Visiting big and bustling cities with kids, especially at a very young age can be a daunting experience. If you are currently planning a family weekend in London, you probably have already started to plot how to avoid sacrificing activities that you want to do, and still keep your kids happy and entertained. It is certainly not the easiest tasks, but luckily there are a few activities that will allow you to do exactly that.
First things first, make sure you have checked in as close to the city centre as possible. It makes getting around the city way easier if you avoid the hustle of a London commute. Barbican, based in central London can provide your family with a great base, which you will find both accommodating and well- priced, such as the Thistle Barbican.
You can then make a rough plan where to go and what to see. We made a list of a few tips that you might find useful for making these decisions.
Visit the Tower of London – History might not be everyone’s favourite subject, but the eerie atmosphere of the famous London fortress with the Welsh Ravens in the Tower, and the stories about countless executions and failed escape attempts told by the Yeoman Warders (otherwise known as Beefeaters) are a hit, especially with younger kids!
Bursting with thousand years of English history, and numerous exhibitions the site is full of exciting artefacts to discover. During both the school holidays and weekends, families can take a part in costume- guided events such as sword – fighting duels or hands – on crafts workshops. For those more digitally savvy we recommend testing the Tower’s “Time Explorer” App compatible with iOS devices, with which you will be guided by the historical figures challenging you with tasks and activities on the site.
Disclaimer : Some areas of the Tower, like the Torture Exhibition at the bottom of the Wakefield Tower, being a previous site of many executions and tortures might not necessary be suitable for younger children.
Stroll around Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill – On summer days, Londoners flock to Hampstead Heath to escape the heat and breath the fresh air on one of the London’s most famous grassy sprawls. If you run out of ideas of how to enjoy a warm, summer afternoon in the city, this could be your next destination, and you won’t be disappointed. From Hampstead Heath, you can see London the way you haven’t seen it before. Take a stroll up to one of London’s more prestigious viewing locations, such as you will be able to get a glimpse of the stunning London panorama, with its famous historic landmarks. Fingers crossed for a heatwave during your visit, Hampstead Heath is also one of the few places where you can take a plunge into an outdoor pool with a style. See the opening times for the Lido and Bathing Ponds, to get the most of the next outdoor splash with the family.
Kayaking on Thames – If the weather conditions aren’t pleasant enough to try one of London’s outdoor pools, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your hopes for a family water-sports activity. With plenty of ship docks around London, the city has it all (at least historically) to tap to the ambitions of the young maties and pirate-wannabes, so why not to see the city from a completely different perspective and jump on a kayaking trip? Suitable for more advanced paddlers, as well as absolute beginners, the experience can be qualified as both a great way to stay active, and show your family the capital in the way they have never seen before!
Have a family lunch at a rooftop pub – Who said that a family lunch always has to be on the street level? London is one of the few cities in the UK where you can both enjoy an exquisite dining experience paired with stunning views of the famous landmarks bounded together into one panoramic view, so why not sit down and relax at the Castle in Islington, or the Founders Arms in Waterloo? These friendly pubs, unlike glitzy rooftops in the City, have the family – friendly vibe you might appreciate, while recharging your batteries before the next big adventure.
Kew Gardens – We know what you are thinking – “Another London’s Royal Garden”. But Kew Gardens are more than just another green sprawls in the middle of a bustling city. They are perfect if you want your kids to both have fun and learn something new. Take the 18 meters high, Treetop Walkway, that was built to resemble the Fibonacci numerical sequence, and get a unique insight to the forest canopy, full of birds and insects of all types. Then fall in love with the breathtaking views across the Gardens and beyond. Or feel the tropics in one of the world’s greatest Temperate Glasshouse that is a home to some of the rarest and exotics plants! Finish the experience with some fun activities during the seasonal kids- friendly events.
What are your top tips for a weekend in London with kids?