1. Prestongrange Museum
Budding historians would love a trip out to historical Prestongrange – a site of major importance in the story of Scotland’s Industrial Revolution. It’s bursting with history having been the location of a sixteenth-century harbour, a seventeenth-century glass works, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century potteries and a nineteenth/twentieth-century coal mine and brick works. Located on the coast road between Musselburgh and Prestonpans, just eight miles from central Edinburgh, Prestongrange offers audio tours, guided tours and visits to the Beam Engine and Powerhouse.
With an interesting museum an indoor children’s area with toys, books and games plus plenty of activities on offer throughout the school holidays, there’s plenty to see and do.
2. Vogrie Country Park
Let your little ones run wild while you absorb the opulent surroundings of Vogrie Country Park. Within easy reach of Edinburgh – just 12 miles from the centre – this Victorian parkland estate has managed to hold on to its original character, with sweeping carriage drives, beautifully landscaped vistas, an original walled garden and the baronial styled Vogrie House.
The Vogrie Miniature Railway is run by the Esk Valley Model Engineering Society (EMES), and runs throughout the summer on Sunday afternoons (weather permitting), from 2 pm to 5 pm.
3. Scottish Seabird Centre
If you’ve got an enthusiastic naturalist on your hands – the Scottish Seabird Centre is the perfect place for a fun day out. Located on the Firth of Forth, overlooking the sandy beaches of North Berwick, this centre has something for children of all ages. From the indoor Discovery Centre with its interactive cameras that beam live close-ups of seabirds and other marine wildlife onto giant screens, to the wildlife cinema, Kid’s Zone soft play area, aquaria and Environment Zone – your kids will find plenty to do. Open throughout the year, there’s so much wildlife to look out for from puffins to porpoises, gannets to guillemots and seals to shags.
From March to October (weather permitting) the Centre’s Seabird Seafari wildlife boat trips run to the world famous Bass Rock (the world’s largest single island gannet colony) and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve.
4. Potter Around
Indulge in some creative fun with your little ones at this pottery painting and craft studio close to Livingston on the fringes of Edinburgh. Whether they’re splats, smiley faces or intricate patterns, paint your own designs on a wide range of ceramics, from piggy banks and snails to cups and plates. Or you could even paint your baby’s hand or footprint onto a heart or photo frame. Staff are on hand to offer help and tea, coffee and soft drinks are provided to people taking part in the activities, for free.
5. Five Sisters Zoo Park
Your little ones are bound to be mad about animals by the time they’ve spent a day at the Five Sisters Zoo Park. About 16 miles outside Edinburgh, the zoo houses a wide variety of mammals, birds and reptiles from all over the world. And if the weather’s bad there’s also an indoor soft play centre. A visit to this zoo park is bound to be a fun and educational day out for the whole family.
6. Dunbar Leisure Park
If your kids love nothing more than messing about in the water this is the day trip for you. Dunbar Leisure Park with its waves, sprays, and a bubble bed, the main pool is not to be missed – but don’t forget the big, yellow flume water chute! If you fancy it there’s and also a six-lane pool for serious swimmers.
7. Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway
Little boys – and girls with a passion for trains will love a day out at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway where they get to ride on authentic steam and heritage diesel locomotives.
The route runs from the historic port of Bo’ness, climbing through woodland to give you a view over the Firth of Forth on a 10 mile trip to Manuel, at the junction with the main Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line.
Explore the history of Scotland’s railways in the The Scottish Railway Exhibition at Bo’ness Station.And for tank engine lovers there are also lots of carriages, coaches and wagons on display.
8. Space Bugs
From rockets and space bugs to crazy aliens and starships, this fantastic soft play centre open to children aged 18 months to 7 years is bound to fuel the imagination of your little one.
Based in Craigswood on the edge of Edinburgh, or if you fancy driving further out of Edinburgh, there’s also a centre in Livingston, these soft play areas are part of the Westlothian Leisure centre group which makes them perfect for a fun day out when it’s rainy outside. The centres also run supervised sessions so that you can enjoy a swim or a session in the gym knowing that your little one is having a fantastic time. Your child will love looking into the future with space tunnels, starship slides and a host of soft play toys. So that by the time you’re ready to leave they’re bound to be crazy about all things space related.
9. Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World
Who doesn’t love butterflies? And what better way to see their beauty than up close at Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World – the world’s longest running butterfly house.
Just 20 minutes outside Edinburgh, you’ll feel like you’re in a tropical paradise as you discover a host of tropical butterflies plus insects, snakes, frogs and more. Events regularly take place – so check before you go.