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Things to do near Glasgow

A view of the Oval Staircase at Culzean Castle, looking up from the ground floor. The wide sweeping stairs are covered by a red patterned carpet in the middle of the tread. Two standard lamps stand either side of the staircase.

Want to make the most of your time on the west coast? Take your pick from this list of 12 great things to do near Glasgow. Weve got everything covered, from free family events and outdoor adventures to days spent delving into Scottish history.

Outdoor activities

Whether you want to smell the roses or bag a Munro, youll find all kinds of outdoor activities near Glasgow. Escape the city and fill your lungs with fresh air!

1. As one of Scotland’s most popular summits – attracting more than 50,000 walkers and mountaineers every year – Ben Lomond should be on every outdoor adventurer’s list. The most southerly Munro in the country still feels as wild as it did when Rob Roy roamed here 300 years ago. And whatever route you take, make sure you soak up the spectacular views and keep an eye out for ptarmigan, adders and orchids.

2. Treat the whole clan to an idyllic day out at Geilston Garden, a tranquil 200-year-old walled garden on the banks of the Clyde. You’ll find colourful 40m long borders, bluebell woods, a floral mini-maze and a ‘hobbit hole’ play area for wee explorers.

Look out for the giant rhubarb – its leaves can grow as big an eagle’s wingspan.

3. At the Himalayan-inspired Crarae Garden we’re still waiting for our first yeti sighting among the Tibetan shrubs! Home to champion trees, red squirrels, a magnificent wooded gorge and all kinds of rare flowers, it’s the perfect place for plant-lovers and walkers alike.

Purple flowers grow next to a wooden bridge in Crarae Garden

Castles near Glasgow

These fantastic fortresses are right on our doorstep, and theyre stuffed to the turrets with amazing stories and collections.

4. Along with the breathtaking clifftop castle, there are 40 other buildings and secret follies scattered around Culzean Country Park, including an ice house, a viaduct and a pagoda, not to mention the idyllic gardens. Kids can run wild in our outdoor adventure playgrounds, and the exquisite interiors of the castle are home to vast collections that tell the fascinating stories of the people who lived there.

5. A short hop on the ferry from the mainland will get you to Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park on the Isle of Arran. With playgrounds, gardens and parkland for everyone to enjoy outdoors, and an interactive visitor experience in the castle that includes a Victorian arcade, it’s the perfect place near Glasgow for families to visit.

A view of the exterior of Brodick Castle from the gravelled path that runs along the front. Manicured strips of lawn grow either side of the path.

Museums and landmarks

Learn about Scotlands famous faces and working communities with a trip to one of our excellent landmarks and museums near Glasgow.

6. In the picturesque village of Alloway, where our national bard was born, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is home to landmarks, stories and more than 5,000 artefacts. Read Burns’s handwritten manuscripts, follow in Tam o’ Shanter’s footsteps, and send the kids on an augmented reality quest to find Burns and his friends through the Mighty Missions app trail.

7. Work is well underway on a 10-year conservation programme at Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece The Hill House. Every inch of this design classic is a work of art, from the architecture to the interiors and furnishings – and it was all designed by Charles and his wife Margaret Macdonald. Now, thanks to the Box we’ve built around the house, you can view the building in ways that have never been seen before, not even by Mackintosh himself.

Find out more about the Hill House Box.

8. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a fun family day out in the South Lanarkshire countryside.

The award-winning National Museum of Rural Life is set on a working farm, where you’ll find Aberdeen Angus cattle, Tamworth pigs and Clydesdale horses, along with Scotland’s biggest collection of tractors and combine harvesters.

A young girl wearing a bright yellow mac looks with delight at a young calg poking its head through the railings in a barn. A man reaches down and pats the calf's head. A woman watches behind.
National Museum of Rural Life
A view inside the museum space of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Large floor cabinets display a wide range of artefacts, and oil paintings hang around the room.

Historic homes

Discover how Scottish people from all walks of life used to live and work at these perfectly preserved properties near Glasgow.

9. Holmwood is a family home like no other in Glasgow. Located in the Southside of the city, it’s masterfully designed but surprisingly cosy, with grand imagination behind it. Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson designed the house for paper magnate James Couper and his wife in 1857–8, and it’s widely regarded as this Scottish architect’s finest domestic creation.

10. Curious to see what life was like in Glasgow in the early 20th century? Open a door to the past as you step through the modest entrance to The Tenement House on Buccleuch Street. All sorts of items – from soap balls and working gaslights to jars of jam made in 1929 – have been lovingly preserved and the house has been restored to provide a rare glimpse into a bygone age.

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A kitchen in a tenement flat, displayed as it may have looked in the mid-20th century. A large wooden table stands in the middle of the room, with mixing bowls, weighing scales and a rolling pin laid out on top. A black cooking range stands at the side, with cloths hanging from a washing line suspended in front. A sink with wooden cupboards beneath stands in front of a large sash window.

Free* places to visit

From days spent enjoying the fresh air to free cultural events, theres lots of things to do near Glasgow to keep the costs down.

11. Fresh air is free (and great for the soul), so why not take the family out for a picnic? You can roll out the rug in the grounds of one of our castles or country houses, where there are plenty of pleasant spots to choose from. Or you could work up an appetite by hiking up to a stunning hilltop view of Loch Lomond.

12. We host hundreds of events every year, many of which are free. For anyone in Glasgow, entry to our exhibition at the Tenement House – celebrating the women of Glasgow – is free. Be inspired by these humble Scottish heroines.

Dont forget, members benefit from free access to all of our places. Find out more about how to join.

*There may be a small car parking fee for non-members at some of our places.

A man sits on a large boulder slab at the summit of Ben Lomond, looking down over the immense Loch Lomond.

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