Admiring the view from one of the beaches at North Berwick (East Lothian).
There are plenty of things to do with kids in Edinburgh, however, now and again, it’s fun to get out of the city and explore a little further afield. A change is as good as a rest, right? We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite day trips that are no more than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh (when it comes to kids, we know that the shorter the car journey, the better!).
Map of Day Trips from Edinburgh
We’ve pinpointed all the suggested day outings on the map below. Hopefully this will help you better plan your day trips!
Pick Your Own Fruit at Craigie’s Farm – 25 mins from Edinburgh
How about something a little different? Have you ever been fruit picking with your little ones? Well here’s your chance… Craigie’s farm offers you the opportunity to pick strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples and even pumpkins at various times in the year! So much fun for the whole family. You simply pay £3 per person for a basket and off you go fruit picking. There’s also a lovely outdoor children’s play area, a great café, fantastic views to sea as well as some farm animals onsite.
- It’s close to the airport so as an added bonus your kiddos can do some plane spotting.
- The fruit picking is best in the summer when most of the fruits are in season, however, be aware that it does get busy.
Jupiter Artland – 25 minutes from Edinburgh
Jupiter Artland is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh (technically in West Lothian), however, it’s well worth the detour if you have the time and transport. It’s a contemporary park showcasing art installations, a woodland art trail, grass sculptures and more. There’s also a lovely teashop if you need to refuel at any point.
- If you’re on a budget, head there on a Monday for ‘‘Pay what you want Mondays’
- It’s only open from May to September so check their website before you head there.
Dalkeith Country Park – 20 mins from Edinburgh
Located a short 20 minute drive to the South East of Edinburgh, Dalkeith Country Park is a great spot to spend an afternoon and discover the recently updated Fort Douglas play park. This fantastic adventure playground caters to all ages and includes an amazing treehouse fort, swings, zip slides, rope bridges and lofty walkways (check their website for entry prices to the Fort). Your kids won’t be disappointed! There are also various short and medium walks around the grounds. If you’re hungry then be sure to check out the recently transformed 18th century Stableyard and Courtyard which is now home to the Restoration Yard Café.
Almond Valley, Livingston – 35 mins from Edinburgh
Almond Valley Heritage Centre was a firm favourite with our kids when they were younger. It’s located in the nearby town of Livingston about half an hour’s drive from Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic site with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities for children including a museum, onsite farm animals, pedal carts, tractor rides, trampolines, playgrounds and there’s even an indoor softplay area.
A trip to North Berwick, East Lothian – 40 mins from Edinburgh
Hop on the train from Waverley train station or jump in the car and head to the pretty seaside town of North Berwick in East Lothian. There are plenty of things to do with children including playing on the beach, visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre, going on a boat trip, climbing up North Berwick Law, having a gelato from the icecream van or fish & chips from the Lobster Shack. There is also a great choice of small independent shops for gifts, together with excellent cafes and restaurants in the town centre. If you are lucky, you might see the many colourful boats from the local sailing having fun in the bay. Our kids particularly loved going to North Berwick by train – it’s a very easy 30 minute ride and then a short walk to the town centre.
East Lothian Beaches – 40 mins from Edinburgh
We absolutely love taking our kids to the beach – we find they’ll happily while away hours playing in the sand, building various sand structures, catching (or trying to) small fish, collecting shells, etc. Some of our favourite beaches are located in East Lothian and here are the two that top our list: Yellowcraigs and Gullane.
Yellowcraig Beach – this is hands down our favourite beach in the area. There is sheltered woodlands, dunes and a vast expanse of beach with views of Bass Rock, May Island and Fidra. Depending on your children’s age, you can even walk to North Berwick (approximately 3 miles, it’s part of the John Muir Trail) and visit Dirleton Castle on route. There’s onsite parking (£2 for the day) and an added bonus for children is the fantastic pirate themed adventure playpark located just off the path before heading towards the beach. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the ice-cream van!
Gullane Beach (or Bents) – think large expanse of sand. There is parking onsite and it’s an easy walk down to the beach. The water is clear, the beach is clean and there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy their time by the seaside.
East Links Family Park – 35 mins from Edinburgh
This is a truly wonderful farm themed activity park which cannot fail to impress your kiddos. Located close to Dunbar, East Links Family Park is a 35 minute drive from Edinburgh city centre and the easiest way to get there is by car. You really want to allow an entire day to visit this park as there’s so much to see and do on site! Choose from a train safari, crazy golf, the fortress, soft play areas, go karts, tractors, trampolines, haybarn climbing walls, indoor animal barn and outdoor farm animals. We couldn’t get our kids away from this place when we visited when they were younger. A real hit with our family!
National Museum of Flight, East Lothian – 40 mins from Edinburgh
This museum is fittingly located on an old airfield that was used during the 2nd World War, some of the original buildings have been restored. Kids will love the Concorde Experience where you can actually explore the interior of this legendary aircraft and discover its history. There are loads of interactive displays for kids to get their hands on, find out how to build a plane, test your pilot skills and learn about why planes fly.
The hangars are packed full of interesting planes from all ages, some have a military heritage while others are exclusively civilian. Do not miss getting up close and personal with the ultimate fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire.
Falkirk Wheel – 45 mins from Edinburgh
The Falkirk Wheel is an impressive rotating boat lift that connects the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal. The Wheel is really impressive to look at and is also fun to take a boat trip on. There are plenty of other family friendly activities at the Wheel including waterzorbing, Segway safaris, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, bumper boats, peddle boats, bike hire, boat trips, a splash zone. There is something for everyone and for every age! This ranks highly among many of the fun things to do near Edinburgh with kids.
READ: Why not check out the book ‘Hamish McHaggis and the wonderful Water Wheel’ for your kids (click here or on the image below)! It follows the adventures of the friendly Hamish at the Falkirk Wheel.
The Kelpies & the Helix Park – 40 mins from Edinburgh
Jump in the car and discover the 30 meter high Kelpies that rise majestically at the Helix Park. These impressive sculptures have been inspired by the mythological water spirit that is said to inhabit the Scottish lochs. Your kids will love this book! You can even join a 30 minute guided tour and get *inside* the Kelpies! There is also a fantastic Adventure Zone play park and Splash Play area. Helix Park is a short 10 minute drive from the Falkirk Wheel if you wanted to combine the two.
READ: Get your kids interested in the legend of the Kelpies by buying or borrowing the Secret of the Kelpie from your library (click here or on the image below). Our daughter loved it!
Stirling Castle – 50 minutes from Edinburgh
Stirling Castle is a very child friendly castle – in fact, we might even prefer it to Edinburgh castle, gasp! Located high above the town of Stirling, the castle sits atop an old volcanic rock. There are some great spaces for kids to explore in particular the Palace Vaults in the basement of the Royal Palace. You’ll find lots of interactive displays and medieval style dressing up costumes. The area is divided up into themes such as the tailor, the stone mason, the jester, the musician and the painter – it’s educational, interesting and above all, fun! We also particularly enjoyed the Royal Palace guides – they’re great with kids and really bring the visit to life.
Blair Drummond Safari Park – 50 minutes from Edinburgh
Located close to Stirling, Blair Drummond Safari Park is a fantastic day out for both kids and grownups alike. You’ll get a chance to see Scotland’s only giraffes as well as over 350 rare and exotic animals. The park is part of the Endangered Species Breeding Programme, and supports conservation projects in the UK and around the world. There’s a new dinosaur area which is sure to be a great hit with the kids. We recommend doing the enclosure drive through first and then a walk through the park. There’s so much to see and do – you can easily spend a full day at Blair Drummond.
Glasgow – 50 to 60 minutes from Edinburgh
An easy train ride from Edinburgh, the city of Glasgow has so much to offer families and makes a wee change from the capital. Head to the west end and check out Kelvingrove, a world class museum – be warned you can easily spend half day there. Stick to the city centre and visit the Riverside museum and adjoining Tall Ships or the Lighthouse. For the science buffs, you have the Science Centre as well as the Scotland Street School Museum.
We hope you enjoyed our roundup of some of our favourite day trips from Edinburgh with kids. Is there anywhere else you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!