London with a baby: what to do, what to see, where to eat [maternity/paternity leave ideas]

*** Keep scrolling down for photos ***

London, baby…

If, like me, you live in, or visit, the capital and are finally a bit bored bored stiff of the same walk around the same local park, then you might like to hear of a few places to visit in London that it is possible to take a baby to, and enjoy. Babies are like little sponges, so if you fancy getting out and about (or have to because your baby is climbing you and the walls) then a spot of sightseeing, among those soft play and sensory classes, can keep things interesting for all of you.

This is a ‘work in progress’ wish list, so I’ll add a photo to each activity, below the initial list of links, as we do each one.

It is worth checking out the websites of the places before you plan a visit – lots have soft play areas or baby-friendly activities on at various times of the week/year. Do check opening hours before setting off. I have included info on the underground station lift access situation for each day out, but always check your own specific route.

*** We would love to hear more suggestions and will keep adding to the list, so please comment below with your favourite spots ***

Categories: Museums, Farms, Walks, Parks, Attractions, Swimming, Stately homes and palaces, Places to eat, Getting about, Days out of town, Christmas, Play centres/soft play


Museums:
Plenty of space, usually free to visit, lots to see to engage baby, space for crawlers and great for sheltering from heat/rain

The Natural History MuseumSouth Kensington (no lift) Earls Court is nearest station with lift, around 20 minute walk
Greenwich Maritime Museum and giant floor map (fun for crawlers) – Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich DLR (lift access)
V&A Museum of Childhood and Gallery café (such good wraps and sandwiches!) – Bethnal Green (no lift), or around 20 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street Station (lift access)
Tate Modern Gallery and cafe with a magnificent view over the Thames – Southwark (lift access)
The Science MuseumSouth Kensington (no lift) Earls Court is nearest station with lift, around 20 minute walk
William Morris GalleryWalthamstow Central (no lift, mix of escalator and steps)
Design MuseumHigh Street Kensington (no lift), could walk from Kensington Olympia or Earls Court, both not too far and have lifts
Horniman Museum and Gardens –lots of antique stuffed animals in the museum, here, including a walrus  – Forest Hill (lift access)
The V&A Museum and GardenSouth Kensington (no lift) Earls Court is nearest station with lift, around 20 minute walk
Imperial War MuseumWaterloo (lift access)
London Transport MuseumCovent Garden (no lift), could walk from Tottenham Court Road, which has a lift
The Museum of London – Offers regular baby and toddler groups – St Pauls (no lift), walk from Bank or Faringdon, which have lifts
Museum of London Docklands – Offers weekly kids’ events, and daily soft play times – Canary Wharf (lift access)
Dulwich Picture Gallery – Brixton (lift access), then can take National Rail to West Dulwich or take the P4 bus, or walk

Farms:
Perfect for introducing a little country life in the middle of the city, and usually have a nice cafe on site

Mudchute FarmMudchute DLR (lift access)
Woodlands Farm in Welling – (Christmas Fair 2nd December 2018) – Welling National Rail, steps to leave station
Spitalfields City FarmShoreditch High Street (lift access)
Hackney City FarmHoxton (lift access)
Surrey Docks City FarmCanada Water (lift access)

Walks:
Free, fresh air, brilliant sightseeing and good exercise – plus good for motion naps

Stroll Chelsea Embankment and the King’s RoadSloane Square (no lift – steps or escalator)
Northern Heights Parkland Walk – ghost stations – Alexandra Palace National Rail to Finsbury Park stations (no lift)
The Thames pathVarious station points all along the river. I like walking along from Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge
Wander around Soho – Tottenham Court Road (lift access)
Portobello Road Notting Hill or Ladbroke Grove (no lift)
London Southbank – London Waterloo rail and tube (lift access)
Little Venice, London – The spot where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent’s Canal. Peaceful canal walks – London Paddington (lift access)
Cutty Sark and Thames Path, Greenwich – You can pay to go into the Cutty Sark, or just enjoy the walk around it, and perhaps the nearby park – Cutty Sark DLR (lift access)
Battersea Power Station development – Good selection of family-friendly restaurants – by public MBNA boat is easiest, can walk from Clapham Junction through Battersea Park
Southbank walk up to opposite Houses of Parliament – walk from London Waterloo (lift access)

Parks:
London is the greenest city in the world – make the most of it!

Greenwich Park and viewpoint – Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich (lift access)
Hyde ParkGreen Park, for lift access
St James’ Park – in March to see bluebells and the blue bridge, and look out for the pelicans! – Victoria, for lift access
Battersea Park – Peace pagoda – Clapham Junction (lift access)
Buddhapadipa Thai temple, Wimbledon – Wimbledon Park (no lift)
Crystal Palace dinosaur park and children’s farm with Shetland ponies – Crystal Palace (lift access)
Holland Park Kyoto gardenHolland Park (no lift), could walk from Shepherd’s Bush, which has a lift
Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s rose gardenRegents Park (no lift, Bond Street for nearest lift access)
Sydenham Hill WoodForest Hill/Sydenham Hill (lift access at both)
Walthamstow MarshesClapton (no lift)
Dulwich Park – + Pavillion café – Forest Hill overground (lift access) or West Dulwich National Rail
Primrose HillChalk Farm (no lift)
Hampstead HeathHampstead (no lift)
Richmond deer park – Richmond Station – National Rail or District Line (and then catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham)
Queen Elizabeth Park Stratford (Jubilee and Central lines and Overground lift access)
Coram’s Fields park – seven acre park, only accessible for people with children – Kings Cross (lift access)
Highbury Fields – playpark and could walk along to Angel – Highbury and Islington (lift access from Overground line)
Blackheath common – Blackheath rail
Clapham Common – Clapham Junction (lift access) and walk

Attractions:
A few of these are big, bold and pricey, but all are guaranteed entertainment for all ages

Sea Life AquariumWaterloo (lift access)
Kew GardensKew Gardens (lift access)
ZSL London Zoo Regents Park or Camden Town (escalators – no lift access)
Tower of LondonTower Hill (lift access)
Greenwich PlanetariumCutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich (lift access)
Columbia Road flower market and Royal Oak pub – Sunday 8am to 3pm-ish – Old Street
The Barbican Centre – Tropical gardens (only open on Sundays) and events, and St Alphage gardens – Barbican (no lift – walk from Faringdon, which has lift)
God’s Own Junkyard – Huge collection of neon sign art, this place is incredible! – Walthamstow Central (no lift from platform, mix of escalator and steps)

Swimming:
If your little one loves splashing about in a pool, here is where is worth braving the trauma of the changing room for…

The Aquatics Centre – Home of the swimming events for the Olympics 2012 – Stratford (lift access)
Charlton Lido – Woolwich train station, and bus

Stately homes and palaces:
It’s never too early to introduce them to a touch of great British regality

Alexandra Palace
Wood Green (no lift access) or Alexandra Palace Rail
Hampton Court PalaceHampton Court rail station, from Waterloo
Eltham PalaceEltham or Mottingham rail stations, or 161 bus
Buckingham Palace – visit the State Rooms in the summer – Green Park (lift access)

Places to eat:
Here are a few alternatives to the tried and tested family-friendly food chains spark your tastebuds

Chiswick High Street and cake at American bakery, Outsider TartChiswick Park or Turnham Green (no lift)
Brixton’s food marketBrixton (lift access)
Brick Lane and Spitalfields walk and lunchShoreditch High Street (lift access)
Fatboys DinerEast India DLR (lift access)
Mayflower pub, the oldest pub on the ThamesRotherhithe or Canada Water, and walk (lift access at Canada Water)
Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, Hyde ParkGreen Park (lift access)
Stoke Newington West Reservoir sports centre café Manor House (no lift access)
Imperial China, China Town (restaurant with bridge and water feature) – Leicester Square (no lift access) or walk from Tottenham Court Road which has a lift
Pancakes at Brockwell Lido caféHerne Hill rail or Brixton (with lift access)
Borough Market and walk to Golden HindeLondon Bridge (lift access)
Maltby Street Market on Saturday and Sunday (Bea’s Diner pancakes) – Bermondsey (lift access)
Mercato Metropolitano (fantastic open space for lots of prams – best to visit midweek during day with babies – the gelato is amazing) – Elephant and Castle
Eat17 – Walthamstow VillageWalthamstow (no lift access from platform, stairs and escalator)
Kingsland Road Vietnamese restaurants (Viet Hoa/Song Que) – Shoreditch High Street/Hoxton (both have lift access)
Bea’s of Bloomsbury– For a sweet afternoon tea – fancy! – Russell Square
Deptford Bites food market on Saturdays – Deptford (lift access)
Tate Modern Gallery cafe on the top floor – brilliant river and city views – Southwark (lift access)
Southbank Centre food market – London Waterloo (lift access)

Getting about:
As well as the tube and trains, there are some ways to get about that are as much fun as the destination

Ride on the MBNA Thames ClipperVarious stops. You can use your Oyster card, or buy a ticket. The boats run to a tight schedule, which you can find online and run between the O2 and Westminster. You can continue beyond Westminster, West, by changing boats there.
Emirates airline cable carNorth Greenwich (lift access) – to Royal Victoria DLR (lift access)
Brockwell Park train – Sundays from March-October – Herne Hill rail or Brixton (with lift access)

Days out of town:
A few things worth getting out of the big city, for…

Mayfield Lavender farm, Surrey, best in July – Cheam National Rail station
Perivale bluebell Wood – best to visit last Sunday in April – Greenford (lift access)
Kingston for a shopping day out – Kingston Rail
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, Epping Forest – (Larder at Butler’s Retreat) – Chingford rail
Crockford Bridge Pumpkin Patch, from beginning of October – Byfleet & New Haw rail (lots of steps)
Petts Wood – snowdrops in February – Petts Wood National Rail
Horseden Hill on a clear day for amazing view – Greenford (lift access)
Richmond town and river walkRichmond tube and rail (lift access)
Folkestone town and Harbour Arm – National rail fast train from Stratford International (lift access at Stratford International and ramp at Folkestone Central)
Whitstable, seaside town – National rail from London Victoria

Christmas:
‘Tis the season to dress baby up in funny outfit and distract them with lots of bright lights

Ham House to meet Father Christmas – Richmond rail
Scandinavian Christmas market, Rotherhithe, 23/24/25 November 2018 – Rotherhithe (no lift) or Canada Water (lift access)
Ruxley Manor Grotto
New Years Day London parade at Trafalgar square – Charing Cross (no lift access)
Christmas lights and windows – Bond Street (lift access) and along Regent Street
Harrods Christmas department – babies will love the lights! Knightsbridge (no lift) walk from Green Park 

Play centres/soft play:
Perfect places to overload the sense, escape the rain and tire them out

Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford (Tues-Fri) – Stratford (lift access)
AHOY! at the National Maritime Museum, GreenwichCutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich DLR (lift access)
Big Little Fun – for under 5’s – various locations around London
Under 1 RoofWoolwich Arsenal DLR (lift access)
Museum of London Docklands – Mudlarks – book in ahead of visit – Canary Wharf (lift access)
Cloud Twelve members clubNotting Hill (no lift, steps and escalator)
ABC Studios – Forest Hill (lift access)
Southbank Centre – no soft play, but a great place for a coffee with lots of space for crawlers – London Waterlook (lift access)


IN PICTURES…

[We get out and about around London with our Cybex Mios pram -lightweight, and with a mesh seat perfect for summer and a cosy toes muff and seat cover for winter]

Museums

Museum of London Docklands 


Greenwich Maritime Museum 

V&A Museum of Childhood 


Horniman Museum and Gardens

Tate Modern Gallery

The Natural History Museum

The Science Museum
William Morris Gallery
Design Museum
The V&A Museum and Garden
Imperial War Museum
London Transport Museum
The Museum of London 
Dulwich Picture Gallery

Farms

Mudchute Farm

Surrey Docks City Farm

Spitalfields City Farm

Woodlands Farm in Welling
Hackney City Farm

Walks

Stroll Chelsea Embankment and the King’s Road

The Thames Path

Portobello Road

London Southbank


London’s Little Venice

Cutty Sark, Greenwich


Battersea Power Station development 


Southbank walk up to opposite Houses of Parliament

Northern Heights Parkland Walk 
Wander around Soho

Parks

Greenwich Park

Blackheath common

Clapham Common 

Hyde Park

Diana Memorial Park at Hyde Park – also visit the playground

Crystal Palace dinosaur park

St James’ Park
Battersea Park
Buddhapadipa Thai temple
Holland Park Kyoto garden
Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s rose garden
Sydenham Hill Wood
Walthamstow Marshes
Dulwich Park
Primrose Hill
Hampstead Heath
Richmond deer park 
Queen Elizabeth Park
Coram’s Fields park
Highbury Fields

Attractions

Sea Life Aquarium

Tower of London

The Barbican Centre

Barbican Centre soft play pop up

Kew Gardens
ZSL London Zoo
Greenwich Planetarium
Columbia Road flower market and Royal Oak pub
God’s Own Junkyard

Swimming

Charlton Lido 

The Aquatics Centre

Stately homes and palaces

Buckingham Palace

Alexandra Palace
Hampton Court Palace
Eltham Palace

Places to eat

Deptford Bites food market

Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, Hyde Park – view of lake

Mercato Metropolitano

Brick Lane and Spitalfields walk and lunch

Spitalfields

Brick Lane

Brick Lane beagles – we love the rainbow beigel! Only 60p each

Tate Modern Gallery cafe

Southbank Centre Food Market

Chiswick High Street and cake at American bakery, Outsider Tart
Brixton’s food market
Fatboys Diner
Mayflower pub, the oldest pub on the Thames
Stoke Newington West Reservoir sports centre café
Imperial China, China Town
Pancakes at Brockwell Lido café
Borough Market and walk to Golden Hinde
Maltby Street Market
Eat17 – Walthamstow Village
Kingsland Road Vietnamese restaurants
Bea’s of Bloomsbury 

Getting about
Ride on the MBNA Thames Clipper 

Emirates airline cable car
Brockwell Park train

Days out of town

Crockford Bridge Pumpkin Patch

Richmond town and river walk

Folkestone town and Harbour Arm

Whitstable

Mayfield Lavender farm
Perivale bluebell Wood
Kingston
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge
Petts Wood
Horseden Hill

Christmas

Harrods Christmas department

Ruxley Manor Grotto

Scandinavian Christmas market, Rotherhithe

Christmas lights and windows


Ham House
New Years Day London parade

Play centres/soft play

Museum of London Docklands Mudlarks

AHOY! at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Southbank Centre

Discover Children’s Story Centre

Cloud Twelve members club

Big Little Fun
Under 1 Roof
ABC Studios

***  Happy exploring! ***

Road outside Barbican tube station

 

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