Sunday 14 October 2012

Have you done London with kids?

If so, I need your help! We have booked tickets to go back to the UK for Christmas - whoo-hoo!
Now that Ebi-kun is a bit older, I wanted to take him to London for a few days to see the sights. My best mate Di and her little 3 year old will be joining us.

So, I am trying to decide the best places to go, I am a northern lass myself and haven't ventured down into the big smoke that is London very often. In fact I can find my way around Tokyo without problems but London, I am clueless.

If you have any good book recommendations too for Ebi-kun, that would be helpful too!

We are on a budget so it needs to be cheap or better still free, suitable for a 7 and 3 year old and not somewhere pretty generic like a zoo or aquarium. Where would you go? Or better still where have you been and recommend?

And.. it will be the week before Christmas - mental I know! where is the best place to see the lights/window decorations?

I think we have tickets for the London Eye sorted but that is about it!

My thoughts so far...
Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
The Natural History Museum
Bus tour
Covent Garden to see street performers
London Eye
Christmas Lights
Hamleys or Harrods
The National Science Museum

I am sure I am missing some gems, please share you experiences in the comments, I need all the help I can get :o)


  1. we didn't take kids when we went to London so I'm not sure, but they might enjoy the Tower of London. Also, I'll bet some of the olympic venues are giving tours? Worth checking!

  2. Perhaps this book could help you:
    Klay Lamprell: Lonely Planet Not-For-Parents London: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
    Have a nice day,

    1. this was one of the books i was look at! We have the world version which is fun.

  3. I wrote about some London-based picture books earlier this year: but never got around to taking my two yet so no practical experience I'm afraid! Two amazing sounding book-y places to visit reviewed here: & I really really want to go to the Ministry of Stories myself! HTH :-)

  4. I wrote about some London-based picture books earlier this year: but never got around to taking my two yet so no practical experience I'm afraid! Two amazing sounding book-y places to visit reviewed here: & I really really want to go to the Ministry of Stories myself! HTH :-)

    1. The Ministry of Stories sounds so awesome!

  5. Time Out also do a Kids London book which you might find helpful.
    You've got plenty on your list already! I'd recommend HMS Belfast and St. Paul's Dome (although neither are free alas). River trip to Greenwich perhaps and pre-booking some tickets for one of the pop-up ice rinks eg. Somerset House.
    There will also obviously be some brilliant kids shows around if the budget can streeeetch.
    Free stuff- Southbank Centre often has free actvities. Museum of London also worth a visit- combine with a visit to the tiny 'Postmans Park' off Little Britain which has a great wall of plaques devoted to people who died in acts of bravery. Best Christmas windows would be Fortnum and Mason -which has a very treaty ice cream parlour if you're in the mood(wander down Piccadilly having looked at the big lights there) and all the big dept. stores.
    For weird off-the-beaten track stuff consider the Grant Zoological museum- a tiny treasure trove of skeletons and weird and wonderful things in jars if your kids have ghoulish tastes. Princess Diana park in Kensington gardens if the weather is nice or a trip to the east end for fresh bagels and the Columbia Road Flower market on a Sunday morning...

    1. ebi-kun would love that zoological museum, right up his street!

      Thank you for all the othe tips!r

    2. When do the Christmas windows start? Please say Nov. 1, Polly! ;)

  6. I've been to the Science Museum & it was packed with kids! DH & I had a great time too & it is someplace we would take our daughter to see. The London Transport Museum was cool & in Covent Garden. I remember shopping in a great toy store in Covent Garden, but I can't remember what it was called. I love the Museum of London, and I would also highly recommend climbing to the top of St Paul's Cathedral -the view is amazing! Finally, check out Greenwich. I believe the Cutty Sark is open again, and I actually enjoyed the National Maritime Museum there. Of course, the obligatory photo straddling the Prime Meridian! Have you checked into the London Pass?

    1. looks like we could do with a month in London a a case full of cash lol
      I remember trying to do the British museum and the science museum both in one day! what a daft idea, we will keep it down to one a day this time.

  7. I'd definitely do a boat trip (although maybe a bit chilly in Winter.) Coram's Fields is the London square that you can only get into if you have a child with you and has playgrounds and so on. I remember as a kid that Holland Park had a good adventure playground, but I'm not sure it will be up to Japanese standards.
    Time Out do some good guides on what to do with kids and their website often has good stuff on it.
    The latest issue of Okido magazine was all about London if you can get hold of that.

    Sorry this is a bit rushed, I'll have a think and see if I can come up with anything more useful.

  8. A boat trip is good fun, if a little parky in Winter, perhaps the boat that goes from Tate Modern to Tate Britain would be good. Or the London Duck tours are amphibious vehicles that start out as a bus tour and then take to the river (don't know if you could do that and keep the river bit a surprise for Ebi-kun - would be fun). I like walking along the south bank - there's usually something fun happening outside the South Bank Centre or further along between Tate Modern and Tower Bridge is quite atmospheric.

    For places to run around and let off steam there's Corams Fields, a London square that's only accessible if you have a child with you that has playgrounds and activities and a small city farm; the Princess Di memorial playground in Kensington Gardens is supposed to be a good one and I remember as a child I liked the adventure playground in Holland Park, but it may not be near where you are.

    Personally I've never been too impressed with Hamleys - it always seems overpriced and I've never found anything I've wanted, but my son is a bit younger than Ebi-kun and not that into toys at the moment.

    The Time Out website is usually a good place for info on London and has a section on Kids' stuff and is good for finding out about special events.

    I can't remember if you get Okido magazine but the last issue was about London and can be seen on their website

    Have a great time. I love London, but it is huge and chaotic.

    1. we are going to meet up with Di at the Tate modern then wander up to Tower bridge kind of area to check into the hotel. I was looking at the London Duck, that would be fun.

      I though Hamleys would be fun just to go and hang out or harrods but it might also be mental in there just before xmas so maybe not!

      I'll check out Okido, thanks!

  9. Don't forget the British Museum - lots of cool things I'm sure Ebi-kun would love, and it's free!

    Oxford Street and Regent Street are the big ones for Christmas lights, and then there's the tree in Trafalgar Square.

    Have fun!

    1. The British museum i keep muddling with the national history museum!
      It is the British museum I have done to go to, I'm sure he will love it in the there.
      can't wait!

  10. The Natural History Museum is a must I loved it when I was little and its free admission

  11. You said no aquariums, but I have to throw an idea out there: The London Aquarium is just behind the London Eye and was a super part of our day out there. Along with the normal fish, they had some robotic ones, and some vegetarian piranhas that went into a classic feeding frenzy over broccoli and carrots!

    1. The piranhas sound pretty cool but to be honey, Japan has amazing aquariums so I would rather we spent our time and money doing something more unique to London/UK.

  12. We go to London almost every year (lived there for 8 years previously) and the places we go to vary slightly depending on the children's ages, but of course some are staples.

    For a 7-year old, would recommend Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden. It's a short train ride from Marylebone station. If you have time that is.

    Also we throw in Little Angel Theatre - always lovely productions there. Chck out their website to see if it works for you guys.

    You can spend 6 months in NHM and Science Museum and still not be done. So we pick and choose which galleries to go to, depending on child's interest at that point. This time we also looked at the Darwin Gallery - awesome. Always always spend a day at Investigate in the basement.

    If you have time National Gallery is great too - there are these amazing Katie books (James Mayhew) - we bought Katie and the British Artists and the trip to the NG was one of the best we have ever had, and we have been there like 10 times at least. There are fun story-telling and craft activities there too on weekends and holidays.

    British Museum - for the mummies! favourite with my 7-year old this time. Also the Rosetta Stone and the other top ten best things to check out there - list on their website, do see. Lots of touch-and-feel kiosks all around, we did not even realise where the whole day went.

    There will be many plays/shows around Christmas time - Unicorn Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, Hampstead Theatre for instance. Check out closer and book online - tickets go quite fast. If you are into classical music, there are many concerts specially for kids at the Royal festival hall or the Royal Albert Hall or Wigmore Hall. Tickets are usually around 10 GBP and you get to see top-class performances. Also there are free lunchtime concerts at places like St.Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.

    Hope you have a great time - London is one place you can never have enough of, especially with kids!

  13. Oh and London Eye. If you want to give that amiss, the bridge on the top deck of the Tower Bridge also offers fabulous views, at a quarter of the price. The tour also covers how the bascule bridge works - as in you get to see the innards of the bride's mechanism.

    Also my girls loved the crown jewels at the Tower of London.


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