Are you looking for a family-friendly outing in Edinburgh that combines nature, education, and fun? Look no further than the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) or as it’s known locally – ‘the Botanics’. Nestled just a mile from the city center, this expansive 70-acre garden offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Let’s dive into why the Botanics is the perfect destination for a day out with your kids, along with some essential information to make your visit memorable.

Exploring the Gardens

Start your adventure by embarking on the 2.7-kilometer circular trail, a leisurely stroll that showcases the garden’s diverse landscapes and botanical wonders. This easy route typically takes around 38 minutes to complete, making it suitable for little legs and curious minds alike. Along the way, you’ll encounter notable features such as the serene Chinese Hillside, the world-famous Rock Garden, and the towering Giant Redwood trees in the Woodland Garden. At Easter and Halloween there is usually a Botanics Trail for kids – usually with a chocolate treat at the end. It’s usually just a couple of pounds and a great way to entertain the kids whilst getting some fresh air. You can see what’s on here but we also have this great post – with video – of when the International Children’s Festival came to the Botanics!

Wild flowers outside the glasshouse at the Botanics Edinburgh

Admission and Facilities

One of the best parts about visiting the Botanics? Admission is entirely free! Although donations are welcome. The Glasshouses were the only part which required payment (along with events like Lights at Christmas) but there are currently closed to the public due to ongoing restoration and construction work. While exploring the gardens, you’ll find accessible toilets conveniently located at various points, ensuring a comfortable experience for your family.


Feeling peckish after your walk? Head over to the Terrace Cafe, a family-friendly restaurant within the gardens, to refuel with delicious food and beverages. If the weather permits, why not pack a picnic and enjoy an alfresco lunch surrounded by nature? Just remember to respect the garden’s guidelines and refrain from climbing trees as so many of them are protected species.

Gardener's cottage in the Botanics Edinburgh. A floral bush is in bloom to the right with pink flowers. A small patch of daffodils is in the lower left and the sky is blue.

Pets and Parking

Planning to bring your furry friend along for the adventure? Then I’m afraid you’ll need to stick to Inverleith park instead – which is just over the road and has lots of lovely routes (and a superb coffee hut by Cafe Milk)! Assistance dogs are allowed but otherwise its pet free. There is a huge amount of wildlife to spot though – with an array of squirrels and birds who have found a home there.

As for parking, you’ll find free parking spots available on Saturdays and Sundays on Arboretum Place, Inverleith Terrace, and Inverleith Row opposite the East Gate. Please note that parking meters are operational on weekdays and the traffic wardens are swift! Otherwise, there is a bus stop close to the East Gate and a bus straight from the city centre.

Educational Opportunities

Beyond its stunning scenery, the RBGE serves as a hub for education and conservation. Engage your children with the garden’s rich biodiversity and learn about ongoing conservation projects focused on Scottish biodiversity, plants, and climate change. Don’t miss the chance to explore Inverleith House, a historic building that now houses a contemporary art gallery curated by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Whether you’re a local looking for a weekend escape or a visitor seeking a memorable experience in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden offers something for everyone. From leisurely walks amidst breathtaking landscapes to educational opportunities that inspire curiosity, this botanical gem promises a day of exploration and enjoyment for the whole family. So pack your bags, grab your little ones, and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the RBGE – Edinburgh’s ultimate destination for family-friendly fun!

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