8 outdoor activities to keep the kids busy in Edinburgh this summer

8 outdoor activities to keep the kids busy in Edinburgh this summer

Here are all the best activities in and around the Scottish capital to enjoy with your wee ones.

It’s July, and for parents and grandparents that means one thing: the school holidays have arrived. This is a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with the little people in your life, but it can also be difficult to think of fun activities to fill the days.

It’s all too easy for kids these days to spend their summer permanently indoors and glued to a screen, so it’s important to encourage them to make the most of the summer and enjoy this chance to experience the great outdoors.

Luckily, Edinburgh is the place to be for summer holiday fun. There are endless ways to entertain your children and grandchildren this summer in the Scottish capital without relying on electronics.

Here are 8 of the best outdoor activities to keep your kids busy in and around Edinburgh this summer.


Rockpooling at the beach

Near the Seabird Centre in North Berwick is a popular spot for seaside antics: Milsey Bay. This is a fantastic spot for family fun like sandcastle building and rockpooling. It’s great to see your little ones’ faces light up as they turn over rocks and discover crawling crabs or starfish hiding underneath. The bay is also known to be home to some of the more fascinating sea anemone like the purple Snakelock Anemone. Best to look and not touch, though, as these aquatic creatures can sting.

The bay also boasts a water pool built into the rocks, which creates a great, safe area for playing, paddling and sailing boats. Why not help your little one fashion their own sailing boat and watch it take to the water?  


Playing at the Meadows

Unlike a lot of city centres, Edinburgh is home to some fantastically green areas that are great destinations for family fun. One such spot is the Meadows. This is one of the biggest parks in the city, helping you feel like you’ve taken a trip out into the green countryside while still being a stone’s throw from local shops and amenities.

The Meadows also has a fantastic play area, complete with a huge range of equipment for children of all ages. There is also a sand pit, so don’t be shy about letting your little one bring their bucket and spade along.


Foraging for elderflower

The summertime brings out the very best in foliage, fruits and flowers, so why not show your kids the joy of simple, old fashioned fun like foraging for fresh buds? Elderflower is particularly prominent around this time, and grows abundantly on trees, so work together to hunt down bunches of the white flowers to take home. You can then add them to a pot with sugar and lemon, add hot water and let it simmer for your own simple-to-make summer cordial.

You can also look for roses and honeysuckles for teas and cordials, or blackberries for jams, jellies and sorbets. This is a great way to get kids excited about the outdoors, and show them the power of the natural world.


Farming at Gorgie City Farm

For any child that loves animals, a trip to Gorgie City Farm is a must this summer. This is a great way to engage your children with nature by allowing them to see farmyard favourites and unfamiliar species up close. When you visit Gorgie City Farm, you’ll encounter sheep, cows, pigs and goats (who you’ll find up on ‘goat mountain’). There are also bearded dragons, baby lambs and micro pigs to introduce your children to. Aside from the animals, the wildlife and sensory gardens make for great sites of exploration, and the iconic red tractor is always a hit with littles ones wanting to climb.

Gorgie City Farm is also free to visit, though they do appreciate donations to help them care for the animals.


Exploring the Old Town

Sometimes, the simplest activities are the best. Edinburgh has so much to offer in terms of history, culture and exploration, so get out there and see it for yourself. From the endless fun of the Royal Mile to the winding steps down to the Grassmarket, there is no better way to spend a summer’s day than helping your kids get familiar with the Scottish capital. Take them along to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard and tell them the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby: the little Skye Terrier who stayed on his master’s grave for fourteen years after he died.

You could even invest in a guided tour of the city. That way, you’ll all learn something new while you’re out and about.   


Making memories at Edinburgh Zoo

We couldn’t possibly talk about things to do as a family this summer without mentioning Edinburgh Zoo. After all, it is one of the city’s major highlights for tourists and residents alike. There are lions, tigers, zebras, flamingos and plenty of other exotic animals to see, as well as the world-famous pandas. You might also catch the daily penguin parade!

And with a gift shop, café and play area to explore, it’s all too easy to spend an entire day soaking up the atmosphere of the zoo. This is a great way to show your little ones how wild and exciting the great outdoors can be.


Relaxing in the Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the many highlights of Edinburgh city centre, and is a popular destination for children and adults. In the summer, you’ll get to see all the most exotic plants in all their glory, allowing your kids to run free and encouraging them to point out any flowers that catch their eye.

The gardens also have a café where you can enjoy a pit stop for some lunch, and this café even has a play area where your little ones can tucker themselves out on swings and slides. The duck pond is also a popular highlight with children.

What’s more, this summer the Royal Botanic Gardens are running the Lost Words Family Trail, which allows you to discover the secret lives of local animals and plants. The exhibition runs at Inverleith House and it’s free to attend.


Paddling in the Braid Burn

Beneath a bridge near the Agassiz Rock, you’ll find a sheltered spot in the valley of the Hermitage of Braid Nature Reserve. This is a fantastic remote spot to enjoy the sunshine with a picnic, and let your kids play in the shallow waters.  You may also spot some of the nearby horses too.

If you fancy a walk, instead of bringing a picnic you can make the trek from the bridge to Morningside, where there are plenty of fantastic little eateries to take your pick from. You can also drive some of the way along Blackford Glen Road to make the walk shorter.  

With a Craighouse home, you’ll be able to experience everything Edinburgh has to offer all year round. To see more of these incredible homes, click here.

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