Before heading out to London with my barely 2 year old daughter and barely 4 year old son, I researched things-to-do-with-kids-in-london, and the results were so vast. Having returned from my trip I felt I should write my list of favourites to share with anyone planning a similar trip.
In order to keep the kids entertained and keep up with their naps, our trip entailed a lot of walking! On our first day we walked through Green Park and put the kids down for a nap on the grass across Buckingham Palace. Simultaneous naps were not achieved everyday, (the jet lag actually helped!) but our trip was definitely framed around the needs of the kids, meaning their feeding and naps had to be well thought out in order to have tantrum free days.
We stayed at an AirBnb in Chelsea, which allowed us to eat out less, avoiding the fun experience of taking kids to restaurants.
So the highlights of the trip, from James’ and Victoria’s point of view were as follows!
- Princess Diana Memorial Playground
James was excited about seeing Big Ben, it was the moment he realized he was in London. Why? because Peter Pan stood up there of course, and then flew off to Neverland with Wendy, John and Michael. So, you can imagine his excitement when we discovered that the Princess Diana Memorial Playground is themed after Peter Pan, including Hooks Pirate ship, tipis, mermaid lagoon, and so much more.
- Natural History Museum:
Does your little boy love Dinosaurs? Of course he does! So you cannot miss out on the Natural History Museum. Also, if you’re interested in astronomy, geology, evolution and any kind of science. Go there! Plus free entry doesn’t hurt!
The last day of our trip was a rainy one, and so we decided to take advantage of the indoors and spent the morning at the museum. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip, for the kids and for us!
- See the geese in Hyde Park
Walking around the parks you see ducks, geese and swans! If you’re extra adventurous you can take a peddle boat out onto the lake on a nice day. On a hot day, you can also find a public pool here, but don’t ask me for the exact location, the parks are so big you can spend hours walking through them! I just know we happened to walk by a pool and I thought “I wish I knew this was here sooner”.
- Pizza or fish and chips!
Going to London, I was worried as to what my picky eaters would eat. Lucky enough, there are tons of Italian pizzerias all over the place, because let’s face it they won’t be eating any Yorkshire pudding. Between that and fish and chips, I was able to keep them well fed. We also had the chance to try one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants Barbecoa, and James approved, which earns the restaurant 5 stars in my book.
After two suggestions from separate people, we also tried Franco Manca’s Pizzeria and were not at all disappointed!
- Hampton Court Magic Gardens
Hampton Court was a “must” on my list. I have a slight obsession with royalty especially the tudors and so, to their reluctance I dragged the two tots from room to room as we explored King Henry the VIII’s home. The kids were getting bored and acting up, we rushed through the first few rooms and got kicked out of the last ones. After a lunch at the small cafe, we walked through the rose gardens, made our way through the oldest hedge maze in the world (reached the centre rather quickly I might add), and found the Hampton Court Magic Garden. Unfortunately, James was asleep in the stroller at this point, but Victoria had a blast running around the park, which included ramps, slides and even a splash pad!
Bonus – Things I’ll save for my next trip to London.
6. Pepa Pig Park– Although we didn’t get to go, we heard it is quite the hit. Includes little roller coaster rides and a water park for toddlers.
7. The making of Harry Potter Set – (Link here) Although I would have loved to go, my kids are not yet familiar with Harry Potter. The entrance fee is quite steep and I felt they would not appreciate the experience. This is something I’ll have to save for my next time in London. Instead, thanks to our walking tour guide at “Fun London Tours” we walked through the original Diagon Alley, or at least JK Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley! It was definitely the highlight of my
(Above: Streets Cecile Row and Goodwin’s Court –Alley ways that inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley)
8. Stone Henge– I don’t need to explain why you should go see this. We simply didn’t have time, but next time it will be a priority!
We debated whether we should bring our double stroller, and I imagine it would have been quite useful to have when dealing with tantrums over who gets to sit and during nap times. In the end we opted for the city stroller and wheel board. It was the right choice considering limited space during public transport.
I highly recommend walking tours for any European city. You will get to experience the streets and hidden secrets like no other. The tour guides are usually so informative, and creative in their story telling. In london, we did the Fun London Tours – the Secret London walking tour found here — and had we had more time, I would have taken a few more tours available on their website. One tip: book in advance during peak season because they fill up fast!
If you plan on using public transport everyday, ask about the oyster card. It allows you to fill it up for a weeks worth and top up if needed. You can then receive a refund for the unused amount on the card.
Hope these tips can help someone else who is travelling with their toddlers. If you have any questions about how we travel with kids feel free to write or leave a comment!
For more photos of this trip visit our instagram page jamesnvictoria and please follow to stay up to date with future posts!