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. Lennoxlove House

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    • 4 Historic House
    4 Historic House

    Haddington

    Home of the Duke of Hamilton, dating from 14th century.

  2. Trinity House Maritime Museum

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    Edinburgh

    An outstanding collection of maritime memorabilia inside an elegant Georgian building.

  3. Gradings

    • 3 Visitor Attraction
    3 Visitor Attraction

    Linlithgow

    Cruise to the Avon Aqueduct on "St Magdalene" - a 40 seater canal boat. Departs 2:30 returns 5pm Sat & Sun. Half hour Town Boat Trips from 2 till 4:30pm. Tearoom and Canal Museum. Also charters & Hires.

  4. National War Museum

    Type

    Museums

    Gradings

    • 4 Museum
    4 Museum

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    Within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, discover the impact of war on Scotland's history, identity and reputation abroad.

  5. Gradings

    • 4 Visitor Attraction
    4 Visitor Attraction

    North Berwick

    Westgate Gallery and Orangery Café is a great place to browse unique, quality gifts from Scotland.

  6. The Scottish Parliament

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    Visit the home of the Scottish Parliament, in the heart of the Old Town World Heritage Site.

  7. Gradings

    • 4 Museum
    4 Museum

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    Home to important collections on the history of Edinburgh, from prehistoric times to the present day.

  8. Malleny Gardens

    Type

    Parks & Gardens

    Gradings

    • 3 Garden
    3 Garden

    Edinburgh

    This 1.2-ha (3-a) walled garden has a delightful collection of old-fashioned roses and fine herbaceous borders.

  9. Seashore Gallery

    Type

    Galleries

    Gradings

    East Lothian

    Seashore Gallery is located in the small historic fishing village of Cockenzie & Port Seton, home of world renown artist John Bellany. The gallery overlooks the Firth of Forth and is on the John Muir Trail.

  10. Arniston House

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    Gorebridge

    Arniston House is a magnificent William Adam, Palladian style mansion house set in acres of beautiful parkland just 11 miles from Edinburgh. It has been home to the Dundas family for over 400 years. We invite you to come and visit us.

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