We lived in London for 2.5 years, and thoroughly enjoyed our experience there – probably because we got to experience it through our young kids eyes. London is one of the most family friendly places we’ve seen, with an abundance of free museums, parks, and constant activities throughout the city. Below is a list of our key-take aways. Reminder that most of our experiences were in West London and pertain to 0-3-year-old children.
Transportation within London
Our preferred method of transportation within London was always to use a Black Cab for longer distances, because of the flexibility to leave the stroller completely pulled out in the back, with both kids seated still OR to walk. We are big walkers, and never minded a walk 35 minutes and under. Because not all Tube Stops have lifts, and our double stroller is so heavy, we preferred to opt for this approach. Listed below are descriptions of different options!
Tube: The London Tube System is incredibly time efficient and a cost-effective transport option. That being said, not all tube stops have lifts. Some don’t even have escalators. So if you have a stroller, make sure to check the TfL Go: Live Tube, Bus & Rail app, and see if there is a handicap sign to determine if there is a lift. If you put the destination into Google Maps, the tube transport directions should come up as well.
Bus: There are buses around everywhere. We didn’t use buses too often due to our sons motion sickness. They will take you around London, but for long distances, might take awhile due to the number of stops in traffic. You can use the same app as above (TfL Go: Live Tube, Bus & Rail) to check the schedule. If you put the destination into Google Maps, the bus transport directions should come up as well.
Uber: You can request an Uber, but if you have multiple children, the driver might be particular about getting a bigger car for the passengers. It is also their digression on how particular they will be about mandatory carseats.
Black Cab: This is the most expensive, but the most convenient option for us. They can be hailed anywhere, or you can use an app like ‘Gett‘ or ‘Free Now‘ to order one. You don’t need a carseat, and you can leave your stroller completely open in the back seat – with the kids still inside. It feels safe, but made sure to keep the stroller break on, and kept a hand on the stroller as well.
Private Transfers: If you do not feel comfortable driving around without a carseat and taking the Black Cab option, you could request a private transfer (with carseats included) to take you from airport to your destination – and then keep things more walking or tube ride distances away. I would not recommend the company I used, but a quick Google Search and reading reviews should be able to assist.
Car Rental: If you are comfortable driving on London roads, you can use car rental companies such as Zip car or Turo to rent a car. You can request ones with carseats. However, whenever we did this, they were often times further distances away and much more expensive.
East London vs. Central London vs. West London Itineraries
London is BIG. There is SO much to do in the city, it can get overwhelming deciding where to go. We had a standard itinerary which we took many of our guests on. Based on interests/timings, we would add or remove some items – but more or less, we divided the city into three sections: East, Central, and West. We usually allocated approximately one day to do the high-level activities in each section, based on the group that we were with and their specific interests.
Remember – many of these activities are free, but still require a ticket reservation in advance. A handful of items, like the aquarium or to ride the London Eye, will cost a fee.
East London Itinerary (with Kids):
- Start in Bourough Market (@BouroughMarket) to grab either an entree (so many options available!) or coffee/pastry.
- Walk over to Tower Bridge of London (@TowerBridge) and admire how beautiful it is! Get onto a ferry nearby and head to the Westminister Pier.
- When you get off the ferry, you can walk by Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, and the London Eye.
- The London Eye is a great multi-generational activity! Each car can hold 25 people; but if you have a stroller, they will ask you to fold it up in the London Eye or you can leave it in the main office. If you do so, make sure all the belongings in the stroller are organized in a proper diaper bag because they have strict rules on allowing items in open bags (due to theft prevention reasons).
- There is a merry-go-round and park near London Eye as well. To get our kids something to eat, there is a Pret a Manger (@pret) nearby, where my kids enjoy the Kale Macaroni & Cheese, banana’s, and croissants (and a babycinno of course) or a Wagamama for a proper meal.
- After this area, St. Pauls Cathedral is a 30 minute walk or Sky Garden is a 41 minute walk. You have to reserve tickets in advance, but the good thing is they are free! I took my toddler and baby with us, and although I wouldn’t expect a venue like this to have a great option for baby changing, Sky Garden had a great baby changing station! I brought my kids food from home, and fed them comfortably in the lounge area in their stroller while the adults enjoyed the view.
Central London Itinerary (with Kids):
- Start with a visit to Buckingham Palace and take pictures in front of the royal residence.
- Next, visit Fortnum & Mason and browse Selfridges Department Store (@theofficialselfridges). Selfridges has a great shopping department for all ages, an FAO Schwarz toy store, and a food hall.
- Treat your kids with a visit to the famous Hamleys Toy Store (@hamleysofficial). It is several stories, and it can exhilarating to be there – even for adults!
- Grab a meal at Nandos Peri Peri Chicken (@nandosuk). Nandos is our go-to family favorite restaurant because of the tasty hot sauces for adults and child-friendly options for the kiddies! Our kids loved the brocolli, corn, mashed potato, and fries (otherwise known as chips).
- Treat yourself to Gelato at Grom (@gromgelato_uk) and grab some pistachio cream for later.
- Walk down to Picadilly Circus Official (@picadillycircusofficial) to enjoy the bright lights! Also in close proximity are Trafalgar Square (@trafalgarsquarelondon) and Covent Garden (@coventgardenldn), which are definitely well worth a visit for the shops and restaurants.
West London Itinerary (with Kids):
- Start off in Holland Park, and visit the Kyoto Gardens to see the peacocks.
- Walk towards Portobello Street in Notting Hill to admire the colorful houses. If you want to snack, try Buns from Home or Ottolenghi.
- Walk towards Kensington High Street. Get a mixed shwarma sandwich at Ranoush (add extra garlic/spicy sauce) and a hot chocolate (or chocolate milkshakes) at Knoops. At Ranoush, pick up some bread to feed birds at the park later!
- Walk through Kensington Gardens, stop by Kensington Palace, feed swans at the pond, and walk towards the Italian Gardens. From Italian Gardens walk down to the National History Museum, passing a beautiful street with embassies.
- On the way to the museum, try gelato at Oddonnos at South Kensington or Pasteis de Nata at Cafe de Nata.
- Admire the views of the National History Museum and stop by the fountains at the V&A Museum. The Science Museum is down the same road, as well.
- Walk down to Harrods to do some window shopping. Enjoy Harrods Food Hall – we love the pasta and Indian chicken tikka wraps! The con is that there isn’t proper seating, so we usually take our food to the outside benches to sit and eat!
- Enjoy a coffee from Carpo across the street or chai from Chaiwalla nearby. Leto, a few restaurants down, has delicious dessert as well (our favorite is the Honeycomb Cake).
Favorite Restaurants in London
Our family frequented a few restaurants in London in particular because they have:
- Toddler -friendly food (and food we enjoy as well)
- Enough space for the strollers to fit
- Clean baby chairs or enough space to use a stroller as a seat to feed the kids.
We also liked chain restaurants because our kids became familiar with certain items and it was easier to order for them.
|Restaurant||Type of Food||Favorite Items||Notes|
|Nandos||Chicken||Boneless Breast with a Favorite Side & Peri Peri Salted Fries||Baby chairs available. Large tables. Kids menus available|
|Wagamama||Asian||Bang Bang Prawns||Baby chairs available. Large tables. Kids menus available|
|Joe and the Juice||Sandwich & Juice||Joes Club Sanwich + Sports Juice|
|Mahroush||Lebanese||Mixed Shwarma Sandwich with extra Garlic/Spicy Sauce + Chicken Soup for kids|
|Gails||Coffee & Bakery||Iced Chai Latte + Almond Croissant + Babycinno** for the kids!|
|Knoops||Hot Chocolate & Dessert||34% Hot Chocolate with Oat Milk + Pistachio Cannoli + Babycinno for the kids!|
|The Ivy||British/American||Baby chairs available.|
|Megans||Turkish||Mezze Bowl + Shashuka||Baby chairs available. Large tables. Kids menus available|
||Although our kids are not as comfortable here, as the other restaurants, the restaurant does their best with baby chair options and a children’s menu.|
**Babyccino’s are warm milk with cinnamon or cocoa powder (no coffee).
Kids are excited to have their own drink, while parents can sip their coffees in bliss. Most places offer these for free.
You can use the cup provided or pour into a personal sippy cup.
Our favorite non-family-friendly dinner was Kai Mayfair (@kaimayfair) Our favorites were the Wasabi Prawns, Chicken Cashew, and Chocolate Dessert.
Favorite Museums in London
It is amazing to watch how much my young toddlers are absorbing! I have been taking them to museums since we moved to London, and we have a handful of go-to museums that ended up being our weekly playdate venues. Listed below are our favorites!
National History Museum (@national.history.museum):
Based in South Kensington, the National History Museum is an absolutely beautiful museum from the outside and inside! For the little ones, visit the dinosaur exhibit, especially the robotic T-Rex. There is also a mammals exhibit for all the animal lovers. Tickets are free, but need to be reserved in advance.
National Science Museum (@sciencemuseum):
Based in South Kensington, next to the National History Museum, the Science Museum was a favorite of my kids. Visit the Pattern Pod (interactive sensory area for babies/toddlers) and the Garden (an interactive space for 3-6 year-olds to explore water, construction, light, and sound). Even browsing through the exhibits with the globe, cars, and space sections will stimulate kids minds! Tickets are free, but need to be reserved in advance.
Sea Life Aquarium (@sea_life_london):
This aquarium near the London Eye is a favorite activity of our kids! They especially love the sharks, sting rays, sea horses, turtles, and penguins. The aquarium is located right by the London Eye. Book in advance online to make sure you pay for the tickets for the time slots you want! My cell service is always terrible in the aquarium, so print tickets beforehand and send any messages you need to before heading in!
Favorite Outdoor Play Areas & Soft Play
I love spending time with my kiddies – I also love tiring them out so they sleep more peacefully at bedtime and through the night! Here are a few of our favorite spots to do so.
Holland Park Playground (@holland_park):
We loved Holland Park Playground for younger kids, with sand, swings, and slide. There is a bigger kids playground as well, which my kids have been too young for. Don’t forget to visit the peacocks in the Kyoto Gardens!
Princess Diana Playground & Kensington Gardens:
The Princess Diana Playground has a giant ship with sand, water pumps, and standard swings/slides. I usually kept my kids on the more ‘baby’ side of the playground, although they were slowly getting ready for the ‘bigger ship’ side. After the playground, take the kids and stroll Kensington Gardens to feed the swans. Also, stop by the Italian Gardens and feed the nearby green parakeets.
The London Zoo is full of impressive animals! Make sure to book tickets in advance (the zoo is not free). After a day out exploring the animals, it would be nice to take a stroll through the nearby Regents Park. Another popular activity at Regents Park is to go paddle boating.
Bella Boos (@bella_boos_parlour)
Bella Boos was my go-to destination for my kids birthday parties and playdates. The bottom level is a soft play area, where my kids loved to play in the ball pit, go on the slide, and run around with their friends. The upper level is a great ice cream parlour set up. You can order food from upstairs, and feed the kids downstairs or upstairs. Make sure to book/pay for tickets in advance.
National Army Museum (@nam_london):
The National Army Museum has a beautiful play-base area that is comprised of one room. It worked great for my toddler and at-the-time baby, so they could play in their respective areas while I monitored them. Make sure to book/pay for tickets in advance!
Gambanos is a much larger soft play area, with bumper cars, a carasouel, and several sections of play areas. TBH I get a little overwhelmed at this location, and only enjoyed it when my husband was there to also supervise our kids. Being there alone, 1 parent with 2 kids was a lot. With both of us though, our kids got to enjoy bumper cars and the activities offered! Make sure to book/pay for tickets in advance.
Victoria and Albert Hall (@young.vam):
During the summertime, enjoy the fountain area of this museum – where kids can run through a very shallow pond. It is perfect for babies and toddlers during warm weather! There is a grass area to picnic and a small cafe, as well. I never booked tickets in advance, and this area was free to public.
Additional water fountains:
- Princess Diana Memorial fountain
- Kensington Memorial Park & waterpark
Favorite High Tea in London with Toddlers
High tea is a special occasion event we do every now-and-then, and I love assimilating my babies into British culture this way. I have two favorite places, listed below!
Peggy Porschen (@peggyporschenofficial):
I have a major sweet tooth, so it explains why this is my favorite high tea venue! Our group consisted of a grandmother, two moms, an 8 and 9-year-old, a toddler, and a newborn baby (who slept in his bassinet the majority of the time). Here are some things I LOVED about our time there!
- Price Point: Compared to other high teas, this was a fairly reasonable price.
- Delicious desserts: My personal favorites were the Easter Chocolate Heaven Cupcake and Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake.
- High chairs provided for babies/toddlers: I easily got a high chair, as well as a beautiful babycinno that I poured it in her sippy cup to enjoy.
- Children’s High Tea Menu: A smaller version of the adults high tea is available for children under 12-years-old for 24 GBP per person. It is still quite a bit of food for toddlers, so I let my toddler eat off of my tray, while my older nieces (8 and 9) got their own trays.
Fortnum & Mason (@fortnumandmason):
My other favorite high tea venue is Fortnum & Mason. Not only did I enjoy the food and tea more than I usually enjoy high tea items, they were absolutely wonderful with my young kids. Here are some ways they enhanced our experience!
- Price Point: This was a more expensive price point, so make sure the members of your party are aware of it! What is cool is that the store of Fornum & Mason is famous, and people can browse around for souvenirs.
- High Chairs: They provided clean high-chairs at our table prior to our arrival.
- Toddler-Oriented: They provided my kids with colors and paper to use during the meals. They also provided complimentary kids high tea to my kids b/c of their ages. When the fancy options arrived, all my toddler could ask for was a cookie, and they kindly brought English biscuits that my kids devoured
- Service: They continuously replenished all the sandwiches, scones, and desserts during the experience and then packaged everything we asked for take-away, so that our kids could continue eating after we left. They also consistently smiled and talked to us with kindness as my kids created a disaster on their floor. At the end, they provided us delicious take-away chocolate cake and a Halal menu for my aunt!
There are TONS of high tea places in London, and this one is a bit pricey, but the high quality of service and food means I will be back with my kids for a special occasion!
Favorite Children Clothing Stores in London
British fashion on kids is adorable, as expected. As anyone knows with young kids, they grow so quickly, so it is nice to have cost-effective clothes for daily wear, as well as some nicer-occasion outfits. Here is a list of our go-to children’s clothing stores, of different price points. If I went to the higher end stores, I generally shop ‘sale’ items. If I go to the lower end stores, I will be more cautious of the quality of the item. But I have some winner pieces from each of the stores listed below!
- Trotters Children Wear (@trotterschildrenswear)
- Zara Kids (@zarakids)
- HM Kids (@hm_kids)
- Next Official Kids (@nextofficial)
- River Island Kids (@riverislandkids)
- Mamas and Papas (@mamasandpapas)
- The White Company Kids (@thewhitecompany)
- Primary Kids (@primark.kids)
Favorite Toy Stores in London
For a special, fun experience, take your kids to one of the many toy stores in London! Here are the top three favorites. Nothing beats the pure happiness on their faces.
- Hamleys (@hamleysofficial): Hamleys is based in Central London, and several stories high! You could spend a long time there, but for our toddler age range, I like the Build-A-Bear shop area, legos, and letting kids watch the remote planes/cars.
- The FAQ Shwartz in Selfridges (@theofficialselfridges🙂 The FAQ Shwartz is on the kid level of the Selfridges Department store. They sporadically host special events, so it is a good idea to check their website ahead of time in case anything is going on! We ended up attending a Paw Patrol meet and greet.
- Harrods Toy Department (@harrods): The toy section at Harrods is on the kids level of the department store. Similar to the vibe of the rest of the store, it is on the high end side. I liked sticking to the stuffed toys and books section for more quiet time, although they generally like the cars and remote toys.
Favorite Mom & Baby Classes in London
If you are visiting London for an extended trip, and want to get your children involved in some local activities, my favorite classes were as follows:
- Monkey Music (@monkeymusicuk): This music class for babies and toddlers, separated by age groups, focuses on using instruments and rhymes, as well as bubbles and stickers at the end of the class.
- Teddy Tennis (@teddytennislondon): Teddy Tennis provides tennis and soccer classes throughout London parks, for toddlers 2 and up. The classes are divided by ages.
- The Budokwai (@thebudokwai): The Budokwai provides a wide array of martial arts activities. Their Judo classes offer toddlers exercises and soft play activities to get your them to run around and exert energy.
All three of these activities were instrumental to our routines and building our community in London.
Photoshoot in London:
There are TONS of options for photographers in London. However, I was looking for cost-effective, quick turn-around, and flexible on the timing/location because of my toddlers – and that is easier said then done. I used Perfocal (@perfocal_official), which I have used previously, and I highly recommend!
Here are the steps I took.
- I went to their website and entered in the type of shoot I wanted, the date, time, and preferred location. I paid right then.
- I received an email within hours that a photographer had been booked. That photographer messaged me the day before the photoshoot to confirm details. He was flexible when I adjusted the time/exact meeting spot because of my toddlers volatile moods.
- The photographer accompanied us to the exact three spots I requested to take many photos. He gave us a bit of guidance, but for the most part the shoot was candid.
- At the end of the shoot, he sent the photos to his company, they applied their standard editing, and 24 hours later, I had about 250 photos in a link to download. The cost was approximately around 220 pounds, which is a steal for that amount of photos/turn-around!
If you need a photoshoot during a trip to London, I highly recommend using this site to get the job done in capturing beautiful memories!
Childcare in London
Bubble is a babysitting app that I (and several friends) used to get babysitters or mothers helpers. If you think it would enhance your trip to have an extra set of hands to accompany you while you sight see or join for a meal to assist with your children or babysit during a date night out, I recommend this app as a great way to find a sitter!
All in all, London is an amazing city to experience with young kids. Similar to all travel, you get to experience it in a different way – a bit more slowly and a bit more play involved; but very special.