This half term we are doing nada/nothing/going nowhere apart from staying in or around London for the week. It's been a great but hectic last few months so the idea of staying locally is very appealing! Luckily we are definitely not short of ideas of things to do in London town ... i thought I'd share a few of our favourite capital city activities with you ... our travelling laser cut wooden London bus will take you on a tour! In no particular order here are five of our favourite things ;)
1 - ZSL London Zoo
ZSL London Zoo has been an absolutely favourite since both the kids were babies ... we used to be able to walk there and have spend hours and hours investigating, exploring and pondering all of the animals in the entire zoo over the 8 years we have been visiting! The kids (and I) never get bored of coming here and with an annual pass we can just drop in for a few hours if we don't want to come for the whole day. Giraffes are the must see animal on each visit!
A first trip with the kids at Easter to Hampton Court Palace was a huge success. Dressing up as tudors, 'riding' in carriages from that era, seeing grand halls and rooms from hundred of years ago and racing around the beautiful gardens and lakes with an incecream at the end - what's not to love! There is an excellent kids trail with a family audio guide that keeps them entertained as they wind their way through the various rooms - and a holiday times actors in tudor costumes act out scenes throughout the palace. BUT, best of all was the maze (which I remember going to as a child as well!) - much hilarity as every turn seemed to be a wrong one ... until we managed to get to the middle ... eventually! HOORAH!
3 - Camden Market
As a Camden dweller for many of my living in London years I can't not mention the rather famous market in this part of town! It is now a real tourist destination which makes it a pretty hectic place to be but if you get there early or not on the weekend it is more fun to hang out in. The food stalls in the West Yard are great so grab some lunch there if you can and the kids favourite stopping point has got to be the Chin Chin Laboratories for their slightly space age nitro ice creams! Go and see science and food in action as they prepare your icecream for you!
The Ragged School was a totally new museum find this year. An amazing old school sitting right on the canalside in the East End of London that was founded to make the history of the Ragged Schools and the broader social history of the Victorian East End accessible to all. With classrooms to visit (think at least 70 children per class!) and lots of great free activities (based on many different things from the Victorian Era) each school holiday it's an excellent place to spend a few hours. We had a really pleasant walk along the Regents canal afterwards towards Victoria Park so the kids could have a run around.
5 - Taking a Stroll along the Southbank
A lovely day means it's time to get out for a walk and a potter. One of my favourite, favourite wanders in London takes place from the minute you get to Waterloo station and get yourself out into the daylight and onto the Southbank. It's quite the promenade these days with so many others obviously thinking the same but walking by the river and by such fantastic London landmarks is hard to be beaten. The BFI, the Royal Festival Hall, The London Eye, Oxo Tower, Tate Modern and much more then adding in anything that you see on the north side of the river. Spotting the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben as you look across from the Southbank complex is such an iconic London view. Aside from this being a great wander there are eateries galore to stop at and so many galleries and places that you can take the kids into to keep them entertained if the view doesn't quite keep them fully occupied!