Well, as you may have realised from my previous post, I’m passionate about taking children out in London, showing them the sights, teaching them the history behind this beautiful City and showing them what London in 2012 has to offer!
Besides the upcoming Olympics there is a tremendous amount to be enjoyed with children in our Capital City but with the games approaching what better time is there to bring your children to London and sample the delights on offer! The summer will be truly hectic and while it will surely be fun and exciting I think February half term could be just the time to come and experience a little bit of London life. I have been writing about things to do for free, something for a small budget and a blow out treat and I hope you enjoy my selections for this, my second instalment.
BEST FOR FREE
The Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green – Central Line.
This is a great little place to stop by and feed your own nostalgia as well as being given the opportunity to show your children what you were playing with when you were their age. With so many toys from other eras it’s a treasure trove of interesting finds but it doesn’t stop there. There is always an exhibition or two which will capture your little ones attention (at the moment it’s ‘Magic Worlds’ where children can delve into the realms of fantasy, illusion and enchantment with the major new exhibition revealing how magic has been embraced for hundreds of years) and a program of events which are full to the max for half term. There are of course the regular features too like the rocking horses, a little ones play area and a sensory zone! Plenty of interactive play to wear the children out and thoroughly have a good time!
What else is in the vicinity?
After the ‘Museum of Childhood’ why not hop on the tube a couple of stops to Stratford, home of the Olympic stadium and the new ‘Westfield Shopping Centre’ which also has surprisingly great facilities and play areas for the kids as well as a brilliant viewing platform of the work in progress for the games. You could pop in for a bit of retail therapy before taking the kids to your next stop of the day. Next try out the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which is actually a bit of a treat in itself and I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t like to sit at the front and pretend to be driver! Either alight at the next stop, Pudding Mill Lane, and take a walk along the Green Way where you will be able to view the stadium up close in all it’s amazing glory or just watch as it goes by from the window of the train and head on to West India Quay, home to the ‘London Museum of Docklands’.
I always head here when in the area because it’s a simply fascinating museum and you can book a slot for their magical soft play area for the children to have a run around in. It’s actually a little bit more than just soft play with lots of hands on and interactive games and display, our favorite being the real river where you can build a dam; you could easily spend more than just your allotted hour which is why we go back time and time again. While you wait for your time slot neither you nor your children will be disappointed with everything else on offer and will enjoy learning about the history of the docks in the extra special way that it is provided!
A BUDGET TREAT
Thames Clippers, various routes, Adult fares from £3, children from £2 and under 5’s FREE.
Not to be used just by commuters and passengers who have to travel this fun boat on the Thames acting like a bus service can be used to travel from destination to destination and really become an attraction of the day itself! It’s really easy to hop on and hop off and your usual tube pass can be used with a top up fee making it incredibly easy too! If for instance you want to travel from the ‘Southbank Centre’ to the ‘Tate Modern’ why not hop on a ‘Thames Clipper’ instead of the tube or bus! Enjoy a scenic trip down the Thames and let the children have an experience they will remember as they watch the famous landmarks from a different view point! I loved taking Florence on the Clipper and the friends we travelled with had just as much fun as us. If you’re looking round some of the free things in London it’s an inexpensive way to really spice up the day and give it an extra twist. Buy a day pass and use it for your entire trip or just hop on for one ride only, either way it’s something that bit more unusual than your average public transport and not something you’ll do every day! Unless you’re a commuter of course!
A SPECIAL DAY OUT
The Tower of London, Tower Hill – District, Circle Lines and DLR, ticket prices start at (individual rates) of £19.80 for adults, £10.45 for children between 5 and 16 (under 5’s are free) and £17.05 for concessions, packages are available.
Possibly not a great one for the very tiny, as steps are in abundance here but if you’re seasoned sling wearers like us then it shouldn’t prove a problem and the little ones will find just as much to enjoy here as the big ones so don’t let the steps put you off if you can cope! We love walking past the Tower as often seems to happen living in London but hadn’t been inside before and when recently we finally did we realised we had been missing out! It is steeped in history with something to capture all imaginations and stimulate an interest in the ‘Tower of London’.
It is a brilliant day out! I’d say 3 hours is probably about the best amount of time to allocate when visiting with children as there is enough to capture their attention for that long but it is tiring due to the walking and stair climbing so too long might be a bit over the top for young ones. Visit the gory bloody tower, take a tour with a Yeoman Warder (or Beefeater as they’re more popularly known), check out the Royal Beasts exhibition and see the many beast sculptures throughout the tower. Watch live enactments of historical scenes, see carvings on the walls left by prisoners and get to visit the crown jewels and try to make the soldiers who guard them smile (impossible)! Walking round the battlements and looking out over London is a lovely experience for both old and young and I really do think that if it’s history, fun and something totally special to London that you’re after then here is the place to be!
So that was my second lot of choices for fabby days out with children in London but if nothing has caught your eye just yet, do come back and read the third and final part of this series soon.
Ruth Davies blogger at http://rocknrollerbaby.livejournal.com