The summer holiday is upon us and whilst children are sure to miss their friends and teachers, a break from the routine of school is a good thing. Long days and warm weather allow children to explore and imagine on their own terms and the absolute joy of London is that it offers an abundance of opportunity for fun and adventure.
For those of us on the North side of the river, have a look at these ten top activities that are right here on our doorstep and suitable for children of all ages:
Granary Square: Located just behind Kings Cross Station, Granary Square and its 1,000+ choreographed fountains is perfect on a hot day. There are restaurants nearby if you need some respite and Waitrose is also a stone’s throw away for an iced coffee or some extra picnic food.
Top Tip: There is limited shade so get there early if you’d like some cover – the square can be busy on weekends and exceptionally hot days!
Kentish Town City Farm: Open every day, the farm has goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, geese, horses, donkeys, pigs and a cow, as well as community gardens and a wildlife pond.
Top Tip: There is free parking on Grafton Road after 11AM (Monday to Friday) and all day at weekends.
King Henry’s Walk Adventure Playground: This large outside space in Islington includes large wooden play structures for climbing, jumping, balancing and swinging. The playground also offers children opportunities to build dens, dig, plant and grow food and learn about nature.
Top Tip: Designed specifically for children and young people aged 6 to 13 years.
Postal Museum: Who knew post could be such fun? The museum includes a postal exhibition revealing five centuries of British communication as well as a Mail Rail exhibition and a ride on the Mail Rail through some of the original tunnels that made up London’s secret Post Office Underground Railway.
Cost: Online booking prices – Adult £16, Young Person (16-24) £11, Child (3-15) £9
Top Tip: Book online – you’ll avoid queues and it is slightly cheaper. There’s also a brilliant play area for children aged 0-8; it costs extra but is well worth it.
Hampstead Heath: This grand park has the best of everything – woodlands and meadows, a playground, stately home (Kenwood House), a playground and views to inspire.
Top Tip: You’ll want to spend all day here – pack a picnic; the kids will not want to leave!
Go Ape Alexandra Palace: This tree-top obstacle course is great fun for the whole family and includes varying height and difficulty levels. Children must be over a metre tall to participate.
Cost: 16+ £36pp, 10-15 £28pp, juniors (over a metre tall) £21pp
Top Tip: Wear the right shoes (trainers are best) to enable good grip and easy movement on obstacles.
Canal Walk & Canal Museum: Regent’s Canal is magical in summer. And if you feel like a pit stop, the London Canal Museum (located beside Battlebridge Basin the canal) allows you to see inside a narrowboat cabin, learn about the history of London’s canals, about the cargoes carried, the people who lived and worked on the waterways, and the horses that pulled their boats.
Canal walk is Free & Museum costs £5 for adults and £2.50 for children
Top Tip: Don’t forget to take water if you’re walking on a hot day. And if you need a quick coffee respite, hope off at any exit along the canal and grab a drink on your way. Also note: the Canal Museum has the best ice cream!
Sky Garden: At the top of London’s Walkie Talkie building, the Sky Garden is a foliage-filled atrium with a panoramic view of the city and an open-air terrace. There’s a swanky restaurant if you’re hungry and a coffee shop on tap.
Top Tip: Tickets are released in batches and go very quickly (on a ‘first come, first served’ basis) – visit the website (see link below) and keep tabs on ticket release dates to book yours.
Highbury Fields: Islington’s largest park includes a children’s playground with a sand pit, water play feature and toilets (always important!) as well as a nature conservations site, café and bandstand. Barbecues are allowed.
Top Tip: The park is open until sunset – perfect for a little late afternoon adventure in summer!
Islington Boat Club: Located at City Road Basin near Angel on the Regent’s Canal, the boat club is a place for adults and kids to learn water skills BUT it’s also great to watch people learning. Children will enjoy the sites and an ice cream will go down well on a warm day.
Top Tip: Make sure you’ve got your phone/camera handy – this is a great scenic spot for pics of the kids.