We are planning a family vacation to Scotland next summer with our family. Kids are 21, 14 and 11 - all boys. We are looking to spend 7-10 days and would love to get some ideas on things to do which are a little different than the average tourist things, but will still give us a good sense of the people and culture.
Scotland is a diverse country with amazing art, galleries, museums, heritage and culture.
City life in Edinburgh and Glasgow is a busy, buzzy one with emphasis on art, galleries, museums and some good restaurants.
For me, the Highlands has the best to offer - from the amazing white sand beaches and gorgeous blue sea at the Silver Sands of Morar, very fresh fish and chips in Mallaig, the Harry Potter train from Fort William to Mallaig if you must which passes over the fantastic Glenfinnan Viaduct, Isle of Skye, various distilleries etc. Scotland has it all.
I particularly like going to Mallaig, catching the ferry to the Isle of Skye and hopefully seeing small dolphins that follow the ferry and then driving around Skye which is famed for its hills (cuillins). Then take the bridge back and drive round the Kyle of Lochalsh. Very nice.
I like Iona for a day trip or you could head to Islay and sample a few malts - Laphroaig is amazing and great value for money...not sure your 11 year old would quite like it though!
For a bit of adrenalin, I can highly recommend http://www.highlandactivities.co.uk/ - I did their 4x4'ing trip and had a fab day out with them.
For culture, if you are lucky, then you will stumble across a pub where someone is playing a squeeze box or similar, or check out closer to the time for village gala days and fetes. I know, for example, that Strontian has theirs in around May/June time.
Summer in Scotland could be blazing hot, pouring with rain, freezing or anywhere inbetween, so come prepared. Also, the midges can be a problem in the summer, so you will need some repellent, long sleeves etc. about 8 years ago
Make time for a trip out to the Isle of Sky. It is just BEAUTIFUL. Similarly, Invermoriston is a little haven, a day down by the river is a day well spent.
Also, go to Lochness, in the town of Fort Augustus. There is a little show that runs there about the Scots and the highlanders. Everyone gets dressed up and there is a lot of brandishing of swords and things, something that might appeal to the boys.
Also, Edinburgh is a beautiful capital city. There are some great ghost tours which operate at night time, revealing a side of the city you wouldn't expect. A climb up to Arthurs seat is a must also, but choose a clear day (unlike me)... I hope that gives you some good ideas. I mean, the main tourist attractions are generally worth it in my opinion, so don't skip them completely! almost 8 years ago