Well...thank you for all the advice! Camera Obscura was fab. Very entertaining (children running full pelt into mirrors without a tear). Don't under any circumstances stay in room 508 at the Carlton Hotel though, unless you want to have your brain baked over night. Disgustingly hot room!
Camera obscura is really good, as is dynamic earth.
There's free stuff on at the children's book festival every day too. My kids love seeing the street performers on the royal mile as well as going to actual shows. And of course when you get to the top of the royal mile you're almost at the castle!
Yes, there are tour buses - you can pick them up probably anywhere along Princes street, but they start at east entrance of Waverley train station mostly. Probably a good way to start yourself off and get your bearings. There is also a Jimmy Chungs there You also might like Dynamic Earth which is down by Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament Building. I haven't been to Camera Obscura, but it's meant to be well worth a visit too. These place cost money tho and there is loads of free stuff to do.
Other things that cost are The Royal Yacht Britannica and of course the Zoo. Botanic Gardens are free if that's your thing and of course if you go from the East Princes street Garden to the West, at the stairs down after crossing The Mound, there is the Flower Clock which I always loved to go see as a child.
You can walk round Holyrood park, up Arthurs seat and I think there is a pond with swans to feed if I remember rightly.
The Royal Commonwealth pool has been refurbished too but it is a normal pool - albeit huge - but no waves/waterslides etc. It has a diving pool tho.
Anyway, hope you have a fab time and if I think of anything else I'll let you know
There is Wetherspoons in the Omni centre at the top of Leith Walk - East end of Princes street and they are always good value - Nice Italians at the top of Leith walk too which are always good with kids
When mine were little, we mostly just watched the street theatre acts and it only costs only what you want to donate. There is loads to do in Edinburgh - the museum mentioned above is free. You need to have a bogle about on-line to see if there are any particular events you want to go to. Book Festival is brilliant and really nice atmosphere. There is a play park at the west end of princes street gardens and for eating, Jimmy chungs chinese is a fixed price buffet and very reasonable - think your 3 year old might even eat free. Nice Italians at Tollcross (west end - up Lothian Road).
There's a whole children's section in the fringe programme, and loads of good authors at the book festival, which runs at the same time. You'll be able to book most things on the day - although prob not book fest events - and you won't find a shortage of eating places, unless you're going high-end, in which case you'll need to book.
It's great fun - I go across most weekends for the festival.
Going for a few days to Edinburgh with my family (husband and girls 5 and 3). We are on a serious budget but are staying in the middle of town during the festival. Can anyone recommend any good shows or places to go for evening meals with small kids. Hoping good advice will keep the holiday stress free.