Many more reveiws to come, but here is a start:

London eye
London Eye

viv and mark london eyeThis is a good place to take a toddler, they absolutely love it, but be prepared for long queues during the weekends and summer.  Buggies need to be collapsed or left behind going on to the capsules.

There is a basic fenced in playground directly across from the London Eye with a climbing frame and slide

The queue to buy tickets is not very intuitive.  The queue to get on the ride is different than the one to buy the tickets  Tickets are bought in the first building to the right, if your back is facing the Eye.  After buying the tickets, you then queue to get on the ride.

It takes 45 minutes to go completely around.

Changing of the Guard

I felt so smug the first time I took my child to see the changing of the Guard.  My toddler sat awe-struck listening to the music; she clapped her hands and shouted “One more time!” after each song.

As the band marched towards the palace, I wondered whether I finessed this love of music in my child’s character.  After speaking to other families and carers, The Queen’s Guard Band has this effect on every child.

If you are in London with your toddler, here are a few tips for making the trip a bit more manageable. wellington arch and horse guard

First and foremost, watching the band warm up at the Wellington Barracks is far easier than attempting to see the entire ceremony at the palace gates.  The band warms up between 11 and 11:15 and marches out of the yard just before 11:30.  Even on the busiest tourist days in summer, you can get a spot next to the band and there is plenty of room to move around on the pavement while they play.  My child and I usually play in the playground, which is just a few steps from The Wellington Barracks, until we here the band and then go up to the fence and watch.

The warm-up is usually enough for my two-year old and we head back to the fenced-in playground.  There is a basic snack stand, baby and big kid swings, a climbing frame, slide, see-saw, picnic tables and an enormous sand-pit that has a gorgeous stone bridge going over the middle.  An attendant monitors the children’s toilets, so make sure to take your little one with you.

Occasionally, after a play or lunch, we venture over to Green Park and either stand on the Mall to march with the regimental band as it goes on to St. James Palace.

If you like horses, the changing of the Queen’s life Guard takes place at 10 AM in the Horse Guard Parade at the opposite end of St. James’s Park from the Palace.  The cavalry division leaves Hyde Park Barracks at 9:45 and reaches the Horse Guard Parade by 9:50.  They stand for ten minutes waiting to change at exactly 10 AM.  The only drawback I find to watching the horses is that you are a good 10 minutes away from the playground and are standing on a giant field of pebbles with little to do.

Westminster Abbey

This is not my first choice place to take my toddler, but when visitors come to town we can still make it work.  If you want to see the tombs of the early monarchs, be prepared for narrow walkways and stairs.  People will help you get the buggy up and down, but it can be a tight fit, especially with a larger pushchair.

The rest of the Abbey is not as difficult to navigate, poets corner is spread out with lots to look at.  Further, the refreshment area has a large corridor with arches that open on to some green space with benches underneath, making it a really good place to play for a little bit.  Further, just at the end of the corridor is a door that leads to the Abbey courtyard where you can play on the lawn.

St. Paul’s

I found this church a bit easier to negotiate with a buggy than Westminster Abbey.  There is an entrance on the Patre Nostre Square side where you can enter with a buggy  You enter the crypst paulst, which is a good place for a toddler to wander (they can basically touch everything there) and with an excellent café.

The main part of the church is expansive and filled with beautiful bits for children to explore while adults learn about the architecture.  You cannot climb the dome with a child.

Around 5pm each evening they have a completely sung vesper mass which is just the most relaxing thing, if your child might sit still long enough to listen to a little bit of it.

Trafalgar Square

This is a great place to have a snack. Children love watching people climb on the lions radiating from Nelson’s Column, they also enjoy the fountains and the birds.  There are numerous steps if they are in that developmental phase.  There are plenty of places to sit and relax while the kids have a wander.

Boat to Greenwich

The boat to Greenwich is ambitious, it takes about an hour and the boats are often packed on sunny summer days.  It is easy to get a buggy on and off the boat, and most boats are fine with the buggy, but some may ask you to fold it up.  There are tables downstairs where you can sit, enjoy the views and have a snack for the journey.  Just be careful of the doors on some boats: they do not lock and open directly into the river!

Once in Greenwich, it is a lovely town to walk around with lots of open space for children to enjoy.  The museum is a nice place for a toddler on a rainy day.  The hill to the Royal Conservatory is a tough climb, but a view from greenwhich conservatorythere are refreshment stands at the top as well as amazing views of far-off London.

At the bottom of the hill, there is a small gated play area.

 The London Aquarium

The Aquarium is located right next to the London Eye and is a toddler friendly destination.  The aquarium has one lift, but not so many stairs its prohibitive with a single buggy.

The exhibits are large aquariums, most of which are at a good level for small children.  There is a tank where children can touch sting-rays.

Chelsea Physic Gardens, 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea ,SW3 4HS, £8 (children free) or £30 annual membership

chelsea physic garden

  • Amazing, beautiful museum of plants
  • You need to be careful of children trampling the plants and of the ponds!
  • Tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington
  • Bus: 19, 22, 11, 319, 170

A Heavenly Idyll in Bustling Chelsea … If you don’t mind keeping your children from trampling rare species of plants and herbs gathered from around the world.

From inside the walls of the Physic Gardens, one feels a nearly sappy surge of nostalgia taking in the views of ordered rows of trees, blossoms and plants set against the red brick walls of the gardens and the Victorian mansion blocks and houses outside.  One might even confess to believing for a moment that you feel what Chelsea may have been like during Queen Victoria’s reign.  The contrast of the grass and gravel paths, flowering shrubs, lazy willow branches to the unseen, but presence nonetheless, of chaotic traffic outside the garden makes the case for a trip to the Chelsea Physic Gardens.

Covering 3.8 acres, the Physic Gardens are not merely beautifully maintained gardens; they are a museum of living plants.  Founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries of London, The Physic Garden was originally conceived to grow and study medicinal plants.   Some of the more interesting innovations the Physic Gardens can claim include being the site of the first heated glasshouse and the oldest man-made rock garden in Europe.  The Gardens continue today to promote research, conservation and education of botany.

Before you bring the little ones along, be aware that the varied trees and plants are grown in beds that are not protected, so small children are not free to run wild.  They must be carefully watched to stay on the lawns and not wander into the beds or near the ponds, as they are strictly off-limits to children.  The volunteers who labour to keep the gardens beautiful may pause in their work to help keep an eye on your children with you, should you not appear to understand these rules.  Bearing this in mind, the Gardens really are a wonderful way to pass an afternoon with small children.

You are allowed to bring in your own picnic; and an even better treat is the cafe!  Located next to the main lawn in the middle of the gardens, there are large tables where adults may sit and enjoy hot drinks and snacks or full meals while their children wander near-by.  This main lawn is also the logical place, but not only spot, to lay down your own blanket.  Check the closing times.  In the autumn, they close at 5PM; in which case you can walk over to the Royal Hospital Gardens with your picnic, which close at sunset.

The Gardens also boast an excellent gift shop with a good variety of gifts and toys that are unique, inexpensive and imaginative.

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