Hops and Skips

Snapshots: “Soaking in” Edinburgh with Kids

I first visited Edinburgh with my friend Kati on our European backpacking trip the summer after college graduation. It was the 2nd stop on our 4-week, 12-city tour. We were 22 with few responsibilities and even less money, but we had boundless energy; we probably spent no more than 60 hours in Edinburgh but spent at least 45 of those covering the city’s grounds.

Fast forward 15 years, to this summer’s week-long visit with our 10-person extended family. More time, but much less ground covered.

The pace of travel changes with kids. I can’t fathom the level of city-hopping I did in my 20s, and I undoubtedly leave cities without checking boxes of sites or experiences I’d planned to see. But there are upsides. This slower speed does bring about more intention traveling, allowing deeper and, perhaps, more authentic experiences. Most seasoned travelers, and probably every travel publication, would argue that this is the “better” way to see the world, but I do sometimes miss the “don’t stop til you drop,” “you’ll sleep when you’re dead” approach to a new location.

Edinburgh is a city that beckons visitors with its history, but, chasing four kids through the city, the most we could get was a Cliffnotes version. There are countless famed sites that invite thorough exploration, but we experienced Edinburgh more through osmosis than intention–we climbed 17th-century staircases, strode across 19th-century bridges, ate a morning snack in the shadow of a 16th-century fortress. These days, my circumstances may require a more languid approach to travel, but I’d rather be soaking in a city passively than not at all.

Locations featured: Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Camera Obscura, Princes Street Gardens Playground.

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