London with the kids....(10 Posts)
Hubby's 40th this coming Oct. Initial plan was to go to Disneyland Paris for 3 nights but since we have moved house all the money seems to be constantly getting gobbled up renovating it! We have 3 small children which is why we were thinking of something child focused.
I am now wondering what a few nights in London would be like with a 4 year old, nearly 3 year old and a 14 month old.....we would definitely visit the Rainforest Cafe, well I think anyway? but what else is there to do that we would all get something out of? Zoo, Aquarium, Hamleys is all I can think of?!?!
I have visited London many a time pre children but don't have a clue when it comes to the capital and children - good or very bad idea?!?!
Science Museum (very hands on), Museum of Childhood, Natural History Museum.
Hyde Park for a good run around and afternoon tea at the Serpentine cafe.
Feed the ducks in St James' Park and a quick look at Buckingham Palace.
Why not get hold of a copy of Time Out Kids London and have a look through?
We have 3 kids and we stay at the John Howard hotel. it has a small suite of rooms with 3 bedrooms, kitchen and living room and bathroom. It includes breakfast and is roughly the same price as 2 rooms in a Travelodge with breakfast. it does mean you have somewhere handy for afternoon naps and makes staying in for the evening more pleasant. The hotel is in walking distance to Nat History and Science museum. Outside you can get an open top bus tour of London. Other ideas would be - London Zoo, boat trip up the Thames, London eye for the older 2, Tower of London ( if they are in to Castles) Hamleys is good fun too. I definately would not go to the Rainforest cafe. Very expensive, not good food and really cramped in around the tables. We had better meals at pizza express and the Hard rock cafe. You could ask the hotel about a babysitting service and treat yourselves to a meal out at somewhere like the Oxo tower. My kids love trips to London but don't try and pack too much in. Have fun.
The Princess Diana playground. It's within walking distance of the museuems and is, according to DD, the best playground in the world, ever. Plus it's free . If you are going to the museuems, go around 2pm. Any queues will have gone down by then. We love the V&A as it has a nice courtyard with a water feature full of paddling children and there's never a queue for it. The number 9 bus from Charing Cross has a few of the old routemaster buses that run on that route. It's worth waiting for one of them as you can sit up the top and count how many tourists take your photo. Little children always like the Changing of the Guard which is free.
The DLR is always good value for train obsessed toddlers. You can sit in the front seat and "drive" the train. Use it to go to Greenwich where the park is huge and the market on the weekend is more fun for the parents. Failing that, take it out to Stratford to see the nearly completed Olympic site and while you are there go to Discover which is toddler heaven.
A walk along the Southbank is always good. At the moment they have an urban beach set up there and a fab water installation that attracts hoards of screaming kids running in and out of the moving rooms of water. take a change of clothes. Walk a bit further up to Gabriel's wharf where there are some wooden climb on and rock sculptures that the kids can play on while you are browsing/eating. If you are up fopr it, further along is the Tate modern which is surprisingly child friendly.
Lots of good advice above, though in October I guess all the lovely water features will probably be shut.
Science Museum/Nat Hist are excellent but very crowded at half term, so do avoid the school half terms if you possibly can. Tower Bridge is brilliant if your DCs are into that sort of thing, but they're probably too young for HMS Belfast.
London Zoo is quite good, but very expensive and probably not the best use of your short time in London - presumably there are other, possibly better, zoos nearer to you.
London Transport Museum is lovely for pre-schoolers if they're keen on buses/trains, not free for adults but fairly affordable, and in Covent Garden, so handy for wandering round looking at buskers.
National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is very good, and free - you can combine it with a trip to the Market and the Planetarium and travel there on the DLR and back by boat.
Museum of Childhood (walk up to Victoria Park in 10/15mins for a lovely cafe by the lake and good playgrounds.)
London Transport Museum.
Diana Memorial Playground.
St James' Park playground (quite small but very central and beautiful and plenty to do.)
Any of the city farms (Spitalfields, Hackney, are our regulars.)
Maritime Museum (Greenwich Park, just behind has a lovely playground at the bottom of the hill.)
Many theatres have children's shows. Fabulous and cheap. Our local is Stratford Circus Theatre (accessible by Central Line.) Or there's the Little Angel Puppet Theatre in the middle of Islington. Check out their programme for October but book early!
Zoo and Aquarium are very expensive but quite spectacular. Enjoy!
Oh, and Coram's Fields of course. Central, peaceful, great caf. You can't go in unless you are accompanied by a child. Great place for some child friendly rest right in the middle of it all.
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