Edinburgh For Under Fives: Family tips for July
Edinburgh For Under Fives

Looking for ideas to entertain the kids during the summer holidays in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife?

Edinburgh For Under Fives
[Picture: Clear Photography]

Written by parents and carers, Edinburgh for Under Fives (EFUF) is a popular guidebook for families covering Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.

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 July.


Prestongrange Industrial Museum is a great choice for summer days as much of it is located outside, with old train carriages and engines to climb over and the remains of old industrial buildings to explore. It’s also free to enter − good news if your wallet is already creaking under the burden of providing entertainment during the holidays.

Follow the old railway tracks into the forest to spot some wildlife with the littler ones in the family, or simply let them run around in the ample outdoor space. There are outdoor toys galore to play with too, but if the rain sets in there’s a great children’s play area in the visitor’s centre where, in the same place where industrial workers used to gather for their refreshment, you can find the Pithead Canteen.

On selected Sundays over the summer there are tea parties to enjoy at Prestongrange too – check website for details.



The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival will be filling the city with tunes for much of July, and on July 20  its Carnival Parade will create a real party atmosphere. Starting at the top of the Mound at 2pm, it travels to Princes Street Gardens where there’ll be music, dancing, acrobatics, puppetry and more. The event promises to be a real spectacle for little ones but once they tire of the noise and general hustle and bustle, hop across to Boxsmall at Festival Square (running throughout July and August) for a more chilled-out offering of deli food and boutique shopping for you, and a giant jumping pillow for them.

From July 30 and into August the Pleasance opens its doors to younger Fringe audiences with a range of exciting and enthralling theatre experiences, from Mil’s Trills and the Big Red Bath to Dinosaur Zoo and Emily Brown and the Thing. Now’s the time to book your tickets, but even if you’re not catching a show, from the end of July it’ll be worth popping into to Courtyard to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the dedicated children’s area.



After a couple of false starts it looks like we can finally say that summer is here! So why not head to Edinburgh’s own seaside for some fun − and then some food. Portobello offers a range of family-friendly cafes and restaurants, starting with that old favourite, Reds, on the High Street. Pioneer of the play café, Reds has an extensive children’s menu plus hearty home-made bistro fare for the adults, two small play areas and plenty of space for pushchairs.

The Beach House Café, complete with bunting, marine décor and sea views, will really get you in the holiday mood. Get a seat at the window to watch the sea, or sit outside just next to the beach. Food is locally sourced and mainly organic with Meze platters, burgers, soups, tarts and a range of breads including seaweed − plus enough milkshake, ice cream and cake to keep any child happy. Or pop across the road to The Espy for a cheery seaside pub atmosphere, a great choice of food and drinks and a warm welcome for children.

The Tide is a new entry for this edition of Edinburgh for Under Fives. Hidden away from the main stretch of Portobello’s Promenade, it sits quietly but confidently at the bottom of King’s Road offering bacon rolls, toasties, soup, decent coffee and tasty home baking. Perfect for a break from the busy prom or a quick bite to eat that won’t break the bank, The Tide also has a small play area. While the little ones are availing themselves of the fun there, the adults can peruse the local art and craft on display.

• Best beaches to visit with kids in East Lothian and Fife

Day out

dunbar harbour

If you fancy exploring a seaside town that’s a little further afield, why not head to Dunbar? With a playpark, softplay café, swimming pool, harbour and the John Muir Country Park all within short distances of each other, it’s a great place to spend the day with children of all ages, whatever’s happening with the weather.

After the 40-minute car ride from Edinburgh, Lauderdale Park on Bayswell Road is a good place to start your visit by burning off some energy. Situated in a beautiful well-kept walled garden with seating areas and picnic tables, the park contains a fantastic play area with a real range of equipment that caters for all ages, including climbing frames, swings, slides, sandpits and a zip wire. Parents can enjoy a takeaway coffee from the Garden Path Café, just next to the play area, while watching the children.

Just down the road is Dunbar Leisure Pool, which hosts a variety of water fun such as a bubble bed, jets and a wave machine. There’s a beach area with water toys for littler ones, and older children will love the flume.

Head a bit further on from the pool and you reach the harbour, where you can spot boats galore and, if you’re lucky, Sammy, Dunbar harbour’s resident seal.

The ruins of Dunbar castle in the harbour are located right at the east end of the John Muir Country Park. If you’re in the mood for exploring, follow the clifftop path with its incredible views of the Bass Rock and visit the beautiful stretch of sandy beach at Belhaven Bay.

Or, if you’re in more of a lunch-and-softplay sort of mood (or the weather decides for you), head back into town to Splatz Activity Café which has a ball blower, soft slide and ceramics painting, plus delicious café fayre to refresh you all after a busy few hours.

Beyond Edinburgh

In July, Craigtoun Country Park near St Andrews is in its peak season, opening daily with all sorts to entertain and delight, including a recently revamped adventure playground, bouncy castle, trampolines, a very popular little red train that gives passengers two circuits of the park, pedal cars and a large boating pond which you can cross with rowing boats and pedalloes (life-jackets are provided). Although most of these activities attract a small charge, entry to the park, including the playground, is free. There’s a café but the park is an ideal place to picnic, with extensive grounds and lovely big old trees to shelter under. A mobile ice cream stand completes the summery picture.

Read the regular series of Edinburgh For Under Fives guides and reviews on WOW247

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 of Edinburgh for Under Fives at bookshops and gift shops throughout Edinburgh or at www.efuf.co.uk, where you can also buy access to the handy online-only version.

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All pictures: © TSPL / EN licence unless otherwise stated