I am a nanny in Warwick Avenue/Maida Vale area, each half term I take the children to places around the city to keep them entertained, here are my top 5 some are free and some are expensive.
- Science museum – This is a great place to take boys or girls of any age, its free most importantly but they cater for all ages. We have frequented this place even 2 or 3 times in a half term holiday, it’s nearly impossible to get around everything in one day. They have some extras you can pay for we have never tried these, so not sure how worth it they are but when you get the bubble show, the rocket show and more for free why would you. There are 3 ‘hands on’ areas for the children the Garden, the Pattern Pod and the Launch Pad, all good in different ways the Garden has an age limit of 3-6 years but I take ‘A’ in there who is 7 and she still loves it. You can find the Garden in the basement and it is normally where we start our day off, it is also near to the picnic area another way you can make your day that much cheaper, buying food at the science museum is expensive. The Garden has a water area, so be warned your children will get wet! But they love it, so who’s complaining? From here we normally head to the bubble show, as that is also located in the basement a great show with lots of need for volunteers, last time we were there ‘J’ got put in a bubble! Level 1, Entrance level you can find the space exhibition a great hit among the boys not so much the girls, then head to the back and you can find the Pattern Pod ‘A’ loves this as there is a computer screen where you can play and make patterns, just watch out for the children who aren’t being supervised and stay on there forever, because it’s so much fun. There are other great hands on things in this small area. As you head up levels they are split in to back and front, we normally take the back as, there are more computerised games to aid the learning of each level and many of these are a hit with all ages and genders. When you get to level 3 you can walk across to the front, through the flight exhibit and hit the launch pad, the biggest of the 3 hands on areas. You can see the rocket show or crash, bang, wallop here both worth seeing, but they do have loud noises so not great for little ones! The hands on area here is the best of the 3, there are so many little science experiments here to try, and many staff on hand to help the kids understand the idea of them! There are a few other parts of the museum worth seeing but I find once you have had lunch and snack breaks along with the 3 hands on areas it’s time to head home again. A free, very fun day out for all.
- National History Museum – Located next to the Science museum, so if you are feeling brave you could do both in one day, but I don’t suggest it, you won’t have time! Again this is a museum for all ages and genders. There’s a whole section for dinosaurs, although this normally involves a large queue, it’s worth it! The whole museum is done in sections, in the mammals and animal section you can find a life size blue whale, along with many other animals, there are little hands on things and videos the whole way around to keep them engaged. The human body section is another favourite. Again here they have a picnic area so bring your own lunch and this is another cheap and easy day out in the city centre, expect queues to get in here.
- London Zoo – Not a cheap day out! We did it by boat from Warwick Avenue, but you can obviously make it a little cheaper using the bus/tube. Here they have so much to see and do. The penguins were the highlight for us, with talks every hour or so and plenty of looking spaces in to the water you are sure to see them splashing around. They have Lions and Tigers here but we struggled to find them, this might have been because it poured down with rain the day we were there! The gorillas were a close second favourite, they have a large area to play with most of it glass, just look carefully or you will miss them as they seem to be good at hiding. There’s a fair distance to walk to get around the whole zoo, so prepare for that, but it is a great place in the middle of Regents Park to spend the day despite the cost.
- Vue Kids Am Special – Every kid loves the cinema and in the holiday Vue but also the Odeon do kids specials around 10am, you can get 2 kids and 1 adult for around £10 and this keeps them fully entertained for 2 hours, they play good old classic kids films and a lot of these are now in 3D. It’s a very good option if it’s raining.
- Parks – Be it Hyde park, Regents park or any park that is near to you, they are free and have hours of entertainment. Personally I think Regents Park is great, Holland Park has a great play area but it’s a long walk from the tube station and Hyde park tends to get very busy on hot sunny days. Be sure to take snacks and water with you then you are set for a few hours of easy fun!
I have also been to gambados, but this is somewhere I would not recommend, only accessible by the overground tube, very unreliable. Then when you get there you can queue up to an hour before you are let in! At which point you can only play for 2 hours, we have a membership so the price is not a problem but I saw the prices and they were not pretty either. Yes it’s a great place for them to play and its inside but for the queuing and how many people are in that one space I would not bother.
London is great for kids if you know where to go, there are some great websites for researching new ideas and I plan to try many of these out in the summer holidays.