Top 10 free things to do with under fives - Thomas's List

My son is now 8 years old and over the years we have been to lots of places in and around Edinburgh. I thought it would be useful to put down a wee list of some of the best free places.  My son helped with this list!  Have a wee read, and please tell me about your top ten..

1. Colinton Dell

I just know it as the Dell, and spent much time there myself when I was young.  The entrance to the path/walkway is at Longstone, across the road from The Water of Leith visitor centre which is free and well worth a visit too!

The Dell path is mostly covered by trees and takes you along to Colinton village.  I believe you can walk further, but we've not done that yet!

The path winds along the water of Leith, so you are always close to the water.  We've seen tons of wildlife there and had many a sword fight! There's some cool little buildings to discover along the way, and at times the path opens up into a field or two.  In Colinton there is also a fab play park, called Spylaw park, you can see the address of that here: Spylaw park

There's good bus stops nearby and some on street parking.  There's also shops nearby for snack.  I would say it's a bit tricky to take a buggy along the path, as there's a few steps now and again, and the good thing is that you don't need to go for too long a walk if you just want a wee adventure.  You can spend anything from 30mins - 2 hours in the Dell.  There's no toilets in the Dell, but the visitors centre does have toilets.

2. Corstorphine Hill

We call it 'Cheesy Hill' in our house, as my son decided his toy mouse, cheesy lived there! It's a great place to climb and has a beautiful walled garden as well, you can see details about the walled garden here: Garden  Check out the cool bench in the Garden and get your wee one to name all the animals on it. 

There is a good path up the hill and when up the top you get some great views of the city, there is also Corstorphine Tower, which is shut for most of the year, but you can get in by checking on the Friend's of Corstorphine hill website: Friends  

I would say that the steps inside the tower are only suitable of older children, say of about 4 years upwards.

We normally drive a little way towards Corstorphine Hill and then park on the street.  The good thing of course about walking up, is that you get to run back down, or roll down!  It's taken us about 1 hr to go up and down, depending on how fast those little legs will go.  You would need to have a proper big wheeled buggy to take it up Corstorphine hill.  It would be a good work out for you too!  There's no toilets here.

3. Cramond Beach 

This is the closest beach to our house, and we love the fact that the promenade is so flat, wide and long! great for scooters or balance bikes.

Parking can be tough, you can get the number 41 bus. To be honest we normally park at the Silverknowes side of the beach and then walk along to the ice cream van!

The beach is great as there is also some open grassy areas as well as the prom and the beach itself.  Of course there is also Cramond Island, which you can walk over to. 

Remember and keep an eye on the tide times though! You can see more about Cramond and the tide times here: RNLI 

Cramond does get busy, especially with cyclists and dog walkers.  It's a great place to go even with a very young baby as you can walk along the prom with the buggy.  There are a couple of cafe's now, at the Cramond end and also the Boardwalk Beach Club, click here for more details: Beach Club  We've spent between 30mins - 2 hours at the beach.  Oh it's also great for kites, if the weather is right.  There are public toilets close to the ice cream van, at the Cramond end. 

4. Drumbrae Library

It's a lovely new library, we love to go and have a look through tons of books and then narrow down our choices! There's lots of space and things going on for kids.  They have a wee car park, and all the usual activities.  

You can find out more here: Library  There's good bus links to the library as well.  There are toilets.

5. Hailes Quarry Park

A lot of love has gone into the Quarry park in the last few years, but the great thing is that it's still got a vast open space if you just want to run around! it's close to the Canal so you can pop over and check that out too.  There's good paths to walk round, suitable for buggies as well.  

There's a good wee play park, climbing wall, and nature trail to discover.  My son now loves playing hide and seek there with his Granny!

There's good bus links and on street parking.  You'd need to go to Longstone or Wester Hailes for shops so best to take snack.  We've stayed there for approx 30mins-1.5 hours. There are no toilets here.  You can see more about the park here: Quarry  

6. Lauriston Castle

We love Lauriston Castle, and have never even been inside the castle itself, the grounds are amazing.  The paths are suitable for buggies.  There are some awesome views over to Fife, and some great big trees to find.  There's a lovely wee pond and also the Japanese Garden which sometimes we just to go and then head home, as you can spend ages in the Japanese Garden!    

You can read more about it here: Lauriston  There is parking in the grounds and also bus links.  You can spend anything from 30 mins - 2 hours there. Although the Castle is not always open, there are public toilets.  There are shops nearby in Davidson Mains.  

7. Meadows Play Park

The biggest and busiest play park in Edinburgh! it is amazing, and lots of different areas and textures for the kids.  I love the swings, due to them having a range of different ones available, and who doesn't like a flying fox?

Good for buggies, and there are public toilets and even a wee cafe now!  You can see more about the park here: Meadows 

Of course it's also set in the Meadows, which is a huge open grassy area, so great for running around, and good for scooters and bikes.  The Meadows is also a good place for kites, and there are shops nearby for snack.  There's good bus links, and on street parking, which depending on the time of day you may need to pay for.  You can spend from 1-2 hours here.

8. Saughton park

A personal favourite of mine, again from going there as a child.  The play park is second only to the Meadows in my opinion! I would even say it's better as it can be quieter.

Over the coming years the whole park is being renovated so it's going to be even better! Once you're finished in the play park you can go for a walk around the rest of the park, there are great open spaces, places to play, and lots of hide and seek spaces.

You may know that Saughton park also has an awesome skate park for older kids. 

You can see more about the park here: Parklife

There's good car parking and bus links.  There are public toilets in the winter garden.  You can spend anything from 1-2 hours here.

9. The Gallery of Modern Art

Galleries are great places for kids, remember kids can play anywhere, and everywhere is an adventure.  The front lawn of the Gallery is amazing, it's beautiful and provides the open space kids need.  Inside the building are some cool exhibits.  There's also a lovely cafe with some outdoor space around the back. 

You can read more about the Gallery here: Gallery  Easy to get around with the buggy. There is parking, for a small fee.  There are good bus links.  There are toilets inside.   We've spent 30mins - 1.5 hours there. 

10. The National Museum of Scotland

What can be said about the Museum on Chambers Street that's not already been said?

It's another of my real favourites, I've spent so many hours here over my life and love how it's constantly changing and opening up new spaces.  My son loves the room with the fish game, and discovery tree. This room is on the fifth floor, you could spend days in the Museum and still not see everything!

It's great for running around and has now got some good lift access and nice big toilets. 

There's great bus links and some on street parking you'll need to pay for, depending on the time of day, and day of the week.  There's so many places for snack or lunch around the Museum, and there's a cafe inside as well.  We quite often combine a trip to the Museum with a trip to The Meadows as well as they are so close to each other. 

You can read more about the Museum here: Chambers St

Thomas Lynch