There are lots of things you can do either in Helensburgh and the surrounding area or a short distance away. The town has a number of independent stores and lots of restaurants and take-out food on your doorstep.
In addition, there are regular markets which run in the square with a variety of craft goods, seasonal and local food items, and clothing. There is often live music too.
Charles Rennie McIntosh is a world-renowned architect and designer. Many people visit Helensburgh specifically to visit Helensburgh’s Iconic Hill House designed inside and out by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald at the start of the twentieth century.
Less well known is the McIntosh Club in Sinclair St only a few minutes’ walk from the flat. With its talks, exhibitions and other events it is well worth a look.
In Glasgow, only 50 minutes by train from Helensburgh, whilst the iconic Glasgow School of Art suffered a catastrophic fire in June 2018, the McIntosh Church at Queens Cross is worth a visit, it is the only church ever designed by him and includes an exhibition of photographs of the Art School.
Alternatively, on the South side of Glasgow near the motorway is House for and Art Lover, originally designed by McIntosh as an elegant country retreat for a competition, the designs were later interpreted and realised to create this iconic building within Bellhouston Park.
Lastly, you could visit the Willow Tearoom in Sauchiehall Street modelled on Kate Cranston’s Ingram St Tearoom designed by Charles Rennie McIntosh and George Walton, who at the time were relatively unknown designers. The tearoom also features a gesso panel by Dai and Jenny Vaughan in the Salon de Luxe on the first floor replicated from the original held in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
If architecture is of interest, there are a number of other buildings locally also with architectural significance in the area including a number by Greek Thomson.
If gardens are your taste, we would recommend Glenarn Gardens in Rhu which lies at the West end of Helensburgh. Best in the spring when the rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolia are in bloom, but of interest throughout the summer.
There is choice of Botanic gardens nearby. Take a trip to Glasgow to see the Botanic Gardens with their magnificent Glasshouses in the West End or drive out to Benmore Botanic Gardens near Dunoon.
Geilston Gardens are a 200-year-old garden at Cardross are a short drive away with their well-stocked walled garden, kitchen garden and the wilder area around Geilston Burn.
Less well known is the Linn Garden in Cove, due to reopen, hopefully soon, with an incredible plant collection from all over the world the gardens feature over 4,000 species.
Helensburgh and Loch Lomond also have a generous share of wonderful parks and walks:
Hermitage Park in Helensburgh features formal gardens shrubbery and a large recently developed play area and a pavilion restaurant or tearoom.
There is also a large playground at Kidston Park which is set right on the front of the town.
Duchess Woods is a community woodland designated as a local nature reserve with a circular path.
Ardmore Point offers a circular walk alongside the seashore for much of its length and the recently improved paths give visitors the opportunity to view the various sea birds and seals which often come to bask on the rocks.
Like to visit the theatre or cinema while you are on holiday? Helensburgh can meet that need.
The Tower shows up a wide variety of new and iconic films and also streams operas, musical performances and ballets.
There is a Submarine Museum adjacent to the Tower and The Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton includes the Denny Ship Model Experimental Tank.
The Tall Ship in Glasgow “The Glenlee” is a three masted barque launched in 1896 and restored by the Clyde Maritime Trust.
Adjacent to the Tall ship is The Riverside Museum in Glasgow which hosts the cities transport exhibits from trams to trains, vintage cars and carriages, and you can walk down a vintage city street.
The Glasgow Science Centre also offers a great day out for all the family.
Glasgow features many other museums and temporary exhibits from the Art Gallery and Museum at Kelvingrove to the National Trust run Tenement House and the Peoples Palace at Glasgow Green.
The amazing thing about the museums in Glasgow is that those run by the council are free (although there is often a charge for car parking). Check glasgowlife,org.uk for details of museums where free admission is available.
Ideal for families Helensburgh has its own new leisure centre with a swimming pool and a gym. It lies a few minutes from the flat adjacent to the pier.
Rhu Marina has 1 to 4 hour boat trips including trips round the Sugar Boat and along the shore where is there is chance, you’ll see local wildlife such as seals, seabirds, porpoises and occasionally dolphins.
Explore Loch Lomond with a Sweeney Cruise up Loch Lomond, or board the water bus at Luss or one of the other boarding spots. There is paddle boarding and canoeing and other water sports also available…
If you take the family on a day out to Loch Lomond you could visit the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre to meet Orla and Scout, their Golden Eagles, look round the sea life centre, take part in Crazy golf, or try out Tree Zone’s zip wire.
If you visit the conservation village of Luss famous as a setting for the TV drama, Take the High Road you may also want to take the Faerie Walk to see the various Faerrie dwellings and other features. In any case, you will be sure to find something to appeal to families and other visitors.
Of course, Scotland is home to Golf. Helensburgh Golf Club is open to visitors or drive a little further to the Vale of Leven Golf Club or Cardross Golf Club. There are also Championship Golf Courses at the Carrick Golf Course set on Loch Lomond.
If walking is more your line, then Helensburgh sits at the end of the John Muir Way which stretches 134 miles across Scotland to the East Coast. It also sits on the Three Lochs Way a walk from Balloch to Ardlui via Helensburgh, and Arrochar as well as lots of shorter trails.
One popular walk runs up past the Hill House at the top of Helensburgh over the hill dropping down into Rhu, and you can complete the loop by walking back along the front into Helensburgh, you can even stop off at the Rhu café at the entrance of the Marina, before you head back to town.
For the more adventurous climber the Arrochar Alps and the various mountains around Loch Lomond offer lots of options and of course the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is only a few miles away with Conic Hill (part of the West Highland Way), the walk at Cashel, or Inchcailloch Island all with superb views, in fact you will be spoilt for choice.
Check out walkhighlands.com for details of terrain, and remember to ensure you walk safely. Weather changes can come in very quickly so check first, plan a walk that is appropriate for your fitness and experience take a map and compass, layers of clothing and waterproofs, appropriate footwear and such equipment, food and drink as you are likely to need. You can access the wilderness within a very short distance, so do be prepared.
If you have brought your car and want to travel a little further try the Clyde Sea Loch Trail, you will see panels on the East Bay in Helensburgh and on the Western Promenade, but can follow the trail from Dumbarton Castle, through Cardross, the Ardmore Peninsula and through Helensburgh to Garelochhead and on to Arrochar.
Or simply head North up Loch Lomond and you will reach Glencoe which is probably Scotland’s most famous Glen with its rich history and impressive scenery, the nearby Glen Etive is a good place to see the iconic red deer and perhaps even a golden eagle.
Visit nts.org.uk for wildlife spotters guides in the various areas. Perhaps you have a Castle on your to do list? If so, Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles and commands superb views as well as being very accessible. The Wallace Monument lies near Stirling, commemorating Sir William Wallace who many know through the Braveheart film.
You might also want to visit the Blair Drummond Safari Park nearby. In fact, we could go on all day with ideas of places to visit and things to do… Including a day out by train to Edinburgh direct from Helensburgh, or from Helensburgh upper station you can head north and west to Fort William, and Ben Nevis or connect to the Jacobite Steam Train best known from the Harry Potter films. Whatever you do, we hope you have a wonderful time and come back and visit us soon.