Having just spent a long summer entertaining my 3 children in and around London, I thought I would share some hidden gems that we have enjoyed.
If you're a Londoner you will probably be familiar with most of these, but for family coming to visit, or tourists coming to England, some of these will be delightful!
First of all, there is a place called Hitchin Lavender near Luton, just up the M1. Around a 30 minute drive away. You can go there, in July and early August, to enjoy their fields and fields of lavender. It is just stunning! With the entrance fee you get a pair of scissors and a lovely bag, and you can spend an hour or so snipping away, collecting lavender for your craft projects, or just to put in a vase.
There is also an excellent playground, waffle cart, and café with amazing cakes. Plenty of parking too. My fave thing? People watching - the bloggers trying to take the perfect shot amongst the lavender... some even bringing professional photographers! Cost was approx. £6 adult £3 kids with under 5's free. Spend approx. 2 hours here on a sunny day.
I still can't believe that its free to enter most of London's museums and this summer we visited the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert. You can go in the same day as they are right beside each other. The Natural History Museum is great filled with not only dinosaurs, but great exhibitions relating to space, natural disasters and other mammals. We all loved it especially my 5 year old son! We took a packed lunch but purchased hot drinks in the cafe and donated £5 each to the fund to keep it going. Well worth it!
The Victoria and Albert was interesting with costumes, fashion and artefacts from around the world and through the ages. Again its free to enter but nice to make a donation. We loved the gift shop and almost got last minute tickets to the Dior exhibition, but the aforementioned 5 year old son had had enough!
Nearest Tube - South Kensington. Cost: Optional donation plus whatever you purchase. Spend approx. 2 hours plus in each museum.
Every summer we come to Primrose Hill to start with a long walk, take in the views of London town before rolling down to the bottom, which the kids love! We then spend a good hour in the playground which IMO is one of London's most pleasant ones with sandpit and climbing frames decent enough to keep my 9 year old interested.
We then usually walk to Gloucester Avenue for the famous Primrose Bakery, known for their cupcakes and the odd celebrity tea drinker. We always have a pot of tea, milk for the kids and a cupcake each. Its not cheap but since the park is free its fine! Cost approx. £25 for 4 of us to have tea and cake. Spend 2 hours on the hill/playground and half an hour in the bakery. My fave.
On the grounds of London's former best nightclubs (RIP The Cross/Bagleys) there now stands Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard. Granary Square is one of the best days out in Central London that you can have for free. Hundreds of fountains spray water into the air and kids squeal and run in and out of them from morning to night. There is an excellent food market too, plus a bar for wine and beer, and a Waitrose to get a multi pack of ice creams. Its great! You can take a wander along the Canal, sit on the grass at Coal Drops Yard or shop in the boutiques. We loved the coffee at Caravan and decided we will go back for brunch there soon.
Cost: free - plus whatever food and drinks you buy. Spend up to a whole day! Nearest Tube Kings Cross
Most people know that Tower Bridge is London's prettiest, looking like something from a fairy tale, but did you know that for a small entrance fee you can go up inside the bridge? You can smell the olden days, imagine what used to go on. You can walk across a glass floor high above the Thames and get an amazing view of the skyline! On the other side of the bridge there is a mirrored ceiling where people spend ages taking selfies. On the way down there is a family room where you can sit and do activities, the day we went it was Bridge Building! Couldn't pull the kids away. Finally the engine room before a little visit to the gift shop, before photos outside of us all beside this iconic landmark. We never knew it had featured in so many movies! Cost - app rox. £16 for me and 3 kids - Spend approx. 2 hours here - nearest Tubes Tower Hill or London Bridge.
If you have any hidden gems in London to share, please send them to me at email@example.com
London, still the best city in the world :)