I was going to do a castle that was closer to home but, as this one is having a few events, I'm recommending it a little earlier.
Photo: Historic Scotland website
What To Look For At The Site And Who It's Suited For:
Linlithgow Palace, home to the Stewarts, is in a remarkably majestic state despite it's ruined status. It served as a nursery for James V, Mary Queen of Scots, and Princess Elizabeth and there is a neat timeline of royalty on the wall as you walk up the hill to the site. (There is a parking lot off to the left if you turn up towards the castle past the fountain in the square of the town--it's a little hard to find or you can also drive all the way up to the palace even though it seems like you shouldn't.) The name Linlithgow means 'loch in the damp hollow'. The palace, set in the middle of Linlithgow town on a beautiful loch, is a sight worth seeing twice. There are so many fine details that still survive today and the views from the utmost heights are truly majestic. I wouldn't know, as I won't go that high up. But here's a picture to prove it that Adam took.
This place is a little harder to keep up with small children in as there are many many many staircases and some of them are quite steep but as long as you're holding tight to your toddler's hand, this place is awesome. Not only is the palace and kirk next door to some of the most beautiful here in Scotland, but there is a loch surrounding it with paths and play structures along the way. We even went down to the one little main street and got an ice cream. It's just a lovely place and there's something for everyone.
Gift Shop/Tea Room/Restaurant/Toilet Availability:
There is a fairly nice little gift shop, no tea room or restaurant, but yes to toilets
Site's Affiliations And Costs:
This site belongs to Historic Scotland. Adult £5.20, Child £2.60, Concession £4.20 and free to members.
Summer: April 1st through September30th all week 9:30-5:30
Winter: October 1st through March 31st all week 9:30 to 4:30
Location/Time It Takes To Get There:
Linlithgow is a perfect half an hour in between Edinburgh and Stirling, that is, it takes a half hour to get there from either direction. You most likely won't be coming straight from Aberdeen to Linlithgow but if you were it would take you roughly two and a half hours going south on mostly the A90.
For More Information:
Please consider visiting the Historic Scotland website and look up Linlithgow under places to visit.
Places To Visit Nearby:
Stirling Castle and William Wallace's Monument are half an hour away, and Edinburgh itself is another half an hour down the road. Too many places to mention here.
I'm adding this one this week as my whole reason for switching over from shire castles to castles of the southern persuasion is because Linlithgow Palace is having a jousting competition in the beginning of July, which you should all get tickets for post haste.
Photo and below excerpt from Historic Scotland Linlithgow page.
To the sound of fanfares, the Knights will enter the arena before staging an amazing display of skill and daring. See how the Scottish knight fares against his opponents! A full supporting programme will be staged throughout the afternoon making this a great value day out.
12.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. with main jousting shows at 1.30 p.m. and 3.15 p.m.
We strongly recommend buying tickets in advance to beat the queues.
Family tickets available on the day, or buy online in advance from 1 April to beat the queues and save 10% at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shop.
Park and ride available.
Linlithgow Palace, July 3rd and 4th and July 10th and 11th