Paddington Street Gardens Playground
Paddington St., Marylebone
This colorful and well-equipped playground with jungle gyms, tire swings, picnic tables, and more is just behind Marylebone High Street at the end of Paddington Street Gardens (where you'll find a beautiful English rose garden). The space is covered with trees and makes a for a supremely peaceful break from errands or sightseeing.
7 Mansfield Rd., Hampstead
This store actually has no sign, so you have to look hard. Kristin Baybars, who has run the shop for decades, stocks everything you could ever want for a dollhouse. The front of the store has traditional kids toys and imported dollhouse accessories, but as you venture farther back, you'll find handmade British pieces on display inside kooky old cabinets and quintessentially English townhouses. You'll either leave with a bunch of miniatures or grand plans for a dollhouse of your own, just remember to bring cash as they don't accept cards. Photo: The Small Desk
2 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill
Owners and buyers Honey Bowdrey and Jasmine Guinness specialize in nostalgic toys—wooden dollhouses, toy ovens, pirate ships, and Noah's Arks, plus old-fashioned games like tiddlywinks that kids still love today. Kids kind of go nuts for spending their pocket money in the special section stocked with Swedish Fish, bubble blowers, and fake tattoos, among other bits and bobs.
68 Mountgrove Rd., Highbury
Nowhere else in London will you find this many Calico Critters, or, as they're known in the UK, Sylvanian Families. The store stocks the full UK range, as well as a large number of imports from the US and Japan. They also do amazing window displays.
197 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill
These beautiful boutiques are now peppered across the city and stock impeccably crafted, stylish, yet age-appropriate childrenswear. The clothes are classic with a distinct French feel and a painstaking attention to detail, from the hand-stitching to the organic cotton. Bonpoint also carries shoes, toys, books, and more. It's pretty expensive, but you totally get what you pay for, so whatever you buy for your oldest now will still be in pristine condition for your youngest years later.
36 Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead
High up on Rosslyn Hill in Hampstead, this recently-expanded shop stocks an ample mix of conventional toys along with science and craft projects. Wrapping paper, party favors, and plenty of stickers are also available, making the birthday present-buying chore a bit easier. Anyone who has a child caught up in the Lego or Sylvanian Families mania will be well taken care of here. Their Schleich shelf, full of those classic and very realistic plastic animals, totally triggers nostalgia.
526-528 Oxford St., Marylebone
If you're traveling with a baby, this is the place to go to re-up on bottles, swaddles, and the like—they have pretty much everything you might ever need. There are locations all over London, but we think it's easier to shop online and skip the crowds.
98 Marylebone Ln., Marylebone
Papouelli—formerly known as Papillon—focuses on beautifully crafted, classic children's shoes that are actually practical. Their bestselling moccasins are adorable, though they also sell loafers, booties, and special occasion shoes for littles of all ages. There's an outpost on Elizabeth Street and a second location on Marylebone Lane.
ZSL London Zoo
Outer Circle, Regent's Park, Primrose Hill
The animals at the London Zoo are well kept, so a visit here is always a happy one. Plus, a recent renovation converted many of the animals' enclosures, making them truer to how they live in nature. There are also a number of daily kids activities that are heavy on fun without skimping on education.
Straddling Westminster and Camden, Regent's Park features the largest grass area for sports in London, plus an open air theater, Regent's College, Regent's Canal, the London Zoo, restaurants, cafés, and so much more.
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