Family Days Out – Edinburgh Zoo

We often say mealtimes in our house resemble feeding time at the zoo, check so where better to take the nippers for a recent day out but Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland’s largest wildlife attraction.

Upon arrival, both my son and daughter had very specific requests to see their favourite animals, flamingos – because they are pink- for our five year old and monkeys for our youngest, as I sense he fully embodies how close in nature us humans are to them!

As luck would have it, our trusty map showed us the flamingos were just round the corner from where we had arrived.  Imagine our giggles when our son squealed with delight “I see them” at the picture of the flamingo on the side of the ice-cream kiosk just beside the real birds themselves.

 

We were in the monkey house only briefly (well, they might have wanted to keep my youngest) but the antics and indeed cheekiness of the different monkeys had us in stitches. The Budongo trail, a modern and state of the art home to some celebrity chimpanzees (the stars of a BBC2 Natural World programme) is a must. It’s both a great experience in itself with lots of interactive learning activities for the kids to participate in, and being indoors it’s also a good place stop when the rain comes on.

The safari reserve is at the top of a very steep hill, perfect for those who are happy to stride it out and work up a sweat, but we took full advantage of the zebra striped safari truck (complete with commentary and humorous stories about the animals from the driver) and took the walk back down. The wooden walkway half way down is a good resting spot for little legs and gives not only a great view of zebras and gazelles but also stunning views over Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills.

The penguin parade, which takes place daily, is good fun though disappointingly on the day we went there were only three penguins in the mood to participate.

A visit to the sun bear enclosure was new for us, and the interactive area with height chart provided a hilarious view of how long a humans tongue would be based on their height if the same rules applied to us as the sun bears. I could probably lick an ice-cream in the freezer without having to even get off the sofa!

There are plenty of spots to unpack a picnic, and two restaurants / cafes if you’d rather go for a hot option.  We found the various play parks dotted around the site great if the kids fancied a stop off, and the tree trekking attraction looked great fun for the older children.

We’ve not yet been to see the giant pandas since their arrival  last December but we’re sure they’ll be as delighted with their new home as we were with our day to the zoo. We didn’t manage to fit everything in and are planning another visit soon. In fact, ‘we’re all going to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow…’

The views expressed in this review are my own and no sponsorship or payment was made for this review.

Family Days Out – National Museum of Scotland

The redevelopment of the National Museum of Scotland has been quite a big deal. With an investment just shy of £50 million, generic cialis the site in the heart of Edinburgh has been transformed and upon its re-launch, I couldn’t wait to have a family day out to see what was on offer.  The last time I was in the Museum of Scotland, I was knee high to a grasshopper and remember finding it a vast and intimidating place, but packed full to the brim with new discoveries to be made.  Imagine my delight to find that feeling was still the same nearly 20 years on. Walking into the main hall was like stepping back in time but having the memory coloured in with brighter and more vivid colouring pens.  The impressiveness of the hall was not lost on our two children either, who both exclaimed an audible ‘Wow’ almost simultaneously as they took in the quite spectacular space.

I was struck by the amazing smell of an old museum, which took me by surprise as the new modern glass facade on the outside tricked me into thinking I was entering some sleek minamilist boutique hotel.  I actually wondered whether it was being piped through the building like they do with fresh bread in a supermarket. Then of course we discovered the amazing collections within. Exhibits dating back 130 million years just make the mind boggle and the 12 metre long T-Rex skeleton is simply staggering.

Armed with our map we attempted a planful approach to seeing each exhibit that we really wanted to see, but the sheer excitement and hunger to soak it all up found us wandering around mouths wide open and pointing here, there and eveywhere at something else that had caught our eye. The levels are carefully planned and well segregated, from Natural World displays, World Cultures, Art and Design, Science and Technology and of course, Scotland, there was no way we were going to cover all ground in an afternoon.

The interactive exhibits geared specifically towards families were fantastic and introduced learning concepts in a fun way (how does the wind blow and how do we lift things being just two that caught our attention for some time.) The Imagine gallery was a bit hit with our under fives, giving them opportunity to dress up in outfits from different cultures, make a Chinese dragon dance, play the bongo drums and an assortment of other musical instruments and create their own stories with imaginatively designed word jigsaw puzzles.

Access and facilities for families was great, with toilets and baby changing on every level, glass lifts for easy buggy transits to the next level of exploration. Eating and drinking options cover everything from grabbing a quick coffee between discoveries to languishing over a leisurely lunch in the impressive and much coveted Tower Restaurant.

A truly fantastic place to take a  family day out – and create new memories from some very old things!

Yes, National Museum of Scotland, I like what you’ve done with the place.

Do you rate a day at your local museum as a family day out? Whats been your most memorable moment visiting a museum? Share your comments and your stories below, we’d love to hear.

 

The views expressed in this review are my own and no sponsorship or payment was made for this review.

Image Credit Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

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