Places to Visit in Scotland
- Edinburgh for The Family - Outside Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Butterfly Farm and Insect World>
There are necessary fences and barriers separating the animals from the humans at Edinburgh Zoo, but at the Butterfly Farm and Insect World you can't get much closer than some of the exhibits landing on your hand, shoulder - or head. There are not only exotic butterflies and tropical birds flying free, but you can handle snakes and spiders and see poisonous frogs and scorpions. Since all the "exhibits" are inside, this is an ideal place to visit if the weather is not so good.
On the other hand, you really need good weather if you take the Helicopter City Tour which operates from beside the Butterfly Farm and the adjoining Dobbie's Garden Centre. You fly over the castle, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile at 1,500 feet. The helicopter does not fly every day, so check on availability.
Beecraigs Country Park>
15 miles west of Edinburgh, a few miles south of Linlithgow Palace> and high in the Bathgate Hills, Beecraigs Country Park is nearly 1,000 acres of recreation and parkland. The view from the highest point in the park allows you to see Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran in the river Clyde to the west and Bass Rock in the Forth estuary to the east. There is a trout farm and a red deer farm (with a pedestrian walkway and viewing platform so that you can get close to the animals). The adventure play area has lots of climbing frames, nets and rope swings which keep energetic children amused for hours - while Mum and Dad have a seat!
Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway>
Also 15 miles east of Edinburgh, Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway has railway station with a collection of steam and diesel trains and a railway line on which you can take a trip on one of these old trains. There is an exhibition area and you can have a drink and a snack in the "Waiting Room."
Deep Sea World>
Come face to face with Europe's largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks - and watch the divers hand feed them. The "underwater safari" is the longest in the world, stretching 112 metres under a million gallons of water. There is Scotland's largest collection of piranhas and an array of frogs and amphibians in an Amazonian rain forest. If you are a qualified diver and member of a dive club you too can swim with the sharks. You can book your ticket in advance via the Web-site.
Museum of Flight>
This is located 16 miles east of Edinburgh at East Fortune aerodrome. There are old and modern aircraft on display in two large hangars and outside, ranging from a 100-year-old Hawk (the oldest surviving hang glider flown in Scotland), through a biplane Tiger Moth to a Battle of Britain Spitfire and a 1944 rocket-powered Messerschmit Komet. More modern types include a Mig15, Comet 4, Lightning and a Vulcan bomber (the type which saw active service in the Falklands War).
Scottish Mining Museum>
Experience the every-day life of a coal miner in what was at one time an active mine. There are three storeys of interactive displays and exhibitions, "magic helmets" incorporating remote-control headphones to bring the tour to life, a "virtual" coal-face and an entertaining hands-on activity zone.
>Royal Observatory Visitor Centre
Three miles south of Edinburgh's city centre, the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre is housed in the original 1894 Observatory building and contains several exhibit areas and two large telescopes to introduce the general public and visiting groups to the world of modern astronomy and space research. There are hands-on exhibits, CD-ROMs about space and astronomy. From mid October to the end of March there are observing sessions on Friday evenings using the 6" refracting telescope.
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