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London with small children

(27 Posts)
madbutnotbad Tue 06-Aug-13 20:37:24

Hello I am looking for a little advice about a day visit to London. My children (3+5) are desperate to go to London to see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. We are going to take them this weekend but I know very little about London and what is where IYSWIM and I was hoping some lovely people might be able to advise me on what would be the best things to do with them.

We are tight on funds at the moment and will only have the day although I am hoping we can arrive in the city around half tenish so will have the full day to enjoy. So can anyone give me any good tips or things to avoid, my girls are so excited and I really want them to have a good day out. Thank you all thanks

specialsubject Tue 06-Aug-13 20:42:10

first moneysaver is not to get on the tube before 0930 so you pay lower fares.

second one - take snacks and drinks. Obviously it is all available in London but unless you find one of the metro supermarkets it will be very expensive.

where are you starting from?

kingbeat23 Tue 06-Aug-13 20:45:48

I do a great walk but it's quite long.

Green park leads to Buckingham palace so walk through it to get there. Have a sit down at the fountains outside then walk down The Mall to Trafalgar Square. Nelsons column and all that! Look at the lions. Another little sit down.

The walk down Whitehall, past Downing Street and lots more interesting things into Westminster Square to see The Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

If they're (and you!) aren't too tired you can then take a trip down the South Bank and soak that up too!

(I love threads like this!!!) grinwink

Mummydoctor Tue 06-Aug-13 20:50:12

We are just back from a long weekend in London with our boys, aged 4 and 2 years. It was brilliant!! We camped just inside the M25 and got the train in on Friday. We tried to visit the Natural History museum but abandoned it when we saw the queue snaking round at 10.15am(!). Glad we left though as discovered the Princess Diana Memorial playground in Kensington gardens, which the boys loved!

After lunch at the cafe we went over to the London Eye on a red bus and tube ride, and then ice cream while watching the street entertainment. Followed by dinner in a Soho cafe.

On Saturday we took part in the FreeCycle as part of Ride London. It was a fantastic experience and we saw so many of the sights up close (know that's not much help, but thought I'd share).

Can't wait to go again, fantastic experience.

hermioneweasley Tue 06-Aug-13 20:51:58

If you're low on funds, just see the Palace from the outside rather than pay to go in. The museums are all free (my kids love the Natural History Museum) and the Diana Memorial playground in Hyde Park

madbutnotbad Tue 06-Aug-13 20:59:28

Thank you that is all great. We are staying with family in Reading so are planning to get the train on the Saturday morning (my girls love trains - we are from North Yorkshire and are regular visitors to York railway museum).

I will look into everything that has been suggested - sounds like the Natural History Museum will be off if the queues are long don't think I could cope with hanging around with the kids!

mymatemax Tue 06-Aug-13 21:02:10

if it rains there is often free kids stuff going on inside along the southbank, festival hall etc. You can also eat your own food in there.
Cross over the bridge to Big Ben, just around the corner to Whitehall cut through past the guards, great up close photo opportunity! In to St James Park, squirrels etc & then donw to Buckingham palace.

Are you going by train? Which station will you be arriving at?

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 06-Aug-13 21:10:51

If they like trains the london transport museum in covent garden is good. Not sure if it's a free one though.

But really nat history and a few mummies at british museum way better....

madbutnotbad Tue 06-Aug-13 21:17:53

Not sure which station we will be arriving at I will have to look into that and get a decent map so we know where we're going!

Didn't know about the transport museum that is definitely one to look into and Covent garden is one place I have been to and would like to go again.

Was considering taking them to hamleys as I went as a child but not sure if it will seem as amazing to them as it did me.

mymatemax Tue 06-Aug-13 21:19:45

If its a warm day Hamleys is the hottest shop in the world I don't think they have air conditioning!

Tubemole1 Tue 06-Aug-13 21:41:00

As a tube worker let me give you advice about transport.

If your 3yo is in a buggy well, only 40% of the tube system is step-free so use buses as much as you can. A lot of the big sights are walking distance anyway, so get an A-Z and plan a route. Also consult the TfL website on

If you have a family railcard you can get a discount on your one day travel card Zones 1-6. You only need 1-2 zones, and kids under 11 are free on transport in London, but if you pay for one of your children with the railcard you get more Zones and it costs less.

Don't buy an Oyster card, not worth it for one day and if you forget to touch in or out it charges £7.20.

Drum into your kids what they should do if they are separated from you. My daughter was told from the age of 3, stay where you are and I will come and find you. She also wears an identity bracelet when I know it will be busy in town. If on the underground there are help points and if your eldest gets separated from you drum into her to press the green emergency button. A female member of staff will be despatched to watch the kids and we do our best to reunite you.

Take a bag of snacks and a large bottle of water...the "locals" and "metros" are extortionate. One vendor tried to charge me £1.99 for a cornetto hmm.

Final word on finding your way round... The best people to ask for help are police staff, taxi drivers, and people in shops. Bus drivers are grumpy, and as a tube worker, I can't say we are much better grin .

madbutnotbad Tue 06-Aug-13 22:07:28

Tubemole that is great info especially about what to do if we get seperated thank you. Luckily (or not depending on her mood) my youngest is not in a pushchair anymore and can walk for miles.

If you don't mind me asking where do you get the bracelets from, sounds like an excellent idea especially for little ones.

We are looking into doing a river cruise as it's something the kids have been keen to do in York but not had a chance yet - does anyone have any recommendations?

Thank you all for the advice it is great grin

Mummydoctor Tue 06-Aug-13 22:34:53

We had the ID bracelets too, order from amazon and personalise with your contact number. We used them too and the kids loved them as we chose a picture of Thomas the Tank grin

mymatemax Tue 06-Aug-13 22:46:21

tower of London to Greenwich park or Westminster to tower of London/Bridge are both good river trips.

Taz1212 Wed 07-Aug-13 09:13:23

If you're taking the train look at the 2for1 days out guide for London. We did quite a few and it saved a fair bit of money.

specialsubject Wed 07-Aug-13 11:52:42

regrettably the London transport museum costs a fortune - £15 adult admission. You can go back repeatedly for the next year but that's no use to you (or me!)

try downstairs in the science museum.

ltmuseum1 Wed 07-Aug-13 12:03:54

Hi, admission at London Transport Museum is free for children under 16 and adult admission is £15.00 for unlimited entry for one year. £11.50 concessionary rate.

We have family activities throughout August for summer family fun as well as activities for October half term and school holidays. More information -

Many thanks,
Jennifer, Marketing at London Transport Museum

madbutnotbad Wed 07-Aug-13 20:52:25

Brilliant advice thank you all I will keep my eyes open for that guide.

Think we have decided to do a river trip to start with butstill working on what to do after that, think I'll get a map out and work out what we can get to easily!

cooper44 Thu 08-Aug-13 10:21:49

Hi check on the prices for river trips. We did it last weekend (the hop on hop off one). Kids were free and we also got quite a bit off with our Oyster cards. A third I think so it might be worth getting one.
If you go to the south bank there is tons on at the moment including beano town which I think is free.

Lotsofcoffee Thu 08-Aug-13 15:06:30

If you have time, do check out Hamleys. Every time I take the little ones, they’re fascinated by it and you can easily spend a while in there (particularly useful if it’s raining outside). Although make sure you have a discussion with your children before you go in – a good technique I’ve found is telling them they can only have one toy from the shop, which means they don’t go around saying that they want everything.

ShoeWhore Thu 08-Aug-13 15:12:13

Westminster is quite an easy station to get out at with little kids (lifts) and then you are right by Big Ben, can stroll down the south bank - can also pick up a river cruise near the London Eye. We did a short hop on the boat just as far as St Paul's, walked across the bridge for a quick look, back over the river to pop into the Tate and then strolled back along the South Bank.

SoldeInvierno Thu 08-Aug-13 16:09:54

as you are travelling from Reading, I would get the one day travelcard directly in Reading/Reading West station. You can get it to get to Paddington and then onwards on the buses and tube. When you arrive in Paddington, I recommend that you go out of the station. Walk towards your left to the first bus stop and catch any bus that goes towards Marble Arch or Picadilly. It is much nice than the tube and the kids will love it.

Kids don't pay in the bus or tube if you have your one day travelcard.

SoldeInvierno Thu 08-Aug-13 16:10:54

I meant you can USE it to get to Paddington...

Cleanandclothed Thu 08-Aug-13 16:24:01

If you are palace focussed I would perhaps go to the Royal Mews - just next door, takes about an hour and you can get your Royal fix buy looking at the golden coaches etc. The Palace gets v busy around the changing of the guard but I would watch them practising in the parade ground off Birdcage walk and then march to the palace - easier and quicker to see. I think you can use Tesco vouchers but it is not massively expensive from memory.

madbutnotbad Thu 08-Aug-13 20:43:12

Wow this is all great thank you, we've booked a river trip that leaves from near the eye so that's one thing arranged.

Thank you for the info about traveling from Reading that will be very useful.

My girls are very interested in the Queen so the Royal Mews sounds good and think we'll squeeze in a trip to hamleys just for my benefit!

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