London is one of the world’s great cities – a vibrant and colourful melting pot of culture, activity, art, politics, people and learning. There is a lot that our Capital has to offer to growing and impressionable minds. Summer is the ideal time to take your family to explore everything that London can inspire – and you don’t have to bust your budget to do it either.
Take the bus
You could sign up for an expensive London bus tour – or you could just get on a regular London bus. Perching on the top deck of a bus is an excitement that never wanes for children (sometimes for adults too) and many of London’s iconic and exciting landmarks sit alongside some of the most regular old transport routes. The Number 8, for example, will take you past St Paul’s Cathedral, Bank and into the vibrant buzz of Shoreditch. Or you can ride the Number 11 to see Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Nelson’s Column. Kids go free on most London buses and adult fares are just £1.50.
Attend a masterclass
London is filled with cultural institutions, many of which tend to run free courses to give something back to the communities that support them. The Theatre Royal Haymarket, for example, runs masterclasses that are the ideal opportunity for budding thespians to get inspired. Well known actors share their top tips and there is also the opportunity for attendees to ask questions. The masterclasses at the Royal Haymarket are free.
Have fun down on the farm
You don’t have to leave London to enjoy a day down on the farm thanks to the wonderful Hackney City Farm project. The farm is free for everyone and has donkeys, pigs, goats, sheep, geese and calves, to name a few of the animals that call Hackney their home. There are regular arts projects that anyone can get involved in, as well as an organic farm shop where you can buy farm produce, including eggs laid fresh that day. Whether you want to teach kids where their food comes from, or just to widen their experience of animals, a summer day down on the farm is great fun – and free.
Go cycling along the canal
When you think of London you don’t often think of water but actually the city is defined by its waterways, both those hidden and out in the open. The Regents Canal, for example, runs for 14km and has a total of 13 locks. If your children are confident on bikes then it’s a wonderful, often very relaxing, ride alongside the water with plenty of spots to stop for a drink or an ice cream. The canal travels from Paddington to Limehouse via Camden, Islington and Hackney – if you leave the path at Victoria Park then you’ll have time for an end of day picnic in the evening sunshine.
See the changing of the guard
Since the recent wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry there’s been a significant surge in interest where the royals are concerned. If your family has been caught up in royal fever this summer then take them to the epicentre of it all in London – Buckingham Palace. The palace itself is quite an inspiring sight to behold but if you get there just before 11.00 in the morning then you’ll also be able to see the changing of the guard. Nearby Green Park is the ideal place to have a picnic lunch once you’ve watched this legendary military ceremony.
Hang out by the water
London has plenty of spots where you can take the family to cool down on a hot summer day – and many of them are free or charge very little. Hampstead Heath ponds is probably one of the most iconic places for an urban bathe in the natural ponds in the north of the city. Adult entry for a day pass to the ponds is just £2 and for children it’s £1 so it’s possible to enjoy a day by the water for around (or under) £5 depending on the size of your brood.
A day out at the park
London has an abundance of parks with a wealth of facilities to keep children entertained through the summer months. Brockwell Park is one of the best in South London, for example, and has a sandpit, paddling pool and a range of activities, from climbing frames through to a zip wire.
Get a dose of culture
If it’s artistic inspiration you’re looking for on a day out with your children then London offers plenty of options, all of them free. The Tate Modern, Tate Britain, The Royal Academy and The National Gallery are just a few of the locations where you can see art from throughout the ages without paying for it.
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