Things to do in Edinburgh with Kids Under 5

22 August 2014

Guest blogger Siobhan Dunn is from New York but has lived in Edinburgh for the last 10 years. Siobhan is also a mum of two boys under five. In her guest blog she describes a typical day out in Edinburgh with her sons.   

NMS Visitors In Animal World With T Rex 736

With two boys under the age of four we usually run out of indoor activities by Thursday and I start casting about for something to do on Friday. Why does the weather always seem to dramatically worsen on Friday about 10am? I never make it through a week without thanking my stars that we live in Edinburgh. It’s an absolutely phenomenal city to have young kids in. Enough of a city to offer first-rate museums and galleries (wonderful, dramatically large indoor spaces!), gorgeous parks and easy to get to outdoor spaces as well as fantastic places to eat and hang out with little ones. But Edinburgh is also just the right size to not wear down young urbanites. My older son knows his way around like a pro and we can hop on a bus and be in the heart of the old town in 20 minutes – door-to-door.

This past Friday we went straight to the National Museum of Scotland, dashing through rain and into the warmth of the ground floor, cave-like entrance, emerging from the glass surround lift onto the first floor and the sound of the magical, mysterious millennium clock. We spent the entire morning, as we often do, examining the old trains and engines, watching the robot spell out our names, admiring the rocket and the racing car (ok, yes I mentioned they are boys). Lunchtime with a friend and naptime for the younger one then drove us back out into what was now a sunny day. Lunch was a delicious bratwurst in Bristo Square (excellent scooter facilities) and then a roll down the hill to Analogue Books on Candlemaker Row where we picked up a book we’d ordered.

Scooting back up the hill we headed for the Meadows – stopping only to pick up bread and cardamom buns at Peter’s Yard – where we ended up at one of the best play parks in the city centre on the east end of the Meadows near the tennis facilities. My boys can happily spend hours exploring the different bits of this play park, thoughtfully designed for children of many ages without being prescriptive about how it is used and enjoyed. We then headed across the street to Summerhall in the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, now a creative hub for the arts with gallery spaces, a child friendly café, lovely gift and book shop where we picked up an unusual birthday present of an Edward Gorey sticker book.

As the afternoon came to an end we headed for home and, in a stroke of what I can only call divine inspiration, we discovered that the excellent Royal Dick bar within the Summerhall complex has an inexpensive nibbles menu, a quiet backroom full of games (and a box of lego?!) and is totally, charmingly happy to have children, prams, the whole lot, until 9pm. We had thick cut homemade potato wedges served with homemade ketchup, salad, hummous with pita bread and a bowl of bean chilli which the kids all shared. Grown ups enjoyed glasses of wine and Summerhall’s own pale ale brewed by the resident craft brewery Barney’s Beer along with olives and more wedges.

Home by half seven with two sleepy heads I am reminded how utterly unique our lives are here in Edinburgh. Yes we sometimes have rain, hail, snow and sun all in the same day. But we also have a fantastic city to take advantage of and explore!