Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Ireland/Scotland with a 3 year old Advice Please and things to do!

Ireland/Scotland with a 3 year old Advice Please and things to do!

Jun 29th, 2005, 08:39 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 91
Ireland/Scotland with a 3 year old Advice Please and things to do!

My husband and I want to take a 2 week trip with our then 3 year old daughter next April/May. She has done very well on extended flights to Mexico and so far has loved traveling. This will be our first sightseeing vacation with her.

I plan on purchasing a ultra light highend umbrella stroller with larger wheels, taking small backpack of things for her, and we want to try and keep an easy pace for her.

Any suggestions or ideas of things she/we may enjoy.

Thanks a bunch. Megan
spartangirl is offline  
Jun 29th, 2005, 10:56 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
If you are going to the usual sites - like castles, gardens, beaches etc - I don't thonk you actually have to look for many special activities for her. Running around castle ruins w/ Mom and Dad will be pretty exciting, feeding the ducks in Loch Lomond, etc. If she is a good traveler you will have a GRAT time.

But some things geared to small kids could include -- Edinburgh Zoo; Craigton Pk outside of St Andrews - a low key amusement park w/ bouncy castles, miniature train and playgrounds; Also in Fife near St Andrews is a great Deer park where you can walk through the treetops and look down into herds of deer and other animals; Storybook Glen outside of Aberdeen on the River Dee - a park dedicated to nursery Rhymes.

Plus there are country parks all over the country w/ adventure playgrounds, sheep/sheep dogs, etc . . . .
janis is offline  
Jun 29th, 2005, 11:00 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
That should be "a GREAT time"
janis is offline  
Jun 30th, 2005, 10:11 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 11
We took our daughter to Ireland when she was 1 1/2 and the previous post is absotely right. She had a great time running around the ruins, exploring the castles, etc. She's four now (we take her to Europe every year) and her favorite thing to do still is chase birds through the square. It's easy as parents to think we have to entertain our kids all the time, especially on vacation, but the truth is they find fun of their own almost anywhere! We found Ireland to be a great destination with kids because so many of the sights/places of interest are outside, so we didn't care as much if she was running, a little loud, etc.
Have a great trip!
lavalleek729 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 09:48 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Ideas would certainly include Deep Sea World at the Forth Bridges. The Discovery Centre in Dundee (which tells the story of Captain Scott's voyage to the South Pole) is very good too, and finishes with a tour of the boat itself, which is moored just outside.

Castles include Huntingtower at Perth, Blair Atholl at Blair Atholl (strangely) Craigievar (which is the one Disney is supposed to have used as his model), Drum, Crathes and Castle Fraser in Grampian.

Try a distillery, preferably one with a malting floor. Factory tours which are suitable for kids are tough.
There's a steam train along the Forth at Musslebugh or somewhere.

If not there is certainly the train at Boat of Garten on Speyside and the Crieff Hydro and Coylumbridge Hotels pride themselves on being child friendy.

If you come up to Speyside, there is the Highland Wildlife Park at Carrbridge and Landmark at Aviemore.

Archeology- Archaeolink is a visitor centre based on the archaeology of the North East of Scotland with a filmshow, sandpit dig, reproduction Iron Age camp, Iron Age Farm, Roman marching plant and Archivities room where the kids can get dressed up like stone age children and have their faces painted in woad, and lots of good stuff like that. It's at a place called Oyne, 25 miles north west of Aberdeen.

Satrosphere, and The Maritime Museum in Aberdeen would be ideal too.

I've been to the Crieff Hydro and it is very child friendly. There is a babysitting service and phones in the rooms that enable you to listen in and make sure the kids are all right (if they are of an age where they can fall asleep in the room by themselves.) The Hydro is a spa, basically.

St. Andrews is also fun for the kids. The castle there has a tunnel they can go into. There is also the British Golf Museum that has questions that the kids can answer based on info taken from the displays. Might eb a bitt too old..? St. Andrews is a beautiful place, by the way.

Edinburgh also has a Museum of Childhood and although I haven't been, it's supposed to be very good.

The one I didn't mention is Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness. The whole thing with the monster is very child friendly- there's a monster exhibition at Drumnadrochit. You get the scenery and they get the myths and legends.

Aberdeenshire is the bit half way up the right hand side which sticks out into the North Sea. It has a lot of castles which are owned by the National Trust which may be a bit twee for the kids, but they're in beautiful locations. There is one ruin south of Stonehaven (130 miles north-east of Edinburgh) which is very dramatic- Dunottar- which has alovely legend attached to it about the Crown Jewels and it is a stunning location.

History centres- these are everywhere. Almost every town has one. Bannockburn at Stirling (major battle victory over the English-1314) has one, which the kids would love. New Lanark in Lanarkshire is the planned village of Robert Owen the 19th century philanthropist and is on the upper reaches of the Clyde.

Outside Perth on the Dundee Road, is the Heavy Horse centre where you can see Shire and Clydesdale Horses(the big ones which used to pull carts and ploughs and things); and just outside Aberdeen is Downies farm which is a place with rare breeds for townies to visit.

Cute villages- coming out our ears. I suggest you set an itinerary and then I point you in the direction of the cute villages nearby, or your kids will be bored rigid looking at them. Generally, there are a batch in Fife along the East Neuk coast in cluding anstruther and Pittenweem. Inland is Culross, which is a major National Trust holding; In Perthshire, try Dunkeld, Kenmore, Fortingall. In Aberdeenshire, Braemar and Ballater on Deeside, where the Queen goes for her holidays; then the coastal villages along the Moray coat- Gamrie, Pennan, Buckie, Spey Bay etc. On the west and in the islands there are lots more. I could go on for ever.

Near Boat of Garten and the steam train is the home of the Osprey Centre, where there is a big modern hide with closed circuit television into the nest of the ospreys. It's open to the public. It's very near Coylumbridge Hotel which I mentioned, which is a bit soulless as a building but does have masses of child based activities. These are all near Aviemore- an architectural disaster in the Highlands but a place with lots of child based stuff to do by kids. The Highland Wildlife Park is nearby. I would have said you could
usefully spend a few days around here. The grown ups will like it too.

Peterhead (25 miles north of Aberdeen) has a Maritime Museum) and Fraserburgh (15miles west of Peterhead) has a lighthouse museum. There is a marine aquarium at Macduff (west on the coast again)and the "Buckie drifter" is a fishing boat you can see all round in (strangely) Buckie. There's stuff like that all over the Highlands.

There's Vane Farm at Kinross (bird reserve, cafeteria for lunch)

You can do wee boat trips out of Elgol on Skye and you're about guaranteed to come close to seals.

In Glasgow, you could take them down the Clyde on the Waverley Steamer.

Oh, and at Cairngorm? Big mountain near Coylumbridge- chairlift/funicular to the Ptarmigan (top of the mountain)even in Summer.

sheila is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 10:28 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 91
Thanks for the ideas! I think you are right about not having to worry. When I mentioned this trip to a few people they thought she would be bored and I started to worry! It's just being outside that is fun=)
spartangirl is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 06:20 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 223
I don't think a three year old is ever bored when outside, but I do think as parents you will have to be willing to give up/ miss a lot by traveling to Europe with one so young. If you can afford to go back frequently, then go for it. Ireland is very expensive, however.

When in Mexico, was it mostly a beach vacation or were you looking at historical sites, etc? When our kids were that little, they mostly enjoyed playing at beaches or parks, or simple things like chasing birds as one poster mentioned.
bucky is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 09:44 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Spartangirl, the only way she would be bored is if you take it too fast, at an adult's pace. A 3-year-old's pace includes lots of time to dawdle and explore every little shiny rock, bug, puddle, etc.

When hubby and I were young parents, we made the mistake of rushing about New Zealand, with long drives and only spending 1 night in each location, with a 2-year-old! The poor kid spent a lot of time in the back seat of the car playing with the snaps of his little pants, chanting, "'Nother way, "'Nother way, 'Nother way" over and over! NOT a child-friendly trip.

But we learned. Don't plan to drive too much in one day...a 4-hour drive is very long with a 3-year-old. Go someplace interesting and stay put for a while. Keep your plans flexible.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 10:02 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 265
When our daughter was 3, we took a six-month sabbatical and drove around quite a bit of the U.S. We have also taken trips to Hawaii, France, England and Scotland with young children. Suggestions: plan one major activity in the morning; do your long-distance driving during nap times; find a playground each day (we found one in the garden of a pub, so we could watch our kids while having a drink and they could play both before and after supper); eat in restaurants for lunch; picnic in a park or your hotel room for supper. Buy some new books and small toys (no small parts, though) to bring out at times when she is bored with the plane ride, a musuem or a castle. I agree wholeheartedly with Melissa: be flexible. Some things I thought the kids would love, they hated and vice-versa.
P.S. My kids loved Loch Lomond, but were did not like Edinburgh Castle (they were spoiled by Warwick Castle). There probably are more interesting castles for kids.
Marsha is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2005, 09:00 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 91
Did you find that your strollers did okay? Or would you recommend a back pack for her instead? I've been going back and forth between a good pack (as we'll be renting a car and not backpacking ourselves) and getting a highend stroller that has large wheels to handle the cobblestone streets and such better?

We definitely don't plan on doing this quickly! We are plannning 2 weeks and picking very specific spots to stay for 2 days. If we move day to day it would only be if it was a shorter drive.
spartangirl is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:41 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 265
Tough question: backpack or stroller. If your daughter is small, I guess I would lean towards using the backpack. The uneven pavement and narrow walkways make a stroller so difficult to maneouver.
Marsha is offline  
Aug 6th, 2005, 10:22 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 561
Spartangirl:

We traveled to Ireland with our 18month old last year and we had a terrific time. She enjoyed the farm visits and the castles the most. Unfortunately, it rained quite a bit so we were glad to have brought lots of books and we picked up a few toys and puzzles along the way. Though I may get some grief, I have to admit that a portable DVD player made some of the longer drives more tolerable for all of us. We did try to do what Marsha suggested - organize drives around naptime but sometimes the drive was still longer than her nap so we tried to break it up with stops along the way.

Look for child friendly lodging. We mostly had good experiences (Ballynahinch, Ballinalacken, The Shores, The Lodge, and Glasha Farmhouse were all excellant and very welcoming of our young one) but we did run across one or two which were not well suited for young children. If possible avoid the one night stays. The three night stays really worked best but I realize your time in each country is limited.

We ate mostly at pubs or low key restaurants but we did arrange for two formal meals (one with our daughter at Ballynahinch, an early seating, watching the sun set over the river, really memorable and for the other at Ballinalacken, we engaged a babysitter that the hostess used for her own children, and we enjoyed a terrific dinner in the hotel dining room).

We used a backback stroller by Kelty. It is a stroller but converts to a backback. We have found it exceedingly handy in our travels.

Simply spending so much time together is the best memory I have from our Ireland vacation. And the gorgeous scenery and friendly people. And the small adventures we shared along the way. Have a great trip.

POlson is offline  
Aug 7th, 2005, 01:22 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 257
When we travel we use a small backpack for our three year old filled with snacks and little toys (the mini playdoh is a big hit, mini bubbles to blow, little books and trinkets). The 'umbrella' stroller worked just fine - for $15 the little things is looking shoddy but lasted many flights/trips and travels. If strolling on hard surfaces its fine (airports, streets etc.) but as I'm sure you know strollers on grass or 'chip' paths are hard anyway. I tried to keep him in it as long as possible then it was time for running around and exploring time, then he'd get tired and it was magic backpack time and back into the stroller. There's so much to see and do with little things to amuse her along teh way you won't have to worry I am sure. Besides you may end up pushing an empty stroller sometimes and there's always 'Daddy's shoulders' for emergencies! Have a wonderful trip, you will have a ball!
mousireid is offline  
Aug 7th, 2005, 01:56 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 52
Very easy at that age. With our two who have done lots of travel in UK and Europe we tried whenever possible to have a quiet time around 1-3 If possible we'd head out early in the morning return with lunch and one of us would have quiet time with the kids. The other got 2 hours on their own if they wanted. Usually I wanted the sleep as I was the one driving and husband used the time to read the paper etc Mine were nap takers for years. If we were on the road we just did the same at a layby. The kids have had quiet time in the car and hubby and I have just sat outsiade the car and relaxed-sometimes the only time for some adult talk. Boy could I have ever used a convertable stroller backpack! Lucky you.
Finally try to keep the food as ordinary as possible very little sugar
MomKJC is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
vickers
Europe
10
Jun 24th, 2011 06:21 PM
TxTravelPro
United States
18
Jun 4th, 2008 11:21 AM
Stacy312
Caribbean Islands
7
Feb 6th, 2008 10:25 AM
twina49
Europe
9
Apr 12th, 2006 12:21 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:27 AM.