Head to Lazy Daisy Café on Portobello Road for a quick lunch. They’re all set up for kids, with a basket of toys and even changing tables (nappies and wipes) in the bathroom! If it’s a sunny day, you can even sit outside. After lunch, walk a few blocks south on Portobello Road to the Electric Cinema. They have a 3:00 screening slot set up for mums and their babies under 1-year-old. You “valet park” your buggy, take your seat at one of the cozy armchairs, and your baby sits on your lap (or the ample floor space in front of you). No worries if they scream– it’s actually called “Electric Scream” because it is to be expected! This is the perfect way to stay up-to-date on recent films, and is a fun way to meet other mums with babies. (Buy your ticket early on Monday because they always sell out)!
Tuesday: Take your kids to the National Army Museum in Chelsea. They have a Kid’s Zone for interactive learning and a play space with a forest, castle, board games, a construction corner, and a reading area. The Zone is meant for kids under 10, including a soft-play area for babies! (They also have restrooms inside the enclosed Kid’s Zone, which is handy for your potty-trained kids)!
After the museum, head to the nearby King’s Road for lunch at Carluccio’s. They have a great kid’s menu, loads of high-chairs and changing tables in the bathrooms. Alternatively, you can go the other way on the King’s Road and have lunch at Manicomio (which is a bit more posh)! They serve a very cute kid’s plate with mini Italian sandwiches!
Wednesday: Go shopping in Primrose Hill (yes, really!). Most of the trendy boutique shops on this quintessentially hip London street have a basket of toys in the back to keep your kids entertained while you shop (or even try things on)! My kids are always amused with any toy that isn’t their own, and they can stay happy in these shops for at least 15 minutes! The following stores have a kid’s play corner: Elias and Grace, Adam Simmonds (sunglasses), Pamela Shiffer, and Anna.
When your kids get bored with shopping, walk 5 minutes toward Regent’s Park and visit the zoo. It isn’t the best zoo in the world, but they DO have a petting farm for children and a whole exhibit dedicated to bugs. They also have a very cool butterfly house where loads of butterflies fly around freely– this is always a big hit with kids, with all the different colors and sizes of butterflies flying around and landing on their buggy! There’s also a playground inside the zoo if you want to let your kids burn off some energy.
Thursday: Visit a city farm. Yes, a farm right in the middle of dense London! Put wellies and farm gear on your kids and bring apples and carrots to feed the animals. They have pigs, cows, horses, sheep, chickens, rabbits, ducks, etc. My favorite city farm is the Kentish Town City Farm. They’re open every day, and on Saturdays you can pay £1 to ride the ponies!
In the afternoon, head to one of London’s famous (and free) museums! We have a great Natural History Museum with a T-Rex in the Dinosaurs gallery and a blue whale in the Mammals gallery. The Science Museum, which is just down the street, is also great. They have a “launch pad” and a “garden” in the basement with hands-on exhibits for younger kids.
Friday: Attend a Monkey Music class! This is by far my favourite class for babies and toddlers. It isn’t overly commercialized and cheesy, and their venues are usually in beautiful old churches or community centres. Kids sing songs, play instruments and dance. They offer classes across London and on every day of the week.
In the afternoon, take your kids to a playground! (On a sunny day, London is the most amazing city– with loads of green spaces and great playgrounds). Some good ones in central London are: The Pirate Ship (Princess Diana Memorial Playground) in Kensington Gardens, the playgound in the northeast corner of Regent’s Park, St. Luke’s park in Chelsea, and the Parliament Hill Playground in Hampstead Heath. If it’s a windy day, you can always fly a kite (remember Mary Poppins?). Walk up to the top of “Kite Hill” in Hampstead Heath (where you’ll find great views of London), and join the many others kite-flyers!
Sunday: The Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre is a great family place to go on a weekend! They have a family swim hour in the morning (10:00 a.m.), a kid-friendly café, and a fun soft-play area for kids over two! They also have a library if you (or your kids) prefer a more quieter time. If it’s a nice day, there’s a small playground outside, as well as a fun water fountain for kids to run around in.