Wondering about things to do while you're visiting Dumfries and Galloway? There are activities galore! From alpaca trekking to wild swimming in hidden burns; ice cream workshops to sailing on Loch Ken; hikes, walks, bike trails, gardens to visit, golf to play.
The ideas here below are checked to the best of our ability but with the Covid situation ever-changing we do STRONGLY RECOMMEND you check all activities before you go in case advance booking is required, opening hours and/or days may have changed.
Family Days Out
All ages will enjoy sampling fantastic organic ice cream at Cream o Galloway. This is a great day out for the whole family – they have new exciting adventures on offer in light of the current situation with Covid, but who doesn’t like ice cream, really!
Chocolate lovers won’t want to miss The Cocoabean Factory in Twynholm which offers a range of chocolate making classes for old and young alike.
Drive a little further to Dumfries and let the kids burn off excess energy at Dalscone. Another option further out of town is Mabie Farm Park. Animals, an Indoor Playbarn, outdoor grass sledging, pedal go karts and a boating pond will easily fill a day’s activities.
Just in case it rains, there’s a swimming pool and a community-run cinema in Newton Stewart, just 10 minutes down the road.
We are ideally situated on the South West Coastal 300 – this route of over 300 miles runs through the Galloway Forest Park and continues through Wigtown, around the Machars peninsula, then the Rhins Peninsula and on to Ayrshire. Great for exploring by car, bike or on foot. Or why not set a challenge and hike the Merrick, southern Scotland's highest summit?
Or you can walk part of the Whithorn Way, a 1600-year old pilgrimmage route.
Gardens, National Trust & Wildlife
Southwest Scotland has some amazing gardens and nurseries to visit and enjoy. Logan Botanic Garden is not to be missed. The almost sub-tropical climate allows southern hemisphere plants to flourish. There’s also the beautiful Glenwhan Gardens lovingly created over 25 years from nothing and a real gem to visit. Near Gatehouse of Fleet is Cally Gardens. A walled garden and nursery created by a nurseryman with the eye of an artist – and the spirit of an adventurer.
At Castle Douglas there is the National Trust for Scotland’s Threave Garden and Estate. This is a great one for families of all ages too. The gardens have children’s trail and there's a new 10 station trim trail to try out from the car park. Sadly the ruins of Threave Castle are currently closed owning to coronavirus, but check Historic Scotland for updates.
Theatre & Festivals
The wonderful Swallow Theatre offers a chance to see performers in a wonderful intimate setting – with 48 seats, this is surely Scotland’s smallest theatre.
Every September Wigtown comes alive with its annual Book Festival. The famous and infamous come to this intimate festival to talk about their books - its a wonderful opportunity to get close to your favourite authors. The town's own author and book seller, Shaun Bythell launched his debut Diary of a Bookseller at the Festival based on his time as owner of The Book Shop, directly opposite the house.
In May, Spring Fling, is a creative arts festival allowing access to artists' workspaces and providing insight into the creative process.
Scotland's only Dark Skies Park is a great place to visit through the winter with marvellous crisp nights to see stars and planets in skies free from light pollution.
The Kirkcudbright Dark Space Planetarium opened over the summer and 40 minutes in the car will put you in the middle of space at this new visitor attraction at the heart of Galloway.
Golf & Fish
While Southwest Scotland may not be best known for its golf courses there are still plenty to choose from. There’s a 9-hole golf course just 500m from the front door! A short 10 minutes in the car will put you on the links of St Medan’s, nestled along the picturesque coast of Luce Bay. Only 12 km down the road Newton Stewart offers an 18-hole parkland course and further afield is the Wigtownshire County course, another 18-hole course and a favourite for holiday golfers. Portpatrick Dunskey offers two courses (18-hole and a 9-hole) plus truly spectacular views and is rated among Scotland’s Top 100 courses.
Keen anglers may fancy trying their luck on the local River Bladnoch, or venture 11km into Newton Stewart to fish on the River Cree. Both offer salmon and trout fishing. Fishing for rainbow or brown trout on the Black Loch is also available. Permits obtainable from Galloway Angling Centre.