If you find yourself with some extra time after visiting all of the floors in the Camera Obscura, and your kids are still itching for some activities, we can recommend you pay a visit to either the National Museum or the Museum of Childhood, the latter one located right on the Royal Mile.
The museum is the first of its kind in the world; it is dedicated to the history of childhood with a great collection of old toys and board games to admire with nostalgia, you might find things you or your parents used to play with, and you’ll get to share it with your kids. Look out for the Puppet Theatre, they might have it on depending of the time of your visit, and don’t forget to snoop around the gift shop, they have a wide selection of Scottish books for children. There’s no fee to enter but the building is not that buggy-friendly to be honest, so you might have to leave any prams by the desk and take your kids with you for the tour.
For the ones that are a little bit more daring, there are a lot of outdoor options despite the cold January weather: Princes Street Garden, The Royal Botanic Garden and Gorgie Farms are great places to explore with your winter jackets, not that far from the Camera Obscura.
Princes Street Gardens is the closest one; the garden is beautiful all year round but will be closing around 18:00 each day during the winter months. At the West end of the garden there is a play area with ramps, tunnels, slides and roundabouts suitable for toddlers. Older kids might enjoy better some train spotting from the Waverley Bridge on the East side of the garden. It might be a tad too cold for a picnic but you can enjoy strolling around with a great view of the Edinburgh Castle above you and the Walter Scott Monument next to you.
We can also recommend paying a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden, it is a beautiful place in all seasons and it is really accessible for prams, with levelled and ramped ground floor access and lifts. Inside there is a Chinese garden, a rock garden, the Scottish Heath Garden and the Queen Mother’s Memorial which looks like a little maze that kids will definitely enjoy and it could also serve as great location for an impromptu photoshoot of your favourite baby model.
The garden is free of entry but you do need to pay a small fee for the Glasshouses, which might be worth checking out, especially due to the cold, unfortunately they are not that accessible for buggies, so be warned. The garden is so big that they have a restaurant in the John Hope Gateway building, and two cafes: the East Gate Cafe and the Terrace Café for any snacks or toilet check-ins.
Last but not least, we are also big fans of Gorgie Farms: an urban farm with a café, just over a mile away from the Camera Obscura. It is a great opportunity for kids to get close to farm animals: pigs, cows, goats, sheep, chicken, etc. There is no entry fee but donations are welcome as the farm offers different services to the community, fresh produce, pet minding, etc. We are pretty sure that kids will love finishing their day out in town surrounded by mud, animals and vegetables.
Written by Simon Maracara