Midlothian is a predominantly rural area, and also one of the hilliest parts of the Central Lowlands, its boundaries marked out by the Pentland chain to the west, and the Moorfoots to the south.
Though rural, the region was also heavily mined in the past and former mining communities are dotted throughout the area. One of these, is Newtongrange, whose Lady Victoria Colliery is now open to the public as the Scottish Mining Museum with a 1625-foot shaft, and a winding tower powered by Scotlands largest steam engine. A great place for kids, the visitor centre brings the mine and the local community to life with 'magic helmets', which enable you to go on shift and experience a virtual-reality tour of life below ground.
If open spaces are preferred, then head for Dalkeith Country Park. Robert Adams Montagu Bridge straddles the River North Esk here in a graceful arch while beyond are some derelict but once wonderfully grandiose garden follies. There is also a large woodland playground, suitable for all but the youngest children. This unique, semi-natural woodland is also the home to deer, foxes and myriad smaller birds, animals and insects.
For wildlife of a different kind, head south along the A7 from Edinburgh and visit the Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World in Lasswade. This is one of Midlothian's most popular attractions where you can stroll through an exotic rainforest as you watch hundreds of the world's most spectacular butterflies flying around you. You can also see live scorpions, tarantulas, ants and other remarkable insects.
Midlothian's primary attraction however can be found in the otherwise unremarkable village of Roslin, some 7 miles south of Edinburgh city centre. Here you'll find the mysterious, richly decorated late-Gothic Rosslyn Chapel, which featured prominently In the blockbuster film and book, 'The Da Vinci Code'.