Our daughter spent her first two years in London and she won’t have any memory of it but at least she will have plethora of photos and videos to enjoy when she’s older. After just having moved from London to Tallinn I’ve already begun reminiscing about my time spent with her there and I thought I’d make a list of things we liked to do or places to go.
We lived in West London and were relatively close (walking distance!) to many Royal Parks and they’re on top of my list!
- London parks – we loved going to Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and Hyde Park. The rose garden in Regent’s Park is perfect for letting the little ones run around the rows of roses. I taught her to smell flowers there – a lifelong skill she’ll hopefully cherish. Primrose Hill has one of the best views of the city and a great spot for a picnic. You also get a great workout while pushing the buggy up the hill 😉 . Hyde Park is great for naps as it’s so big and it’s easy to find a more quiet and secluded spot for a snooze. The park has many attractions and the next two were a lot of fun.
- Diana Memorial Playground – the whole area is actually suitable for slightly older kids but there’s plenty to do for younger children too – swings, sandpit, slides, little houses to climb into etc. It’s a brilliant set up and even on a very busy afternoon there’s enough space to entertain the little ones too.
- Diana Memorial Fountain – on a few occasions it got really hot in London this summer (I’m talking 30+ degrees here) and on those days I took her to the fountain early in the morning. She splashed and frolicked around, then we had lunch in the shade under a tree and then she took a nap in her stroller. She was so exhausted and fell asleep within minutes. I either walked around or sat down somewhere to read a book and sunbathe. I loved those days, they were exhausting for me, but she seemed to be very happy spending the whole day outdoors in fresh air. I tend to come home for her nap that’s how I get a proper break for myself too and as a stay at home mum it’s imperative for me but every now and then it’s good to do things differently.
- Regent’s Canal at Paddington – we were so lucky to live in such a beautiful neighbourhood of Little Venice, an area of London not many people know or have been to. Every time we had visitors we always took them for a stroll along the canal. I used to walk there if I didn’t have anything particular planned for the morning or afternoon but we always found something to do, like watch boats and ducks, play with water in the Merchant’s Square fountain (had to be warm and I had to have spare clothes for her! otherwise I dragged her away from it), have a bite in one of my favourite restaurants in London – KuPP or enjoy gelato from Bar Torelli. There is a lot of development in the area and it was exciting to sit on the canal and watch the buzz of construction.
- Covent Garden – this place has a lovely vibe. It’s not too busy in the mornings so that was my preferred time to go there with her. I’d walk around in shops, grab a lunch from somewhere nearby, then sit on the pavement, watch buskers and life go by.
- Southbank – beautiful views of the city while walking along the Thames, simple as that! Southbank Centre has a cool gift shop and a cafe and lots of space to let a kid run around and sometimes they’ve got exciting attractions too, like Soundpit that we went to this spring. I can see it’s back again from 23 November.
- Daunt Books in Marylebone – Daunt Books is an independent bookseller and their store in Marylebone with long oak galleries is my favourite. It’s got a cute children’s corner where I could browse in peace while she was sitting on a chair watching a selection of children’s books.
- Paddington Station – our “home station”. I’ve got good memories of waiting for my husband get off at Heathrow Express after a long trip abroad or walking home via the canal and thinking how cool it is to live so close to a famous location of Paddinton Bear stories. A lot of the movie scenes were filmed in the area too, one even on our own street! The station has Paddington Bear shop, the only one in the world exclusively dedicated to him. We’d take a look every now and then and sometimes bought books and other smaller items.
- Maida Vale softplay – not a London sightseeing attraction but rather an activity that I regularly did with her in West London. The older she got the more she enjoyed it, she got more confident in climbing into the bouncy castle and going down the slides. An hour and a half of fun and frolics for £5!
- Hartbeeps – the only class I did with her since she was a little baby. There are lots of similar ones out there but for some reason I stuck with that and we both enjoyed them. They used to be on Monday mornings and always left us with a good mood for the rest of the day.
Overall I found tube travel with a toddler not too stressful. I only chose direct routes anyway and there were always helpful people around helping me up or down the stairs.
So if you happen to be in West and Central London and thinking of activities for your toddler then perhaps my list can be of some help.