Scotland has been on my travel bucket list and it exceeded my expectations after our spring break family trip to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands! Admittedly, it felt extra special just be traveling anywhere after a long adventure hiatus over the past two years. We started our trip in Edinburgh and explored for a few days before taking the Scotrail trains out to Inverness, and then ended our trip back in Edinburgh for one more day before heading home. In between we packed in lots of site seeing and some seriously delicious meals, all while soaking up some unseasonably perfect, sunny spring weather in beautiful Scotland.
STAY. We stayed at The Balmoral in Edinburgh and I can’t say enough good things about the experience. The hotel location can’t be beat, it was central all of the sightseeing locations we wanted to hit, and it was very accessible from the airport on the Edinburgh Trams. Our room was incredibly comfortable for a family of 3, we had a king bed with a kids cot, and still had plenty of room (the high ceilings made it feel especially spacious). We got to use the pool in the spa a few times, and they had some kids floats and kkckboards which was a nice touch. For a luxury hotel I was so impressed with the kid-friendly amenities – from kids sized bathrooms and slippers to a step stool and kids bath products in the bathroom. Jane also was treated to milk and cookies and stuffed owl on arrival, which she proceeded to bring with everywhere on our trip! We also enjoyed meals in one of the onsite restaurants – more on that below! Tip: if you have an American Express card check out the Amex card perks – the hotel and amenity credits that came with our card sold us on booking this hotel! On the back end of our trip after returning from the Scottish Highlands, we spent one night at The George – an IHG property. It was also a great location and easy to access the tram to the airport as we wrapped up our stay.EAT. We ate so well in Scotland, the food exceeded my expectations at every meal! In Edinburgh we enjoyed a jet-lagged early Easter dinner at Brasserie Prince in our hotel, and the food was really delicious. I am a big gin and tonic fan and enjoyed some of the local gin varieties on recommendation from the staff, the kids menu was also robust with options outside of the typical fish and chips (which we still ate plenty of during the week!). We also took advantage of Brasserie Prince’s breakfast since we were staying in the hotel! Another one of our all-star meals was at The Ivy – which I picked for their delightful cocktail menu and stunning decor (this place is the definition of “instagrammable”). The food was delicious, one of my favorite meals of the trip was a seared scallop appetizer we had here, along with an over the top Easter dessert that looked like a robins egg nest. The service at The Ivy was impeccable – I particularly appreciate how thoughtful they were about having kids dining in a more upscale location, it’s a must visit!
Civerinos was a fun, casual spot to stop for a quick beer and pizza while we were walking down the Royal Mile – the inside has wild pink decor and quirky art, and there was a small patio outside perfect for a little rest in between site seeing stops. Another fun, casual spot for a bite and drink was the Festival Village outdoor cocktail gardens around Waverly Station (right next to our hotel) – we had some tasty bites and sips while we waited for our hotel room to be ready and it was really nice spot to enjoy a warm sunny day. On our last night we had an early dinner at Whiski Rooms and they have all sorts of different tasting flights so you can try a range of local scotch! We had so many places we wanted to try during our stay and didn’t get to them all, The Larder is on my list for breakfast next time we visit and Mary’s Milk Bar for homemade ice cream!EXPLORE. We tried to plan a really family-friendly itinerary for this trip, and I’m so happy with all we were able to see and do during our Edinburgh stay. As soon as we got to the city on Easter Sunday, we dropped off our bags at the hotel and hopped on the Red Bus Bistro – a vintage double decker bus that offers a high-tea service while you drive around and see the local sites. It was a fun way to get our bearings in the city upon arrival, and a really festive, entertaining way to have a tea service! You can upgrade your tickets on the bus to include teapots of tasty gin cocktails, which was a no-brainer for me. The bus makes a stop for pictures too, and Jane loved getting to sit in the drivers seat of the bus for a photo-op.On our second day we started off by touring Edinburgh Castle and it was a really cool experience for adults and kids alike. Jane loved the big canons and seeing the Crown Jewels, and the views from the very top of the castle were breathtaking. They recommended reserving tickets in advance, we had the first time slot of the day and it was nice that it never felt crowded. After leaving the castle we did a long stroll down the Royal Mile to check out the touristy shops, stopping to take in some street performers, and winding our way down the famous Victoria Street to look at the colorful storefronts.On our final day in Edinburgh we got tickets to Camera Obscura on a recommendation from one of my neighbors, which is an optical illusion museum with different interactive art and exhibits spread out among several floors of a building on the Royal Mile. The very top of the building is an observatory with rooftop views of the castle and city, as well as an exhibit with the actual Camera Obscura from the 1800s, which uses daylight and reflections to project a live image internally onto a table within a round dark chamber. It was a really fun way to end the trip, and a very family-friendly attraction!