Chelsea Museum Reviews

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 free.  The only drawback, the entry is limited to 30 children, so there is a slight gamble that you could show up for the timed entry and it is filled and you have to wait for someone in the session to leave early from it.  The session times are 10 – 11:20; 11:30 – 12:20; 12:30 – 1:20; 1:30 – 2:20;2:30 – 3:20; 3:30 – 4:20 with the last session beginning at 4:30 and ending at 5:20. 

 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

 

  • 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

http://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/

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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