By Rebecca Evans, co-founder of Maternity Leave Life – offering inspiration for places to go and things to do in London for children, parents and mums-to-be. We’re often asked for our top tips when it comes to family-friendly days out. Since we spend most of our time scouting for new venues for Maternity Leave Life (or rather, dragging the babies around London searching for an excuse to get out the house) we like to think we’re somewhat in-the-know. We’re born and bred South Londoners, so we’re definitely biased. But there are some amazing little-known spots south of the river, which can be foolishly skipped for Central London’s big tourist traps. Put it this way: you’ll never find us in Trocadero. Here’s our pick of the best family-friendly hotspots to keep both parents and kids entertained… Crystal Palace Park What was once the home of The Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace itself burned down in 1936, leaving a huge shell on one of the highest points in London, amongst 200 acres of green parkland. But, more importantly, it’s full of dinosaurs. The amazing dinosaur lake contends with Jurassic Park for its realistic and in-situ beasts – the kids will love it. There’s also a great little playground, boating in the summer, a maze, a farm and loads going on at the National Sports Centre inside the park. In order to keep up with the kids’ excitement, head to the lovely Brown & Green café for a caffeine fix. Kensington Museums We’re not embarrassed to admit that many of our trips to museums have resulted in a quick browse round the gift shop and a visit to the café. But at the Kensington Museums (Science Museum, Natural History Museum and The V&A – all in one spot) that’s all part of the experience. The beautiful V&A courtyard is perfect for new mums and little kids who want to play on the grass, while the targeted child-friendly galleries inside each museum are ideal for older kids who want to learn/press buttons. And the best bit – they’re all free. London City Farms We spend a lot of weekends travelling out of the city to explore more outdoors-y activities. But the two London City Farms (in Shoreditch and Hackney) are on your doorstep, and accessible by public transport. The larger of the two, Hackney City Farm, has a fantastic café that’s buzzing at weekends, while the Shoreditch City Farm has a great community spirit, where kids can learn about nature, animals and the environment. Greenwich There’s so much to see and do in Greenwich – we’ve spent countless days out there. From the beautiful hilly Greenwich Park, with its historic Royal Observatory Museum and National Maritime Museum (both with specific child-friendly galleries) to the scenic river front, home to the Cutty Sark and the Thames Foot Tunnel (scary/exciting/exhausting – depending on your age). It’s also packed full of lovely restaurants, cafes and the famous Market, so it’s enjoyable for parents too. Horniman Museum Whether or not it was intentional, The Horniman Museum has become a hive for families. The museum itself is the best spot for curious kids (with creepy taxidermy displays and an affordable aquarium) and there’s a lovely café and design-led gift shop. Exploring the outdoor gardens themselves is sometimes enough though – look out for the Musical Playground (interactive instruments that double up as climbing frames), a small farm, beautiful flower gardens and an occasional weekend Farmers Market. For more inspirational days out and ideas for family-friendly trips, follow Maternity Leave Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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