The school holidays are nearly upon us … if you’re like me, I want to make the most of any bright or sunny days to go out with my children. But often I’m struggling for ideas – and by the time I’ve browsed the internet for ideas on what to do, it’s lunchtime, and we haven’t even got out the door. I have done my research and it seems only right and fair I should share these ideas with you too. (If you’re using national rail services, don’t forget many trains are not stopping at London Bridge while there is redevelopment work in progress – check in advance for disruptions that might affect your train journey.).
Remember the simplest things are often the most fun for children: flights of steps, buses, parks, getting wet and running around.
Visit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in central London. Very convenient for Charing Cross station and a delightful bus ride or tube journey from the other mainline stations. You’ll find a selection of audio tours and printed trails for families.
My children love the British Museum – there are so many interesting galleries and exhibits to visit, for grown-ups and children alike. We always make a beeline for the Egyptian gallery first. Visit the Young Explorers section on the website for activities and trails.
Visit one of the City Farms – there are several all over London including Mudchute, Stepney, Hackney, Kentish Town and Coram’s Fields.
The Southbank Centre near Waterloo is always a big attraction for my family at the weekend and in school holidays. There always seems to be something happening and very often free: festivals, street entertainers, The Saison Poetry Library etc.
Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral
If you’re near the Southbank Centre, take a wander along the river, across the Millenium Bridge and over to St Paul’s Cathedral. It will no doubt be a busy time for Cathedral visitors but even if visiting the cathedral is not your ideal activity (and it’s certainly not free), do take time to explore Paternoster Square. My children LOVE the statue of the sheep.
Buses and trains
Have you thought about taking a trip on a London bus? We often come into London and just jump on a bus without a clear idea of where we are going. Many routes pass the famous landmarks (some great suggestions here). Younger children love sitting on the top desk of a bus and watching London go by. Visit the TfL website for details. Alternatively a ride on the Docklands Light Railway – my children still LOVE to sit at the very front, calling out the Danger of Death signs.
St James’s Park
You can walk to St James’s Park from Charing Cross via Trafalgar Square with the huge lion statues which children love, and Nelson’s Column. This park has lots to entertain young children – a pond with comical ducks for starters. Squirrels everywhere. The pond is home to pelicans and you can see them being fed with fresh fish between 2.30pm and 3pm every day. The Royal park is very close to Buckingham Palace too – always busy with tourists but children are fascinated to see where the Queen lives and the Palace guards resplendent in red jackets and bearskin hats! Read more here.
When it’s a warm or sunny day, we love to visit More London. There you can wander around Hay’s Galleria, picnic in Potters Fields Park, admire Tower Bridge (bridge lift times), The Scoop and kids will love the fountains!
Which of these ideas will you go for? And what about you? Do you feel your stress levels rising at the thought of coping with school holidays? Check out ideas on how to cope here.