I wanted to put together a few posts about our life here in the UK to commemorate our time here so far. There are three, this is the third. And the one that is the most fun.
When we moved to London, I didn’t know what to expect on raising our children in this city. I have been so pleasantly surprised. London is a great place to have a family. It is not without it’s challenges, but overall is absolutely amazing for children.
London offers a wide variety of fun options for families, and we have only explored the tip of the ice-burg.
Public transit – OF COURSE – is our best friend.
Smooth, easy, safe, and clean. It is the way to go.
We find navigating around London with the kids to be relatively simple.
“Hold a hand, and don’t touch anything that you don’t have to touch.” That’s our main mantra while we’re out.
Things that make it more stressful: having a stroller, a big crowd, and the sun going down.
But other than that… We snack. We play. We get there safely and cheaply.
We even take public transit to Ikea!
Can’t exactly bring a couch back with us on the train, but it works when we just need small things. I told them if they wanted the giant stuffed animals, they would have to carry them home. And they did.
When not using public transit, we walk, bike, and scoot. The kids are complete pros at this – and naturally there are sidewalk walking/biking/scooting rules.
Our most regular outings are just to our local parks, playgrounds, greens and commons.
Ok! So we use public transit, we go to the park a lot.
But other than that here are the outings in and around London that we have done and really enjoyed:
One of the first outings we made after moving to London was to Battersea Children’s Zoo. We were just getting our bearings, and this was a good place to start.
We soon ventured with the big boys to Legoland, which is outside the city in Windsor.
During a visit with family we went to Diana Memorial Playground at Kensington Palace. It’s a woodsy-type play area, with lots of little surprises. Different, sweet and fun.
During one of my mom’s visits, she gifted the big boys with a trip to Kidzania – where they got to pretend to do a variety of jobs inside a little town.
We – naturally – visited the London Zoo.
A big hit for us.
A big favorite of ours has been the ginormous, beautiful and FREE! Natural History Museum. This is where the dinosaurs are. And, you can stop and talk with volunteers – who often have fossils or bones you can hold.
It’s a short tube ride away, and we’ve been there more than a handful of times.
The building itself is worth a walk through, if you’re in the neighborhood.
Another place that we LOVE and have been to more than a few times is the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace. It’s not free, but it’s not expensive either.
It’s not too far from the house.
And as you can see – it is, IN FACT, magical.
Also on the many “times visited list” – Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.
This is probably my favorite place in all of London to take the kids.
It’s quiet and beautiful.
We’ve been there in all the seasons and there’s always something great to see….
The amazing green houses.
The tree top walk way.
The giant trees.
The Japanese Garden.
We like to bring a picnic lunch.
We like to go into the “Hive” where you can learn about how a bee-hive works, and how bees communicate.
We like to visit the manor house, with cafes and an ice cream shop.
During our regular visits, we didn’t get to explore the gardens as thoroughly as Finn would like. So, him and I went for the day on our own – where he was free to stop and read the scientific name of every tree and plant we saw. We explored the Orchid show in the Princes of Whales Greenhouse. We then went to the Horniman Gallery, which houses the permanent collection of nature paintings and wood samples from around the world and temporarily housed the exhibit of dried flowers.
It was cold and rainy and he just had the BEST time. And so did I.
Then in December, Kew lights up for Christmas!
It’s magical, complete with singing trees and toasted marshmallows, and we’ve gone every year.
Back in the city, during the winter is a spectacle called Winter Wonderland, the likes of which I have never seen. It’s a major Winter Festival and Carnival that appears in Hyde Park out of thin air. It’s got everything… a Bavarian beer hall, an ice bar, a complete-in-a-tent circus show, Christmas shops, an ice rink, MULLED WINE, smoked salmon, brat-worst… etc.
I mean, it’s the real deal.
And, we have also been here every year.
Also during Christmas-time, London lights up in spectacular fashion.
Also around Christmas-time, we’ve had some great experiences at the theater.
London, obviously, has great theater.
But a fun surprise has been all of the great kids shows and children’s theaters that exist. Grandma Susie has taken the boys to the traditional British Pantomime show every year.
And of course… HAMILTON.
We’ve been for tea.
Both fancy and casual.
I love tea time and I’m in for it. All day, every day.
Another great part of town that we’ve visited a little bit is called Camden Market. Hipster central and home to some of the coolest shops and hippest food you will ever see.
Most recently, we ventured slightly outside the city to a Lavender Farm. And although the lavender itself was a little lack-luster (from the dry summer, I presume) we still had a great time. We even mingled with the royals!
That concludes all the outings we’ve been able to accomplish in and around London in our three short years here.
Congratulations. You have completed the set of “Life in London” posts.
If you haven’t been to London… what are you waiting for?