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Edinburgh is a great city for children it has open spaces, historical landmarks, scientific exhibitions and interactive displays, museums, galleries, sport centres, cinemas, nature and wildlife, restaurants that welcome families and of course shopping for everyone.
A good new guide book for children (up to teens) to use themselves is Edinburgh Unlocked by Colin Chisholm. Up to date as at August 2010
Princes Street Gardens areideal for summer picnics and you can buy your picnic ingredients a tMarks and Spencer and Sainsburys which are close by. West PrincesStreet Gardens has a playpark and lots of benches where parents canwatch the kids play while admiring the views of the castle. Holyrood Park is accessible from many parts of the city visit it for lochs, walks and the chance to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat. There are play areas located throughout the city. The best central playpark is in the corner of the Meadows - there are several older play areas in this large park, so make sure you keep searching till you find the modern one, which has sand, water toys, climbing walls and a flying fox.
Outside the city centre at Inverleith the Royal Botanic Gardens provide interest for adults and children. There are walks along the Water of Leith, River Almond and the Union Canal that take in areas of natural interest. Edinburgh has a lovely beach (honestly) at Portobello beach. If you have a car, the lovely beaches of East Lothian are about 30 minutes away. Yellow Craigs, sign posted from Dirleton is especially good, with rolling dunes, a huge sandly beach (usually empty!) and a pirate themed playpark. Edinburgh Bike Tours organises guided family bike tours in and around the city, mostly off road on cycle tracks.
Festivals & Theatre
Edinburgh has festivals specially geared toward children, there is a Children’s Theatre Festival , the Science Festival hasWonderama that's always a favourite with kids, family activitiesare included in the International Book Festival. During the main Edinburgh International festival and Fringe there are hundreds of childrens shows including“clean” comedy shows, theatre, music, mime and workshops. After the first week, the half price hut opens at the bottom of the mound, and offers half price tickets for shows that day. The Winter Festival, which includes Christmas and Hogmanay (new year) is also wonderful with its Ice Rink,Pantomime, Carousels and Fair Ground. There is a permanent Santa land located in Princes Street garden with its Christmas tree maze and Santa's grotto from around the end of November until 24th December.
Museums and History
There are lots of free museums including the Royal Museum, the National Museum of Scotland, (two special areas aimed at children and great views from the roof top) the Museum of Childhood (mostly displays of antique toys) and the People’s Story, toexplore and most have special activities for children. The Brass Rubbing Centre is good fun for older children and the Scottish Storytelling Centre has something for all age groups. Other historic attractions include Edinburgh Castle, Craigmillar Castle, Greyfriars Bobby. The city's past is well covered by ghost tours which are popular with teenagers, the Edinburgh Dungeon and Mary King's Close. A Horrible Histories track is available on the City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus tour.
Animals and Science
Children who love animals can visit Gorgie City Farm and Edinburgh Zoo. Just outside the city there are excellent facilities at Butterfly & Insect World. Scientifically minded kids will enjoy Dynamic Earth and Camera Obscura.
Sport and Leisure Venues
If after all of that the kids still have lots of energy the city has a number of leisure centres with swimming pools, climbing centres at Ratho and Newhaven and a dry ski slope at Hillend. The facilities at the Omni Centre, Ocean Terminal and Fountain Park may be useful refuges especially if you happen to visit Edinburgh when it is wet.
A short trip outside of Edinburgh will take you to South Queensferry where you can take a boat trip outto Inchcolm Island and see the Forth Bridges. Deep Sea World located in North Queensferry in Fife isanother popular trip which can be combined with a rail trip over theForth Bridge. A little further along the Fife coast there is a BlueFlag beach at Silver Sands, Aberdour.
North Berwick is an East Lothian seaside town where you can take boat trips tosee seals and birds as well as visiting the Scottish SeabirdCentre. Dunbar also has beaches, John Muir Country Park and East Links Family Park to provide alternative outdoor destinations.
There are lots of places to eat with children throughout Edinburgh including all the fastfood favourites, but there are lots of lovely family orientedrestaurants e.g. Vittorias that also welcome children.
There are many lesser known places like this around the city that are perfect for families. Look at the current listings in The List, Time Out, Kids Edinburgh or NineBlue Family Guides to find out whats on when you're there.