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. Gradings

    North Berwick

    The Pitclay Gallery sits in a stunning location just three miles outside North Berwick where you can see the collectable ceramic artworks of David Cohen and Ronnie Fulton.

  2. Gradings

    • 2 Museum
    2 Museum

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    Dedicated to the lives and work of Scotland's great literary figures, in particular Robert Burns (1759-1796); Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832); and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

  3. Gladstone's Land

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    • 4 Visitor Attraction
    4 Visitor Attraction

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    Situated at the top of the Royal Mile, Gladstone's Land provides a unique glimpse of life in the Old Town in the 17th century.

  4. John Muir Country Park

    Type

    Parks & Gardens

    Gradings

    • 3 Visitor Attraction
    3 Visitor Attraction

    Dunbar

    John Muir Country Park is located on a beautiful stretch of coastline.

  5. Newhailes

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    • 5 Historic House
    5 Historic House

    Musselburgh

    This fine historic house, set in a fascinating designed landscape, is something of a time-capsule.

  6. Gradings

    • 4 Museum
    4 Museum

    Edinburgh - City Centre

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

  7. 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.

  8. East Links Family Park

    Type

    Parks & Gardens

    Gradings

    • 4 Visitor Attraction
    4 Visitor Attraction

    Dunbar

    East Links Family Park is a family attraction offering a train safari where you can feed the farm animals, as well as pony rides and small animal handling.

  9. John Muir's Birthplace, Dunbar

    Type

    Historic Buildings & Homes

    Gradings

    • 5 Visitor Attraction
    5 Visitor Attraction

    Dunbar

    The birthplace of John Muir has been transformed into a stunning Interpretative Centre highlighting the work of the man known as 'the father of modern conservation'.

  10. Gradings

    • 5 Visitor Attraction
    5 Visitor Attraction

    Edinburgh - City Centre

    Camera Obscura and World of Illusions - where seeing is not believing! Welcome to Edinburgh's oldest visitor attraction, delighting visitors since 1835. Rated top Attraction in Scotland and #2 Attraction in UK in inaugural TripAdvisor awards 2013!

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