Alexandra Palace Way, Hornsey
Alexandra Palace (or "Ally Pally," as London kids have nicknamed it), is like a park, rec center, and a concert venue wrapped into one Victorian package. As if that weren't enough, its location also provides one of the best views of the city. Between the ice skating rink, the paddle-boat-filled lake, the skate park, drive-in movie theater, and the farmer's market, it's a definite go-to for tiring out the littles.
Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop
44 The Market, Covent Garden
Benjamin Pollock's toy theater shop was revamped in the 1960's by Marguerite Fawdry (it was her idea to add a museum), and Mr. Pollock's grandson runs the shop and adjoining museum to this day. There are old-fashioned teddy bears, doll houses, zoetropes, and vintage games that kids and adults alike will find fascinating. The specialty here, however, remains the mini-theaters. The toy store still stocks them and makes for the start of a very fanciful toy collection.
Birdland Park & Jurassic Journey
Rissington Rd., Bourton-on-the-Water,
The center and recently opened wildlife reserve in the Cotswolds is set in a beautiful landscape. There are tons of activities and stations for kids to learn about the 500 species of birds that live here. Also worthwhile is a tour of the grounds and of the Marshmouth nature reserve for more bird and animal sightings. It's definitely a day's worth of family activities outside of London.
Tavistock Hotel Basement, Bedford Way, Bloomsbury
While you can walk in and bowl, booking ahead is strongly recommended. This is a great place for parties.
7th-10th Floors Multi-Storey Car Park, 95a Rye Ln., Peckham
Bold Tendencies founder Hannah Barry is responsible for much of Peckham’s transformation into a culture—and counterculture—hub. At this point there are few corners of this diverse, buzzing neighborhood that Barry and her organization haven’t touched. Take the parking lot: The rooftop you walk over is covered in undulating lines of weather-reflecting paint by artist Richard Wentworth. The once-grimy stairwell has been transformed by Simon Whybray into a trippy, bubble-gum-pink tunnel. The Derek Jarman roof garden converts drab concrete into a lush, landscaped escape. And we would be remiss not to mention the multistory orchestra, a collective of accomplished musicians hosting folk and classical performances in unexpected places (like that parking lot).
25 Broadway Market, Hackney
This market is an East London staple and has been around forever—but it’s possibly better now than it’s ever been. Saturday mornings belong to Broadway for Londoners living from Hackney to London Fields. Dozens of vendors, stores, and stalls sell something for every taste and budget. Come for breakfast, come for lunch, come for groceries. Food and trinkets aside, this is some of the best people-watching in London.
Chelsea Physic Garden
66 Royal Hospital Rd., Chelsea
Beyond being a beautiful place to pass an afternoon, this is also London's oldest botanical garden (it dates back to 1673). Don't miss the newest addition, the Garden of Edible and Useful Plants, where you'll find foliage with a variety of uses, from perfume to cosmetics. P.S. Closed Saturdays.
5A Clifton Villas, Maida Vale
This historical garden center—in existence since the nineteenth-century—is where Londoners go to start their urban oases. The variety is as endless as the knowledge of its kind staff. If you're feeling hands-off, there's a design and installation service here to suit your needs both large and small.
Dennis Severs’ House
18 Folgate St., Whitechapel
What you'll notice first, is that this is a beautiful Grade II* listed Georgian terrace house with a series of 10 striking rooms that appear to have stepped straight out of the 18th- and 19th-centuries. Follow the house's story as you are escorted, in silence, from room to room. No booking required, tickets £10.
Electric Cinema Kids Club
191 Portobello Rd., Notting Hill
Originally built in 1910, Electric Cinema is one of the oldest movie theaters in the UK: It's been running on and off since that time, but it caught our attention when it was leased to Soho House as part of its Electric House property. The Saturday night Kids Club shows a great selection of films for little ones, and kids love hanging out in the unusual leather sofa seating.
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