Loch Lomond Shores

By Craig Neil
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Summary

Loch Lomond Shores is a shopping and leisure complex located at the southern end of Loch Lomond in the town of Balloch.

Visitors will discover a multitude of activities at this attraction including several high-end shops, cafes and restaurants, a sea life centre, a bird of prey centre, woodland walks, a food and craft area, a steamship, and watersports equipment hire.

Discover Loch Lomond Shores with this visitor guide which includes an overview and helpful visiting advice.

Lomond Shores
Address:Ben Lomond Way,
Balloch,
G83 8QL
Opening Hours:Shopping hours: Open daily from 10 am until 5.30 pm.
Toilets: 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday (close 5.30 pm Sunday).
Sea Life Centre: 10 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday (close 5 pm weekends).
Bird of Prey Centre: 10 am to 4 pm October to February. 10 am to 5 pm March to September.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit Loch Lomond Shores.
For entry prices for the Sea Life Centre, Bird of Prey Centre and Maid of the Loch, see their respective websites.
Parking:There is a free car park for Loch Lomond Shores behind the shopping centre.
The car park has designated parent and child, disabled, and coach spaces.
Contact:Tel: +44 (0)1389 751031
email: info@lochlomondshores.com
Facilities:Car park, public toilets, shops, cafes and restaurants, leisure facilities, disabled access, BBQ area, picnic benches, play park, bus stops, defibrillator.

The highlights

1: Loch Lomond Shores is an all-in-one stop for visitors to Loch Lomond, and especially for families. In addition to the shops there are several different places to eat inside and out, walking routes, play parks, boat hire, and sea life and bird of prey centres as well as trips on the historic Maid of the Loch steamship.

2: Sea Life Loch Lomond is a fantastic experience for all ages. The centre has an interactive rockpool, a tropical ocean tunnel, a family of cheeky otters and over 1,500 other marine animals housed in 7 different themed zones.

3: Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre is one of the premier raptor centres in Scotland. In addition to seeing eagles, owls, hawks and other bird species, the centre offers unique experiences where visitors can interact with the birds on close-up encounters and falconry sessions.

Lomond Shores

Visiting tips

1: Families with younger children can hop on board a mini train that trundles its way around the site. Tickets are just a few pounds and can be purchased from the train driver.

2: There are dozens of locations to set off into the open waters of Loch Lomond but the beach near the shopping centre is shallow which makes it ideal for beginners.

Loch Lomond Leisure has a range of craft available for hire including kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, rowing and fishing boats and pedal boats.

3: Visitors to Loch Lomond Shores can easily spend all day at the site if they try all the experiences on offer, though it can get expensive if you have to purchase tickets for the entire family.

Another attraction that’s completely free to visit is Balloch Castle Country Park which is situated just one mile to the west on the opposite side of the River Leven.


Overview

As the most-visited loch in Scotland, Lomond naturally has dozens of attractions dotted around its shores.

From Luss on the western side to Ben Lomond on the east, Loch Lomond has enough places to visit to keep all ages entertained, especially those visitors that are exploring it as a family.

One personal favourite destination that pretty much everyone will enjoy is Loch Lomond Shores, a leisure and retail complex on the southern end of the loch in the village of Balloch.

Balloch Castle Country Park

Balloch itself is a great destination for first-time visitors to the Trossachs National Park as it’s a good base to explore the surrounding countryside, but to my mind, Loch Lomond Shores is the highlight.

The complex has a surprising number of attractions squeezed into one small area and visitors can enjoy everything from high-rope treetop adventures to cruises around Loch Lomond, with lots of options for places to eat and indoor activities to enjoy when the weather inevitably turns dire.

I’ll cover the main activities in the following section.

Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre: The bird of prey centre is located to the west of the main car park behind the shopping complex.

This is a great attraction for families and couples and is (in my opinion) the best bird of prey centre in the country.

During a visit you can see a collection of absolutely gorgeous raptors including majestic golden eagles as well as smaller but equally captivating owls, hawks, and kestrels.

There are keeper demonstrations throughout the day and it’s also possible to join expert guides on falconry experiences and up-close encounters where you can handle the birds yourself.

Shopping centre: Although the shopping centre isn’t as big as most city retail parks it more than makes up for it with its stunning location on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Lomond Shores

The shops are at the upper end of the retail market (e.g. Frasers, Hawkshead, Thorntons) and include a number of eateries that sell everything from cocktails to ice cream and fish and chips.

There’s a paved area in front of the shops which has outside seating for the cafes in summer while a larger area in front of the Sea Life Centre plays host to food and drink festivals in summer and a farmers market throughout the year.

Treezone Loch Lomond: Treezone is a high-ropes adventure course located near the bird of prey centre. This attraction is similar to Go-Ape and comprises rope ladders, zip wires, bridges and scramble nets up to 15 metres high in the tree canopy.

All activities are supervised by a trained instructor and there are different adventure courses at varying heights so all members of the family can get involved, except for children under the age of 8.

Sea Life Loch Lomond: This is the go-to attraction in the area if the weather closes in as it’s entirely indoors. The Sea Life Centre is located in front of the shops at Loch Lomond Shores, overlooking the loch and near the Dragon’s Den playpark.

Lomond Shores

Ticket prices are on-par with other attractions of this type but you can add on a loch boat cruise for an extra tenner which is highly recommended as it takes in the major points of interest on the loch during an hour-long cruise.

The Sea Life Centre, meanwhile, is home to well over 1,500 creatures from across the globe, all kept in custom enclosures that replicate everything from tropical oceans to the murky depths of Scotland’s deepest lochs.

There’s also an educational element to a visit with lots of interesting facts about marine conservation and keeper talks with feeding demonstrations.

Loch Lomond Leisure: As you might expect for a 23-mile body of water, there are ample opportunities for watersports at Loch Lomond but the beach at Loch Lomond Shores is one of the most popular places to get started.

Lomond Shores

The beach is situated to the immediate east of the Sea Life Centre and offers easy access to Drumkinnon Bay which is one of the safest places to enjoy the loch.

This is a big deal if you’ve never tried a new watersport before, and having learned to paddleboard in the bay I can confirm it’s an excellent place for beginners.

Equipment hire includes everything from paddleboards, paddle boats, fishing boats, and kayaks, and it’s even possible to book speedboat tours.

Maid of the Loch: The Maid of the Loch barely needs an introduction as it’s one of the most famous ships in Scotland.

This historic vessel was purpose-built in the 1950s as a leisure boat and she sailed across the loch for almost thirty years before taking an extended break for refurbishment in the early 2020s.

In addition to the ship, there’s also an open-air coffee house on the pier as well as a historic steam winch house, both of which are within a 5-minute walk of the Sea Life Centre.

Lomond Shores

Tourist information

Parking is a breeze at Loch Lomond Shores thanks to a large (free) car park situated at the rear of the shops.

This area shouldn’t be overlooked as it’s home to a crazy golf course as well as the entrances to the Bird of Prey Centre and Treezone, along with the start of a path that runs through the western woodland to a beach and picnic area.

Once in the retail zone you’ll find that it’s entirely paved so access is easy for wheelchairs and pushchairs and the tarmac path continues all the way around the edge of the bay to Balloch Pier and the Maid of the Loch.

There are yet more paths that run alongside the River Leven to the east so it’s easy to combine a visit to Loch Lomond Shores with the expansive Balloch Castle Country Park which lies less than a mile away to the east – handy if you’re travelling with a canine companion.

Lomond Shores

More paths lead directly into Balloch high street so visitors arriving by bus or train won’t have to walk far if Loch Lomond Shores is their final destination, while drivers will be able to reach Glasgow city centre in around 45 minutes thanks to the nearby A82.

If you prefer cycling or walking then you can hire a bike from Loch Lomond Leisure which allows you to make the most of the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path that connects Balloch to Tarbet on a 17-mile cycleway, or you can join the John Muir Way which finishes in the coastal village of Helensburgh.

Both routes run through the car park which makes the shopping centre a good place for a post-walk/cycle coffee.

Finally, while the shopping centre is open every day you might prefer the weekend as it hosts a wee farmers market in summer which sells absolutely delicious fresh-cooked food at reasonable prices.

In addition to the food stalls there are also weekend cruises which sail from the pier at the shopping centre. See the Sweeny’s Cruise Co website for details.

Lomond Shores

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Loch Lomond South – OL38 Explorer.

Loch Lomond & Inveraray – 56 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

Maid of The Loch. Address: The Pier, Pier Road, Balloch G83 8QX. Distance: 0.2 miles.
The Maid of The Loch is a paddle steamer located between Balloch Castle Country Park and Loch Lomond Shores. The ship has been in operation since 1953 and provided transport links and pleasure cruises to many of the lochside communities for the best part of 70 years.

Today, the Maid of The Loch is moored at the southern end of Loch Lomond where guided tours take visitors around the vessel and the restored winch house.

Balloch Castle Country Park. Drymen Rd, Balloch, G83 8LX. 1.5 miles.
This 200-acre public park is situated within walking distance of Balloch high street and Loch Lomond Shores.

The park surrounds the grand Balloch Castle and features landscaped grounds that stretch down to the waters of Loch Lomond. There’s also a walled garden and multiple paths that run around the perimeter of the park.

Balloch Castle Country Park

Sea Life Aquarium. Drumkinnon Tower, Ben Lomond Way, Balloch G83 8QL. 0 miles.
A highly-rated aquarium opposite the Loch Lomond Shores shopping mall. The aquarium has a number of different animal enclosures with otters, sharks, rays, rockpool creatures and many other creatures waiting to be discovered.

During a visit you will see over 1,500 animals in 7 themed zones as well as cruises that sail around Loch Lomond to enjoy the beauty of Scotland’s largest loch.

Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. Ben Lomond Way, Balloch, Alexandria G83 8QL. 0 miles.
This visitor attraction features falconry displays with a varied collection of birds of prey including buzzards, owls, eagles, hawks and vultures.

The attraction is widely acknowledged as being one of Scotland’s foremost bird of prey centres thanks to the diverse range of bird species that originate from Britain and across the globe.

River Leven. Address: Balloch, Alexandria, G83 8LG. Distance: 0.2 miles.
The River Leven flows for 6 miles from the southern tip of Loch Lomond to the north of the River Clyde.

This freshwater river is a popular fishing spot due to the number of salmon and sea trout that migrate up it, and it’s also popular with walkers and cyclists thanks to paths that run along its entire length on the western side.


Frequently asked questions

Is parking free at Loch Lomond Shores?

Car parking is free at Loch Lomond Shores. The leisure complex has dedicated spaces for disabled parking as well as parent and child parking. There are also spaces for coaches.

Is Loch Lomond Shores dog friendly?

Loch Lomond Shores is dog friendly. Dogs are welcome anywhere outdoors as long as they are kept on a lead. Most shops allow dogs to enter but each shop has its own guidelines.

Does Loch Lomond Shores have a beach?

There are two beaches at Loch Lomond Shores – one to the west and one to the east. The eastern beach is much larger and is the location of Loch Lomond Leisure as well as a BBQ and picnic area.
The west beach is accessed via footpaths from the woodland walk which starts next to Treezone.

Can you swim at Loch Lomond Shores?

It’s possible to swim from Loch Lomond Shores, although swimmers must take care around the boat jetty and the equipment hire areas.

In addition, swimmers must take care once they leave the southern shore as the water in Loch Lomond is very cold and there are strong currents.

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