If you’re from, or visiting Fife, and, like me, you’re sick to death of taking your kids to soft play centres, with their overpricing, sticky carpets, lack of mute button and terrible, terrible food, then the below list is for you. I’ve explored a fair amount in Fife with my two children (5 and 2) and can vouch for the fact there’s so much to do. Sometimes we can all feel like we do the same things with our kids so I thought it would be nice to note down what I think are some ‘hidden gems’.
Before you read on I’d like to note that none of the companies listed have paid me anything in return for the high praise I’m about to bestow on them. I just really like them and it’s nice to spread the word when you discover something fun to do with the kids.
- The Royal Burgh of Culross. This is my childhood village and my parents still live in the area so I’ve a real soft spot for it. You can spend a whole day here and then some as there is so much to do. Firstly there’s a ton of historical sites that will interest you grown-ups (especially if you’re an Outlander fan), beautiful houses, a pier and seaside walk, whilst also serving as good ‘explores’ (as I like to call them), for the kids. There’s the Abbey and grounds, the Palace, The Study, the Mercat Cross and all the beautiful little cobbled streets and crooked paths. On top of that in the last few years they have completed a total overhaul of the sad little park that was my stomping ground as a wee one and what’s there now is just brilliant. There’s an abundance of picnic benches, or if you fancy eating out you should definitely make a trip to the Red Lion (site of my very first job – this place paid for many a night out I’d like to add, so I owe them) for a top notch bar lunch. Otherwise we also like The Biscuit Café . A great range of choices to suit whatever mood you’re in.
- If you’re looking for a nice place to go with the kids for lunch or just a little bit of coffee and cake then I can’t recommend the Peppermill Bothy highly enough. This is a small, family run café and tea room that serves great food, AMAZING cakes (the only small criticism, if it is one, is that they’re too big – the cakes that is, not the family and not the café ;)) and is genuinely child friendly. By this I don’t mean that they offer kids food and give you a colouring in sheet, they have foregone what could be another restaurant table for a kids corner which has a great range of toys, puzzles, colouring and reading books. Plus the choice of kids food is actually exciting for little ones – they can have peanut butter on toast, mini breakfasts, or a great little platter which involves a ‘sweet treat’ – so the kids get their own cake and you can keep yours to yourself 😉 The ladies who run the place are so friendly too and nothing is too much trouble. This is definitely one of my favourite haunts.
- Little World of Play. A great imaginative play centre on the outskirts of Dunfermline. It does have a *gulp* soft-play. However the real pull is the little world. A small version of your average town with mini versions of the likes of the supermarket, police station, fire station, hairdresser, vet, building site and even a theatre. Perfect for holding the imagination of little ones up to the age of 8. What I especially love about Little World is that they have set play session which you can pre-book so you can rest easy that it’s not ever going to be overcrowded. Again it’s a family run business which always gets a thumbs up from me. The couple who run the business are always there and always happy to chat, and the rest of the team are just lovely too. It’s really worth the money for a brilliant two hour play session.
- Ceramic Café. A paint your own pottery studio with a café and small soft play.We’ve decorated many a gift here and I love that on the days where you don’t want (or in my case can’t afford) to do some painting you’re completely welcome in the café and soft play. I’d say this is best suited to those up to the age of 5, especially if you’re just going to the café/soft play. Tom has loved it here but I can tell now that he’s outgrown it, so I reserve my trips for when I’m with little lump on her own.
- Pittencrief Park. Not really a ‘hidden’ gem as it occupies 76 acres of grounds in the middle of Dunfermline, the glen, as us Dunfermliners? Dunfermlinites? Toonies? affectionately call it, but it had to be included due to the many hidden nooks that some locals may not know about. Gifted to the people of Dunfermline by Andrew Carnegie, the grounds include 3 play parks, greenhouses and beautiful woodland walks that my kids love to explore as well a museum and the Peacock Rooms café. Don’t forget to bring a bag of nuts to feed the many squirrels you’ll see on route.
- Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries is well worth a visit. It only opened in May 2017 and not only are the building and grounds themselves completely stunning, they house a TON of things to do, including a museum, exhibition galleries, a reading room, a children’s library and of course a café (perhaps you’ll have noticed a theme here….there must always be access to coffee and cake;) )
- Townhill. I’m biased because this is my village, but I genuinely think Townhill is a hidden gem in West Fife. It lies just on the outskirts of Dunfermline and has so much to entertain kids and adults alike. With a beautiful loch, home of the Scottish Waterski Centre and the loch café where you can purchase, yes, you’ve guessed it…coffee and cake 🙂 it is also home to many a duck and swan which the kids will love. If you’re like me, you’ll give the swans a wide berth whilst cheerfully telling your kids to run like the wind. A short walk from the loch is the park area. A lot of investment has gone into this in recent years and it’s just great for the whole family, with a football pitch, playpark, storytelling corner, mining heritage garden, tennis court, exercise corner and even a cycle training area for the kids. Away from the park area you can also find some great woodland walks. While you’re there, get the kids to keep their eyes open for the many wooden carved animals around the village.
- Cairnie Fruit Farm and Mega Maze. With a farm shop, pick your own berries, tea (or COFFEE in my case) room and the Mega Maze, sown in actual maize each year and extending over 6 acres, as well as a funyard, this is a great day out. Check out the pictures of the 2017 Darth Vadar Maze – who wouldn’t want to take this on?
- Muddy Boots. This is one of my favourite farm shops and outdoor play centres as it’s so reasonably priced and the café is great, and for those with smaller children (like me) it’s a nice size, not too big and usually not too busy. It has all the usual outdoorsy fun – jumping pillows, go-carts, sand pits, slides as well as an indoor barn for wet weather days. Hurrah!
- Kinghorn. We only visited here for the first time recently, despite it being right on our doorstep and we had a great afternoon out. A small coastal town with 2 beautiful little beaches that didn’t have a soul on them, though that could be because we didn’t actually make it out the house till 3pm, but you know, it be tough with kids! It’s an ancient settlement so has the same ‘old’ feel that Culross has, with it’s cobbles and beautiful old houses. The kids will have a ball exploring the beach and surrounds and you can chill and take in the beautiful view. Bliss.
I hope this little list of mine has caught your interest. If you’re coming to Fife for a visit maybe you’ll fancy trying some of the places on here which you may not have known about. If you’re local maybe there’s somewhere new on here? Or maybe you’re shaking your fist at your screen in frustration because I’ve missed something amazing?? Share with me, leave a comment if you can and we can see about expanding the list 🙂