Toddle On | Family Days Out In Perthshire

Janey Lloyd

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As a new-ish parent, the summer brings joy for many reasons but number one on my list is the opportunities it serves to escape my days spent indoors, chasing crayon-eating toddlers and tripping over Lego.  And of course, Game of Thrones is now finished so I'm ready to step into the socialising light again.

Of course, during holiday periods the places geared up specifically for kids can become busier than the wiating room of a Love Island star’s plastic surgeon. Take my advice, and get yourself armed with a plan B or C just in case Noah tells you there’s no room at the Ark.

Always up for getting out and about, my new checklist for suitable surroundings is simple:

  1. Does it encourage cheeky monkey toddlers to run down their batteries?
  2. Can I grab a late afternoon cup of tea in peace? (This is my new 'nothing beats it' moment. Not even Tom Hardy in a bow-tie serving me wine.)

And so, if like me and Joel you're suddenly faced with fighting your way through primary aged kids hopped up on holidays and icecream, then check out these wonderful toddler-friendly attractions right on your doorstep in Perth city centre, Dunkeld, Bankfoot and Scone. 

GALLERY

The Madoch Centre with soft play – St Madoes, Glencarse

Funded by various local charities, this amazing centre provides an excellent soft play area and outside park. Run by St Madoes and Kinfauns Parish church it helps to fund and promote various ongoing projects. 

With a spacious soft play area that has two ball pits, and boxes filled with toys, there's plenty to keep curiousity peaked and your little ones amused. Especially useful if it’s not exactly “taps aff” weather when they'll usually all pile outside to the park.

I’ve always noticed the relaxed atmosphere; and as the children play, I get a chance to catch up with friends. 

Each and every time I've visited the Madoch Centre, I’ve always noticed the relaxed atmosphere. Weather allowing, the kids play outside and I get a chance to enjoy a catch up with my friends. I didn't even stress after stepping out of the baby changing room with a suspicious brown stain on my top...

Throw in a wonderful café and the opportunity to support a local community, and you'll see that there's plenty to entice you along the Dundee Road for a wee visit.

Also worth noting, that there are rooms to hire for special celebrations. My nephew had his third birthday party here and the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. For party games and general monkeying around we were in one room, and we had a separate space for party food and drinks. Two rooms, no sausage rolls being crushed during a game of musical statues, and a kitchen area big enough for the big ones to unwind and catch up.

Finally, if you're trying to get fit enough to run after your sun-worshipping toddler all summer long, then you can join in a variety of exercise classes.

Bankfoot Church and Community Building – Tulliebelton Road, Bankfoot

Tucked away in the small country village of Bankfoot, you'll find this fantastic Church building.  Whenever I visit, I always feel like I'm stepping into a Tardis - the main area is huge! Luckily instead of facing Daleks, I'm greeted by friendly staff who always make time to chat away.

The soft play area is brilliant; never overcrowded, there is more than enough room for me and my mismatched socks to get involved. Even the slide that we squeal down into the ballpit of happiness has enough space for me - much to Joel’s delight!

If you prefer a bit more structure, there are some fab Baby and Toddler classes, and with an extremely reasonably priced café it is fast becoming my go to for a quiet couple of hours out of the house. Entertainment for Joel when he's stacked full of beans, and the perfect cure to my cabin fever.  Also has rooms for hire for parties. (They're all at it!)

Beatrix Potter Exhibition, Birnam Arts Centre - Station Road, Dunkeld

Beatrix Potter - RabbitThis wonderful exhibition will transport you back to Beatrix Potter’s 19th century world; due to the inspiration that the River Tay provided her, Beatrix Potter developed a close bond with the local area, and this led to the creation of the exhibition. 

We were full on Potter fans - we put on a puppet show, walked around a Victorian classroom and dressed up as some of the your favourite characters. Outside, the magical tale continued in the Potter inspired garden where some familiar faces lay hiding, just waiting to surprise us!

Learning is thirsty work, so if you do go make sure to visit their highly-rated café - the food is really good!  And a word of warning - if you pop into their beautiful gift shop, even the most experienced window-shoppers among you will be tempted.

With a story house, a pretend ironing station, puzzles and a fishing game there's loads to explore for all ages. Even if your little ones are just finding their feet - Joel still wobbles like Boris Johnson on Question Time now and again - there is plenty to keep them amused in the world of Beatrix Potter - go on, fire up their imaginations.

Have a read of Alice's full Beatrix Potter Garden review, from her day out in Dunkeld with James.

The South Inch Pavillion Café – South Inch, Perth

We all have varying memories of the South Inch.  From arguing with your siblings over the Flying Fox, to lying in the sun as a teenager talking about your latest crush and your never-ending hatred of PE. 

South Inch 19 Joel Lloyd

Now it’s Joel’s turn to start some of his own memories.  Since being taken over earlier this year, The South Inch Pavillion has proved to be hugely popular with both the local community and the city’s visitors; Joel alone had eaten his own weight in ice cream within the first month!

It offers a selection of cold and hot beverages, amazing pizzas, baked potatoes, filled rolls, sandwiches and other homemade treats all of which appear to come highly recommend by Facebook reviewers. Four legged friends aren't forgottem, and they’re happy to provide dog biscuits, fresh water and poo bags. No one wants a pooey park!

When he’s not trying to dip his cucumber sticks in the sand, Joel likes just to plod about in itThe picnic tables are located right beside the play park; perfect distance for keeping an eye as you refuel; World War Three could easily erupt over the last empty swing.  That said, the park is brilliant. It has a fab selection for both primary aged children and toddlers and when he’s not trying to dip his cucumber sticks in the sand, Joel likes just to plod about in it. It’s ideal at his age when he is constantly falling down.

For parents, you can stretch your legs with a walk around the duck pond to visit the swans, or simply sit and enjoy the scenery with the hills in the not so distant background.  Grab yourself a crepe and a coffee and that's as close to perfect as you'll get. (Still no Tom Hardy mind.)

Scone Palace including the Murray Star Maze –near Perth city 

Let your little princesses and princes run free around the grounds of Scone Palace, and as well as letting off some steam, they'll unearth lots of historical fun as they slay dragons and conquer imaginary battles.
SCONE PALACE - Peacock
The Murray Star Maze is fantastic, and we both loved winding our way round the hedges to meet the mermaid in the middle.  From here we headed over to the hugely popular adventure playground, where the star of the story, Robert the Bruce, was waiting with his inspirational spider.  Don’t forget your camera. 

Roaming around the gardens, we discovered some other colourful characters (no - not lost Rewind revellers) who put on quite the display, shaking a tail feather or two and making an almighty noise! A little bird told me they’re quite partial to nuts, but please only feed them with the special Peacock Peanuts available from the shop. 

While you're there, do check out the lovely gifts. Talking of which, if you want to bring home tasty memories then the food shop has a delicious selection of various locally produced oils, chutneys and whiskies. 

Roaming around the gardens, we discovered some other colourful characters (no - not lost Rewind revellers)After a long expedition into the Pinetum and the Plant Hunters Pavillion, knight your hungry toddler with a yummy ‘Scone of Destiny’, available from the Old Servants Hall coffee shop.  What a finish to a great day out!

I hadn't been to Scone Palace for years, and along with wonderful tours of the building and full access to the grounds, it offers great entertainment for a day just out of the city. A bit of culture for me, and a tired child, with a smiley face.  Palace Perfection!

So, if Peppa Pig continuously changing your children’s accent has just become too much to handle, then get out of the house and check out these wonderful places. I promise you'll thank me. 

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If you've discovered great spots for toddlers, or older children, then please do comment below. We'd love to hear about them!

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