Did I ever mention that I live in London? Or that I love it so much? I adore this city and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I’m sure one day that might become a reality but right now it really is home. With two small children, I am always looking for fun (and cheap) things to do with the kiddos. I thought I’d write my top five tried and tested activities for kids in London.
Number 1: The Science Museum
This may seem like an obvious one, but bear with me. The Science Museum is massive and you could go there every day for a week and still have stuff to do. I want to write specifically for kids and the experiences I’ve had there.
- Open: 7 days a week, 10am until 6pm
- Price: Free
- Nearest tube: South Kensington
- Best time of day to go: early morning at weekends / holidays, after school on weeknights
If you can only go to the museums in school holidays, then my advice is get there early. Ten or fifteen minutes before it opens is a good time to start queueing outside. The queue goes down very quickly once the doors open at 10am. Head straight down to the basement to the area called ‘The Garden.’ This area has lots of hands on fun stuff for children. They have a big water play area with little boats and pumps to play with. There are also giant building blocks and a puppet theatre. If you get down there quick before it gets crazy then you can pretty easily keep tabs on the kids and let them explore.
I also want to mention an amazing new part of the museum that only opened a few months ago. It’s called ‘Wonderlab’ and is located on the third floor. Now, this area is not free BUT if you pay once then you get to come back as many times as you like within one year, which I think is really good value. Wonderlab is really incredible, there is so much to do and even more hands on activities and puzzles. They also have slides that teach the kids about friction and live and interactive experiment shows. I can’t recommend it highly enough, totally worth paying for if you can come back a few times within the year. I am lucky enough to live close by so we often go after school and my kids just adore it.
Number 2: Camley Street Natural Park / Granary Square Fountains
- Open: 7 days a week, 10am – 5pm
- Price: Free
- Nearest tube: Kings Cross
We discovered this place last year and as soon as the weather warms up, we will be heading there again. You can make it a whole day out if you want to as there are lots of things to do within the same small area. Camley Street Natural Park is a unique urban nature reserve, a little oasis in such a bustling part of the city. The kids loved walking along the trail and we even saw some sleeping bats which they still talk about now. Also available are fishing nets and trays so that the kids can do some pond dipping and examine their findings. It really is a lovely little place, we can’t wait to head back.
Close by the reserve is Granary Square which is a fairly new development near Kings Cross. There is a big open area with water fountains so we took our swimmers and the kids ran around for hours, splashing and playing. They have street food trucks if you want to grab some lunch and the yummiest ice cream shop, Ruby Violet, where we finished off a lovely summers day.
There are a number of city farms in London, some are better than others, but they are all cute (and some are free). Generally, they will have cows, goats, pigs, chickens, horses: your average farm animal line up. I will list a few of my top picks.
- Hackney City Farm – I have been here a couple of times, it’s nestled away between Broadway Market and Columbia Road. It is thriving with happy animals, you can even have a pony ride (I think it cost a quid). They also have a yummy cafe deli which we didn’t sample but looks delish.
- Hounslow Urban Farm – you do have to pay a little for this one, but it is totally worth it. It’s out of the city a little, but still accessible by tube via Hatton Cross (Piccadilly Line). They have all the usual farm animals, as well as some more unusual and exotic creatures. The best part about this farm is the hands on sessions that they have. Your kids can hold snakes, stroke lizards, and feed tortoises. My children love it here and we’ve been several times, highly recommended.
- Deen City Farm – this is a lovely one. Located in Wimbledon, it is walking distance from Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon tube stations. It is set within the beautiful National Trust’s Morden Hall Park Estate and admission is free. Meet the resident alpaca and buy some seed bags to feed the animals, the kids love this.
Number 4: Holland Park
We LOVE this place. I used to be a bit overwhelmed by the size but now I know my way around it’s definitely one of my faves. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, the park is open to all. A ten minute bus ride takes us there and we go more and more now the weather is warming up. Holland Park tube station is right there so it’s very accessible. There are lots of different areas within the park, so you can’t really get bored. They have beautiful gardens if you want to sit peacefully in the sunshine but with kids in tow, we usually head for one of the playgrounds. There are two main play areas, the first is the adventure playground which comprises of big climbing structures, swings, slides, zip wire, heaven for your little ones. The second is a bit more suited for smaller children as it’s more enclosed and has more accessible equipment for toddlers and pre schoolers. It is also full of sand so bring your buckets and spades! Last week, I literally spent four hours here with my three and five year old joyfully building sandcastles and playing with friends. Holland Park is just special, go there if you can. Look out for the beautiful peacocks that roam freely too.
Number 5: V & A Museum of Childhood
- Open: seven days a week, 10am – 5.30pm
- Nearest tube: Bethnal Green
- Best time to go: after 2pm
This is such a fun museum, both for parents and their children. Parents can reminisce while children learn about what life was like before computers. There are lots of hands on toys and games to play with, they even have a little indoor sand pit. We have been several times and always enjoy ourselves, our go to rainy day activity.
I hope these tips have been helpful, I’ve tried to steer away a little from all of the obvious tourist traps. Travelling with small children around the city can seem daunting but it realy isn’t that bad. Look up on TFL to find out which stations have lifts if you have a pushchair. I always find a helpful person to lift my buggy though so even if you need to go to a non step free station, don’t panic. Kids travel for free and adults should use an Oyster card or you can use your contactless bank card on both trains and buses, easy peasy.
London has so much to offer, it’s so rich in culture and history. Come and visit!