As I travel across the globe (but especially on my regular visits to the USA) I am often asked: “Is London kid-friendly?” I have a quick and enthusiastic answer: YES! As the readers of Studio Traveler prepare for a special trip of family fun over Christmas/New Year’s or Spring Break, 2015, the range of activities for kids (of all ages) is endless in London and surrounding areas.
From museums to shows to parks and everything in between, London has a multitude of offerings. Let’s start first with a special event every October (happening this week and every October in the run-up to Halloween) called The Big Draw (www.thebigdraw.org) This month-long festival is a celebration of artistic creativity. Kids can participate at special events including Big Draw at the Zoo (www.zsl.org;) Kids at the Affordable Art Fair (www.affordableartfair.com;) and my favourite, special events at the Foundling Museum which documents the History of Abandoned Children in London from 1739-1954…it is an eye-opening and profound experience. (www.coram.org.uk)
Throughout the year, the range of activities for kids is truly extraordinary. Some of my favourites include experimenting in The Pattern Pod at the Science Museum (www.sciencemuseum.org.uk;) rambling over, across, through and below the Cutty Sark and The Great Map in Greenwich (www.rmg.co.uk;) or getting off-the-beaten track and exploring the hands-on (and sometimes weird) exhibits at the Horniman Museum and Aquarium (www.horniman.ac.uk.)
While the Horniman Museum is one delightful day out, another that should always be considered is ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ at Warner Brothers Studio, just outside Watford (www.wbstudiotour.co.uk) This is a long day but a splendid one and the chance to see the sets and technology behind the films is an “Only in London Experience”
Eating across London is always a pleasure - no matter your age – but here are many kid-friendly choices that won’t break the bank. As you explore London’s many parks and formal gardens, pop into any of the restaurants in Hyde Park, Regents Park or Holland Park (all are open year-round.) For a great café experience, try Huggle in Swiss cottage (www.huggle.co.uk;) Brother’s Grill at the ChickenShed Theatre –be sure to take in a show (www.chickenshed.org.uk) or the fantastic Polka Theatre Café (www.polkatheatre.com) with adult and kid-sized portions.
Lastly, you can never go wrong if you finish off a busy day of exploring the sights & sounds of London with a visit to M&M’s World on Leicester Square. It is a jammed with tourists from every corner of the globe – that in itself is an eye-opening experience – and the “Wall of Chocolate” has “trouble” written all over it….for your wallet and your waistline