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Often heralded as the cultural capital of Europe, London is definitely not short of amazing places to take kids. Getting around on public transport or navigating the city on foot couldn’t be easier and it’s full of family-friendly places to eat, gorgeous green spaces, and there’s plenty to do to keep kids entertained.
As part of our series of family city guides, we asked Ellie Crompton, journalist and founder of The Mumday Times to share the places that she loves taking her little ones in the city. The mama-of-three is based in North London. If you don’t follow her, check out her Instagram account here >
If you’re visiting London this summer, read Ellie’s London guide below…
Mismatched crockery at Edith’s House
Edith’s House, Crouch End
For the best bacon sandwiches EVER and amazing scones (cinnamon flavour with apple and damson jam is my favourite combo) head to Edith’s House. The whole café is meticulously and delightfully themed to look as though you’re sitting in a lovely nanna’s house with Formica work tops, mismatched crockery and a knitting basket sitting next to a very twee three-piece suite. My kids particularly love sitting on the pink toilet that has been turned into a seat with the washbasin serving as a table. The staff here are super friendly and they have a house dog who hoovers up all the crumbs.
New World, Chinatown
If we’re in central London with the kids, we’ll often pop into New World for Dim Sum. This is one of the only places that still wheels all their baskets of steamed dumplings and roast pork puffs on trolleys, which you have to hail like taxis. The place is a little careworn but the food is delicious and the kids love the whole experience from drinking green tea to choosing some of the weirder looking dishes. We usually order a plate of Chinese greens, crispy duck and rice to eat alongside the dim sum because we’re greedy.
Little Angel Puppet Theatre, Sebbon Street, Islington
We have taken all three of our children to see puppet shows at the Angel Theatre. They usually cry on the first visit(!) But they soon get the idea of sitting in a dark room watching the fantastic and amazingly innovative puppetry productions of well-known kids’ books. We’ve even enrolled on the puppet making classes here, which are fantastic.
Gorgeous blooms outside Liberty
Camden Passage Market, Islington
I have been blessed with daughters (still working on the boy) who love a good mooch around a market. We love pouring over the old books and trinkets in Camden Passage and oohing over the vintage dresses and lace in the treasure trove that is Annie’s. The Criterion Auction House which sells great antique furniture is also just around the corner - although bribes have to be issued to get the family to let me forage in here.
I remember being taken to Liberty by my mum as a child and it still hasn’t lost its wonder. The kids are always in awe of the wooden paneling, the florist outside and the amazing multi-tiered gallery. The kidswear section here is fantastic although don’t leave your child alone with the children’s nail polishes. My son ripped open two boxes on our last visit, which I then felt obliged to buy and they cost me a fortune! However, I always find that the sale rail is very generously marked down at the end of a season so it’s a great place to swipe a bargain. You win some, you lose some…
The Dolls House Shop, 7 Mansfield Road, Gospel Oak, London
This dedicated dolls house shop is so mysterious it doesn’t even have a name or at least no shop sign to tell you what it’s called. Packed to the rafters with teeny, tiny dolls house furniture and accessories, vintage toys and beautifully crafted dolls houses it is a truly magical place that you could lose yourself in for hours. If the owner is in a good mood she will open up a particularly beautiful and rambling dolls house for you and turn on all the lights. Don’t make the mistake of taking a buggy here as the shop is extremely narrow and cascades of candelabras and silver salvers could well fall on you and then the owner definitely won’t be in a good mood. Every time I visit this place I feel so glad it still exists. A real throwback to another era.
John Lewis, Gardening Society Roof Top, Oxford Circus
Everyone knows that if you’re stressed out, in need of a phone charger, a wee, a nappy changing facility, somewhere to breastfeed (and some quality merch, of course) you head to John Lewis. I’ve only recently discovered their gorgeous rooftop restaurant, which has amazing views of London and is decorated with a mass of beautiful flowers and boasts a tiny garden shed pub! The rooftop cafe hosts several exciting pop up restaurants over the summer months serving up delicious food and drinks but be warned they don’t serve super generous portions so if you want a chunky baguette and somewhere to keep the children corralled, the downstairs café might be better.
SIGHT SEE & LEARN
This crosses over with places to eat but the entertainment level is high here. The kids love looking at all the amazing food stalls, being cajoled into trying things they wouldn’t normally eat by their dad and then diving onto the doughnut stall owned by master bakers Bread Ahead. These doughnuts are known as pillows of joy and they truly are. There are a couple of other Bread Ahead doughnut stations peppered about through London if you can’t make it down to Borough. I have them all on speed dial.
Parliament Hill Lido
As North Londoners we are frequent visitors to the beautiful open space of Hampstead Heath. I love the fact that you can swim in the silver lined Parliament Hill Lido that has hardly changed since it was built in 1938, take a dip in one of the stunning ponds and pretend you are in the heart of the countryside albeit with a few more dogs than average in your eye line. If you’re prepared to hike to the northern edge of the heath you can make your way to the stunning former stately home, Kenwood House where there is an extremely popular climbing tree and a café that does fantastic cream teas and, crucially, has a well cared-for toilet with baby changing facilities.
Family walks on Hampstead Heath
IGGY Rainbow Romper
With thanks to Ellie Crompton.