Things to do: Fun days out for all the family in Edinburgh and the Lothians
As any parent will tell you, finding activities to keep the kids entertained when school is out can be a real challenge – to say the least.
Due to the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant, Nicola Sturgeon has said people should stay home as much as possible from December 27 until at least the end of the first week of January – but the situation is expected to improve before long.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered together some of the most family-friendly days out you can have in Edinburgh and the surrounding area – from brain-boosting museum visits to boredom-busting trips to the theatre.
Deep Sea World
Boasting one of the longest underwater tunnels of any aquarium in the world, not to mention one of the largest collections of Sand Tiger Sharks in Europe, Deep Sea World is always a surefire family hit.
Visitors to the venue, situated next to the UNESCO Forth Rail Bridge, can wander through more than 40 displays exhibiting all manner of weird and wonderful sea creatures, ranging from seals and seahorses to stingrays and the aforementioned sharks.
Kids will marvel at the amazing sea creatures, while accompanying adults will be equally entertained.
Forthside Terrace, Battery Quarry, North Queensferry, KY11 1JR,
01383 411 880
One place the children definitely will be in their element is the Edinburgh Dungeon – an underground tourist attraction in Edinburgh's city centre.
The Edinburgh Dungeon uses live actor shows and interactive rides to show various events from Scottish history in a scary fun style, with audience interaction and special effects, theatrical sets and performance.
It's a hit with the kids that's great fun for accompanying adults, too. Not for under-5s; recommended for over-8s.
31 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF
01312 401 041
A trip to Edinburgh Zoo is a great day out for the whole family – and there is lots to keep every age group entertained.
Apart from getting close to over 1,000 rare and endangered animals – including those ever-popular pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang – there are many different ways to enjoy your day out.
You can experience a packed programme of educational events and activities – ranging from keeper talks through to hands-on animal encounters – and a wide-range of eating experiences. There are also several play areas and a great gift shop.
134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS
0131 334 9171
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
If it’s the ‘wow factor' you’re after, then look no further.
Since 1853, when Maria Short brought her prized telescope to the Royal mile, millions of visitors and locals alike have been mesmerised by live, moving pictures of the city via the Camera Obscura.
The telescope uses a mixture of daylight, reflections, and mirrors to project a live image internally onto a table within a dark chamber. And now, the current team at Camera Obscura have gone to great lengths to ensure visitors can experience the same spectacular views after dark or in in poor visibility.
Panoramic viewpoints from Camera Obscura include famous city landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, The Scott Monument, St Giles Cathedral, The Balmoral, and The National Gallery of Scotland with views extending all the way out to the Kingdom of Fife.
Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND
0131 226 3709
Scottish Seabird Centre
For over 20 years, the Scottish Seabird Centre has been helping people to learn about Scotland’s marine wildlife, habitats and iconic seabirds.
Its base on the edge of the Firth of Forth in the seaside town of North Berwick, East Lothian gives unparalleled access to amazing coastal seascapes and underwater environments.
These include the Bass Rock which supports the world’s largest colony of northern gannets.
North Berwick, EH39 4SS
Founded in 1446 as a place of worship, Rosslyn Chapel has been a popular destination for visitors for generations – though its profile went through the roof following the publication of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code in 2003, and the subsequent film.
Timeslots for visits last 90 minutes, giving families plenty of time to explore the visitor centre and find out more about the Chapel’s long and storied history.
As part of VisitScotland’s Great Days Out campaign, Rosslyn Chapel are offering half price tickets, booked online in advance, while stocks last. See website for details.
Chapel Loan, Roslin, EH25 9PU
National Mining Museum
A five-star visitor attraction and twice winner of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions’ Best Visitor Experience award, the museum provides a great day out for all ages.
Visitors to the museum can retrace the footsteps and struggles of the thousands of miners and their families before them.
National Mining Museum Scotland is participating in the Visit Scotland Great Days Out Campaign, offering visitors up to 50% off tickets for guided tours and audio tours until February 18 2022. Check website for details.
Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Midlothian, EH22 4QN
0131 663 7519