Art and culture, food and drink, entertainment and shopping – there are lots of reasons to visit Edinburgh. While you may long to spend hours surveying the works on display at a host of art galleries or enjoying some seafood and a glass of champagne, if you have kids in tow that might not be an option. For family visits to Edinburgh you’ll want to find activities that will amuse the kids as well as the adults.
National Museum of Scotland - Animals — Photo courtesy of subberculture
Your first port of call, suitable whatever the weather, should be the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. This fantastic museum has been recently renovated and it is extremely kid friendly. There are science experiments to try, a racing car to drive, buttons to press that bring trains and engines to life and a whole lot more. If you have very young kids there is a great room near the big clock that has musical instruments and play areas. The museum can provide hours of fun for the whole family.
A fun mystery for your budding detectives to solve can be found at Gilmerton Cove. This series of hand-carved chambers and tunnels is an interesting attraction for the whole family. You need to book the hour long tour in advance and it’s a short trip out of the city center. Older children will love descending into this mysterious lair and exploring with a torch.
If the weather is fine then you should head for the Royal Botanic Gardens. This is one of the most beautiful outdoor spots in Edinburgh featuring an amazing array of plant life. It is a fantastic location for a picnic and kids will love exploring the intricate paths and discovering waterfalls and strange and exotic trees and flowers. Make sure to take some bread with you so your little ones can feed the ducks and swans in the pond. You will sometimes find child friendly activities in the main building.
Princes Street Gardens is another great location for sunny days. There’s a play park at the west end with an old-fashioned merry-go-round and ice cream stalls. If you take the path round the back of the stage towards the castle then you’ll find the railway bridge. This is a hot spot for train loving youngsters as they can wave at the train drivers passing beneath as they come in and out of Waverley Station. The friendly ones will wave back and toot their horns, which never fails to delight the children.
If you need an indoor location and you want your children to let off a little steam and jump around for an hour or two then try out Time Twisters. This large indoor soft play centre caters for kids of all ages. It has an ancient Egyptian theme to capture their imaginations and there’s plenty of comfy seating and refreshments for adults. It is located at Sighthill which isn’t walking distance from the city center but you can easily get there by bus, taxi or car. It is best to phone in advance just to make sure they are open.
You could combine a great indoor and outdoor activity if you visit Dynamic Earth which is on Holyrood Road. They have a range of educational science activities and movies. It’s probably best suited for slightly older children with an interest in things like volcanoes. When you come out head into Holyrood Park and explore the crags or scale Arthur’s Seat for a terrific view of the city.
As you can see there are plenty of great places to take the kids in Edinburgh.