Edinburgh - Royal Mile
|The Royal Mile is historically the heart of Edinburgh, a street that connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Royal Mile (it is a mile long) is comprised of four different named streets, Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High St., Canongate. It's a lively, busy thoroughfare - walk the full length with kids, and along the way you'll see all sorts of street performers - fire eaters, illusionists, people reciting poetry, singers, and always bagpipers.
|Palace of Holyroodhouse
St. Giles' Cathedral (High Kirk of Edinburgh) – A church has stood on this site since the 9th century. The church is in 13th century Gothic style – check out the fancy spire on the top before you go in.
|On the left side of the church is a statue of John Knox, the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, who was the minister of St. Giles. On the right side is a bronze portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born and grew up in Edinburgh. In the Preston Aisle, colorful banners of the Knights of the Thistle hang from the ceiling. Adjacent is the 17th century memorial for James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, holding a large sword.
|Thistle Chapel – This is the chapel for the Order of the Thistle, a royal order of 16 Scottish knights appointed the Queen or King, and one of the highest honors in Scotland. The ornate chapel has Gothic wood carvings over sixteen seats, each one capped with a crest, stained glass windows, and carved medallions on the ceiling.
Mercat Cross – On the east side on the square around the cathedral is a Mercat (market) Cross, topped with a unicorn holding a blue and white flag (royal emblem of Scotland). The monument is decorated with different heraldic medallions, such as stag with a cross (the "holy rood"), red Scottish lion, blue and white flag with book (University of Edinburgh), royal arms of Scotland. Traditionally punishments, business and public announcements were made at the Mercat Cross.
Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition – Store has tartans in every shape and size, an automated tartan loom zipping back and forth, and exhibition of kilts and famous clan figures, such as Rob Roy. Whole family can dress up in full Scottish attire and have your picture taken.
Dunbar's Close Garden – Next to Canongate Kirk, this is an enclosed garden with large grassy area, shade and benches. Bring your picnic lunch.
|Museum of Childhood – The museum is filled with toys of earlier centuries – model trains and cars, dollhouses ( including a miniature house made for Queen Elizabeth II on her 6th birthday), toy soldiers, board games, marionettes, extensive doll collection with wax dolls, French dolls, teddy bears having a picnic, toy ferris wheel, old-fashioned cars and airplanes. Toys are also set out for kids to play with. The museum is free.
Scottish Parliament building – A new modern building for the Scottish parliament, it's very different from the Victorian architecture typical of the Royal Mile, but very much a part of Edinburgh today. The exterior of the building is something kids can relate to - geometric granite chunks and windows covered with oak pieces like bunches of twigs. On the Canongate Wall are Scottish rocks (kids can touch everything on the wall), quotations from famous writers "Bright is the ring of words" - Robert Louis Stevenson), and outline of the Old Town skyline.
|Tip: From the Scottish Parliament, it's just steps to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Clarinda's Tea Room – Stop into this old-fashioned tea room with lace tablecloths and china plates for delicious scones with jam and butter, or kids can also choose fairy cakes, rockbuns, toffee crispy, shortbread, Albert cake, lemon crunch. (Clarinda's is just before Dunbar's Close.)