Family days out in Edinburgh & The Lothians

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  • A mother and child examine an acrigultural exhibit at the Almond Valley Heritage Centre
    Almond Valley Heritage Centre, West Lothian
  • A family at the edge of the loch at Beecraigs Country Park, near Linlithgow
    The loch at Beecraigs Country Park, near Linlithgow, West Lothian
  • The main gallery of the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
    The main gallery of the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • A group take a tour of the Scottish Mining Museum
    The Scottish Mining Museum, Newtongrange, Midlothian
  • Edinburgh Zoo's female panda Tian Tian © David Fu, photographer
    Edinburgh Zoo's female panda Tian Tian © David Fu, photographer

From castles and fascinating museums to country parks, gardens and much more, come and explore the excellent range of activities for the whole family across Edinburgh & The Lothians. Enjoy a day out in the city, or head into the country and discover the great outdoors.

Attractions

The fascinating displays at the National Museum of Scotland on Edinburgh’s Chambers Street will have both children and adults mesmerised for hours. Discover the natural world and explore cultures from around the globe, as well as Scotland’s story.

For a great slice of history, as well as fantastic views across the city, take a trip to Edinburgh Castle where you’ll find everything from Scotland’s crown jewels to the One O’Clock Gun. From the castle, walk about half-way down the historic Royal Mile to the Real Mary King’s Close, one of the city’s spookiest attractions. Investigate the fascinating series of underground passages with an eerie tour guide dressed as a former resident of the street and uncover the dark secrets the passages hold.

The Edinburgh Dungeon on Market Street near Waverley Station is also well worth a visit. Travel back in time and meet some of Scotland’s most famous, and infamous, characters. If you survive meeting body snatchers Burke and Hare and the cannibal Sawney Bean and his hungry family, you can visit the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions which has entertained visitors with its marvellous optical illusions since the Victorian period.

Our Dynamic Earth allows you to travel back to the beginning of our planet and watch the Big Bang from the Hubble Telescope. Witness a tropical rain storm and feel the heat of a bubbling volcano ready to erupt as the museum takes you through 15,000 million years of Earth’s history up to the present day.

Another popular attraction with families is Edinburgh Zoo where the daily penguin parade and Scotland’s very own pandas are just two of the exotic species on show.

In East Lothian, the National Museum of Flight features a wonderful collection of aircraft including Concorde and there are also some marvelous castles to explore such as the charming Dirleton Castle and the breathtaking Tantallon Castle, which is perched on the cliffs above the Firth of Forth.

Step back in time in Midlothian with a visit to the National Mining Museum at Newtongrange and find out what life was like for the miners who worked there. If you're brave enough, go and meet a wide variety of creepy crawlies and tropical butterflies at Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World in Lasswade.  

Country parks and gardens

Take the whole family for a fantastic free day out at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, where you can spend hours of fun exploring the grounds and discovering rare and beautiful plants and trees. There’s a packed programme of educational events throughout the year too which includes bird feeding days and arts and crafts.

If you fancy getting active, visit Beecraigs Country Park in West Lothian and try your hand at archery or take a boat trip out on the loch. A short distance away lies Almondell & Calderwood Country Park which includes beautiful woodland and riverside walks and a heritage centre packed with interesting exhibits.

Browse the listings for more family day out ideas across Edinburgh & The Lothians.

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  1. Randolph Gallery

    Type

    Galleries

    Gradings

    Edinburgh

    The Randolph Gallery was established in Edinburgh in 1996 by Margaret Bruce and Alan Renfrew and promotes the work of leading contemporary realist and surrealist painters.

  2. George Heriot's Trust - Historic Building

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    One of the historic landmarks of the city of Edinburgh.

  3. Gradings

    • 4 Visitor Attraction
    4 Visitor Attraction

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    The Scottish National Gallery is one of Scotland’s top free visitor attractions. It houses Scotland’s national collection of fine art from the early Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century.

  4. Musselburgh Museum

    Type

    Museums

    Gradings

    Musselburgh

    Welcome to Musselburgh Museum

  5. Royal Highland Show

    Type

    Wildlife, Safari Parks & Zoos

    Gradings

    Edinburgh Airport

    World class Show of cattle, light horse and heavy horse, sheep, goats, poultry. The largest display of agricultural machinery in the UK, a Forestry arena with competitions and demonstrations, Countryside Arena and a massive Food & Drink Hall.

  6. Venturing Out

    Type

    Multi-activity Centre

    Gradings

    East Lothian

    If you are holidaying in the Lothian’s and are looking for fun activities for all the family then you may wish to try kayaking, canoeing, sea kayaking, mountain biking, trail cycling, rock climbing, abseiling, bushcraft or hill walking.

  7. Red Moss Of Balerno

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Penicuik

    The Red Moss of Balerno is one of only twenty raised peat bogs still surviving in the Lothians.

  8. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

    Type

    Parks & Gardens

    Gradings

    • 5 Garden
    5 Garden

    Edinburgh

    Just one mile from city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers visitors peace and tranquillity amongst 72 acres of stunning scenery.

  9. Edinburgh Zoo

    Type

    Wildlife, Safari Parks & Zoos

    Gradings

    • 4 Visitor Attraction
    4 Visitor Attraction

    Edinburgh

    The wildest visitor attraction in Scotland. Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 1,000 rare and beautiful animals from around the world and home to the UK's only giant pandas and koalas.

  10. Bennie Museum

    Type

    Museums

    Gradings

    • 3 Museum
    3 Museum

    Bathgate

    The Bennie Museum opened in 1989 as a museum of Bathgate's history and life.

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