So...when i try to find reviews on places in Aberdeen, I never get very far and thought i might be nice to have the low down from people in the know.
About places big and small! The more, the merrier!!
Last weekend, DH and I went to Queens Links for breakfast before a beach walk and cinema. Had food in Inversnecky cafe, then went next door to Washington Cafe for hot chocolates.
Looking at their menus, Inversnecky was WAY more expensive AND their service was poor in comparison. Yes, they were busy, but waitresses would walk past seeing our empty plates and not clear them. DH had a cheesburger and chips which was nearly £7 and had a crappy pattie done from frozen. Considering you can get a better burger from the burger vans around (check out the 'brewster burger' at Kittybrewster retail park.) Also, my baked potato was small despite being nearly £6 and came cmplete with dark thick hair!
My vote would be for Rusticos on Union Row. It is a very friendly Italian, the staff are smiley and happy, they will do a smaller portion for kids and they treat the kids like royalty. The service is fairly fast if you are in a small party but slower if there are loads of you. The food is delicious and the profiteroles are exceptional IMHO
I would also vote for Jewel in the Crown on Crown St. It's a fantastic Indian. They don't have a veggie menu but will make most of their dishes as a vegetable one if you ask. The service is friendly and reasonably paced. They also welcome children and treat them well - make a little fuss of them and make them feel special which is always fun. They are happy for the children just to share from your choices as their portions are generous.
Great idea for a thread - I have put it on my watched list.
Storybook Glen is a bit run down and quite expensive tbh. If they are very young they don't notice but the older ones are not that impressed. If you are going out of town then The Soft Bear Play Centre is great for dcs that age. It has a cafe, a soft play area with slides, tube slides and tunnels and an area where they can fire soft sponge balls at each other. It also has a separate soft play section for tiny tots (prob 2 and under). It is in Strachan, just through the village a bit on the right. The cafe isn't glamorous but perfectly pleasant. You can go in and climb around or sit and read while you have a coffee. Balmedie is lovely but will be freezing just now. There is a play centre called Hoodles just outside Old Meldrum too which has an excellent cafe and a great soft play section too. There is a Ceramic painting place at the bottom of Pitstruan Place (does that go on to Broomhill Rd?) I have never been but I am told it is good. My favourite place is Crathes Castle though. They have an outdoor adventure playground - messy but fun, a nice cafe and lovely forest walks. There is also Satrosphere which is a bit pricey but is filled with hands on machines and gadgets for the dcs to "experiment" with. It depends on the dcs though - some could spend a whole afternoon there and some are fed up after half an hour. It is tucked away near the beach boulevard so there are lots of fun things to go on and do afterwards. eg crazy golf, bowling, dodgems etc.
We like the Sand Dollar at the beach - not been for ages, but great. Also regulars at Crathes - park at the bottom, walk up, reward with a cuppa, then back down. The dc (7 and 4) recently found a way into the rhoddedendron bushes opp the castle and LOVED them!
Drum is fabulous too - there's a walk there behind the playpark through the 100 acre wood - we love it! Just the right length. We would go out to Crathes and Drum v regularly.
I like Beautiful Mountain on Belmont St - very nice food and coffee.
Cinema followed by kids dinner at Chiquitos (either beach or US - fabulous children's menu.)
If you're heading out of town we also love Glen Tanar at Aboyne - and the best coffee/gift shop in Aboyne, "The Sign of the Black Faced Sheep" - it's beside the dentist iirc (parallel to main Aberdeen road).
Drum Castle - National Trust. Head out towards Banchory and it's the castle before Crathes. The 100 acre wood walk is behind the playpark (which is just beyond the carpark. Playpark is perfect for picnics as it's got its own wood to explore!)
The Belmont does a kids cinema club on a Saturday morning. It costs £3 for each child and adults are free. The do a craft activity at the front beneath the screen before the film begins. There are no adverts either and the snack shop is less of a draw than the beach or Union Square. FFIW The Sign of the Black Faced Sheep is a lovely cafe and gift shop but they are not keen on babies in there. I went with a friend when my dd was still in a carry car seat and we got a very hostile welcome. I have since learned that they don't encourage babies or small children at all. If people are looking for child friendly walks there are lovely ones at Cambus O'May. Head to Ballater and just after the Cambus O'May hotel there is a phone box on the right and then a road up to a car park. There are different coloured walks with coloured sign posts around them which dcs love looking for. There are also lots of sign posts which fold out of posts which tell you all about the landscape, wildlife etc along the way. There are LOADS of ant hills so you can watch the ants busy at work on them and there are usually toads in the ponds. There are sometimes ducks as well. There is a lovely little cafe called the Cranach beside the road up to the car park which has tables in it garden and a swing etc for the dcs as well as tables and loos inside. The menu is small but very interesting and they are happy to adapt things to suit dcs. They also have a small gift selection and sell homemade bread etc. (and there is a great toy shop in Ballater if you want to go a couple of miles further out of town )
BTW I second Glen Tanar. On a hot day take what we call "River Shoes" (ie shoes you are happy for the dcs to wander into a river in) and they can paddle in the shallow parts of the river. (older dcs obviously) There is a bridge on the left, just before the Cambus o'May walks I was talking about called Cambus o'May Suspension bridge. There is a small parking area there and a white metal bridge which you can cross. There are areas we have used for picnics there and older dcs can, again, paddle in the river. When we were there last year, some adults and teenagers were swimming right across the river. All along the river there is a pathway on the old railway line that is great for walking or cycling. It is not great for dogs though as it is close to the road in some places.
This information is like finding gold!!!! Thanks guys! I had friends up last week who wanted to see a scottish castle so i headed to drum and crathes (easy as they're on the same road!) no kids, just adults so we didnt brave the 100acre wood as it was mega freezing! drum castle was losed, but we had a lovely time at crathes...so thank you peeps!
Im sure everyone knows about this, but thought i'd just mention...does everyone have a spree book? (totally worth it!)
right, where are your nice cafes? - in aberdeen- but not the beach (i think we've covered there!) i LOVE vanilla fudge cafe in bridge of don. it's located next door to curves off jesmond drive and does an AWESOME meze platter with homemande humous. i'm looking for new places to try with hubby for a nice lunch, with options other than greasy food!
It is the Bridge of Feugh Waswondering. There is a little cafe called Falls of Feugh and a public car park opposite it. Then it is a 2 minute walk to the metal footbridge to see the "waterfall" (for waterfall read very very choppy water) and at the right time of year there are salmon jumping. It is really beautiful.
I walked around Scolty the week. The yellow walk would be manageable by a wee toot. I did the red one and it took me an hour and I am a total slow coach.
If you climb up the hill there is a tower that always appeals to the dcs. It is not far but it is steep. There are also adders so watch the dogs.
As for cafes in Aberdeen have you been down to the green? There are nice little cafes down there eg Cafe 52 and Cafe Verde. Not been there for ages though and never been with dcs. Dh recommends The Carmelite for nice lunches or posh evening meals (just off Guild St - between there and the Green). He is not sure if it is child friendly though. He also says Dizzy's on, he thinks, Carden Place is good for a pub lunch - never been there myself. The Dutch Mill on Queens Rd is good for a pub lunch and great with dcs - not posh food but pub grub done well enough.
A fabulous walk is Burn O'Vat. Head out for Ballater and just after Dinnet there are signs up to the right for it. It has toilets at the car park. The walks are manageable for young dcs. There is a trickier little path through two massive rocks very close together that leads into a large interior (but open air) cavern which very often has a waterfall running down it. It is not part of the walk, it is just a stunning diversion enroute - only for the firm footed though and you might get wet feet. The walk itself heads off up a little hill (very little) and then along the edge of a steep ledge and then up to a view point that looks out over Loch Kinnord. It is stunning. It then heads down the hill again with some interesting posts and things sticking out of the ground that the dcs like climbing on. You could do the whole walk in 30mins if you wanted to or take ages if you potter in the river etc. Then you can go to the Victoria Tea Rooms in Dinnet to replenish lost calories
The stretch of path across the road from the tea rooms, to the right, is great for young dcs to cycle on.