No visit toScotland’s capital is complete without a trip to EdinburghCastle. Highlights include the War Museum of Scotland, the Great Hall and the Stone of Destiny. Children will love the One O’Clock Gun, first fired on 7th June 1861 and sounded six days a week. Costumed performers appear daily, for example you might get to meet Mary Queen of Scots or find out what it was like to be a prisoner in the castle’s dungeons. The two cafes offer high-chairs and child-friendly meals. Baby-changing facilities are also available.
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Open all year round, Edinburgh Zoo offers the perfect family day out. Give little legs a rest on the free Hilltop Safari, a 30-minute tour of the zoo in a jeep-pulled trailer. The guide provides a running commentary, sharing fun facts and visitor information. The daily Animal Antics show is a must. Experience the thrill of birds skimming your heads or animals doing gravity-defying balancing acts – the audience gets to join in! And at 2.15pm do not miss the Penguin Parade – the gates to the enclosure are opened to let the penguins take a stroll, allowing you to get up-close and personal with these popular birds. There are plenty of places to eat – including theJungle Food Courtwhich has a soft play area (£2 for 30 minutes).
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The Imagination Workshop
End those rainy day blues and pop-in to the Imagination Workshop for some hands-on art and crafts. You can decorate any object you fancy – including boxes, T-shirts, mirrors and caps. It is open seven-days a week and there is no time limit on your session so your budding artists can create at their leisure. It costs £6 for the studio time plus the price of your item (which start at £1.99). The enthusiastic staff are on hand to offer guidance.
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The Scottish National Gallery
Showcasing some of the best art in the world, this is one of Edinburgh’s top free visitor attractions. It is home to a major part ofScotland’s exciting collection of art and is made up of three inter-connecting buildings in the centre of the city. Visit the IT Gallery where children can use the touchscreen computers to browse their favourite images and find out more about them. The gallery also hosts a variety of children’s workshops (aged 5+), featuring hands-on activities, including painting, photography and video. There are several places to eat and although there isn’t a separate breast-feeding area there are plenty of quiet places to go to feed your baby. You can also picnic in nearbyPrincesStreetGardens. Buggies are available to borrow and baby-changing facilities are available.
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Our Dynamic Earth
A truly out-of-this-world telling of the story of planet Earth. Days out do not come much fuller than this – 14 interactive galleries taking you on the journey of a lifetime. Combining science and history, this attraction is guaranteed to grab the attention of kids aged 3 – 12 years. You can come face-to-face with a dinosaur or feel the sticky heat of a rainforest as you get to grips with our planet. There is a cafe on site serving hot meals – including the traditional haggis – and for children there is the Vasco lunch boxes offering a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit, packet of crisps and a sweet treat for £3.50. Children under 10 will love the Ocean Commotion play area, where they can trawl for treasure, beat the octopus and race against the clock to catch as many creature as they can.
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Gorgie City Farm
An accessible, family-friendly working farm that offers visitors plenty to see and do. It is open all year round from 9.30am with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Entrance is free – although donations of £2 are suggested. Guided tours are available, along with workshops for groups of five or more. Alongside the farm animals there is also a Pet Lodge, where visitors can not only see rabbits and guinea pigs but they get to cuddle them too. The farm is also home to Jemima’s Pantry, which sells snacks, drinks and hot lunches. There is a picnic area and a play park, which has a large range of fun equipment for the under-11s.
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The National Museum of Scotland
Situated in Chambers Streetand just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile, theNationalMuseumis home to hundreds of treasures. This free museum tracesScotland’s story from fossils to popular culture. Throughout the year there are specific galleries and events for children – check the website to see what’s on during your visit. Children are welcome in Cafe Delos and there are high-chairs and booster seats available along with bottle-warming facilities. All the galleries are accessible for buggies – there are lifts to each level and there are baby-changing facilities in several locations.
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Royal Botanic Garden
Get some fresh air at these gorgeous gardens just one mile from the city centre. Established in 1670, there are more than 70 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, featuring the largest collection of Chinese plants outsideChina, aScottishHeathGardenand a stunning 165ft long herbaceous border. Entrance to the gardens is free, but there is an admission fee for the Glasshouse. There are plenty of family-friendly events throughout the year as well as Walks and Talks. There is also shop that boasts a huge selection of toys and children’s gardening accessories to get them planting when you get home!
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The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Situated in the centre of the city, this is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Formerly the home of Mary Queen of Scots, it has been the setting for many a historical event. For families there is a lively and interactive audio tour available, which tells you all about the palace’s history. Plus, during weekend and school holidays there are a number of activities and workshops designed to keep the kids busy. For younger children (aged 3 – 5) there are a selection of toys, games and creative resources on offer in either the Palace Family Room or the Coach House.
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Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura
A unique and amusing way to see the city and learn about its history, which has been thrilling visitors more than 150 years. From inside the mysterious rooftop turret you can see moving images of the city projected onto a viewing table through a giant periscope. There is also the World of Illusions– featuring hands-on exhibits, the Magic Gallery – packed with head-spinning optical illusions, bendy mirrors, where you can even swap heads with a friend!
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