Planning our day out in London - and keeping it simple(19 Posts)
We want to take dd, who is nearly 5, to London for the day from Gloucestershire. Train gets in at Paddington, and I would like to give her a nice experience of London without it getting a) too tiring and b) too boring.
So we were thinking of going to Buckingham Palace and then to the London Eye, and having lunch somewhere cool where she hasn't been before (Wagamama = child-friendly?) followed by tea back at the station probably before our train leaves. I have no idea how long all this will take (we will be in London for about 6-7 hours) and if there is anything else we should do. Can any experts at taking children to London point me in the right direction?
At nearly 5, I'd suggestion:
- if weather is nice, from paddington head down to the south bank first, do the London Eye, and amble along the southbank (plenty of nice eateries there). You can then get a bus over to Green Park - see the pelicans there - and amble over to Buckingham Palace (wouldnt bother going in as my 5 year old has expressed no interest at all). Then hop in a taxi to Kensington Gardens and go the Peter Pan playground - she'll love it! From there, its an easy cab or bus ride to Paddington.
- if the weather isnt so good, do a London hop on hop off bus ride and hop out wherever you like the look of things to look at. Museums are really excellent - natural history museum and science museum are a huge hit with my 2 - and free for the general exhibitions - so a really good bet for bad weather.
Tbh I'm not sure a trip on the London Eye and to a lesser extent, BP (unless you time it for changing of the guard) will be as fantastic for a 4yo to see as you would hope.... I think what they would love though is a walk along the South Bank of the river, where they could see HMS Belfast, London Bridge, street performers, Big Ben, the Eye (just from the ground), all the boats on the river (police, pleasure, those fast RIBs), you could even incorporate this into a boat trip. The Aquarium is also good if the weather is bad and if she likes that kind of thing, but try and get a half price deal or voucher, I think they are easy to get, it's pretty expensive otherwise. There are loads of child friendly places to eat along there - not sure this includes Wagamamas though but there will be one within reach for sure.
That would easily fill a day but alternatively a visit to the natural history or science museum? Or even the zoo?
X post dinky, but we obviously think alike !
This summer, with a 4 and 2 year old, we loved - London Eye, Kensington Gardens, Harrods toy dept, St James' Park, Natural History Museum and taxi rides.
Oh, and walking down the South Bank was ace.
We certainly do think alike Sleepwhenidie. There is also a Wagamamas on southbank.
Also my kids love Hamleys. I havent put it on the list above as going anywhere near Oxford St (Hamleys is on Regent St but still too close for my liking) is the total opposite of my idea of a good time for anyone concerned - but if the weather is dire, it could be an alternative to the south bank
Thanks dinky - these are great ideas. She certainly would love the Peter Pan playground (just googled it). What's the best tube stop for the South Bank? I'm rubbish at transport in London... And how the hell are you supposed to know which buses go where in London??!
We weren't planning on going in BP - just showing it to her. Could also keep Natural History museum up our sleeves in case it's raining. Is it really free?
Glad to be of help.
Waterloo is best tube stop for London eye end of South bank - basically follow signs for London eye from there. Check out the transport for london website - will tell you all about buses and which one to get and what stop (the bus has its final destination on the front along with key places it stops on there).
And NHM is definitely free so long as you dont go in any of the paying exhibits or shops there..
A selection of websites that might be useful.
Transport for london's journey planner, to show you possible routes, about how long they will take etc.
A visitors guide complete with top tourist attractions, tube map, bus routes connecting them etc:
Where to get the two for one tickets to pricey things like the Aquarium, London Zoo etc
Natural History Museum and Science Museum. Free. Fantastic. The kind of thing kids will go on about for years afterwards. Ace as an adult too. Both have resources aimed especially at younger kids to make it even more accessible to them.
She'll probably find all the different kinds of transport exciting but quite tiring. Trudging through tube stations especially can be knackering for kids - most have a lot of stairs. And either get your travel card included in your train ticket or get an oyster card, because single cash fares are much pricer than either of those options.
First Great Western return to paddington should include 1 day all zones travelcard (and having DD with you will prob make your train ticket cheaper, don't ask me why...). Paddington is not on the most helpful tube line for a lot of attractions, we often walk a block to Lancaster Gate, which means fewer changes. Tube on a sat afternoon can be horrid, taxi is an alternative as a treat which is highly popular with my DC!
We often end up sitting at the feet of Paddington bear eating ice cream while waiting for the train home.
We do a day trip quite often with dc (now 5 and just 3), and limit ourselves to a single attraction plus a run in the park. It's hard to know which one your DD would like best, but I would personally go for something you can't get outside London: Nat History maybe for a 5yo? (My 5yo ds loves it here, but he is also ship-obsessed and so HMS Belfast and Maritime Museum are his favourites)
I'm in the middle of planning a trip, from Gloucester too.
We will drive to Turnham green, ten hop on the tube to westminster, have a look at buckingham place and Westminster.
Then hopping off to Natural history or Science museum giving step children the choice (5 & 8)
Have lunch somewhere in all that and head home!
If your budget permits I would definitely recommend buying an open top bus tour of london. Rather than being underground, you get off wherever you want and you are not so tired with little ones. I did it a couple of years ago with a 4 month old baby an 4 year old and 7 year old and we had a wonderful time. You see so much, get off where you want and there is commentary throughout so even if you have been to london quite a bit, there is something for everyone. Stops off at hamleys.
It is quite expensive £25 per adult from memory but absolutly makes a wonderful day out. A cheaper option is to get a cab and ask the cabbie to take you via as many sites as possible and generally they will tell you where things are.
If you cannot stretch to this, I would definitely recommend the science museum as this makes a wonderful day out and is free to enter. There is an indoor picnic area and the interactive play areas in the basement and third floor are fantastic and will keep the kids busy all day. Dont try to do the sceince museum and natural history in one day as it is too much.
Avoid harrods toy department - it will cost you the earth and actually I didnt think that there was too much out of the ordinary (but we are lucky to have a really good toy shop in colchester). Stick to the food hall in harrods and the sweets - there are lots of samples and the food is to die for!
I had a wonderful time with my dd when she was 4. We went to watch changing of the guard (check before you go when it is on - google) and then we had a picnic in green park (next to the palace) and then we booked a tour around the palace which was brilliant. You also get to see the queens carriages etc. Really good day out. Then could get a taxi rid to harrods - not too far and back to the station.
Tower of london is good.
London eye lovely but expensive and my dds friend cried off (age 7) as she was too scared after I had paid for it.
Also, as she is older, if you write to your MP in advance you can get free tickets to go around the houses of parliament which is brilliant. You get to go inside the commons and house of lords it is a great day out.
Portrait gallery on trafalgar square is nice and there are lots of restaurants and cafes nearby. From there you can walk to the palace or down to big ben and the embankment (past downing street). If your legs are not too tired that is.
If you have tesco clubcard vouchers there are loads of things you can change them for in london and that custs the cost massively.
Finally if you are feeling rich get tickets to see the lion king. It is the best show ever!
Have a wonderful time (can I come?!!)
You don't need to pay for an open air bus tour it is really easy to use TFL website to collate trips on TFL double deckers past the sights. At this age DDs favourite day out in London was tube to Westminster, boat to St Katherine's Dock, Double decker bus past St Pauls, Old Bailey etc to Piccadily, tube home. Just about £3 each extra on top of travel card to use boat bus.
If you're going to brave the TfL buses and you have a smartphone then I highly recommend splashing out on a journey planner app (I like London Travel Deluxe, but there are free alternatives).
Wagamama is indeed good for 5 year olds.
We did so far with DD (5 in July)
National History Museum
Museum of Childhood
Greenwich Park, the Maritime Museum
Museum of Docklands
Museum of London, will do at Easter
Mudchute City Farm
London Zoo and Aquarium (nice, expensive but if there are some local to you, don't bother). The Zoo takes a day on its own.
We will do Buckingham Palace in Summer but DD is Queen-mad so I know she will enjoy it.
Walking around South Bank
St. James Park, Hyde Park, playground in Kensington Garden
Some maybe too far for just one day. London Eye - takes too long and just looking at buildings may not be the thing a 5 year old finds interesting.
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We visited Shoreditch recently with the kids and although we weren't expecting much as we couldn't find many family we had a really fun time.
There are a lot of theatres and art locations in the area.
After we got back (typically) i stumbled across this resource which could be really helpful for future Shoreditch goers: www.thestageshoreditch.com/culture-map-shoreditch
I hope this helps.
The eye of basically view of London in goes round very slowly so it may not be the best for a five year old. As others have said there are better things to do. There is a small playground next to the eye in jubilee gardens to have a run around and there is always stuff to see on the south bank
I would head for Buckingham palace for changing of the guards which is super impressive. I'd then walk down to Westminster via horse guards where she can see Big Ben and Houses of Parliament from the outside and get the tfl river boat the (this is just hop on hop off no need to book it's used as commuter boats). She'll see all the sites from the boat and it's not so much walking for a little one.
Get off at North Greenwich and go on the cable car across the river. Again no need to book far cheaper than London eye, much more exiting and great view of London. You could eat around there or in the O2 which is right there loads of kid friendly restaurants and mine have always just been impressed by the size of the O2. River trip back and head back to Paddington with time for tea. That would def take up 6-7 hours incl lunch and eating at station before return.
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