London tends to be glorious in the summer – it’s definitely the best time of year to visit the UK capital and check-out all it offers. That said, there are the odd days when it simply tips it down in the summer months (this is Britain, after all!), so what to do then…?
(100 London Road, SE23 3PQ)
The thing that sets the Horniman apart isn’t just the quality of its collection; but its eclecticism. It features not just fascinating examples of natural history (with some supreme preserved animals including a marvellous giant walrus and a Fijian reef in its aquarium), but also a quite awesome cacophony of musical instruments – some of which your little tykes can try out and so with which make a cacophony of noise! Plus, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon a storytelling event, puppet workshop, concert, special exhibition or an arts and crafts session on your visit. In short, this place truly is one of London’s treasures.
Ice-skating and bowling at Queens
(17 Queensway W2 4QP)
An all-in-one entertainment centre right in the heart of town (and so perfect should you and the family be staying at the Park Grand Paddington Court hotel London, which is just a short walk away), this 50,000 square-feet venue serves up, all under one roof, ice-skating, bowling, karaoke, video arcade games and freshly-made Italian ice cream treats. And, should you not fancy dodging the raindrops, don’t worry; you won’t need to venture outside in search of any restaurants near Paddington Station for a meal after you’re done, it offers a full menu for family dining too.
Discover Children’s Story Centre
(383-387 High Street E15 4QZ)
Do kids enjoy anything more doing more than dressing up or discovering and exploring a hidden cave or running about on a pirate ship? At this place they’re all possible – and more. Designed specifically for children up to 11-years-old, this Stratford venue’s great for families thanks to its focus on harnessing young imaginations to get the most of little ones’ natural story-making abilities as they follow a ‘story trail’ through an indoor exhibition or outside into the attraction’s ‘story garden’.
(787 Wandsworth Road SW8 3JQ)
On the surface, this Clapham destination’s merely a shop, but dig a little a deeper and you’ll discover it’s also a performance space for all the puppets on sale – everything from string puppets to puppets on rods and glove puppets to puppets on fingers – thanks to the little theatre hidden away at the back of this charming, colourful cornucopia of all things marionette. Bound to enchant your kids as much it makes you marvel at the artistry and craftsmanship behind the creation of its wares, it even affords visitors the chance to commission a ‘lookalike’ puppet as a special gift for someone!
Swingers Crazy Golf
(8 Brown’s Buildings EC3A 8AL)
Bringing an idyllic golf venue in from the country (‘Swingers’ was once an old-fashioned English golf club) and updating it from 21st Century families, this irresistible London Bridge destination is precisely that because it offers not just crazily fun crazy golf across nine holes but also crazily good street food to keep all and sundry fed while they try to pull off incredible ‘birdie’ shots and try to finish as far under par as possible. If you don’t have the kids in tow, be sure to check out the two-storey clubhouse with its gin terrace come the evening; here DJs provide the beats until late into the night.
Lego Store London Leicester Square
(3 Swiss Court W1D 6AP)
Finally, another enormously family-friendly venue that’s more than just a retail outlet, this Leicester Square destination’s the largest shop in the world to merely sell the irrepressible building block toy and so a must-see-and-walk-around for kids of all ages who are lovers of Lego. Don’t doubt it, every range, major play-set and ‘minifig’ pack is available here, as well as showstoppers to check out such as entirely made-of-Lego replicas of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower (home to Big Ben) and, yes, a Tube train carriage!