We went to some great places over the summer in London. One of our favourites was the Brutalist Playground, an architectural installation at RIBA (basically a giant foam safe climbing frame that you can build and add to), it has unfortunately finished now but there are always plenty of new things to see and do in London. Here are a few of our and our mama friends top places to check out...
1. Kings Cross Granary Square N1, FREE, Suitable for all ages
How bizarre that Kings Cross has now become such a hot London destination after so many years as an area to avoid! We LOVE Kings Cross Granary Square and it's been a regular favourite since Finn was born as it's so close to where we live. It has great places to eat - Caravan, Grain Store and Dishoom (recommend brunch there) to name but a few and choreographed fountains which babies and kids love to run and splash through. They have a new area around the corner called Lewis Cubitt Square, also with kid friendly fountains and the Kerb street food stands Monday - Friday lunchtimes. There is the new natural swimming pool (not that we have checked it out yet) if you can get to it on one of the last warm days of summer (buy tickets in advance though). Its a lovely industrial cool area to wander around and very child friendly with open spaces and interesting architecture (and an abundance of cranes and building work in progress).
2. V&A Museum Of Childhood E2, FREE, Suitable for all ages
The Museum of Childhood has an incredible collection of vintage toys and childhood related objects on display spread over a few floors. All very child friendly and spacious. Finn's favourite has always been the indoor sandpit on the top floor and the giant robot downstairs. Plenty of nostalgia for adults too. A good Benugo cafe with highchairs aplenty and regular story telling, arts and crafts and exhibitions. There is an excellent dolls house exhibition on at the moment (until 6th September) but I think I enjoyed this more than Finn!
3. London Transport Museum WC2, FREE for kids, Suitable for all ages
Drive a tube train, play on real buses and trains and a new family friendly play zone (great for toddlers) with loads of interactive areas and building blocks. Finn loved this museum as there is so much to see and do and who doesn't love a red London bus? For adults the iconic posters are a real highlight and the shop is pretty good as well.
We love both these Stokey haunts for easy kids food. If you live local invest £10 in the Stokey and Islington Family card and you can get 50% off food at Foxlow during the week days and 10% off at Stokey Bears (stand under the giant burger!) any day anytime. I regularly go to Foxlow on a mama Friday for brunch with Finn, they are very accommodating (even helping to carry buggies up the stairs) with toys and books and a great value kids selection (we can highly recommend the soft whip ice cream!) also the Foxlow green juice is my personal favourite.
5. Curve Garden Dalston, E8, FREE All ages
Flowers, food and herbs planted by local residents are growing in this pretty east London garden, tucked away behind the busy streets of Dalston it's a little piece of the country to chill out in. Built on the old curve of a railway line they have plenty of kids sessions from making pizzas to pumpkin carving, just check out their what's on section for the most up to date info.
6. Horniman Museum & Gardens, Forest Hill SE23, FREE museum, All ages
I have to admit I haven't been here yet but it's top of my list for when I do visit my mama friends in South London. It comes highly recommended by Sam, a top Dulwich mama. 16 acre gardens, collections of anthropology and musical instruments, as well as an acclaimed aquarium and natural history collection mean there is a lot to see and do depending on little ones mood. The jelly fish in the aquarium and alpacas at the animal walk look fun, we will report back when we do finally go!
7. Victoria Park, E3, FREE All ages
Vicky Park has an array of outdoor play areas for toddlers and kids including some serious sandpits and the splash playground, great for warmer days. It's also a good space for scooters and bike rides and all round running around burning off energy. A top favourite of my NCT group, meeting up for picnics and pushing buggies with sleeping babies. The Pavilion Cafe overlooking the water is a nice spot for watching the ducks and the organic food is much better than your average park cafe.
8. Bach to Baby North and South London. FREE for children, £12 Adults
From Covent Garden to Hampstead, Stoke Newington and Wimbledon this classical concert for babies, toddlers and kids has grown over the years to perform in 25 venues across London. Set up by Miaomiao, an award winning pianist, your little ones will be mesmerised by the music - feeding, crying and dancing all allowed! Finn loved this as a baby, I need to take him back now he's older. Subscribe to their website and get a 2 for 1 cash entry voucher at the door of their new venues for the new season.
Part 2 to follow......
Recommended websites/ books...
Babes about Town website- a daily and weekly scoop on the top family-friendly events, venues and services the city has to offer. Packed with advice and ideas they want to inspire you to take your kids out and about
Stokey Parents website - great for Stoke Newington and Islington mums. I especially like the What's on today section which breaks down by time exactly what is happening that day, great for a last minute find of something to do on your doorstep when you're getting cabin fever at home
Little London book - Child friendly days out and fun things to do. This book contains over 200 fun things to do all year round with kids. We spotted it in the Museum of Childhood Museum and is a great go to for ideas around London to keep your little ones busy. Also available here at amazon.