We all know computer games can be loads of fun and take you to places that you’ve only ever dreamed of… but what if you could enjoy all the thrills of gaming action in real life? You can – it’s possible to get your game on and experience amazing family days out with brilliant things to do in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders!
Year-round snowsports, coming face-to-face with exotic creatures, navigating through a bamboozling maze and uncovering the secrets of fascinating historic buildings are just some of the ways you can take your offline quality family time to the next level. What’s more, these all lie within easy reach of Edinburgh and the north of England.
Player 1, are you ready? Check out the video to get ideas for awesome activities to try and attractions to visit, and find out more about these, plus many more, in our list below.
The majority of Scotland is now under a temporary lockdown, though some island communities are under level 3 restrictions. Please follow any current restrictions – you might need to save these ideas to try later on a future trip.
Find out what level each area is under and read more about the 5-level Covid-19 restrictions to plan and book ahead when considering a future trip. You can search for businesses that are Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Things to see & do for families
1. Grass sledges, outdoor roller skating and turf boards are just some of the fun things to try at Born in the Borders in Jedburgh. Plus, there are tasty beers for the grown ups, brewed in the microbrewery, to try!
2. With ski or snowboard lessons available to kids aged 4 and over, and speedy, smile-inducing adventure tubing, Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend is the place to experience all the fun of the slopes without having to rely on a fall of fresh snow.
3. Up, up and away! Bounce your way to joy and practice your aerial skills at Ryze Trampoline Park at Dalkeith in Midlothian.
4. Release your inner Attenborough and step into a tropical habitat at Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World in Lasswade, Midlothian, to see an astonishing array of curious and colourful creepy crawlies and reptiles. It’s a jungle in there! If you want to learn more about Scotland’s butterflies and how you can help conserve them for the future, explore the Ultimate Guide to Butterflies for more information.
5. Inside and out, Abbotsford near Melrose in the Scottish Borders has plenty on offer for curious minds and fun seekers. Discover the house’s secrets with the family audio guide or journey through the grounds on a woodland safari.
6. A quest that will transport you back to medieval times awaits at the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian. Can you spot the mysterious carvings of animals, dress up like someone from the 15th century, or meet William the chapel cat?
7. Ready to be aMAZEd in Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders? No visit to Traquair, Scotland’s oldest inhabited house, is complete without finding the way to the centre of the maze – and then finding the way back out again!
8. Be careful not to get locked in at Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum! Explore this historic building and experience what it was like to be in a prison in the 1820s through interpretation panels, activities and dress up.
9. Ride on! World-class mountain biking can be found at 7stanes Glentress near Peebles in the Scottish Borders. With on-site bike hire and easy trails, it’s the place to get the bug for this addictively fun outdoor activity.
10. Head to Dalkeith for your mission, should you choose to accept it. Stealthily go into the forest and take on friends and family at laser tag at Edinburgh Combat Challenge. Ready, aim, fire!
11. Swing through the treetops of Glentress Forest like a monkey at Go Ape! Peebles and experience the challenges of an aerial assault course. Put balance and nerve to the test on high-speed zips, free-fall swings, and daring crossings.
12. In Midlothian’s country park, you can choose to chill… or seek out thrills! Relax in the wildflower meadow of Roslin Glen, try golf or footgolf, a golf-football hybrid activity at Vogrie, besiege the fairytale-like treehouse and run wild on the Sky Maze at Fort Douglas adventure playground in Dalkeith Country Park, or plan a cycle.
13. Saddle up at Lasswade Stables in Midlothian and take the reins on a pony trek or riding lessons, available to kids aged two and upwards.
14. Surfs up! Conquer the breakers of the North Sea as you get a surfing lesson with St Vedas Surf School. Lessons take place on the beautiful beach of Coldingham in the Scottish Borders and are suitable for children aged eight and older.
15. Further along the coast, join Eyemouth RIB Trips to ride the waves. Feel the sea breeze as you take in the stunning Berwickshire coastline and spot seabirds and marine wildlife.
16. Ahoy! Eyemouth is also home to a true smuggler’s palace, Gunsgreen House, which is complete with hidden tunnels and many secrets to uncover. There are plenty of hands-on activities and family-friendly facilities.
17. Get up close to impressive birds of prey or take aim in an archery session in the grounds of Dalhousie Castle Falconry in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian.
18. Hard hats on as you head below the surface at the National Mining Museum Scotland at Newtongrange in Midlothian to see what it was like for miners working in a dark, cramped pit.
19. Let your imagination transport you back in time. Pretend to be a heroic knight at Crichton Castle, a 14th century ruin located near Pathhead in Midlothian.
20. Roll up, roll up! Park of the Ryze Adventure Park, Ryze and Roll All Wheel Park in Dalkeith is the perfect place to practice tricks on the wheels of your choice, be it a scooter, BMX, MTB, roller skates, skateboard or inline skates. Plus, you can hire equipment on site.
21. Become a lord or lady for the day in the Scottish Borders as you visit Thirlestane Castle in Lauder or Floors Castle, near Kelso. Explore the castles’ grand interiors or let off steam in the adventure play parks.
22. Discover a natural world in bloom at gardens such as Dawyck Botanic Garden and Kailzie Gardens, both of which are close to Peebles. At Kailzie, see magnificent and rare ospreys in their nest via camera feed at Osprey Watch.
23. Plan a family adventure day at Rock UK Whithaugh Park, near Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders, with rewarding challenges such as gorge walking, climbing, fencing, bouldering, kayaking, and archery to experience.
24. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you roll down a hillside in a giant plastic ball with Rolling Haggis at Hillend in Midlothian. Try it harnessed whilst in, or slip and slide as you experience the ‘hydro’ version with water inside the ball!
25. Get up close and personal with adorable alpacas as you lead these woolly creatures through the landscapes of the Scottish Borders at Beirhope Farm near Kelso.
Midlothian and the Scottish Borders are easily accessible by road or rail. Follow the train tracks of the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to explore attractions including the National Mining Museum Scotland or Abbotsford car-free.
Stay a while
With so much to see, it’s well worth thinking about staying in the area and luckily there are some fantastic accommodation options that kids will love. For a back-to-nature experience, consider Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping near Hawick in the Scottish Borders, get a taste of life on a working farm at the gorgeous Eastside Cottages near Penicuik in Midlothian, or find more accommodation options in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.