Over 200 years ago Samuel Johnson stated: ‘You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’
We feel incredibly lucky to be part of this great jiving melting-pot, and again over the summer grownups and kids alike are truly spoilt. Suggesting the same divide & conquer strategy by area as we’ve done in our past article – spare the tantrums and the commute.
1. The City and its fascinating, constantly evolving architectural landscape. Back in 2004, I witnessed the finishing touches of Gherkin from my office. It felt so visionary and brave, blending gracefully with City’s hundreds years old architecture. 13 years after, there are few other skyscrapers equally bold and architecturally standing out. On the opposite side of Shard, there’s the Walkie Talkie with its highly distinctive top-heavy form, hosting the stunning Sky Garden.
Excitement was such an understatement when it came to our kids, even when we got 20 Fenchurch street ground floor and airport style security controls. Book in for free and soak in stunning views from 35th and 36th floor.
We loved the Sky Garden; Guardian architecture critics did not do any justice by calling it ‘meagre pair of rockeries, in a space designed with all the finesse of a departure lounge’ ; the space and views are truly spectacular and the green plants and trees are absolutely wonderful. We also tested the cocktails, juices for kids and nibbles – all yum.
And for a perfect day out combining old and new in the City, Tower of London is next door to Sky Garden. Our dedicated article and visit in here, our 3 years old loved it and so did the grown-ups. St Katharine’s docks are also close by for a further complex intertwining old locks and canals, a variety of boats and sailing yachts, new boutique shops, historic pubs and newer cute restaurants.
2. Besides gorgeous rooftops, City’s best views are from cruising. For a different day out suggestion, pick a clipper or a hop on hop off boat operator, to navigate smoothly your way around Big Ben, SouthBank, Tate Modern, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and Greenwich. Next week we are invited to a VIP afternoon sailing on Thames and hopping around the busy Southbank – keep an eye on, will be writing more about #Southbankdreams shortly!
3. Southbank has been spoiling us all for many years with family events. This neighbourhood is filled with great cultural pursuits and public attractions, from sweeping panoramas from the London Eye, paradigm-challenging performances at the National Theatre or South Bank Centre, riverside gathering spaces, wry street art and skateboard-friendly underpasses. Southbank centre is regularly hosting activities and very cool events – this very year we featured the Moomin part of the Scandi festival. Next door there’s also the Aquarium, which makes a perfect visit for kids as little as 2 years old. Of course with age the educational parts increasing, but this is fun day out for all ages and perfect should weather get tricky.
4. Holland Park and the new Design Museum. Japanese gardens, 2 playgrounds, summer opera and performances and an Ecology centre to mention just a few. This makes a perfectly relaxed free summer day, so grab your picnic, friends and blanket.
There will be peacocks and squirrels to feed, opera rehearsals in the day for a free taster, little art gallery next to the gelato corner and the sandpit playground. The Ecology centre is next to the big playground and has fun summer camps for little people eager to get closer and more knowledgeable when it comes to nature.
And for an arty break head to the Design Museum to check Cartier in Motion (free exhibition until July 28th), California & design freedom (paying exhibition), the permanent (and free) collection and /or the Family room for a lego break or a bit of reading – architecture in plain terms for the kids.
5. Hyde Park: combine Italian gardens, playground next door (1-5 years ideally), arty Serpentine and Serpentine Sackler galleries and one cool restaurant – Magazine to keep all family happy and entertained.
This summer you are in for a treat, Grayson Perry exhibiting for free his most popular exhibition ever 😉 And I cant help myself to post a picture with him – apart from great art, he ‘s got a wicked sense of humour and fashion. By far one of my favourites contemporary artists !
As usual the Serpentine pavilion is a visual delight and fun to play around & within for kids. No doubt so much art will prompt an urge to head for another playground, luckily Diana memorial and memorial fountains are also next door. Or if you’re rather after history and royal grounds, Kensington palace – our dedicated article in here.
6. More of Hyde Park & Kensington – the Lido & pick a gorgeous free South Kensington museum. Our almost 4 years old favourite museum is National History. One could easily spend a couple of days in here, his favourite parts are the volcanoes and the dramatic entrance via the planet’s core (and Exhibition road) and of course the dinosaurs. He could easily ask to go every afternoon, so good that we live at a reasonable distance. Should the queues to National History Museum be too long – the Science Museum is also next door – WonderLab opened in 2016 – fascinating and quieter. Getting an annual membership of £14 is money very well spent plus a nice way to support this gorgeous institution.
The third free fantastic museum of South Kensington is V&A. We visit often in summer for the paddling pool and amazing workshops for kids; summer holidays in here never disappoint.
The Lido is a little gem and for a mere £5, one gets access to a sandy playground, paddling pool, lots of green space and access to swim in the lake. Still on my TBD list the immersion in the lake but this is a glorious summer & easy week day out when the sun shines. And for a very special concert, check Royal Albert Hall and their 6 Proms sessions for the whole family – we are very looking forward the Relaxed performance July 29th.
7. Feed the pelicans in St James park, take your pics with the Horse Guards and Buckingham, spend an arty afternoon at National Galleries.
On Sundays our toddlers love the Magic carpet storytelling. Weekdays and school holidays plenty of other family & kids, fun trails and art workshops included.
Happy summer holidays all!