Chelsea

 This is nearly a toddler-friendly idyll on a warm day in Central London.  Chelsea offers a charming and varied day out for all kinds.  If you want culture there is the Saatchi Gallery, history buffs can enjoy the National Army Museum, botanists enjoy the Physic Gardens, while shoppers can peruse The Kings Road or Peter Jones if it’s rainy.  There are lots of places for your toddlers to play and wander about.   Dont’ forget to check out the creche at Stars Gym just over in Battersea, Monday – Friday 9:30 – 11:30
duke of york sq
Weekly Rota of Baby and Toddler Groups in Chelsea:

Scroll down for a detailes suggested itinerary for days out in Chelsea

 

Monday

Tiny Tots (0 – 5 years), Violet Melchett Centre, 10 – 1

 Creche (0 – 3 years) Chelsea Leisure Centre, 2 – 2:45

Monkey Music St. Stephen’s Church SW check web site for exact details

Monkey Music Cineworld Fulham Road, check web site for exact details

 Tuesday –    

Toy Library (0-5 years), Violet Melchett, 10 – 1

Baby and Toddler Swim (0 – 3 years) Chelsea Leisure Centre, 2 – 2:30

Monkey Music St. Michael’s Church Chester Sq Belgravia, check web site for exact details

Monekey Music Cineworld Fulham Road, check web site for exact details 

  Wednesday

Jigsaw Toddler Group (0 – 3 years) Chelsea Methodist Church, 155 A Kings Road, 11 – 2:30

Monkey Music St. Michael’s Church Belgravia, check web site for details

Monkey Music Cineworld Fulham Road, check web site for details

 Thursday –  

Christ Church ABC (0 – 3 years) Christ Church Chelsea, 10 – noon 

 Stay and Play (0-5 years), Violet Melchett Centre, 9:30 – 11

Monkey Music St. Stephen’s Church, check web site for details

diddi dance Chelsea: Cineworld Fulham Road, carer and toddler dance class for children ages 18 months to 4.5 years.

Baby Rhyme Time (0 – 2 years), Chelsea Library 11 – 11:30 (need to collect a ticket the preceding Saturday)

 Friday–       

Toy Library (0 – 5 years), Violet Melchett Centre, 10 – 1

Monkey Music St. Michael’s Church Belgravia, and Cineworld Fulham Road check web site for details

 Story Time (2 – 5 years), Chelsea Library 11 – 11:30 (need to collect a ticket the preceding Saturday) 

Violet Melchett Family Centre

30 Flood Street, SW3 5RR, 0207 349 2800

  •  Great family centre located just off flood street, near The King’s Road
  • Wonderfully resourced, nursery quality equipment
  • Amazing outdoor area for toddlers and a gated, covered area for babies
  • Tube: Sloane Sqaure, South Kensington
  • Bus:C1, 360, 11, 19, 22, 211, 319

 http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?

 I have only been to the toddler drop in, but The Violett Melchett Centre is a great place to take children. The building is entirely dedicated to family services and is push chair friendly.  You leave your push chair in the near-by courtyard and are able to keep an eye on it from the indoor playroom.

 The playroom has a home corner, a library, quality blocks, beads, etc.

  Further, the Centre is just a short walk away from the recently redone St. Luke’s Playground where there are plenty of picnic tables if you take a lunch.

Jigsaw Club

Chelsea Methodist Church, service provided by West London Action for Children at 155a King’s Road, SW3 5TX, 0207 352 9305 ext 27, Wednesdays 11 – 2:30, lunch served, free

  •  Super convenient location
  • Very friendly, informed and supportive staff
  • Buggy park downstairs from the group, there is a lift, or, two flights walk up
  • free lunch provided
  • Lovely, bright and varied playroom
  • Good changing facilities and toilets
  • Tube: Sloane Sq, South Kensington
  • Bus: 49, 19, 22, 319, 11, 360

 http://www.chelseamethodist.org.uk/Children-1.html

 This is a wonderful playgroup right in the middle of The King’s Road, excellent if you have shopping to do. 

 The group has lovely, knowledgeable volunteers who can put you in touch with other activities and resources in the community. 

 Varied and pleasant, the playroom has a book area, ball pit, sand tray, art area in addition to lots of interesting and nicely looked after toys.  Lunch is prepared and served at 12pm, you can bring your own or enjoy a wholesome meal prepared for you.  

 When you enter the church, you leave your buggy in the entryway, but there is a receptionist who monitors who comes and goes, so there are a set of eyes on your buggy.  After you park the buggy, you may take a lift to the playroom or walk up a long flight of stairs. 

 After a play at the Jigsaw Club you can wander through the shops and then to St. Luke’s Playground for a lovely day of shopping and playing. 

ABC Club Parent and Toddler Group, Christ Church Chelsea, Flood Street, SW3 4ASThursdays 10 – 11:30, free

  • Good space for younger children
  • Few steps, bring your buggy right into the church, where the group is held
  • Coffee and tea
  • Not a great space for two children
  • Tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington
  • Bus: 19, 22, 11, 319, 170

http://www.chelseaparish.org/childrens.html

This is one of the best places to meet families in SW3.  This group has nannies, but also lots of mums.  The Associate Vicar, Joe Moffatt, will be leaving to be instated as a Vicar in Teddington.  He gave the group such a gentle vibe, it is sad to see him leave, but happy for him to move on to greater challenges.

The group begins with a free play and refreshments, moves on to a story and songs.  The space is not very large, so there are no riding toys for the bigger children, but there is plenty to keep them occupied, regardless.

This is a must-see for anyone eager to meet local mums in SW3

Budokwai, Fulham Road, Chelsea: Baby and toddler gym & Judo

4 Gilston Road, SW109SL (Just off Fulham Road, near Park Walk)

The mini and midi judo sessions emphasise focus and discipline while allowing children a chance to play and have fun.  They are taught by highly trained instructors who seek to see judo enrich the lives of their pupils.

The baby gym classes are really good fun.  The equipment in clean and in good repair, and the goal is for the kids to get a really good play in.  My son had a blast navigating the room, he ran, he swung from the rope, he rolled around in a tunnel and was completely exhausted at the end.   George, who teaches on a Wednesday, is amazingly brilliant.  He is also a children’s entertainer georgemacuk@yahoo.co.uk.   George makes the class especially enjoyable for little boys and very silly adults!  There are classes nearly every day http://www.budokwai.co.uk/budokwai_toddlers/schedules_term_times

Both classes are £185 per term.

http://www.budokwai.co.uk/

St. Luke’s Garden’s Playground

St. Luke’s is an easily undiscovered gem off The King’s Road in Chelsea.  Refurbished last summer, the playground has several picnic tables and benches for adults, great climbing frames for both little and bigger children, swings and other interesting play equipment.

The playground is completely enclosed with basic toilets for both children and adults.  There are two gates to enter and leave the playground at opposite ends. St.Lukes playground

In addition to the playground are the lovely manicured gardens and two football pitches (not sure what the rules are for using the pitches and they usually have organised looking games being played on them.

This is the perfect destination after taking the children shopping down The Road.

The Royal Hospital Grounds, Chelsea, free

  •  Enormous gardens where you are free to picnic
  • Children can easily run out of sight, but can’t run into any roads
  • There may be toilets accessible to the public in the museum and perhaps near the adventure playground

Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 – 4:30 (November – March) 10 – 5 (October) 10 – 7 (September) 10 – 7:30 (April) 10 – 8:30 (May – August)

The Ranlelagh Gardens are the most undiscovered, under-utilised picnic grounds in Central London.  There are trees, hills, gorgeous walkways and manicured beds … bring your toddlers and let them run up and down the hills while adults drink wine and visit.  Be prepared to get up and bring them back in when they get too far out of sight, but they are not likely to get in too much trouble as they are completely enclosed except for the gate to enter.

National Army Museum, Kid’s Zone

Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HT, 0207 730 0717, free

  • Amazing well resourced self-contained space
  • Very clean
  • Good for two children, but a bit tricky if you have two unsteady toddlers on the climbing frames
  • Step-free, buggy friendly
  • Great toilets and changing facilities
  • Lovely canteen, serving coffees and cakes
  • Tube: Sloane Square
  • bus: 11, 19, 22, 211, 137, 170

http://www.national-army-museum.ac.uk/

The Kids Zone is one of the best indoor play spaces in London AND its very affordable – £2.50 per child over 6 months old.  The only drawback, the entry is limited to 30 children, so you need to book your tickets in advance online (well worth the effort) http://www.nam.ac.uk/kids/kids-zone

The Kids Zone has two enormous soft climbing frames with tunnels, slides, netting, rolled cushions, but much of it hidden, so an adult needs to accompany the little ones that are not very steady yet.

For babies, there is a great floor space of varied toys and cushions for them to play and sit on while you run off with the older ones.

The Kid’s Zone also has dress up, a play kitchen, trains, cars and books.

As a bonus, outside the museum are picnic tables for you to bring your own lunch and eat outdoors.   You are just a few blocks from Duke of York Square and the Kings Road, so you can easily mix a shopping trip in as well.

 

Saatchi Gallery

Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4SQ, free

Open from 10 – 6pm, daily.  Last entry 5:30pm

  • Entirely step-free
  • Great family toilets and changing facilities
  • Not a great space for two children running in opposite directions
  • Nothing is specifically pitched for children
  • Good outdoor space in front of the museum
  • Tube: Sloane Square
  • Bus 11, 19, 22, 49, 211, 310, 137, 360

 http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/index.htm

While the Saatchi Gallery is not the first place I would think of to take a toddler, it is a good day out.

First, there is the proximity to Duke of York Square and the fountains just off The King’s Road.  Next, there is a lovely, expansive, relatively contained space in front of the gallery for children to run around.  The staff warmly welcomes children and kids really enjoy the experience of going to the Saatchi Gallery.

Nothing about the gallery is specifically pitched for children, but it is a really pleasant place to wander and interact with art in a more traditional, abstract way.

You can have a “park bench picnic” on the numerous benches in front of the gallery, beneath the gorgeous canopy of plane trees, or use the picnic tables at St. Luke’s Playground or in front of the National Army Museum.  Also, the gardens to the Royal Hospital and the Chelsea Physic Gardens are near-by.

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

London’s Secret Garden

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.

Days Out: Chelsea

  •  Saatchi Gallery
  • Chelsea Physic Garden
  • The National Army Museum
  • Royal Hospital Chelsea
  • Duke of York Square
  • St. Luke’s Playground
  • The Kings Road
  • Peter Jones
  • Battersea Park
  • Henry J. Beans
  •  Bus: 49, 19, 22, 319, 11, 360
  • Tube: Sloane Square and South Kensington

This is an amazingly toddler friendly place to spend the day in Central London.  Chelsea offers a charming and varied day out for all kinds.  If you want culture there is the Saatchi Gallery, history buffs can enjoy the National Army Museum, while shoppers can peruse The Kings Road and Peter Jones.

If the weather is fine, the courtyard in front of the Saatchi Gallery and the Duke of York Square are excellent places to amuse toddlers while you enjoy a coffee or just want to let the kids out for a wander.  In the summer, when there is no hosepipe ban, the Duke of York Square is filled with small shoots of water for children to run through.  A three year old can easily kill and hour there while an adult wanders through the boutiques or the Saatchi Gallery. You can always come mid-week, during term time and use the playgrounds as a toddler diversion while adults take turns exploring Chelsea.

The Saatchi Gallery is entirely step-free and a nice gallery to take children to, considering none of the exhibits are pitched for children.  The staff is warm and welcoming to children and I have not yet checked out the changing facilities.  This museum is free.

Chelsea Physic Garden: Amazing gardens which are interestingly a museum of plants

Royal Hospital Chelsea: Amazing grounds and free tours available of the Wren building and unique history of the pensioners

The National Army Museum and Kids Zone: if you come to Chelsea on a wet day, come here, regardless if you are a historian.  Inside the muesum is the best indoor play space in London, The Kids Zone AND its free.  The only drawback, there is limited entry, so there is a slight gamble that you could show up for the timed entry and it is filled (see Chelsea description for the times)

The Kids Zone has two enormous soft climbing frames with tunnels, slides, netting, rolled cushions, but much of it hidden, so an adult needs to accompany the little ones that are not very steady yet.For babies, there is a great floor space of varied toys and cushions for them to play and sit on while you run off with the older ones.  They also have dress up, a play kitchen, trains, cars and books.  As a bonus, outside the museum are picnic tables for you to bring your own lunch and eat outdoors.

St. Luke’s Garden’s Playground Refurbished last summer, the playground has several picnic tables and benches for adults, great climbing frames for both little and bigger children, swings and other interesting sign for st luke's gardensplay equipment.  The playground is completely enclosed with basic toilets for both children and adults.  There are two gates to enter and leave the playground at opposite ends.  In addition to the playground are the lovely manicured gardens and two football pitches (not sure what the rules are for using the pitches and they usually have organised looking games being played on them.

Peter Jones:  In wet weather, Peter Jones can save the day. The toys, children’s clothes, nursery and pushchairs, and a nice family toilet and feeding room is located on the 3rd floor.  On the 6th floor  there is a somewhat child friendly restaurant. They welcome children, have loads of high chairs and great changing facilities. The drawback is its cafeteria style dining, so you really need a second set of hands if you have two children.  The building is entirely step-free, but the lifts get really busy on the weekends.

Battersea Park:  Just down Oakley Street, over The Albert Bridge is the expansive and beautiful Battersea Park.  There are manicured gardens, the zoo, pagoda, boat hire, Gondala Café with pond-side picnic table dining and loads of high chairs, Pump House Gallery and an adventure playground open weekdays for older children and a lovely, regular playground open daily.  Also on the weekdays is a 1 O’clock club (a well-resourced, amazing playgroup with riding toys and a climbing frame) located next to the playgrounds, free to the under 5’s.

If you come mid-week, use one of the playgroups as a stopping point for the little ones to have a play.  Check out the listings http://london-baby.com/chelsea/

 

Where to Eat:

Henry J. Beans, The Kings Road near Oakley Street.  “Beans” is an extremely family friendly North American Themed Sports Bar and Grill with an enormous beer garden in the back with covered picnic tables and sunny areas to eat, as well.  The food is good, lots of burgers and salads, a bit pricey but being able to eat in a large space with room to move and make noise is worth every penny sometimes.

 

Pizza Express, The Kings Road.  Perfect family style pizzeria, set up to accommodate the lunch-time rush of toddlers and babies.  Inside and outside seating.

Peter Jones, The Restaurant, 6th Floor: A somewhat child friendly restaurant. They welcome children, have loads of high chairs and great changing facilities. The drawback is its cafeteria style dining, so you really need a second set of hands if you have two children.  The building is entirely step-free, but the lifts get really busy on the weekends.

If the weather is fine, the courtyard in front of the Saatchi Gallery and the Duke of York Square are excellent places to amuse toddlers while you enjoy a coffee or just want to let the kids out for a wander.  In the summer, when there is no hosepipe ban, the Duke of York Square is filled with small shoots of water for children to run through.  A three year old can easily kill and hour there while an adult wanders through the boutiques or the Saatchi Gallery. You can always come mid-week, during term time and use the playgrounds as a toddler diversion while adults take turns exploring Chelsea.

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