Things to do in St Andrews with children under 5
Trying to keep young children occupied is difficult enough at the best of times, never mind when you are miles away from home. St Andrews and the East Neuk offers an idyllic escape for families needing a recharge, but fear not, you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do. Whether the sun shines or the rain pours there is an activity to keep your pre-schoolers and toddlers happy!
St Andrews Aquarium
A hotspot in town for children of all ages, St Andrews Aquarium is nestled on the towns north facing cliffs with panoramic views over West Sands beach towards the Angus hills.
Step through the doors into the underwater world where you will come face to face with the most beautiful and fascinating creatures from under the sea including small sharks, turtles and the ever popular clown fish. The newest arrivals include two super-cute rescued marmoset monkeys. There are little meerkats which are wonderful to watch and they will run alongside your child if they toddle past them. The outdoor seal and sealion deck allows your children to see these creatures swimming and turning up close. With everything under one roof it’s the perfect spot to spend an hour or so on a gloomier Scottish day. There are 10 different talks and demonstrations daily, including reptile handling, seal feeding and many more. There is even a café offering snacks, sandwiches and cakes to split up your day – beware it’s right next to the gift shop! The café has a little outdoor deck which is a real sun trap on a summer’s day. Tip: the Aquarium has a lot of stairs – if you are coming with very babies you might want to consider a sling. The staff are more than happy for you to leave buggies at reception as you make your way around the Aquarium. To this note, the Aquarium is not wheelchair friendly unfortunately.
When you buy a ticket it is valid for the whole day, so you can come and go if you fancy going back later in the day.
Adult tickets are £11 and children are £9 – under 2s go free.
Craigtoun Country Park
Craigtoun Country Park is a gem hidden within the Scottish countryside just outside of St Andrews (about a 4 mile drive).
You can spend an hour or a whole day here. Particularly for children under 5 this is an outdoor wonderland. Start off with climbing aboard the Puffin’ Billy Tractor to explore the stunning parkland or traverse the lake aboard a pedal boat. For those needing a little more excitement they can take to the adventure playground where there are trampolines, climbing frames, swings, a zip line and a seriously bouncy castle. There are many activity choices and if you manage to find a moment to stop, they even have a café serving snacks or lunch items. In the summer there are a huge number of ice cream flavours to choose from which you can sit and enjoy in the huge area of parkland – there are lots of shady spots to keep out of the sun. It is a lovely safe environment and your little ones have lots of space to run around and tire themselves out! Tip – Many of the activities require you to use little tokens to pay for them, you can get buy tokens from the customer service office beside the café, we advise buying a block of 11 for £16. Please note some of the attractions are closed during the winter months and open again in March.
Admission to the park and car park is free.
Scottish Deer Centre
Situated just outside of Cupar and about 12 miles from St Andrews, The Scottish Deer Centre covers over 55 acres and is home to fourteen species of deer from all over the world, Fife’s only wolf pack, otters and other rare breeds including the Scottish Wildcat. Your visit will not only be great fun but also provides a fascinating insight into the animal kingdom offering daily tours, feeding talks, Falconry shows and play areas both inside and outside for the younger visitors. There is a lovely café but you can also bring your own food and sit in one of the designated picnic areas. Walking round the park will take about 45 minutes (slower with under 5s!) but make sure to book in with some of the activities they have on offer to enjoy a full day out. Tip: dogs are not welcome, so if you’ve come to one of our many dog friendly properties, you’ll need to leave your furry friend behind.
Admission for adults is £9.50 and for children £6.50
One thing the East Neuk and St Andrews is definitely not short on is beaches. If you are staying in St Andrews, both East and West sands beach are just walking distance from all of our ‘in-town’ properties.
West Sands: The award winning West Sands beach extends for almost 2 miles of uninterrupted white sand backed dunes and tends to be where most tourists and locals congregate. Even on a hot summer’s day there is plenty of space for everyone – it never feels ‘packed’. It’s a lovely long run down to the sea where you’ll find lots of children splashing in the waves. The beach is manned by life guards in the summer and they set out safe areas for splashing which will help guide you. There is free car parking which runs the entire length of the beach and then it’s a two minute walk across little ‘bridges’ to the sand. The beach is incredibly safe and clean. The north end of the West Sands is where you’ll find a café and public loos. Tip: bring a wind or sun shade with you as there is nowhere to hire these items when you get down there. Please also note, the seagulls like to eat your packed lunches – so be careful if your little one is snacking as it’s not unknown for seagulls to get quite close.
East Sands: Those after a slightly quieter surrounding and a smaller beach, the East Sands beach is a lovely spot , not as picturesque or grand as the West Sands but it also has a free small car parkin and a children’s play area, as well as the famous gourmet Cheesy Toast Shack (delicious!). It is also next to the East Sands Leisure Centre. The Leisure Centre has a lovely, good sized, gated ‘baby’ swimming pool suitable for small children. There is also a flume and a separate larger pool. https://www.fifeleisure.org.uk/locations/eastsands/
Elie Beach: If you fancy a little drive, Elie beach will not disappoint. A twenty minute scenic drive either along the coast or over the Fife countryside, it’s perfect day trip for little kids (kids of all ages to be honest!) With almost a mile of clean, uninterrupted sand, the water is shallow enough to have a lovely paddle. In the summer there are little stalls selling beach accessories, not to mention many cute shops on the High Street selling nets for rock pooling, buckets, spades and bats and balls etc. The famous Ship Inn sells amazing seafood and other fare, you can sit out at the large child friendly beer garden and enjoy a barbq in the summer. The bar area also welcomes kids if the weather isn’t so great. There is a watersports centre but this is maybe better suited to older kids. The Pavillion or ‘Pav’ is also a good destination with little ones – there is a play park and a café selling lovely food and local ice cream.
St Andrews Botanic Gardens
The St Andrews Botanic Gardens is a real hidden gem. Situated in The Cannogate, the gardens are vast with lots of room for little feet to run around. There is a Tropical Butterfly Experience – where children will be in awe of all the butterflies as they happily land on their shoulders and heads! (under 3s are free, everyone else £2.95 a head). During school holiday periods, the gardens also run a Holiday club from 8.45am – 3pm with fun outdoor activities including, planting, den building, rock pooling, outdoor art, campfires and more – these do need to be prebooked in advance on their website though. Fear not, if you don’t get a spot – there are drop in sessions during the holidays between 12 and 2pm which run craft activities (and they are free with your entrance ticket). There is free onsite car parking and the gardens are very accessible with most parts able to be accessed by wheelchairs.
Open all year round except 24/12 – 24/01 when they close for maintenance
Entrance £6 per adult, under 18s are free.
To help you choose the perfect ‘home away from home’ for you and your family, below you will find all our most suitable properties which have secure gardens, private parking and all set on one level