Located in the middle of Scotland, Stirlingshire (also known as the county of Stirling) provides a wide variety of fun things to do for the whole family.
The region is located in the central Lowlands between the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and is famous for its scenic landscapes of rolling hills, verdant forests, and glassy lochs.
From the historic Stirling Castle to the peaceful Trossachs National Park, and the beautiful Loch Lomond to the imposing Wallace Monument, this amazing county has plenty to offer all ages.
In this article, you’ll discover the best things to do in Stirlingshire for families, from visiting ancient castles to pedalling through the countryside, as well as a couple of indoor attractions for those days when it’s too wet to enjoy the great outdoors.
The Rob Roy Way
|Callander Meadows Car Park: FK17 8BA
Strathyre: Main Street FK18 8NA
Lochearnhead: FK19 8PU
|The Rob Roy Way is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Facilities in Callander, Strathyre and Lochearnhead are open dependent on time and day.
|Callander: The Meadows car park FK17 8BA. Station Road car park FK17 8AR.
Strathyre: No car park.
Lochearnhead: Lochearnhead car park FK19 8QG.
|Callander: Car parks, public toilets, shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, tourist information centre.
Strathyre: Shop, post office, pubs, hotels.
Lochearnhead: Car park, public toilets, pub, hotels.
Out About Scotland Guide: Rob Roy Way, Callander to Strathyre
If you’re planning a visit to Central Scotland, Callander is a great place to start.
The Rob Roy Way is a superb cycling and walking route that takes visitors through the stunning scenery of the Trossachs with lochs, glens, forests and mountains to explore over mile after mile of the Lowland’s prettiest scenery.
The most popular way to tackle the route is from south to north, starting at The Meadows car park in Callander and finishing in the middle of the Highland village of Strathyre.
This entire route is part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network so you can be sure the surface will be well-maintained along its entire length and will be almost entirely free of traffic.
While it’s possible to walk from Callander to Strathyre, at 9 miles it’s probably best to cycle the route if you have children with you. The surfaces are mostly tarmacked with the occasional section of compacted dirt and gravel, but on the whole, it’s a very easy bike ride.
If you’re feeling uber-fit you can extend the route to Killin for a 20-mile ride – which is certainly worth considering as along the way you’ll have the chance to take in the sights of Loch Lubnaig and Kingshouse forest before finishing at Killin and the Falls of Dochart.
Be warned, though, the littlest legs will likely struggle up the hill at the northern end of Loch Lubnaig so if you have young children I suggest making an about-turn as soon as you reach Strathyre.
If you’re looking for other outdoor attractions in the area you’ll find plenty of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing on lochs Earn and Lubnaig, both of which have slipways and equipment hire.
The Devil’s Pulpit
|The Devil's Pulpit is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.
|There is free car parking at the junction of the A809 and B834 with room for approx 10 cars.
An additional parking area is located in a layby opposite the start of the Devil's Pulpit path on the A809.
The A809 and B834 have double yellow lines for approx 1 mile around Finnich Glen.
|There are no visitor facilities at Finnich Glen.
Out About Scotland Guide: The Devil’s Pulpit
Fans of the TV show Outlander might remember a scene in season 1 where Claire is taken to the magical Liar’s Spring. While the location looks too bizarre to be anything other than a film set, it is, in fact, a real place located 14 miles north of Glasgow in a gorge called Finnich Glen.
However, most people are familiar with its other name: the Devil’s Pulpit.
This 1,000-foot-deep red-sandstone canyon is home to a remarkable mushroom-shaped rock formation, surrounded by walls draped in thick green mosses. When the sun shines through, the water turns a deep, blood-red colour, hence the name and the reason why it’s embedded in local folklore.
One legend has it that this mesmerizing place was where the Devil used to preach to his disciples, while another says that Druids used the rock to perform magical spells and rituals.
Regardless of the legend you choose to believe, the Devil’s Pulpit is a unique and eerie location that everyone who visits the region should check out.
Exploring the Devil’s Pulpit can be a thrilling experience, but it also carries a certain amount of risk. Access is via Jacob’s Ladder – a very steep, slippery natural stone staircase with no safety barriers, so it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers, especially if you have children in tow.
The most straightforward route is to enter from the northeast riverbed, but this requires clambering over rocks and waterfalls with pools that are waist-deep in places.
Even so, visiting the Devil’s Pulpit is a truly remarkable experience and one that’s guaranteed to be remembered for a long time after.
|Loch Katrine is open 24/7, 365 days a year.
Cruises operate daily from Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier.
45-minute circular cruise: departs at 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1.15 pm and 2.15 pm.
1-hour circular cruise: departs at 1 pm, 2.30 pm and 4 pm.
2-hour return cruise: departs at 10.30 am and 3.15 pm.
|Loch Katrine is free to visit.
|There are paid car parks at Trossachs Pier (cash and card) and Stronachlachar Pier (cash only).
Motorhomes overnight parking with services: £25
Motorhomes overnight parking without services: £10
|Trossachs Pier - Cafe, gift shop, toilets, paid car park, electric car charging, Wi-Fi at the visitor centre, cycle hire, eco-lodges, pleasure cruises, disabled access at the loch (not on cruise boats).
Stronachlachar Pier - Cafe, toilets, car park.
Out About Scotland Guide: Loch Katrine
There’s a reason why so many tourists visit the Trossachs National Park in the Scottish Highlands; it’s a truly beautiful destination that makes a great day trip from the nearby urban centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh, especially for those visitors who want to enjoy the many lochs in the region.
While Loch Lomond easily outsizes the other lochs in the Trossachs, Loch Katrine offers just as many activities but its relatively compact size means it’s much easier to explore.
Facilities are actually pretty great at this loch, with a visitor centre at the southern end and a car park and cafe at Stronachlachar on the loch’s northwest corner.
The southern Trossachs Pier is the best place to park as it offers facilities including motorhome hardstanding areas, a gift shop, bike hire, a boat cruise departure point, a very good cafe, and public toilets and showers.
Those who wish to explore the loch on foot or bike can then follow a winding tarmac road on the northern side which runs along the shoreline for 13 miles to its final destination at Stronachlachar.
From there, visitors have a choice of either doubling back the way they came or hopping on board a ferry for a relaxing sail back to the visitor centre at Trossachs Pier.
At the end of your journey, you might like to fill hungry bellies at the Steamship Cafe which serves snacks and light bites including hot drinks, cakes, and sandwiches. The cafe’s outdoor terrace seating area is the perfect spot to relax and soak up the lovely views of the loch before heading back to the car.
|1 April - 30 September 9.30 am to 6 pm (last entry 5 pm)
1 October - 31 March 9.30 am to 5 pm (last entry 4 pm)
|Adult (16-64yrs) £18.00
Concession (65yrs+ and unemployed) £14.50
Child (5-15yrs) £11.00
Family (1 adult, 2 children) £35.50
Family (2 adults, 2 children) £52.00
Family (2 adults, 3 children) £61.50
|Paid on-site parking, maximum 4 hours £4
|+44 (0)1786 450 000
|Toilets, gift shop, cafe, partial disabled access, guided tours, audio guide
Out About Scotland Guide: Stirling Castle
A magnificent reflection of Scotland’s rich history, Stirling Castle is a must-see for every visitor to Scotland.
Perched on top of a hill overlooking the city of Stirling and the beautiful Stirlingshire countryside, it has served as a fortress and a royal residence over the course of nearly 1,000 years.
Beginning with the construction of a chapel by King Alexander I in the 12th century, the castle has seen many historic moments in Scotland’s history including its liberation from the English in 1299 and the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1542.
Today, the castle is one of the country’s most-visited tourist attractions thanks to the fact it’s perfectly preserved and retains many of the original 15th and 16th-century buildings.
The castle and museums can be explored on your own, but to get the most out of your visit I suggest joining a guided tour led by an expert as there’s so much to see you’ll likely miss the most important features otherwise.
Alternatively, you can pick up a portable audio tour (offered in several languages) and walk around the site at your own pace.
There’s also a regimental museum honouring the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a first-rate café, and a souvenir shop for mementoes of your visit. If you’re wondering what to do with toddlers in Stirling, bear this castle in mind.
Out About Scotland Guide: Glen Ogle
You might not be familiar with Glen Ogle, but there’s a good chance you’ve driven through it when travelling to the north or south of Scotland.
The A85 – a frequently-used road to visit the Highlands from Edinburgh and Stirling – cuts through the glen between the villages of Lochearnhead and Mid Lix.
The drive is certainly a good way to experience the glen, but it pales in comparison to cycling or walking the footpath that runs through it between Loch Earn and Killin.
This path starts in Lochearnhead at the western end of Loch Earn and continues north for five miles to the small village of Lix, before opening up into the picturesque scenery of Glen Dochart.
Among the most beautiful areas of Scotland, the region around Glen Ogle is a must-see, but the disused railway line and its multi-arched viaduct is easily its most interesting feature.
The 44-foot stone viaduct is a great place to stop and soak up the views before pressing onwards to view the foaming Falls of Dochart to the north or the glassy waters of Loch Earn to the south.
This disused line is part of the Sustrans Route 7 national cycle route so families can be assured that the entire path is well maintained, level, and free of traffic, which makes it ideal for use by younger children.
Port of Menteith,
|Open 1 April - 30 Sept, Daily 10 am to last outward sailing at 4.15 pm
|Free on-site car park
|Gift shop, toilets, picnic area, drinks machine
Out About Scotland Guide: Inchmahome Priory
Located on the largest of three islands on the Lake of Menteith, Inchmahome Priory is a must-see destination for any visitor to Scotland.
The priory was established by a community of Augustinian monks in the early 1200s, but it’s perhaps best known for being a place of refuge for Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots.
It’s possible to visit the island and its ruined priory by taking a shuttle boat from the nearby Port of Menteith, and once on the island, visitors can explore this peaceful location and the historic buildings, which, despite being partly in ruin, are well worth exploring.
There are no paths on Inchcolm Island but as the terrain is mostly level and laid to grass it’s easily accessible for the majority of visitors. That being said, visitors must take care where they walk as the island is home to lots of wildfowl which are easily disturbed, which can lead to nests being abandoned.
Inchcolm Island is spectacularly pretty throughout the year, especially in spring when the wildflowers bloom and in autumn the woodland changes to various hues of reds and browns, so return visits are highly recommended.
If you just want to relax and enjoy the setting there are a couple of picnic benches behind the priory but there are no other facilities so you’ll have to take food and drinks with you.
It’s not exactly the biggest attraction in Scotland so visits shouldn’t take much more than two hours, but its location means a visit to Inchmahome Island can be easily combined with other popular tourist destinations including the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Loch Katrine, and the town of Callander.
The National Wallace Monument
|January & February: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
March: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
April to June: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
July & August: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
September & October: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
November & December: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
|Adult (Age 16+): £10.75
Child (Age 5 to 15): £6.75
Senior Citizen (Age 60+): £8.75
Family A (2 adults & 2 children): £28.25
Family B (1 adult & up to 3 children): £24.25
Family C (2 adults & 3 children): £35.00
|Free car park on-site
|+44 (0)1786 472140
|Gift shop, cafe, toilets, shuttle bus service
Out About Scotland Guide: The National Wallace Monument
The National Wallace Monument stands majestically at the top of Abbey Craig Hill, overlooking the stunning Stirlingshire countryside and the Ochil Hills.
Featuring three museum galleries explaining William Wallace’s life and battles as well as Stirling’s significant role in Scottish history, the monument has been a must-see for history buffs for over 150 years.
Oppressed by King Edward I of England, Wallace became a powerful symbol of Scottish defiance against invading English armies in the 1200s, and his battles – including the legendary battle of Stirling Bridge – are now ingrained in Scottish culture.
Thanks to an extensive revamp in 2019, visitors can now interact with an animation about Wallace’s role in the Wars of Scottish Independence, view a reconstruction of Stirling in 1297, and get involved with several activities designed to get children interested in history.
This iconic historic attraction is chock-full of activities to keep both adults and children entertained but there are just as many things to see and do in the surrounding grounds including historical re-enactments, woodlands walks, and a first-class visitor centre which houses a shop and a cafe.
Entrance to the Wallace Monument includes free re-entry for a full 12 months so you can go back and enjoy the ever-changing list of events that are held throughout the year.
Thanks to its location there are lots of other places to visit near the National Wallace Monument including Stirling Castle, Stirling Old Town Jail, and the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.
If you’re looking for things to do in Stirling for couples and families alike, the National Wallace Monument is the obvious choice.
The Falkirk Wheel
|The Visitor Centre is open 7 days a week, 9.45 am – 5.30 pm
|Free to visit the site.
Concession £12.00 (anyone over 60, holding an Access Card, full-time Student or Falkirk Council Tax Payer
Child (5-15yrs) £8.00
Child (under 5) Free
Registered Carers Free
|Free car park on-site
|0870 050 0208
|Shop, restaurant, food kiosks, disabled access, boat trips
Out About Scotland Guide: The Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel is a well-known attraction near Falkirk that has the distinction of being the world’s only rotating boat lift.
This incredible example of Scottish engineering raises vessels over 115 feet from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal, and since its opening in 2002 it has seen more than 1.5 million people enjoy rides on the lift.
Inspired by the shape of Celtic axes, the Falkirk Wheel can raise up to six canal boats in a cycle that takes only five minutes to complete – a much faster journey than the 24 hours it used to take for boats to traverse the original canal locks.
The ‘wheel’ (it’s not actually a wheel but it does move in a rotary motion), comprises two arms extending from a central axle with water-filled gondolas attached to each end.
From the visitor centre, it’s possible to take a ride in a canal boat which enters a gondola in one canal, lifts into the sky, and exits onto the other canal towering above.
It’s not a long tour, but you’ll enjoy amazing views of the surrounding countryside and will be able to fully appreciate this feat of engineering which – amazingly – only uses the same energy required to boil eight kettles of water.
The visitor centre also houses a range of activities including a children’s activity zone, a water play area, gifts shops and cafes, while slightly further afield are a number of woodland trails that are great for cycling, or perhaps exploring on a segway hired from the nearby Scottish Segway Centre.
Blair Drummond Safari Park
|Monday - Sunday 9.30 am to 5. 30 pm
Children (age 3-15 yrs) £14.00
Senior (age 60+ yrs) £14.00
|On-site car park
|Food court, coffee shack, picnic area, BBQ area, gift shop, toilets, accessible toilets, disabled parking, wheelchair access, dog kennels
Out About Scotland Guide: Blair Drummond Safari Park
Located near Stirling, Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park spans 120 acres across a variety of enclosures housing animals from Africa and Asia, as well as several native species.
This family-oriented wildlife park is one of the biggest attractions in Stirlingshire and is the perfect destination for anyone wanting to get up close with some of the world’s most amazing animals.
Visitors can drive through four reserves to see zebra and white rhinoceros in the African reserve, African lions in the lion reserve, Barbary macaques in the Monkey Jungle, and deer and camels in the Asian reserve.
After driving, you can head into the adventure park on foot to see even more enclosures with African elephants, rhinos and giraffes, as well as great apes on Chimp Island, ring-tailed lemurs in Lemur Land, and sea lion and bird of prey shows which are staged throughout the day.
Meanwhile, rides and amusements like the pirate ship, adventure fort, boat safari, pedal boats, dodgems and a rollercoaster will keep visitors of all ages entertained, and if hunger pangs kick in there are plenty of restaurants and snack outlets to refill empty stomachs.
If you’re in the area and looking for things to do near Stirling Castle, look no further than Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park.
|1st April - 31st October
Thursday - Monday: 10:00 - 17:00
|1 Apr to 30 Sept: Daily, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, last entry is 4.30 pm
1 Oct to 31 Mar: Daily, 10 am to 4 pm, last entry is 3 pm
|Free car park on-site
|01786 841 742
|Toilets, gift shop, picnic area, partial disabled access, drinks machine
|Click here to purchase
Out About Scotland Guide: Doune Castle
Located near the village of Doune, this 14th-century castle is one of the best-preserved fortifications in Scotland.
It was once home to the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Moray, but it’s now managed by Historic Environment Scotland which has restored the castle back to its former glory.
Inside its enormous walls, visitors will find a grand tower house, a cathedral-like great hall, and an imposing gatehouse.
Not only is Doune Castle famed for its royal connections, but it’s also well-known as a filming location and has seen several shows and movies filmed there over the years, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Outlander, and Game of Thrones.
If you’d like to know more about the castle I highly recommend listening to the audio narration voiced by Terry Jones which provides a hilarious take on the castle’s history, while Outlander fans will be pleased to know that Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie in the series, narrates a new section of the tour.
At the end of your visit, you might like to take a stroll outside the castle walls to explore the River Teith which is a good spot for an enjoyable walk at any time of the year.
Alternatively, if you’re keen to stay in the area for a bit longer, the nearby city of Stirling offers plenty of shops, parks, and cafés as well as the unmissable Stirling Castle which is a mere 20-minute drive away.
|Kelpies are open 24/7
The visitor centre is open from 09:30 am to 5:00 pm, 7 days a week
|Free parking is available at the Helix Park car park and also at Falkirk Stadium
|Cafe, gift shop, toilets, disabled access, play area, baby changing, picnic area
Out About Scotland Guide: The Kelpies
Driving along the M9 motorway in Scotland, you can’t help but be impressed by the two huge, gleaming horse heads that tower over the side of the road.
These sculptures, inspired by the legendary Scottish water horses known as Kelpies, are a vivid reminder of the hard work of the Clydesdale horses that pulled heavy barges along Scotland’s waterways for hundreds of years.
Inspired by the mythology of the ‘kelpies’, artist Andy Scott created two three-metre-high sculptures in his studio to ensure the design was perfect before embarking on the main sculptures.
Measuring 30 metres high, these enormous full-size steel sculptures are the focal point of Helix Park near Falkirk where they have become a major tourist attraction since their unveiling in 2013.
You can walk around The Kelpies on your own at no cost or you can join a 30-minute guided tour to see the intricate construction work behind the sculptures and learn about their history, and there’s also an on-site cafe, a gift shop, and multiple paths that run alongside the canals that meet at the Kelpies.
Afterwards, you can then head over to the nearby Helix Park to spend a few hours exploring the 860-acre public park with its 17 miles of cycleways and footpaths, lagoon, and play areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s on for kids in Stirling?
Outdoor activities for kids in Stirling include exploring the local landmarks such as Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument, and the Old Town Jail. You can also take a walk in one of the many parks and gardens, or go for a bike ride on the River Forth footpath.
For indoor activities, Stirling has a variety of museums and galleries. The Smith Art Gallery and Museum has interactive activities for children, or you can visit the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre to watch a digitally recreated re-enactment of the battle.
Is Stirling Castle worth a visit?
Absolutely! Stirling Castle is one of the most important historical sites in Scotland. It’s a fantastic place to visit with its stunning views of the surrounding landscape and its rich history.
There are plenty of activities to take part in during a visit to Stirling Castle such as guided tours, exploring the vaults and kitchens, and watching the many events that are staged throughout the year.
How much time do you need at Stirling Castle?
It’s recommended to allow at least 2 hours for a visit to Stirling Castle as there’s a lot to see. In fact, a more realistic time to visit with a family would be 4 hours.
There are a variety of activities to take part in at the castle such as an audio tour, exploring the gardens and the royal palace, and taking a break in the on-site cafe.
What is Stirlingshire known for?
Stirlingshire is known for its spectacular scenery and historic attractions which include the majestic Ben Lomond mountain and the beautiful Loch Lomond. It is also well-known for its many historical sites such as Doune Castle and the Wallace Monument. Stirlingshire is also a great destination for outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, and golf.