This is my first Blogger written guest post, I am so happy to bring to you the lovely Alex who has written a fantastic blog about the top places to take your children in London & she’s kindly gifted us with some helpful tips too.
I am so proud to introduce you to Alex & her fantastic blog post.
I’m Alex and I’m a mum to seven *going on 17* year old Lily-Rose, a wife to my super patient husband Scott and I blog over at Better Together Home; a lifestyle and parenting blog. I am making a move towards living a simpler lifestyle, am focusing on saving up to travel and my mantra is ‘experiences not things’ which I’m hoping will curb my shopaholic tendencies! My dream would be to refit an Airstream or trailer, buy a pickup truck and spend the rest of our lives travelling the World!
We live in London and love to travel and so today I’m here to share my top places to see and tips for a trip to London with kids, hope you enjoy!
Top Places To Take Your Children In London
We are really lucky to live relatively central in London and we make a big effort to get out and see all of the places that this big city has to offer, that being said we are on a super tight budget so I’ve tried to pick places that are free.
This area of London is one of our favourites for a day out – we live near London Bridge so we jump on the Clipper boat up the river Thames to Greenwich – it’s not a particularly long journey but the boat is a great way to see some of the big London landmarks. These include St Pauls Cathedral, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge and The Gherkin (if you wanted to see more you can board the boat at various points along the river and you can pass more sights then!).
Greenwich has lots to see and do for all ages – our first stop is ALWAYS The National Maritime Museum( Visit them here). Yes it’s about boats and the sea but there’s so much more to it than that and there are lots of interactive exhibits and spaces to play. These include a whole kid’s section that features a soft play area for the tiny ones, a big boat and imaginative play area for the bigger ones – Lily loves it there. A huge perk to this attraction is it’s free to enter and they often have talks and actors doing reenactments which are entertaining but educational too. Last time we went there was a lady acting out her arrival as an immigrant to the UK from Jamaica in the 50s. She sang songs and taught the children a dance and it was great fun. If your kids really like boats The Cutty Sark is in Greenwich too.
After the National Maritime Museum, if it’s a good weather day we take a walk around Greenwich Park where there are lots of hills perfect for rolling down,a big children’s playing area and lots of space to have a picnic. If the weather is a bit grey (let’s face it this is England after all) then we head to Greenwich Market where there are lots of cool stalls, boutique and vintage shops and a food and antiques market all year round – we’ve managed to get Lily to try lots of new foods from countries all over the World there!
The Natural History Museum, Kensington
The Natural History Museum is a great place to spend a day. It’s also right around the corner from the Science Museum and The V&A so if you wanted to you could spend a whole day at different museums and all for FREE!
This is hands down Lily’s favourite museum thanks to her love of dinosaurs – if you have a kid who is interested in dinosaurs, fossils or animals then this is the place to go! Try to go on a weekday if you can because it can be ram packed with huge queues at the weekend as well as in the summer holidays. To me it’s well worth missing a day of school for but shush don’t tell!
Our friend Tommy the T-Rex (no idea of his actual name but that’s what we call him).
There are always really interesting exhibitions on but to be honest most of our time here is always spent in the dinosaur hall – there is even a ‘real life moving T-Rex! Now that Lilly is a bit older, she loves to take a notepad with her and take notes from the displays which is super cute. She reminds me a bit of my Harriet the Spy obsession back in the day!
In the summer they also have a butterfly house outside and in the Winter there is an ice-skating rink on the lawn which even has those special ‘penguin’ thingys to help kids balance.
The London Southbank
Of all the options this is the easiest to access. The London Southbank is right smack bang in the centre of London and, as the name suggests, is what we call the entire south bank of the River Thames. For the purposes of this I’m focusing on the stretch between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge (quite a large area but there’s loads to do!).
Start with Westminster Bridge – you get a great view of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and two great big Lion statues guard the bridge steps (Lily loved those as a baby). If you were so inclined to part with your cash this is also where the Aquarium and the London Eye are! Just past the big wheel is a great park for kids, in the summer it gets pretty busy and there are also lots of ice cream vans and street entertainers – we’ve stood for hours watching them sometimes!
If you can ever tear your kids away from the park keep on walking down the river. You’ll see the Udderbelly Festival tent in the Summer, an old fashioned carousel, lots of restaurants and if you venture up to the Royal Festival Hall terraces you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic seating area and some water fountains that are the perfect play area for kids. Be sure to take a towel and dry underwear!
The Fountains on the terrace at the Royal Festival Hall
In the Summer months the Southbank even gets it’s very own ‘beach’ – essentially a giant sandpit with deckchairs and plenty of buckets and spades for the kids to play with. Along here there is also an infamous skateboard park and kids love to stand and watch the skaters doing their tricks.
If you keep walking you’ll come to the Tate (another free museum for art this time) and then Shakespeare’s Globe which is a pretty cool building to walk around – they occasionally have child-friendly performances too! There are hundreds of places to eat all along the river side – our personal favourites are Nandos and Wagamama at ‘The Clink’ which is just along the river from the Globe. There are great views of the river from the arched booths at Nandos!
Just past these there’s the Clink museum (not free and not suitable for little ones as it’s pretty scary!) and The Golden Hinde. This again is not free but it is a great little museum and they have actors doing re-enactments on board, it’s not too expensive either.
The last stretch of the riverside between London Bridge and Tower Bridge takes you past Hays Galleria where there is a great fountain that kid’s love to throw copper into, HMS Belfast which is a huge ship that we keep meaning to actually go on and down to Potter’s Fields Parks where in the summer there is an open air theatre and cinema that puts on kid’s movies (for free!) and lots of different events.
Heres two images of Lily enjoying an evening stroll along the Southbank and a visit to The Golden Hinde.
Those are our favourites but a few other great places are: The Imperial War Museum, Regent’s Park, Hamley’s, the Planetarium in Greenwich Park, The British Museum, The Horniman Museum and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park!
Tips For Taking Your Children To London
•London is one of the biggest and busiest cities in the World – if you have little ones a fold-able buggy is a must for them to have somewhere to rest tired legs and for you to not have to end up carrying them around everywhere!
•For older kids find a spot that you can make a ‘meeting point’ if you get lost – in museums point out the uniform of members of staff to them so they know who to go to if they get lost
•Pack a lunch – as well as being busy London is pretty expensive; pack an easily transportable lunch and plenty of water. In the touristy areas a bottle of water can be ridiculously
•Use public transport – it’s efficient, a lot quicker and easier than driving. Plus the staff can usually help you plan out routes easily enough. Be aware that rather than paying for an Oyster card or travel card, you can use your contactless payment card as it costs the same per fare.
•If you are going to eat out avoid places like The Rainforest Cafe (which for some reason travel guides ALWAYS recommend even though it’s overpriced, hectic and busy!), also avoid the cafes and restaurants that are actually at tourist spots (eg the cafe inside the Natural History Museum where a sandwich can cost more than a fiver!) – instead head for chains that your family knows (you’ll always be able to find a Macdonalds/ Nandos/ Pizza Express) as you know that you will enjoy your meal and prices are pretty standard.
•Try not to cram too much into one day- it can be really overwhelming even for adults let alone kids! Don’t make a list of everything you want to see and rush around ticking them off, it’s so much better to enjoy the time you spend in the city!
If you wish to contact Alex her Blog & social media links are below:
Blog:Better Together Home
Facebook: Alex Better Together Home