So, I’m back for the last time to talk about my family’s favourite days out in London.
There’s no time like half term than to indulge your children and bring them to their Capital City for the day and you don’t have to spend a fortune (although you certainly could if you wanted) because London really does have the best selection on offer for absolutely free. Lots of places, museums in particular ask for no more than a donation that suits your pocket so it really does make it viable to travel from further afield and grasp with both hands all we have to offer families here in London! I’ve talked previously about free things, something for a modest budget and a total treat and in this instalment it’s no different but I may just have saved some of the best till last…
BEST FOR FREE
The Science Museum, South Kensington – District Line, www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
We go to the ‘Science Museum’all the time and never get bored, we sometimes while away hours upon hours trawling round everything and going back to the bits we love the most and other days we just pop in to have a play in the ‘Basement’ which is set up especially for under fives. With a whole area for them to play, explore and try out experiments suitable for their age it’s a fabulous day out in itself forgetting that there are floors upon floors and displays upon displays of other things to keep the little ones (and the big ones) entertained. While you’re there check out one of the ‘Bubble’ talks which are not only fun, interactive and educational but suitable for children of all ages.
Playing with water at the ‘Science Museum’
Upstairs the ‘Launch Pad’ is also designed for little minds but slightly older ones this time. With lots of hands on experiments as well as more ‘talks’ there really is something for everyone. For the rest of your time there my favourites have to be the human body exhibition, the area where your photo can be taken and aged up down or changed in sex and I simply love the household goods from bygone times not least because there is a ‘Baby Daisy’ vacuum cleaner donated to the Museum by my own Grandmother on view.
What else is in the vicinity?
When visiting the ‘Science Museum’ why not check out the ‘Natural History Museum’ next door. A stones throw away and with a world of entertainment for little ones it’s certainly not one to be missed and it definitely won’t be forgotten. Dinosaurs, stuffed animals, fossils… This really is for any little explorers you might have and despite it not being as hands on and interactive as The Science Museum it’s still a great day out for the children! A short walk away from both museums is the ‘Princess Diana Memorial Playground’, a playground like no other you will have ever been to.
On the warmest October day ever in the ‘Princess Diana Memorial Playground’
In Hyde Park and right next door to ‘Kensington Palace’ it’s a lovely central location from which you can start or finish your day. In summer children can splash about in the water feature but in winter it’s like an enchanted garden, a BIG one. There may be a small queue in busier times but it’s worth the wait and your offspring, no matter how old they are will NOT be disappointed! From a giant pirate ship to Tee Pee tents, tunnels and tree houses, this place has it all!
The National Army Museum, Kids’ Zone £2.50 per child (under 2s FREE)
Sloan Square – Circle and District Lines,
Now this is one we haven’t actually been to ourselves yet but I have it on very good authority that it’s a wonderful experience! With the majority of the museum and its exhibitions being completely free of charge and only having to pay for the Kids’ Zone it’s a very inexpensive day out and I hear the children love it! It’s one we’ll be visiting in half term that’s for sure as it would appear that it’s suitable for absolutely all ages from tiny babies to adults!
Having a splashing time in the grounds of the ‘Chelsea Hospital’
At the moment there is the popular ‘War Horse’ exhibition which explores the hugely popular Michael Morpurgo novel alongside touching real-life stories of war horses and the men who depended on them. Featuring exclusive content from Michael Morpurgo, the acclaimed stage production by the National Theatre and the Spielberg-directed film, this hands-on, interactive exhibition is one for all the family and one I’m particularly looking forward to! Of course there’s so much more to this museum with an extensive program of events and activities complementing their permanent galleries and for the children not only is there the ‘Action Zone’ where older ones can get interactive bringing history to life but the aforementioned Kids’ Zone for the tiny ones. As stated this is chargeable and is hugely popular so a slot MUST be booked in advance to avoid disappointment. This new children’s play area explores aspects of army life from camping to clothing. It includes a dedicated soft-play space for babies, plus arts and crafts, dressing-up costumes, books, interactive toys and panels. Worth a visit I think don’t you?! When you leave don’t forget to pop down the road and take a walk round the ‘Chelsea Hospital’, home to the Chelsea Pensioners.
We took a fabulous walk round the grounds there in the summer, it’s free to get in and beautiful so don’t miss it! It’s quite moving to see the elderly gentlemen taking the air and enjoying their well deserved retirement.
Having a splashing time in the grounds of the ‘Chelsea Hospital’ last summer.
A SPECIAL DAY OUT
Lollibop’s Mini Disco, Ministry of Sound, Elephant and Castle – Northern and Bakerloo Lines, 12-5pm £10 pp or £15pp on the door (for ages 3 – 10 years), Booking line 0844 844 0444 or online with Ticketmaster,
The ‘Lollibop Festival’ comes to London once a year in the summer and is the only festival entirely dedicated to little ones. Just as with an adult festival there is live music, dancing, food and attractions galore and do you know, it was one of the best days out we have ever had so when we left after our magical day knowing it would be another year before we could experience some ‘Lollibob festival’ glory again it was with a little sadness in our step.
Florence at ‘Lollibop Festival’ in the summer
Imagine our delight then, when we heard about the disco they are specially hosting for this half term! Kick off the kid’s holiday with a banging start and head down to what will undoubtedly be a brilliant day out for the whole family! DJ’s Dick and Dom will be pumping out the tunes while special appearances will be made by favourites such as Scooby Doo! Plus there’ll be loads of activities during the day such as beat boxing and hula hoop workshops, dance games, live music, story telling, bubble shows and entertainers! If it’s even a smidgen of just one hour’s worth of the normal festival it’s gonna be a sure fire winner and you’d be mad to miss it if you can help it!
So there we have the last of my top picks for half term and don’t forget all the best of the rest London has to offer from City Farms dotted all over the place with FREE entry, ‘Kids AM’ film screenings at ‘Vue Cinemas’ across the Capital (costing from just £1.50 per ticket for adults and children, www.myvue.com) and all the other wonderful and FREE museums of which there are plenty… It’s also worth looking to see if your train operator offers two for one entry on many attractions as so many do and then you can take a real treat to affordable in one easy step! Just get googling and come to your Capital City!
Ruth Davies blogger at http://rocknrollerbaby.livejournal.com