…or the 10 London places where you happily let yourself dragged to, even by your toddler…
London is a city of choices for parents on the go, however if patient enough, it can easily satisfy all family tastes and budgets. I gathered here 10 great corners and activities for you to enjoy throughout the spring-summer seasons. Some of you might have already tried a few, of others you might not have even heard of . Let me know any other cool places you’d like to try or have tried and love, and I will get back to you with other fun reviews, competitions and family passes.
1. Transport Museum & Depot Museum
Alright, The Transport Museum may not be the most hidden gem of all cool places London shelters as it’s right in the very heart of quirky Covent Garden, yet it’s definitely a must must must go place for parents and their bundles in case you haven’t been there already. While it’s a great entertaining day out for the adults who are slightly interested in London’s history of transport, this museum is an amazing maze for all toddlers who love climbing up and down and running around. The play area is brilliant, the family bathroom even more surprising (I feel I must share this with you as I haven’t yet seen it anywhere so far); it has 2 toilets, one of them being a lilliputian one, cutest bathroom thing ever. Trains, carriages and lots of cars and buses…I won’t say more, I will let you discover it.
The entrance ticket to the museum is £17 per person while all children up to the age of 17 go free. Cool mums, bumps and lovely bundles, I’m giving away a family pass (up to 2 adults plus children), click here for more details on the COMPETITION.
The Museum Depot in Acton, on the other hand, is a working museum store housing over 370,000 objects. Sights include rare road & rail vehicles spanning over 100 years, bus and rail sheds, signs, ceramic tiles, ephemera and ticket machines. Depot open weekends occur twice a year, typically around March and September, opened on 23-24 April this year.
2. Bach to Baby concerts
I have recently come across this amazing activity which doesn’t work well only for children. The idea of the experience is brilliant: a classical music concert for adults who are encouraged to bring along their offerings. Or the other way around! It really doesn’t matter, Bach to Baby now presents monthly concerts in over 45 venues across London, Surrey, Kent, Thames Valley and Essex, with special events at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall. Try it, you’ll easily get hooked, it feels lovely to enjoy good music while watching your toddler engage with the classical music.
Such a great place usually known and often visited by Canary Wharf and Isle of Dogs’ residents (I would know, I am one of them). What a marvelous location (West India Quay)! Perfect for a day out especially if you’re planning a tiny family photoshoot too, this side of Canary Wharf is simply gorgeous. The canals, beautiful bridges, the story of the Thames and its port and the people from all over the world who settled there could make your experience a very interesting day out. The entrance for the museum which is housed in a warehouse built 200 years ago to store sugar, coffee and rum, is free, except for some exhibitions which come with a charge.
The museum comes with an indoors playground called The Mudlarks Galleries which is actually the brilliant part of the experience if you’re traveling with children as they could use a pit stop. The soft play area is brilliant for hyper tiny humans who need some time to unwind from the busy learning lessons each day is throwing at them. Lots of cool activities just as story reading are occasionally planned for families (there are also facilities to hire if you want to throw away a birthday party or organize other events). The children have to be a maximum of 1m tall due to safety reasons.
As I live quite close to this area, I come here very often and sometimes, if the toddler is deciding on having a nap, I go to their little cafe, get my laptop out and do some work over a cup of tea (and a delish slice of cake, stay away from them, they are highly addictive!).
This was my biggest finding last year, still not sure how London was able to hide it for me for so long. It is indeed an urban oasis for wildlife and people, located only minutes from Hammersmith. Take your time walking around the 100 acre of lakes, ponds and gardens and have a pit stop at the café. The children will fully enjoy the play areas, I am pretty sure all facilities were arranged around their best interest. The centre is also home to rare birds from around the globe, but you can also enjoy watching a family of otters.
One lesson both adults and children learn from visiting this stunning place is the importance of wetlands and its fauna and flora. All activities from feeding or watching birds are highly educational and little ones can learn how to appreciate nature from a very young age.
I’m blessed enough to live close to this gorgeous site with the coolest views over Canary Wharf. The contrast farm – city is glorious. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, the Mudchute is a community charity that comes with a working farm, stables, a children’s nursery (The Muddy Boots) and a wide range of education activities. The cafe is serving free range options and it has a little corner for children to play. The farm is open every day, also free of charge.
There are also event spaces if you’re planning a family event (look back at AllMumsTalk’s Halloween event organised here). Definitely one of the best farms around London which comes with lots of adorable animals and birds.
6. Sky Garden
Well, you wouldn’t exactly associate this with a toddler’s favourite playground, would you? However, it’s a brilliant place to take your tiny humans despite the stair steps you can still easily avoid, the 360 views over London are mesmerising for tiny humans. And for your camera! The entrance is free if you book the tickets well in advance on the website. Why not enjoy a cup of tea too in the highest gardens of London?
7. Kew Gardens
No need to work on too many explanations for this simply stunning location. I’d just love to live here during the spring and summer seasons! Children can run freely, adults can picnic or enjoy the amazing events organised here. There’s a little something for everyone, from iconic buildings and glasshouses to the inspirational gardens and landscapes with over 250 years of history. Always happy to return.
8. Cutty Sark
If curious how living on the sea was, especially on board the legendary sailing ship Cutty Sark, the world’s sole surviving tea clipper and fastest ship of her time, get a ticket for this. This 19th-century sailing ship has been raised over three metres allowing you the jaw-dropping experience of walking directly underneath.
The ticket alone is £13.50 per person and £7.50 for children over 5, but can also be purchased as part of combo deals.
I have discovered this lovely place last year and I can say it is definitely one of the hidden gems of this buzzing city despite being opened since Victorian times when Frederick John Horniman first opened his own house and extraordinary collection of objects to visitors. Ever since, the collection has grown tenfold and includes internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments, as well as an acclaimed aquarium and natural history collection. Unusually for such an important museum, everyone can pick up, try on and play with some of the objects. Exploring the museum is free, there are always different activities going on, plus the 16-acre gardens with amazing views over the city centre make the location even more special.
What a wonderful surprise this place is! A showcase of toys throughout the ages, lots of special exhibitions and events including crafting, face painting, photography etc. It’s highly engaging when it comes to all ages from babies to adults; this space has several play areas and a cafe if you want to take a break from playing and browsing.
Go on and check out the competition for free tickets for the charming London Transport Museum by simply commenting here and saying which are your favourite London family friendly spots.
Good luck, cool mums, bumps and lovely bundles, the winner will be announced by Sunday, the 17th April 2016.