Things to do in Musselburgh
There’s more to Edinburgh than its tourist-magnet city centre and yearly festivals. With its Roman settlement origins, legendary golf course, pretty beach and grand manor houses, Musselburgh, Edinburgh’s coastal gem, has a lot to offer.
We’ve sampled its highlights. Here’s our list of things to do in Musselburgh. Tie in a stay with us at Seton Sands, just five miles away!
Newhailes House and Gardens
A grand Palladian-styled mansion, Newhailes House was built in the 17th century and sits in an 86-acre estate with woodland walks and many miles of footpaths to explore. The home’s interior is a wonder of rococo flourishes, with Italian marble fireplaces and a Chinese sitting room.
As well as its own art collection, Newhailes is home to a potter in residence, Anna, and there are sculptures to discover dotted around the grounds. Make a day of it by visiting the tearoom, shell grotto, Weehailes playpark and its shop. There’s a lot to see and do, and the Estate is well maintained by Scotland’s National Trust.
The Brunton Theatre is a renowned local arts venue featuring a cinema, theatre, and concert venues. A highly varied programme includes Hollywood movies, jazz and classical music, opera, ballet, theatre and even exhibition snooker.
With three to six events per week, including matinees, there’s always something happening and The Brunton’s bistro restaurant is popular with showgoers. Plays include modern Scottish classics, children’s shows, and musical theatre. There are lunchtime classical recitals and livestreams from the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet.
Fisherrow Beach and Harbour
One of Musselburgh’s biggest draws is its harbour and beach. A curving bay of sand and shingle, Fisherrow also holds a small harbour berthing up to 50 leisure boats. It’s worth noting that the beach is dog-friendly, so you can let your pet run free.
For those feeling energetic, the 134-mile-long John Muir Way, which runs all the way from Dunbar in the east to the west coast at Helensburgh, passes by the beach. There’s a children’s play area, food shacks and toilets on the beach.
If you want to know more about the long, complex history of this part of Edinburgh, a trip to the Musselburgh Museum is a must. Opened in 2010, the small community museum is situated on the high street (look for the impressive clock tower of the town hall next door).
It contains a series of exhibits about the town’s Roman settlement, fishing history and industrial history as a mill town. There are also sections on the social history of the town and its natural history. There are plenty of activities for kids and the museum puts on annual extended exhibitions in the city’s adjacent town hall.
To get those pulses racing, why not visit the Musselburgh Racecourse, one of the region’s most elite sporting venues? The annual Edinburgh Cup is raced here, and the Epperston Restaurant offers fine dining in a chic environment, so you can celebrate your wins (or console your losses).
Fixtures occur at least twice monthly throughout the year with flat racing and jump events. There’s even a Ladies Day, where you can dress up and get out that Ascot Hat, if it’s not too windy! There are covered stands, marquees and plentiful champagne for the big meets, which include New Year’s Day, the Scottish Festival Trials Weekend and Easter Saturday.
The racecourse prides itself on being accessible, so there’s an Ice Cream Family Day in July and evening meetings in the summer. Tickets are reasonably priced and there are packages including drinks and local fish and chips.
Musselburgh High Street
The High Street itself is a tourist draw, containing several historic buildings, including the 16th century Town Hall with its medieval clocktower and wrought iron doors. The attached tolbooth was once the venue for several 17th century witch trials, and there’s a plaque commemorating Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott, who was granted Freedom of the Burgh in 1799.
Continuing up the High Street, you’ll see several elegant Georgian townhouses and tree-lined terraces. You’ll find cafes, bakers, and local restaurants in the market square beside the tolbooth.
River Esk Walkway
For a more peaceful day out, follow the River Esk walkway from the Shorthope Street Car Park, off the High Street. Take the footpath on Eskside and head southwest. You’ll encounter plenty of wildlife along the route, including many mute swans, mallards, and grey wagtails.
Upriver, The Grove is often heavily scented with wild garlic and if you’re lucky, you may spot a kingfisher flying between the willow trees. Herons can be found here, the old weir features a salmon ladder, and increasingly river otters have been spotted as well.
In spring or summer especially it’s a picturesque and placid 3km walk. Look out for the archer stature and Hayweights Clock, a canopied public landmark gifted to the town in the Victorian era.
Jump In Trampoline Park
If you’re more interested in jumping around yourself than watching horses do it, then head to Jump In, a large trampoline centre on Newhailes Road opposite the Newhailes Estate. There are open sessions and supervised classes, and literally dozens of trampolines under one giant warehouse roof.
It’s not just about leaping up and down either. There are slides, reaction walls, inflatables, air bags and more. You can take fitness classes and there are kids' sessions for all ages. Sessions run from the morning through to the evening, especially during the holidays, but should be booked online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Royal Musselburgh Golf Course
If you’re into golf, Musselburgh is a major treat, featuring one of the oldest courses in the world. The Musselburgh Old Links is documented from the 17th century, and it’s rumoured than none other than Mary, Queen of Scots played here in 1567.
It’s a nine-hole course, open all year round, and tee times can be booked up to seven days in advance. Non-members can register as visitors online. For a truly historical visit, consider booking a round of hickory golf, where you’ll be loaned a set of traditional wooden golf clubs to play with. There’s even an annual World Hickory Open held here each September.