Livingston’s best days out bring together wonderful zoos, an incredible owl centre, a sculpture park with some of the most impressive landscaping you’ll ever see and one of Scotland’s most historic burial sites that boasts incredible views from coast to coast.
Activities in Livingston
Almond Valley Heritage Centre
There are few better family days out than the Almond Valley Heritage Centre. It sits on the banks of the River Almond, less than a 10-minute drive from our Livingston (M8, Jct 3) hotel. It’s the site of a historic watermill, and its surrounding grounds have been transformed into a children’s paradise of playgrounds, adventures, hands-on museum exhibits and a petting zoo featuring horses, ponies, sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks and geese.
It’s one of those places that simply have it all. Ziplines? You bet. Go-karts? Absolutely. The Scottish Shale Oil Museum? Where else! Prices are reasonable, especially considering how much there is to see and do at the Almond Valley Heritage Centre. So set a few hours aside and bring the kids to tire themselves out in this wonderful world of activities.
Almond Valley Heritage Centre
Soak up some of the best views of the Forth Valley with a hike to the top of Cairnpapple Hill and discover its ancient history. This sacred hilltop was used as a ceremonial site more than 5,000 years ago. It’s been fantastically preserved. You’ll find the remains of a Neolithic henge, the postholes of what must have been an impressive timber circle and an awesome – if eerie – Bronze Age cist grave. The best thing about Cairnpapple Hill is the view, which stretches from coast to coast and commands a jaw-dropping perspective of the entire county.
Five Sisters Zoo
Get up close and personal with some of the most powerful predators on the planet at the Five Sisters Zoo in nearby West Calder. The family-favourite attraction is home to more than 120 different species of animal. Some of the most popular inhabitants include lions, bears and snow leopards. However, there’s a truly incredible range of species to see across the zoo’s different zones. Take a look at the website and time your visit to coincide with some of the zookeeper talks and wildlife feeding times, which take place throughout the day. Our Bathgate hotel is your nearest option and less than a 15-minute drive away from the Five Sisters Zoo.
Outdoor attractions don’t get more cultured than the Jupiter Artland sculpture park and gallery in nearby Wilkieston. It occupies the grounds of Bonnington House and spans more than 100 acres of meadow and woodland dedicated to art, including five indoor gallery spaces with ever-changing exhibits. Take the time to explore Jupiter Artland, and you’ll find 35 permanent sculptures from world-renowned artists like Antony Gormley, Phyllida Barlow and Anish Kapoor. The parkland has also been uniquely shaped by landform designer and all-round clever clogs Charles Jencks. It looks out of this world, and arguably more stunning than any of the park’s sculptures.
We’ve already mentioned the art deco former-cinema Regal Community Theatre as one of the best Livingston entertainment options. While it does have a great film club, if you want to catch the latest blockbusters, you’re better off visiting Livingston’s local, the Bathgate Cinema. Unlike other cinemas, the regular seats have been removed and replaced with rows of two- and three-seat sofas that are incredibly comfortable. Prices are cheap, and it’s in the centre of town, so you’ll find some of our favourite places to eat in Livingston nearby.
Scottish Owl Centre
Nature lovers will love the Scottish Owl Centre. It’s home to the largest collection of owls in the world. You’ll find it in Polkemmet Country Park. There are daily flying displays, hands-on experiences and a great adventure playground if you’re visiting with kids. The opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds of prey is truly awe-inspiring. You don’t need to be an avid bird watcher to appreciate the centre’s wonderful population of owls and other birdlife from around the world.