A really good way to spend a few wintry days at half term.
We were lucky weather-wise so we opted for more outdoorsy activities than we expected in February and loved walking along the South Bank and spending an afternoon at Kew Gardens.
Downsides: You do need to have a plan, I think, in London. Otherwise, you end up spending more money or schlepping about more than you’d like. It also helps to have friends to visit!
Our top 5 London things to do with kiddos
1. Mooching along the South Bank (good weather helps here)
We walked across Westminster bridge towards the London Eye and the South Bank, one of our favourite spots as it has a) Ping Pong dim sum restaurant b) The Southbank centre c) The National Theatre and d) Just lots going on if you fancy a stroll with a view…
This walk takes you past Tate Modern and usually we would have gone in, but it was one of those rare February days when the sun is shining like billyo and it seemed a shame to go inside. So we enjoyed the man with the big bubbles for a bit and then just kept walking…
2. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre
Walk a little further, and you get to Shakespeare’s Globe, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, so of course I dragged everyone in.
Luckily for them, The Globe don’t offer shows in February (WAY too cold for open air theatre!) but the tour was interesting, we got to see some actors demonstrating how to stage fight, the cafe was a hit and we shopped in the gift shop. All good. AND educational 🙂
3. A river bus
We finished our South Bank day with a river bus from Blackfriars to Putney — a great way to finish our day along the river, and made me realise that the river really is the best way to see London if at all possible, rather than via the underground; popping up every so often doesn’t help develop any sense of where things are in relation to each other… at least that’s my excuse for a complete lack of navigational skills even after many years!
4. Kew Gardens
We loved our Sunday afternoon at Kew with old friends. Lunch in the Orangery, a walk through the Palm House, a climb in the trees, tea and peacocks in the cafe …
Orla has been studying rainforests this term, so we definitely earned parent points for getting as close as it is possible to get in England to a tropical jungle.
4. A West End show
I do find these phenomenally expensive. Maybe I’m doing something wrong and missing out on the reasonably priced ticket option, but in my experience if you want any kind of a view it seems that tickets for these big shows are extortinate. However, we’ve now seen The Lion King, Wicked, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I admit they are entertaining. Our fave is without a doubt the delightful Matilda — if only for the songs.
PLUS … Bonus!
London speedy girls’ trip
How do a mum and tween spend 24 hours in London without shopping? Like this:
- Pack 2 books, 1 toothbrush (oops), 2 changes of clothes and some hastily assembled toiletries
- Train it across the country and tube it to Southwark
- Check in at the very swanky Hilton Bankside
- Whizz to Ping Pong Dim Sum at the Royal Festival Hall for delicious dim sum, gorgeous lemonade with strawberry jus and general ear wigging of conversations at (v close) neighbouring tables – tweens are so unsubtle at this!
- Nip to the National Theatre for slightly confusingly set As You Like It
- Breakfast in bed (pancakes and waffles oh my)
- Pop to the Tate Modern for a dash of modern art (see pic for often unimpressed tween!)
- Walk along the river past all sorts of serendipitous sights – The Golden Hinde, The Globe (now on the list for next time), Millennium Bridge, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge
- Get lost a bit
- Finally find the Fashion Museum and discover everything to know about Liberty surrounded by gaggles of trendies
- Track the Shard (lacking navigational confidence so this feels easy) for too fast lift up to floor 32 for juice and fashion top trumps in the view licious bar
(Mostly this went swimmingly. May draw a veil here over the muddle with return train tickets resulting in 3 hours at Paddington station with not even Yo Sushi to console or nourish us)