Things to do in Lambeth: from bright city lights to green, green grass

Got a day to spend in Lambeth? Our Local editor Nikki gives the inside track on a borough with its own windmill, quirky culture - and excellent transport links to boot.

lambeth bridge

So I've heard of the Lambeth Walk (oi!), but what else can you tell me about the borough?

Lambeth is one of the most densely populated boroughs of London, and its communities are truly diverse. Brixton even has its own currency – the Brixton pound.

Owing to its proximity to Westminster, the borough counts many politicians among its residents Other famous Lambeth residents of history include Vincent Van Gogh, William Blake and Charlie Chaplin. Sharon Osborne was born in Brixton, David Bowie was born in Stockwell and the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury is Lambeth Palace.


So what is there to do?

Where to start? You could spend a week exploring all of the attractions on the South Bank: the London Sea Life Centre, London Dungeon, National Theatre and National Film Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery, as well as a plethora of shops, bars and child-friendly restaurants.

And, of course, the views of the glorious River Thames, arguably best enjoyed from one of the many boat excursions that travel up to Greenwich and back from piers along the South Bank.

The Florence Nightingale Museum, next door to St Thomas' Hospital, (which she helped to found), tells the story of the Crimean War through the eyes of Flo herself and is very child-friendly.

The Garden Museum sits at the bottom of Lambeth Bridge next to Lambeth Palace. You could also visit the newly refurbished Imperial War Museum and its brand new First World War galleries.

The Cinema Museum, housed in an old Lambeth workhouse, explores the history of film and of cinemas themselves, and often holds talks and screenings.



This all sounds a bit expensive – are there any free activities?

The Imperial War Museum is free to visit, although donations are welcome. There's usually something going on at the South Bank, which doesn't require an entry fee, or you could always visit the city farm in Vauxhall.

If you are here during the week and you've a pre-schooler in tow, Lambeth has an amazing amount of children's centres and playgroups that are mostly free, or require just a small donation. Or for some down-time, there's always the option of a quiet read in one of Lambeth's many libraries.



And where can we eat that's child-friendly?

There's Giraffe, Las Iguanas and Wagamama on the South Bank, or visit the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall for a great selection of tea and home-made cakes, as well as games and toys to keep the kids entertained. Olley's Fish Experience opposite Brockwell Park serves topnotch fish and chips and offers special deals for children.


Green space - in inner-city London?!

Believe it or not, there are more than 60 parks, commons and green spaces in Lambeth; something for everyone. Clapham Common is one of the largest green spaces in London and often hosts festivals and performances. Brockwell Park contains a miniature railway and historic buildings, including Brockwell Hall and Brockwell Lido. Every summer it plays host to the Lambeth Country Show, which attracts approximately 150,000 people. Streatham Common has areas of woodland, grassland and wild meadow flowers and there are lavender fields in Vauxhall Park, as well as a model village.
You can find further information about these and other parks in Lambeth here.



Being outside is great, but what if the weather isn't on our side?

If you don't feel like visiting one of the venues listed above there are lots of soft play centres in the area.
Or if you feel like something sporty you could visit the new climbing centre in Vauxhall, which runs lessons for children.


I'm a foodie – where can I grab a bite?

Brixton Market has become one of London's major foodie hotspots over recent years. As the population of the borough is so diverse, there are a range of restaurants to excite even the most adventurous eater. If you fancy browsing for something to take home then there are regular weekend farmers' markets in Kennington, Brixton, Herne Hill and Streatham.


brixton market

We've found a babysitter – where can we go?

You could combine a trip to the theatre with a few drinks at the White Bear pub in Kennington. Toulouse Lautrec, also in Kennington, serves delicious French food and has live music every night of the week.

If you're in a theatrical kind of mood, head to Waterloo, where you have the Old Vic and Young Vic theatres, as well as bars and restaurants along The Cut.

If you're in the mood for a really late night then why not go to a gig at the Brixton Academy, or visit one of the many clubs or late bars in Brixton or Clapham. The Hideaway in Streatham has live comedy and jazz.


Any hidden gems?

Well, did you know that Lambeth is home to a windmill? The Brixton Windmill, also known as Ashby's Mill. If you're here at the right time, you might be able to catch one of the regular guided tours.

The Portico Gallery in West Norwood regularly hosts family-friendly ceilidhs, and the independent Whirled Arts Cinema, close to Brixton and Herne Hill, has programmes suitable for all the family.


About this Local editor

My name is Nikki and I've lived in Lambeth for more than six years. Since Charlotte was born, just over two years ago, I've been amazed at the number of family-friendly activities and places to go I've found in the area, as well as the sense of community among other local parents. I was born in the Midlands and like many others arrived in the capital after university (longer ago than I want to disclose!) but am now delighted to call it home and can't imagine living anywhere else.



Images from Shutterstock: David Bostock, nanka, chrisdorney.

Last updated: about 3 years ago