I just recently had the chance to spend a few days in London with my youngest daughter. She is 6 years old, so fine dining in some of London's newest restaurants and high-end shopping in the city's trendiest of boutiques was probably not going to make the list of things she was interested in doing. Which was good for me - or at least for my pocketbook - in the long run. Despite ditching out on London's hipster side, there is a lot to do in the city with young children.
We began our journey at the Egerton House Hotel, a Red Carnation property that is located in the well-heeled neighborhood of Knightsbridge. It is within walking distance of the historic Harrods department store and is also just down the road from the Royal Albert Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum - which is probably the most fun for kids. The hotel is also located just a short, 10-minute walk from Hyde Park, and you get to stroll through some spectacular London neighborhoods on the way there.
As we got a late start for the day, we decided to head straight for Hyde Park. You can easily spend more than a day exploring the whole park, but some of the best parts can be found by the Serpentine where there are cafes for snacks, a pub for pints and paddleboats that you can take for a spin on the water. Renting the paddleboats is relatively inexpensive and a lot of fun for youngsters. There are life vests available for children, and boats are easily maneuverable by just one person, in case your child can't reach the pedals like mine.
There are several memorials in the park to check out. There is the Prince Albert Memorial, a new Princess Diana Memorial and, for children, there is the Diana Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens.
In another corner of Hyde Park is the famous Marble Arch, located at the end of Oxford Street. Depending on the time of year, there are events and activities at Marble Arch. We were lucky enough to be there when the Marble Arch Observation Wheel was open and a turn on this is almost as fun as the London Eye because, as my daughter pointed out, you get to go around four times.
A Day in the West End
Shopping is just about the least entertaining thing for children, but if you sandwich it in between two fabulous toy stores, it becomes a lot more bearable. On Oxford Street, begin at Selfridges. The iconic department store's food hall is the perfect place for a snack, and the toy department on the top floor will inspire some "oohs" and "ahhs" from the kiddos. For example, when we visited, there was a ride-on giraffe that was an instant hit with my daughter.
From there, you can walk or (take the bus) to Oxford Circus and Regent Street where parents will delight in high-end shops and kids will fall in love with all seven floors of Hamleys toy store. It is hands down one of the best in the world - and at the very least, it's one of the oldest, founded by William Hamley in 1760. It houses more than 50,000 toys, so be prepared to stay a while. Afterward, if you truly want to make your kids' day, take the bus along Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus and you'll find the Rainforest Café for a kid-friendly entertaining meal.
Now that you are on the West End, why not stroll toward Trafalgar Square and the British Museum. Museums are free in London so even if you just check it out for a few minutes, it's worth the while.
Finish the day in Covent Garden, which is famous for its market halls and street performers. Head over to the historic - and family-friendly - Punch and Judy pub, which faces the West Piazza and has the best view of the street performers from its top floor balcony.
Begin the last day at Embankment where you can take in the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the nearby Westminster Abbey and then stroll along the Thames River, crossing the Millennium Bridge and walking over to the London Eye. Take the kids to the Sea Life Aquarium, located next to the wheel and then consider a boat ride along the Thames, which is a fun and relaxing way to take in some more of the city's sights, including sailing under the massive Tower Bridge.
Check out our explorations of London below.
Topics From This Article to Explore