Sometimes we all need to spend a day thoroughly exhausting our children. Perhaps the clocks have changed, you want to watch something on the telly that night or if you have to wait any longer for a glass of wine you’ll commit a crime.
Fortunately, there are plenty of places across London where you can run your little delights ragged. Here’s a list of my favourite options.
Greenwich park is my ‘local’ and warrants a whole post in itself. The playground is fantastic for all children from tinies to tweens and you could spend a few hours just in this corner of the park. Alternatively, walk them up the hill (extra exhaustion points) to see the deer at the top of the park and the beautiful flower gardens. Tube: Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich (DLR)
2. Princess Diana Memorial Park
This is on many London blogs, for good reason; it’s bloody fantastic. Giant pirate ships, a musical playground and a hundred different hidey holes. What I love about this park, is that adults can only enter if they have children with them, a clever safety feature. Tube: Queensway
3. Camden Canals
Presuming you have children who are old enough to walk for some time, Camden canals is a lovely jaunt with enough to keep children interested to keep their little legs moving. Street art, market food and even a sneak peek of London zoo without paying the extortionate ticket prices. Tube: Camden Town
If it’s chucking it down and the last thing you want to do is traipse around a muddy park, may I recommend your local softplay? I know some parents hate this, but there is really nothing better for shattering children. Gambado is popular, but note they will milk you of your money by charging you for the joy of accompanying your children. Station: Imperial Wharf Station for Gambado Chelsea
5. The Magic Garden at Hampton Court
We somehow managed to go to Hampton Court three times without visiting the magic garden and maze- the place is so huge you can easily miss it, but you shouldn’t! There are hills made of fake grass perfect for sliding down and twisty turny slides. You can just pay for this bit without entering the building if you want, bringing the cost way down. Station: Hampton Court.
6. The V&A Childhood museum
Have you ever thought, ‘I wish I could play that obscure grape game from my childhood’? Well, here you can’t. But you can look at it through a glass box and think God seriously am I so old that my childhood toys are relics? While you chastise yourself for growing ancient, your children can ride a hobby horse, get crafty with friendly and fun V&A staff or perform their own puppet show. Tube: Bethnal Green
7. Cycling in Richmond Park
If I didn’t live in Greenwich, I’d want to live in Richmond. The park is stunning and the best place to see reindeer in London. There’s a family bike hire place called ‘Park Cycle’ because we all know getting your child to pump their legs in tiny circles is a sure fire way to get that glass of wine an hour earlier. Station: Barnes plus a long walk or the 72 bus.
Finally, Southbank is a joy for all seasons. From the Christmas market to the summer sandpit, there’s so much to see and do. I personally wouldn’t bother with the London Eye unless you want to use your mortgage savings for a view, but that’s just me. Head to the fifth floor of the Southbank centre instead. The singing lift will take you to a poetry library, if you’ve been so successful at tiring out your children they can’t move a step further. Tube: Waterloo
Footnote: These activities can also be used to exhaust visiting relatives…