we will be heading to the fringe festival in early august and want to spend one day exploring the area around Edinburgh. Where would folks suggest.
Under the Forth Bridge for sure.
Look at Visit Scotland web site for some great ideas. I liked Lithlingow, Falkirk, Stirling and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs for a day trip.
You have lots of choices.
A third option would be to head for the Trossachs and then a drive through a bit of Perthshire. You could take a side trip up Balquhiddar Glen, and then head up to Loch Tay toward Aberfeldy. Then come back to Edinburgh via Crieff. This is the longest drive but takes you through the hills and past the Lochs.
Wherever you can book for Rabbies
There is also south of Edinburgh where you can see Hadrian's Wall and some other Roman sites as well as Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey.
I can vouch for Roslyn Chapel as an enjoyable day trip. There are free guided talks every few hours inside the chapel, and there's a large visitor centre with informative exhibits, a good snack bar, and of course gifts/souvenirs. The Lothian Bus goes right there; it takes about an hour each way. If you buy a day pass, you can use the bus after you return to Edinburgh to go out for dinner and/or other sightseeing in town.
However, if you really want to go out "exploring the area," this bus trip would be only a modest taste of that.
We did a "Wee Red Bus" full-day tour (10 hours) last September. It included a couple hours at Stirling Castle, lunch stop on our own in Callander, Highland Lochs (Loch Lomond), and Whisky tasting (Glengoyne Distillery). The driver also stopped briefly at Doune Castle. It was a great day and I highly recommend it if you want to get out of Edinburgh and see some of Scotland without having to rent a car.
Thanks so much for all the great suggestions...there's so much to choose from and so little time...can you get to any of the closer ones via public transportation...?
Stirling is easy to get to via the train. You can get to St. Andrew's via the train and bus. If you want to get to Dunkeld and a bit of Perthshire that too is easy to do via the train. There is a Border's train service as well.