Family Days Out in West Lothian – West Lothian, just outside the city of Edinburgh offers rich pickings for family travels, with the added bonus that you can nip into Scotland’s capital as you wish. Here are some of our highlights. *Contains affiliate links
Where to Stay – Dalmahoy Country Club and Hotel
I don’t usually lead with accommodation but Dalmahoy Country Club and Hotel is such a family escape with plenty to do on site. We’re talking 215 rooms, swimming pool, beauty salon/spa, two restaurants, outdoor playground, pitch and putt, acres of parkland to explore, two golf courses, but we were drawn by the indoor camping. Book your accommodation, then for a £20 supplement a wee tent is erected in your room (ideal for one or two children) complete with sleeping bags, torches, plus a book and soft toy (the toy and book are gifts to take home). My kids absolutely adored the tent.
I didn’t necessarily expect the kids to sleep all night in the tent, but they did. Twice! We also enjoyed the children’s afternoon tea, which felt like a huge treat after months of lockdown. For prices and availability check the latest here.
Jupiter Artland Sculpture Park, near Wilkieston – Family Days Out in West Lothian
Minutes from Dalmahoy is the transporting Jupiter Artland. It’s absolutely captivating for all ages, and really engages kids as they seek out the weird and wonderful installations in the woodland. The stories and horror they came up with surrounding the melancholy Weeping Girls was imagaintive to say the least. My little one was drawn to the walls of amethyst that twinkled in the sun in The Light Pours Out of Me. And my eldest loved exploring Charles Jencks’ Cells of Life.
My favourite artwork was called Gateway, and it’s a delightful swimming pool. I always love pools and find water really calming but this one is whimsical and stunning, featuring over 11,000 hand-painted tiles. Public swimming sessions were held before Covid and are due to resume soon – keep and eye on their website or sign up for Jupiter Artland’s newsletter to find out more.
Walking around the park and gardens took us roughly two hours then we stopped at the cafe for a coffee. My pal who visited in the summer months spent four hours exploring, so I’d allow at least two hours. Parking is easy, and a family ticket was £25 when we visited.
Conifox Adventure Park, near Kirkliston – Family Days Out in West Lothian
For something aimed at the kids that gets them outside and away from screens, tablets and computer games, Conifox ticks the boxes. The activities here are relatively straightforward but it’s the kind of place where parents can catch up over a coffee as the kids while away the day. My children loved the gokarts that they peddled furiously, as competitive dad joined in as well.
Several springers, plus an inflatable pillow and a mix of space hoppers provided ample jumping and bouncing opportunities. Off-Road Pedal Tractors, Kid’s Pedal Tractor Farm, a chess board, underground tunnels, swings and balance beams were on offer, and we spent a lot of time at the football pitch and putt or 9-hole ‘FootGolf’, where you kicked a ball over mounds and through tunnels from flagpole to flagpole. I really appreciated seeing my kids embracing quite traditional outdoor games and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The Stables Bistro was closed when we visited (due to Covid) but usually it dishes up breakfasts, lunches and BBQs with seating for 100 inside and a further 200 outside. When we visited a family ticket was £26, with ample free parking.
Almond Valley Heritage Centre, near Livingston
Another one for the kids, combining animals and fun. The heritage park is a social enterprise and an accredited museum working closely with West Lothian council. Its story began in the late 1960s with a campaign to save the historic buildings of Livingston Mill from demolition.
When we visited we dug for ‘fossils’, met baby calves and lambs as well as huge Highland cows plus played on the trampoline springers, flying fox and subterranean trolley rides, and visited a WW2 garden. Read a full review here.
Some very cool activities are temporarily on hold due to Covid, including catching a wee train, taking a tractor and trailer ride, and animal feeding sessions and talks. The slightly epic indoor Adventure Zone and soft play will also reopen when Covid allows.
In terms of pricing adults are £9.50 and children (aged 3-15) cost £7.50 but you could spend most of the day here. Ample free parking too.
Five Sisters Zoo near Calder
Another one for animal fans, but this time more exotic, Five Sisters Zoo includes lions, bears and snow leopards – in West Lothian! Cute meerkats, lemurs and otters are also on site, and a new red panda called Rufio. Be sure to look out for daily feeds and talks as they resume. Five Sisters Zoo is also home to a garden centre, restaurant and soft play so could work well for a multi-generational trip as soon as Covid permits. A family ticket is currently £42.00.
Other key highlights to consider include Linlithgow Palace (Historic Scotland) the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V, the House of Binns (National Trust for Scotland), Beecraigs Country Park (apparently home to deer, Shetland Sheep, Highland Cattle and Belted Galloway Cattle) Hopetoun House and the Scottish Owl Centre. Happy travels.