Over to LadybirdMum, with some fantastic tips on where to go when out and about in London with little ones.
We have ventured far and wide in this great capital with Zach. Here, I’m sharing five favourite places to visit, which may be of interest to those living in London with a young family. Or anyone who thinks, in the words of Charlie’s little sister Lola, ‘We Completely Must Go to London’ . . .
When we lived more centrally, the Southbank was our default place to take Zach. We’d often walk from Royal Festival Hall all the way up to Tower Bridge, taking in Shakespeare’s Globe and Tate Modern en route. Both Festival Hall and Tate Modern are good places to take babies and toddlers. Lots of space for roaming and plenty to see and do. And coffee. Lots of coffee. This is key.
In spring there is the Imagine Festival, in summer you’ll find sandpits, deckchairs and the Udderbelly Festival. There are always performers, musicians and giant bubbles being blown, plus the daily vintage book market under Waterloo Bridge. Winter brings its twinkling blue and silver lights and Christmas markets, with delicious foods, trinkets, hot chocolate and mulled wine. Santa once tried to charge me £2 for a photo with Zach there. I was aghast but politely declined in a very British fashion.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Sometimes on these walks, we’d venture from Tate Modern over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s. If you grew up on Mary Poppins as I did, it’s hard to see St Paul’s cathedral without hearing the refrain of ‘Feeeeed the birds, TUPPENCE a baaag!’ Again, there’s lots of space for wandering outside as you admire the views, not to mention going inside this breathtaking building. Wow.
V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green
There is a Game Boy in the Museum of Childhood. A Game Boy! In a museum! It’s unnerving that a toy my brother and I once spent hours playing is now deemed a relic. Anyway, I digress. This is a big, brilliant place to while away your time; wandering around the amazing exhibits of children’s toys and artefacts spanning decades. There’s so much here to keep kids entertained, including a lights and mirrors display, activity sessions and Lego building.
There’s also a lovely Sing and Story time session, where exuberant staff act out children’s books with props and puppets.
Now we live closer to Greenwich so it’s our new default destination. Zach loves going on the train and DLR to the Cutty Sark Greenwich station stop. The ship itself is stunning, and we love the National Maritime Museum on rainy days. So much to explore, and upstairs there’s a giant world map on the floor, which Zach spends many a happy hour playing on.
Greenwich Park outside the museum is fantastic on a chilly or warm day, with a massive playground for all ages. Overlooking the park is the Royal Observatory, at the top of a hill that’s bloomin’ good exercise with a buggy. Spectacular views across London await.
It’s also delightful to travel by boat to Greenwich, if you’ve visiting from Central London.
Family-friendly and a sight to behold, we’ve spent a few happy afternoons here. Sometimes we’d visit after swimming; Zach would fall asleep and I’d leisurely stroll around, taking in some of the very best of British art. One time we went and Zach was in his element, crawling around the wide open floors, shrieking happily as his godmother chased after him. I pretended not to have a clue who they were.
Read more about it!
With so much to see and do, it’s tricky to know where to start.
To help you navigate a bedazzling smorgasbord of exciting London STUFF, DK’s Eyewitness Travel Family Guide London is ideal. It’s broken down into areas with maps, highlights and dedicated ‘Kids’ Corners.
And for them . . .
Whether you live here, or want to visit with your little ones, it’s fun for them to see London in books and through the eyes of best-loved characters. We’ve just read Topsy and Tim Visit London with Zach, wondering why we’ve never been to the pirate ship in Diana’s Playground in Kensington Gardens.
The 50th anniversary edition of The Ladybird Book of London not only looks and feels wonderful, but is full of some excellent nuggets of information. ‘Let us start our tour of London at Trafalgar Square, for there we are in the middle of everything.’ Yes indeed. It goes on to suggest ‘if you are very lucky or clever, the pigeons will perch on your hand to feed . . . or even on your head.’ Arrgh! No! Just no.
Charlie and Lola We Completely Must Go to London is a vibrant book featuring The National History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and The Tower of London, amongst other famous landmarks. That’s one busy school trip. Fetch them all a gallon of pink milk! In the meantime, I’m off to plan our visit to Diana’s playground. Thanks Topsy and Tim for the tip!
If you’d like to share any top tips from life in/trips to London with little ones, we’d love to hear from you. Just comment on the blog post below or tweet us @ladybirdbooks using #LadybirdMum and we’ll put your name into the prize draw to win one of two sets of these fantastic books!
T&Cs Enter by leaving a comment on this post, by 10pm, June 15th 2015. Full T&Cs here.