I’m having a week away from the blog as I’m up in London for a couple of expos and my birthday! I’ve asked some fellow bloggers to write about where they live for me, there are so many places to explore in the UK, and this one is very welcome as the destination is somewhere I really want to go! Edinburgh Life with Kids is a family lifestyle blog written by Laura Crichton. Married to Mike and Mama to Ben, Katie, and Thomas. Whilst focusing on the wealth of everything the city has to offer, Laura blogs about a range of topics including Food, Fitness, Style Design, and even Philosophy. Over to Laura…
Edinburgh has an abundance of things to do with children of all ages – with the added benefit of being interesting for adults as well. One of the things that I love about living here is that it’s a city of villages. There are so many different parts to the city and each has it’s own feel. We live in Stockbridge which is full of independent cafes and quirky shops – an utter world away from the hustle and bustle of George Street which is about a 10 minute walk away.
I would cater activities depending on who exactly was visiting but I have a number of favourite places to visit when we have guests that give them a good ‘flavour’ of the city:
The Botanical Gardens
This is completely free to visit and has a number of benefits. There’s loads of different areas that the kids love to explore. Each visit isn’t necessarily the same as the last so it’s somewhere that we can easily go back to through the seasons. One visit we might play hide and seek in the rock gardens and the next we could wander though the forest paths hunting for fairies. No dogs, bikes or scooters are allowed into the gardens so I’m confident that the kids can run on ahead without fear that they’ll get mown down.
Although the Gateway Restaurant looks attractive, I don’t really rate it as the service is quite slow and food unremarkable. However, a great family option is to head up to the Terrace Cafe where you can grab a kids picnic or soup/sandwiches for adults. They have a lovely range of cakes and everything is self-service. The views of the city from here are brilliant and it’s nice to just have some peace.
The East Gate Coffee Bar is also a great asset for snacks and take-away drinks. In good weather we’ll often sit out there but in the cold, it’s nice to have a coffee whilst we meander through the gardens.
Next door, Inverleith park has a nice playground and plenty of room for a kick about. In warmer weather, there’s often an ice-cream van too which gives another food option!
Whilst quite an expensive activity, if you can schedule a day to spend at the castle then it really is well worth it. It’s actually made up of a number of different museums – albeit mostly militaristic! However there are lots of different things as well and the kids have always enjoyed viewing the crown jewels and looking round the stately rooms. The views over the city are stunning and if you time it right, then you can watch the one o’clock gun being fired.
It’s always worth looking up when they have ‘living history’ days on as these are great fun. I have a couple of friends who work for Historic Scotland as actors for these events. In ‘real life’ they are history teachers but their knowledge is unrivalled. They really have a knack for bringing the past alive and add a great element to visits.
Although there are places to eat in the castle, I’m not a particular fan of their offerings and they are often very crowded. I would either plan to eat somewhere on the Royal Mile or take a packed lunch. There are much nicer places to eat within easy walking distance and you can always get re admittance to the castle after lunch.
If you live in Scotland, or plan to visit often then Historic Scotland Membership is a must have. There are so many different castles to visit (open year round) that we easily get our money’s worth in a couple of months. Many of these are an easy distance away from Edinburgh but there’s a number of great properties around Scotland.
The National Museum of Scotland
It’s hard to believe that this resource is entirely free as you really could spend a few days there. Again, made up of different sections there’s something to entertain everyone and the vast majority is child friendly. There are so many interactive exhibits – chances to dress up, launch tribuchets, take part in archaeological digs etc – that there really should be something to suit everyone.
My daughter particularly likes the musical section where you can hit these giants tubes to make noise echo throughout the floors whereas my eldest enjoys driving the interactive racing car. The animal hall is always popular with it’s gigantic skeletons and array of creatures – which also leads on to a very cool space section.
The central hall is impressive in itself with it’s high glass ceilings but the balcony cafe is also a great bet to lunch. They do some really nice sandwiches and salads alongside some great kiddie options too. There’s always been enough high chairs and it’s really pretty good value.
I seem to be a bit obsessed with ‘views of the city’ but in good weather, it’s also worth taking the lift up to the roof top gardens. There’s not much up there aside from the view but they have some good illustrated guides explaining what everything is!