Britons are relatively reserved in their relations to children and don’t make such a big fuss of them as continental Europeans, but while formal restaurants might ask them to shush, children can have a fantastic time in the big smoke. Dependable chain restaurants such Giraffe, or Carluccio's all over town provide paper, puzzles and pencils to small diners.
The Museum of Childhood is an obvious choice, but most of London’s museums have activities for kids – the art trolley at Tate Britain, hands-on tables at the British Museum and magic carpet stories at the National Gallery are huge fun. The Science Museum with all its interactive exhibits is always a hit and even has a special area for the under-5s (The Garden), as is the Natural History Museum, with its dinosaurs, especially the huge, moving, stinking T-Rex. Near Canary Wharf, the Museum of London at Docklands has the superb Mudlarks playspace for its youngest visitors, plus a kid-friendly cafe.
London’s parks are a godsend when they need a run around. Most have playgrounds, but the best outdoor play space by a mile is the Diana Princess of Wales memorial playground. And if they’ve behaved themselves,treat them to ice cream from Oddono’s.
If it's raining, many of the capital's cinemas, including the arthouse Picturehouse chain and Shoreditch's Rich Mix, run parent and baby screenings, where parents can take little ones aged up to around 12 months into the screening with them. Check individual cinema websites for details.
Another good option, especially if it's raining, is to take shelter in one of London's flagship toy shops. Now over 250 years old, Hamleys on Regent Street has numerous floors of toys, plus a child-friendly cafe. Harrods, in Knightsbridge, has a great toy department with lots of toys laid out for kids to play with and a very friendly atmosphere.
Read more about the cultural features of London in Insight Guides: London City Guide
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