The school summer holidays are just on the horizon, and for many parents it's time to start thinking about activites and outings to keep the kids entertained. It's often hard to spend time researching places to visit when you are busy working parents. But if you are based in the London area, or planning a trip to London with the kids this summer, then this little handbook will likely become your best friend!
Family London lists fun days out across the capital that both kids and adults will enjoy - from museums and galleries to outdoor adventures to the best eateries to take the kids. There's even a section to inspire even the moodiest of teenagers! 91 has picked five of our favourites to share with you, just a snippet of what the book has to offer....
Dubbed the Walkie Talkie (and, for a period, the ‘Walkie Scorchie’ thanks to a since-rectified habit of heating the streets below on sunny days), 20 Fenchurch Street has recovered from its difficult birth to earn its place on the London skyline. How? With its innovative, vertiginous public oasis.
Free to enter (although tickets must be booked in advance online) and surprisingly child friendly (expect to see little tykes pushing the squishy log-shaped seats around), it’s a truly transcendent space with banked planters of eucalyptus, sage, towering palm trees and more sheltering hidden benches, a restaurant, a café and unmatched panoramas of the ever-changing cityscape – just as impressive in the evenings as on a clear summer’s day. Food and drink prices are suitably sky high, but there are few better places to spend an awestruck afternoon.
Philpot Lane, EC3M 8AF / 0333 772 0020 / www.skygarden.london / Monument or Cannon Street tube.
The Bees Knees at Battersea Arts Centre
South-West London has its very own phoenix in the form of the Battersea Arts Centre. Partially burnt down in 2015, it is rising once more (with a rebuilt version of its Grand Hall) thanks to donations from a public campaign that raised more than £50,000. One innovation that survived the flames is this inspired, popular indoor play space of rolling hills covered in felt grass, scattered toys and cosy cushions. Cheap to enter and designed with toddlers in mind, it’s all the better for being hand painted and completely bespoke. It also has a café across the foyer – complete with hulking almond croissants – which adds the appealing proposition of a warm place for parents to cradle a well-earned cup of coffee.
Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN / 020 7223 2223 / www.bac.org.uk / Clapham Junction rail and Overground
Bear and Wolf
Macbook-tapping freelancers and harried childcarers somehow coexist at this lively Tufnell Park spot. Similar in format to Berlin’s chic kindercafés, it was a longtime passion project for local dad Matthew Neel and there are all manner of thoughtful touches for toddler-wranglers in particular (a buggy parking area, space-saving clamp-on high chairs, a bottomless cereal bowl on the kids menu) balanced with a pleasingly cool space. The biggest parental draw here, however, is the Cubroom: a huge, orderly play area crammed with toys, vehicles and books. There’s a pocket garden out back and the brunch-themed all day menu - with everything-but-the-kitchen-sink breakfast rolls and shepherds pie for grown-ups and little ones – is dynamite.
153 Fortress Road, NW5 2HR / 020 3601 1900 / www.bearandwolfcafe.com / Tufnell Park tube
There was a time when this Bloomsbury park and playground – unexpectedly positioned smack bang in the centre of London – was a hushed secret among in-the-know parents. Survey the queue of kids waiting for a turn on its popular zip-line in the school holidays and you will sensibly assume that word has got out. But Coram’s Fields (London’s first public children’s playground, on the site of a former eighteenth-century home for unwanted babies) is still very much one to have in your parental arsenal for any West End excursions.
(You may also be happy to hear of their after-school playscheme.) A giant sandpit, paddling pool, sprawling play space, small city farm and café are among the myriad delights. And, for extra peace of mind, no adult can enter the park without a child.
93 Guilford Street, WC1N 1DN / 020 7837 6138 / www.coramsfields.org / Russell Square tube
Any kid who gets a kick out of the icing-based peril on The Great British Bake Off will lap up a visit to one of Biscuiteers’ handsome boutiques in the suitably chic pockets of Notting Hill and Battersea. Firstly, there’s the shop and café area, with brimming shelves of hand baked and iced luxury biscuits in all manner of creative shapes and seasonal varieties (edible high heels, anyone?), as well as aproned staff primed to send coffees, cakes and even milkshakes your way. The real draw here is the drop-in decorating area, though. For £15 kids are let loose with a box of freshly baked biccies and piping bottles brimming with colourful icings to create their own gift box of goodies or, inevitably, something to devour on the way home.
194 Kensington Park Road, W11 2ES / 020 7727 8096 / www.biscuiteers.com / Ladbroke Grove tube / Alternative branch: Battersea SW11 1NG
Happy school holiday planning!
Family London by Jimi Famurewa is published by Frances Lincoln, and is £9.99.