Christmas in London with a toddler

Nov 30th, 2001, 04:00 AM
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Christmas in London with a toddler

Oh, I have SO many questions to ask. I am very grateful to have found this forum in which to ask them!

My husband, two year old and I are travelling to London for the holidays, arriving on Christmas day. I am interested in activities that you might suggest which would not be too trying for the 2 year old. Also, which restaurants would you recommend that will be tolerant of a toddler, especially one who is not always so perfectly behaved. Thank you very much!
Nov 30th, 2001, 05:24 AM
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Malena, disregard Nasty Emily-fortunately London is full of kind people who love children and have much better manners than she does.Personally I have not taken such a small child to London, but the city is full of people with children of their own,so I am sure soon you will get a lot of tips - One note of caution, be prepared to go to your room early and eat dinner early-as most restaurants in London- as any big city-,do not encourage very small children,especially any that might erupt Have a great trip~
Nov 30th, 2001, 06:01 AM
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I'm sorry you got such a negative response from one of my fellow Brits.

A good restaurant for toddlers is Pizza Hut who have high chairs and crayons for toddlers and if you fancy something a bit more English try any pub in the Brewers Fayre chain who actively welcome young children and even have a play area set aside for them.

Over activities - I'm sure Hamleys the toy shop (on Regent Street) would be a favourite spot. You may also like to do a search on some of the recommendations that David White and Ben Haines have made in the past. They have a wealth of information on other good activities

Hope you have a lovely trip to London
Nov 30th, 2001, 06:09 AM
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Oh it is so fun seeing the anti-child faction sound like children themselves! Good luck Malena! And have fun. I suspect you will need to be very conscious regarding the weather. Something we haven't tried (but wish we had) was a rain cover for our stroller. Please post your experiences after your return (so the rest of us can learn from them). Regarding children and pubs, you may want to search for an old post regarding the same. It has some good info.
Nov 30th, 2001, 12:23 PM
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Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions. I am looking for David White's book - it looks like it will be a big help. I have located these restaurants that are said to be kid friendly - what do you think?

Babe Ruth's, Belgo, Fatboy's Diner, Maxwell's, Rainforest Café, RK Stanleys, Smollensky's on the Strand, The Big Easy, Yo Sushi!, Navajo Joe, The Yellow River Cafe, and Wolfes.

I have no wish to run into folks who are cranky about children who act like children, so I truly appreciate your guidance in this regard.
Dec 3rd, 2001, 08:41 PM
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This is a link to another good website about taking children to London. I hope you will find it helpful.
Dec 3rd, 2001, 09:37 PM
Ben Haines
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Two years old, eh ? That makes a difference. My standard note on disc is aimed for children about five to ten. So let's see.

Figures for weather are on, under London.

Your travel cards will cover busses as well as tubes and local train. So you might like to travel on the top of a bus. To be read for this, you can pick up at a tube station a bus map for central London.
Then you'll find each stop says which number busses stop there, and a
glass panel says where they go. For short trips busses are more interesting than tubes (outside the rush hour).

If your hotel porter says that you are in City of Westminster (it's a local
government area that includes the West End) then you can ask where the nearest children's public
library is, go there, and find the City of Westminster 100-page free book
on activities, parks, play areas, and so on for local children. There are plenty of swings, slides, and so on.

Street markets might intererest the child. If you've Greenwich in mind for seeing ships and
then a visit on Friday or Saturday could incorporate the large
market area there. To see and smell a proper cheese shop (Neale's Yard), a
pie stall, and a fruit and vegetable stall visit Park Street and Borough
Market. London Bridge tube. Fodors correspondents liked the Camden Market.
All are listed in Time Out and in What's On in London.
Dec 3rd, 2001, 09:38 PM
Ben Haines
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At Windsor, Legoland, river boat ride, and the Castle. For children aged 5 and 8 half a day each was the right length. Train from Waterloo.
The maze at Hampton Court. Train from Waterloo
The Princess Diana Memorial Playground--next to Kensington Palace, a new, elaborate playground, with a pirate ship, totem poles, teepees, sand pits, jungle gyms, etc.
Watching grown men sail toy boats on the Round Pond. Bayswater tube
Squirrels in Hyde Park. Bayswater tube
Boating on the Serpentine. Nearest tube Hyde Park Corner
Harrod's Toy Department, Knightsbridge tube.
Feeding the Queen's ducks with bread. The pond in St James Park.
The London Eye (big wheel), Westminster.
London Aquarium, Westminster Bridge.
Climbing into trams, busses, and bits of tube trains. London Transport Museum,
Covent Garden.
Watching the buskers in Covent Garden
The top of St Paul's Cathedral
To go right up to see London. By lift, free, Guys Tower in Guys Hospital,
London Bridge tube. By stairs, and you pay to enter, the Monument or the
Dome of St Paul's.

With a bag of nuts bought beforehand feed the squirrels beside the flower
gardens in the top end of Greenwich Park. Nearest station is Blackheath,
reached from Victoria and from London Bridge.


The London Zoo, Camden Town.
Hamley's Toy Shop, Regent Street, Oxford Circus
Coram's Fields, Russell Square. A special park and playground, east of Bloomsbury, where Captain Coram, founder of the Childrens' Hospital and of the fields laid
down the rule that adults might be admitted only if accompanied by a child.

Dec 3rd, 2001, 09:39 PM
Ben Haines
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THINGS TO MISS. For children aged 2 these are many.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Buckingham Palace: a large and dull building. Most of the year you can't
enter, and in high summer it's expensive. If you want a good palace, try St
James Palace, between Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly. But there's no
great point. What you can do is inspect the guardsman. Has he polished his
boots ? Cleveland Row. Tube Green Park

The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The change at Horse Guards
Parade at eleven (Sundays at ten) is easier to see, less crowded, and more
fun. But again, not specially worth while.

St Paul's Cathedral. Looks like an overblown Duke's living room, and costs
a lot. Even Westminster Abbey is a drag, crowded, hard to see things, and
hard to understand unless you've read a lot of English history. If you
want to see a church, the most atmospheric is the twelfth century St
Barthomolew's the Great, St Paul's tube, and the most open and pleasant is
the fourteenth century Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge tube.

I'm not sure the following websites will help - they're for older children
An unexpected selection of sites for families is on
Other relevant sites are:
London4kids ( link to Children's London in panel on left.
The site http://www.KidsToLondon has some useful
opening notes and parts of chapters from a book on London for children that
came out in 2000.


Ben Haines
Dec 4th, 2001, 06:25 AM
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Malena: All good tips above.
Just wanted to warn you incase you didn't know it already.
If you use the undergroud, stairs, stairs and more stairs.
My two year old had a blast in London, but my husband and I did not (in this regard).
We took our biggest stroller (one of those travel systems, super heavy).
If you have to use the underground, take a light stroller.
We found it was much better to take cabs (but only at the end of our trip).
We also did a bus tour thing, and it wasn't to bad, but just be prepared to close up the stoller and there is usually room on board to put it.

Dec 4th, 2001, 09:41 AM
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Wow, what fantastic ideas!

David, thank you so much for your ideas!

Ben, I emailed you a thank you after I got your email, but perhaps it did not go through?

Micia - thank god you brought up the stairs / stroller problem. We had planned to bring our jogging stroller because it will handle anything, but it is not easily folded down at all! Sounds like we should bring the backpack for him instead, and perhaps invest in an umbrella stroller for the times that my husband gets tired of packing him on the back.
Dec 4th, 2001, 01:43 PM
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I second Hamleys toy store for your toddler but also try the toy store in Harrods - there is a restaurant there just for kids great fun. The natural history museum and science museum are pretty interesting. There are some toy museums in London but can't remember where! London pubs have great food and are great with children. You will love London. have a great time.
Dec 5th, 2001, 01:59 AM
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all wonderful suggestions! only saw one that i don't think was mentioned.
covent garden-it's very touristy-but a fun place nonetheless. it's basically an indoor/outdoor market with lots of restaurants (maxwell's is here) and tons of street performers-which could very well hold the interest of a toddler as they do draw crowds around sometimes. best time to go is on the weekend.

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