your doorstep! Or, if you want to travel further afield, you could go to Kippford Beach, or Carrick Bay.

Click here to see our 10 favourite beaches in Dumfries & Galloway.

The Sandpiper terrace

2. Food with a view

Everyone loves food, and for many, mealtimes are a highlight of the holiday experience. Gathering round and enjoying some delicious food after a day full of exploring is perfect for spending quality time together – especially when you’ve got a picturesque backdrop for your holiday snaps! The Sandpiper Café Bar boasts panoramic views of the Solway Firth from its outdoor terrace. Located at Queensberry Bay Leisure Park, you won’t have to travel far to get here whilst on your holidays. Plus, you can bring along your four-legged friend as The Sandpiper has a designated dog-friendly area.

For those nights where you’d rather stay in, all of our accommodation at Queensberry Bay is self-catering, with fully-equipped kitchens. This means you can whip up a feast in the comfort of your caravan or lodge.

Lochaber Loch

3. Wonderful walking routes

There’s a reason why Dumfries & Galloway is so popular with nature lovers. It has a variety of walking routes, from leisurely to challenging, with such incredible views, meaning there’s something to suit everyone’s needs. Some of our favourites include:

  • Criffel – 2 to 3 hours | uphill route | moderate difficulty | 50 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Mabie Forest – varies from 45 mins to 3.5 hours | choice of routes including easy, moderate, and strenuous | 50 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • River Annan Walk – varies from 45 mins to 3 hours | circular walk | easy to moderate difficulty | 10 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.

Click here to see more walks in West Scotland.

4. Learn and explore at local museums

Education doesn’t have to stop in the school holidays! Dumfries and Galloway is home to a variety of fascinating museums, many of which have free entry, making for a low cost activity. Here are some of our top picks for your next family holiday:

  • The Devil’s Porridge Museum: discover the story of the greatest munitions factory on earth! 17 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Annan Museum: full of activities and interactive exhibitions, this museum takes you through the unique history of Annan. 11 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura: one of the country’s oldest museums, this is a treasure trove of Scottish history. 35 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.

5. Visit historic castles

Did you know that Scotland is home to some of the most famous castles in the world? From medieval fortresses to ancient ruins, you can find many castles to explore right here in Dumfries and Galloway. Which ones will you visit on your next holiday?

  • Caerlaverock Castle – steeped in a turbulent history of border conflicts. 25 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Drumlanrig Castle – find a world class art collection, Victorian gardens, and an adventure playground. 1 hour drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Threave Castle – accessed by boat across the River Dee, explore the huge tower house and marvel at the beautiful wild flowers. 1 hour drive from Queensberry Bay.

Click here to see some of the best castles in Scotland.

6. Wander on wheels

A fantastic benefit for outdoorsy families on a UK staycation is that you can take your own bikes and cycling gear! For avid cyclists, Dumfries & Galloway is the perfect destination, with a variety of fantastic cycling routes.

  • 7stanes, Forest of Ae – there are trails for all difficulties, each with incredible countryside views. Plus, there’s a lovely café so you can enjoy a well-deserved drink after your bike ride. 55 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Dumfries to Caerlaverock Castle route – suitable for all skill levels, this route takes just under 2 hours, and is mostly paved terrain. 28 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.

7. Walking and watersports in the Lake District

Dumfries and Galloway borders the beautiful Lake District, with Lake Ullswater just an hour’s drive from Queensberry Bay. Those visiting Annan can use this as the perfect opportunity to visit the national park, without paying the higher prices of nearby accommodation. You can find a variety of walking routes and watersports such as wakesurfing, paddleboarding, and boat chartering.

8. Visit fun-filled wildlife parks

Kids and parents alike are sure to have a great day out when saying ‘hello’ to the local animals. Dumfries and Galloway is home to a range of wildlife, which you can see when visiting the following attractions:

  • Solway Wild, Annan – spot a variety of deer and foxes. 10 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Bainloch Deer Park, Dalbeattie – see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. 1 hour drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Mabie Farm Park, Dumfries – the kids will love petting the adorable animals and learning about the rare breeds. 40 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.

9. See the extraordinary waterfalls

There are so many incredible waterfalls in Dumfries and Galloway – why not incorporate them into one of your walking routes? Don’t forget your camera, because you’ll definitely want to take some photos. Check out the following waterfalls:

  • Grey Mare’s Tail - 1 hour drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Crichope Linn – 50 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.
  • Mares Braid Waterfall – 57 minute drive from Queensberry Bay.

10. Discover the world around you

With our Discovery Trail at Queensberry Bay Leisure Park, you can find out lots of interesting facts about all your favourite animals, birds, and bugs. Discover where they live, what they eat, how long they live, and even where their names come from.

You can purchase your very own trail booklet from Reception for just £3 – it’s filled with questions, games, and activities to complete whilst you’re exploring.

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the school summer holidays, whilst spending quality time outdoors with your loved ones. Click below to book your great value holiday in Dumfriesshire, and get to planning your fantastic holiday adventure!

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