Where can I take the kids? There are plenty of better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than dropping the kids in the crèche at IKEA. You just need to know where to look. Fortunately, we have a few ideas for you. If you have any suggestions, email them to us.
Visit at no cost
First off, for a fun but educational day, don’t forget that over 70 of London’s museums and galleries are free for everyone, and that includes many well known names such as the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Museum of London or the Tate galleries, but it also includes little gems such as the Bank of England Museum, the Geffrye Museum or the Horniman.
Specially for kids
Many of London’s attractions put on special activities for kids; the Golden Hinde is a full scale replica of the Francis Drake galleon. Go aboard on Bankside and enjoy life on the high seas from the safety of a dock. The ship has sleepovers for kids that want the complete experience!! For those kids who love gore, a visit to the Old Operating Theatre is a must. Hear how operations were carried out before anaesthetics. You may have seen the theatre in the film the Madness of King George. Not for the faint hearted!! The RAF Museum in Hendon has hours of fun for gadget fans. There are flight simulators and of course the impressive aircraft themselves.
Sports mad kids…
… should head for the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. From the origins of the game to Anna Kournikova’s dress! You also get to see the world famous Centre Court. Most of London’s football teams offer stadium tours and the Museum of Rugby at Twickenham does the same for the oval ball game.
Join the circus
Kids as young as 8 can learn circus skills such as the trapeze, juggling and the unicycle at Circus Space’s Youth Circus. A 10 week Sunday morning class offers the foundations for circus skills and is great fun.
For kids own reviews of London places to visit, have a look at www.kidslovelondon.com. The site has twinned schools with attractions to get the kids to give the insiders view on what appeals to them.
Grown up attractions do kids as well.
Major institutions such as the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery have kids trails so the whole family can enjoy the nation’s treasures. The Tate Galleries are not the sort of places that expect children to be ‘seen but not heard’ and are easy places to take the whole family to. The British Museum is really hands on, as kids get to feel the history. Hold a Roman Centurion’s pay packet (real Roman coins) and imagine what he would have spent it on! Take the kids to the Museum of Childhood and let them laugh at the things you or your parents played with as kids!!
London does outdoor
London has loads to offer kids outdoors. There are over 30 urban farms such as the Freightliners Farm in Islington with the largest rabbits you are ever likely to see or London’s largest farm, Mudchute, on the Isle of Dogs. You don’t need to head out of town for a taste of the country. London’s parks have some great playgrounds. One of the newest is the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, complete with wooden pirate ship. Holland Park has one of the original adventure playgrounds and Battersea Park, one of the most extensive.
For a list of London playgrounds, click here.
Cooking like Jamie
You’ve seen Ready, Steady Cook and think your kids have it in them to be top chefs, so try out one of the kids cookery classes in London. If you fancy Sunday brunch at Zilli Fish Too in Covent Garden, the waiters will take the kids off to make pizzas while you enjoy your lunch. The charity, Kids Cookery School, promotes healthy eating, cooking skills and food awareness to small classes of children.
Enjoy eating out en famille
London restaurants are not always seen as the most child friendly, but here are a few suggestions for child friendly establishments.
La Porchetta in Stroud Green and Upper Street boast they are London’s most family friendly restaurants. Like any good Italian restaurant, they welcome families and serve some of the best pizzas in town. Other Italian restaurants renowned for welcoming kids include the aforementioned Zilli Fish Too and the award-winning Locanda Locatelli. Chains Fish and Giraffe win prizes for being enlightened restaurants with regard to their children’s policies. Fish can be found on the South Bank or at Borough Market. Giraffe branches include Richmond and Hampstead.
The café in Highgate Wood is a hidden gem and has a terrific playground with graded play stuff for small, middle and big kids.