The summer holidays are almost upon us so here's a wee list of local attractions that I would definitely recommend to take the family. Even if you've visited before they are the sort of places you can frequent again and again and see something different each time. It's also an ideal opportunity to get the camera out and capture some memories at the same time ...
THE SECRET HERB GARDEN, MIDLOTHIAN
This is just a very relaxing and mindful place to be if you want a 'toned down' couple of hours with the kids. The herbs are simply amazing and available to buy, if you like me, have a tendancy for gardening every now and again. There are 6 pigs, 2 geese and an old 80's taxi sitting amid the flowers to enjoy for the wee ones. There is even a Gin Garden which is a fairly new addition. Plenty of space for kids to run about and great for hide and seek. We often play 'going on holiday to the airport!' After your wander round why not have a cup of something nice and a big slice of cake (lots of delicious home bakes) in the greenhouse amid the shabby chic decor and beautifully scented surroundings. Alternatively, a cafe and wonderful wee shop also await you. I just love the quirkiness of this place and I give it a huge thumbs up. Eva just loved this fountain! It's free entry. www.secretherbgarden.co.uk
SCOTTISH OWL CENTRE, WEST LOTHIAN
I had never been here before but was really impressed at the 100 + collection of owls - the largest in the world. When you first arrive there is a great wee adventure playground and cafe. Lots of things to do - have your photo taken with an owl, flying displays, educational sessions and of course, the place is packed with facts about owls. Not just owls, we saw Kookaburras too! Some of the owls are just incredible so if you have a decent zoom on your camera you should be able to get some cracking up close shots. www.scottishowlcentre.com
WHITMUIR ORGANIC FARM, MIDLOTHIAN
This gem of a find is just 5 miles south of the Leadburn Inn, cross straight over at the junction. There's something for all the family here. It's a working farm providing organic produce which is sold on site. Choose from the Deli, Bakery, Grocery and Butchery. The kids can enjoy an enchanting fairy walk which takes you on a circular route all round the farm, there's a chance to browse and buy from beautiful plants at Quercus Garden Plants and there's also a new addition, Junkshop Antiques. Not to mention the Dancing Light Gallery for art lovers! www.whitmuir.scot
ARCHERFIELD WALLED GARDEN & FAIRY WALK, EAST LOTHIAN
This is a magical place for children. It's completely free to wander round the incredible walled garden and fairy trail. Lots of intricate fairy dwellings await inquisitive little minds, amidst willow sculptures and toadstools. Plenty of opportunities to get some candid style shots of the kids. (My wee boy below, entranced by the willow deer :-) There's a super gift shop (be warned, very hard to resist!), marketplace and cafe with delightful menu full of local produce. A great place for lunch. While you are browsing the shop your wee ones can play outside in the play park too. What's not to love? www.archerfieldwalledgarden.com
YELLOWCRAIGS BEACH, EAST LOTHIAN
Again, a regular day out when I was younger and it's been lovely going back now I have my own two in tow! With beautiful views out across the Firth of Forth and the island of Fidra with it's breathtaking lighthouse. There's also a great play area before you head to the beach itself. www.goeastlothian.com
PENICUIK HOUSE, MIDLOTHIAN
This place is just amazing and it costs you nothing to visit. This large country house was built in the 1760's but sadly destroyed by fire in 1899. You can wander through some of the ruined interior, there's a new cafe and plenty of wide open space for the kids to explore! www.penicuikhouse.com
EDINBURGH BUTTERFLY & INSECT WORLD
This was an old favourite of mine when I was a kid (I remember mum had a photo of me aged around 8 or 9 with a butterfly on my head looking very pleased with myself) and it's a great option if the weather is not so good outside. Let's face it, given the weather recently that is a high possibility! Once you're inside you'll be amazed at the variety of butterflies, insects and other beasties to see. They have regular handling sessions where you can get up close and personal with tarantulas, snakes and other critters! It's a great chance to get photos of the kids with wide eyed looks of wonder on their faces! Here's my girl making friends with this beauty! www.edinburghbutterflyworld.com
I hope you have found this useful and that it's given you some inspiration for the stretchy holiday period!
If you have any other great places or new finds that you think could be added to the list then please comment below!