Written by parents and carers, Edinburgh for Under Fives (EFUF) is a popular guidebook for families covering Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.
[Lomond Shores – [Picture: Clear Photography]
Every month on WOW247, the local experts at EFUF blog about family-friendly attractions, events, cafés and days out in Edinburgh and beyond in an essential new feature for parents. EFUF editor Cathy Tingle shares her top tips for June.
June is Dad’s special month, so start as you mean to go on by heading to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune for a trip out that he’s bound to enjoy. The attraction holds more than enough excitement to occupy wee ones, allowing fathers to take a quiet moment to peruse displays about the history of aviation. Summon the kids for the Fantastic Flight exhibition, however – here you can test your pilot skills, land an airship and try out paper aeroplane designs.
In this hangar-based museum, which houses a large variety of aeroplanes to clamber up into, the main attraction is Concorde. Inside, it gets busy so you can’t dawdle – but you can file through as many times as you need. After exploring all that the large airfield has to offer you’ll need refreshing, so wing your way to the Aviator Café − light, airy and decorated with a flight theme. Look out for the aeroplane-shaped biscuits!
At the National Museum of Scotland on 15 June it’s the fun-packed and free Father’s Day Family Takeover, organised with Dads Rock. Appropriately on this day for dads, superhero costumes will be positively encouraged with a fancy dress parade and superhero trail. Activity providers from Messy Munchkins to Monkey Music, Talking Tots to Ceilidh Kids, Whale Arts to Happy Ears will keep little ones busy alongside quieter sessions from Baby Calm, Baby Matters and Lazy Daisy.
With Bookbug in the Imagine Gallery and sketching workshops around the museum, Hip Hop lessons from Step it up Dance and balloon shaping workshops from Pick Your Own Party, there really is something for everyone in the family. There are even free dads’ desserts with a meal in the Brasserie. Just remember to visit the Sign-Up Station in the Grand Gallery when you arrive to register for any limited-place sessions.
Every dad should have some magic up his sleeve to disperse moments of family tension – a paternal skill as essential as nappy changing. Until they start offering magic lessons alongside antenatal ones on the NHS, however, fathers will have to pick up tips where they can. Fortunately, help is at hand − the Edinburgh International Magic Festival starts at the end of the month. For dads seeking inspiration, British Children’s Entertainer National Champion Colonel Custard’s Magical Mayhem, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, should do the trick.
We’re celebrating sure-fire hits this month in considering where to find food – reliable, central, child friendly and packed with the crowd-pleasing combination of pizza and pasta. Head to George IV Bridge (where you’ll find Pizza Express), North Bridge (Zizzi, Prezzo or Pizza Express) or Queensferry Street (Zizzi and Pizza Express). All provide drawing materials on arrival and have good children’s menus with food options that most kids (even mine) will wolf down.
If free parking’s up there in your list of important things to consider, think of heading to Ocean Terminal where you can find Pizza Express and Zizzi, or Newhaven Harbour where there’s another branch of Prezzo. Or, if you want to stay central but fancy something a bit different (although still a chain), why not try Jamie’s Italian, with its amazing “Ultimate Sharing Plank”, at the Assembly Rooms? Or visit Vittoria, back on George IV Bridge, which even when packed on a Saturday evening provides a slick enough service to ensure that children feel special and that heart-warming family favourites are impeccably delivered to tables without delay. Colouring-in and children’s menus are standard at both of these restaurants too, lest you worry.
Covering more than 170 acres, you can’t expect to see all of Callendar House and Country Park in a day, but it’s a great place for a day out. The House dates from the 14th century and within its grounds, as well as a section of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site, you’ll find putting, crazy golf, go-karting and a bouncy castle as well as a large boating lake with swan-shaped pedalo boats. That said, many children don’t feel the need to explore past Castle Callendar − a large enclosed playpark with a “castle” to climb on, three slides, tyre swings, a large sandpit and plenty more besides. Elsewhere in the grounds there are ample paths and plenty of rolling grassed hills – don’t forget scooters and pushbikes!
Within the House itself the restored 1825 kitchen is most likely to interest children − a roaring fire and costumed interpreters create an interactive experience which is completed with samples of food made to historical recipes. If you’re wanting something more substantial than 19th century gingerbread, however, there’s a child-friendly tearoom with lovely views of the grounds.
June is the start of holiday season, and if you’re heading north this summer there are two attractions in Inverness-shire, just 15 miles apart, that are worth a visit.
You can spend a full day at Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Carrbridge, with the kids still asking for more at the end of it. Older children will enjoy the climbing wall, Tarzan trail and wild water coaster. The littler ones will be amazed by the lights and optical illusions of the Bamboozeleum and the wild forest maze. It’s a proper outdoor venue, so go on a nice day or make sure you’re dressed for squally weather!
There are lots of reasons to visit the Highland Wildlife Park, and if you’re an Edinburgh Zoo member there’s one extra – your entry is free. View animals here that you won’t see anywhere else in Scotland, such as European elk and bison. The Japanese snow monkeys by the Antlers Coffee Shop are particularly entertaining, as is the bromance of Walker and Arktos, the Park’s famous polar bear buddies. Once a runaround is in order, visit the recently installed adventure playground.
The new Edinburgh for Under Fives is out now!
Packed with 1000+ reviews by local parents and carers of child-friendly things to do and places to go, the book includes a year’s FREE online subscription so you can quickly access listings and maps on a smartphone or tablet when you’re out and about. Buy edition 14 at www.efuf.co.uk, where you can also buy a subscription to the handy online-only version.