Changing of the Guards
Bring the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ to life by watching this amazing official ceremony. Aside from standing outside the magnificent Buckingham Palace, watch your toddler’s face when they realise the guards are in fact real soldiers, who you can have a picture with. And, the best thing – it’s free. To get the most out of your experience, visit the Guards Museum where your little one can dress up in a guards tunic and bearskin cap. For a small price they will print the picture off for you and give you a certificate.
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For animal-loving toddlers everywhere, this is the place to be. With animal enclosures close together to save weary little legs, it’s easy to explore and have the chance to see all the animals you could possibly want – from lions to bears, giraffes, otters and even Aardvarks. Then there’s the fairground rides, spacious cafe and extensive gift shop with life size stuffed toy animals to play around. Voted the Best Tourism Experience in London, 2010, by Visit London, it’s surely worth a try.
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You can’t beat a huge toy store for getting your kids excited, especially when it’s one of the most iconic toy stores in the world. With floors full of every toy imaginable to play with, there’s also puppet shows, activities and competitions in store. Just check the Hamleys website for what’s on that week and plan your trip. They’ll even organise birthday parties for you. Feeling a little peckish? Visit the cafe or magical sweet shop – you really can make a whole day of it…
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St James’ Park
If it’s a nice day and your toddler needs a run-around, try St James’s Park. Not only is it right next to Buckingham Palace, and has 23 acres of grassland to wear them out, but there’s an island full of duck, pelicans and geese to watch, a lovely sandpit to muck around in and a playground. Plan ahead and try to take a picnic for the ultimate outdoor experience
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Hectic, noisy and vast, kids love it! This wonderful Square is not only full of history, which your little ones may or many not appreciate, but there’s lots to inspire a toddler’s imagination. Just look up at the statue of Lord Nelson and his missing arm, then watch the children as they run up and down the many steps and put their hands in the fountains. Unfortunately, you can’t feed the pigeons anymore but there’s still plenty around to watch. The coffee shop is step-free in the square and has changing facilities for baby siblings.
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This is a spectacular house that will inspire parents and toddlers alike. Look around the celebrated exhibitions and galleries and let your toddler marvel at this huge space. Then, venture outside. During the summer, children love to watch, play around and cool off in the 55 fountains that adorn the stately courtyard, and in the winter they have as much fun in the huge ice rink that’s set up. The smallest ice skate will probably fit a 3-year old, so what are you waiting for? Get your skate on…
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London Transport Museum
This has to be one of the most family-friendly museums in London, if not the UK. Aside from having wonderful motor cars, buses and taxis to clamber over and explore, the museum has considered all your baby and toddler needs with a baby changing room, a baby feeding room, a picnic area or cafe and ramps to access all galleries. And if that isn’t enough, ask for the new FREE family 12-page activity book that will enhance your trip round the museum, making it a truly memorable day.
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The Original Sightseeing Bus Tour
Is your toddler tired of walking? Why not hop on board a famous open-topped London bus for a magical tour round all the major sights. Once on, you’ll find child-friendly commentary, a ‘passport to London’ and a free fun-packed activity book. The service is hop-on, hop-off, so if toilet breaks are needed, this isn’t a problem. You can access all four routes they offer depending on what your child and you would like to see, and it even includes a free ride on a Thames cruise
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Give your child their first taste of the theatre in London’s prestigious West End. They’ll be hooked. The Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road has hosted a number of shows for toddlers including favourites such as The Gruffalo. What’s a Gruffalo? Probably one of the most popular children’s characters of modern times. And, current production, The Go Go Go Show, entertains with catchy songs, magic and easy-to-learn dance moves. The shows are expertly designed to keep children’s interest and have them begging for more…
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Just off Trafalgar Square is the grand National Gallery, with its vast collection of art. The Gallery welcomes small people and babies, and hosts such events as ‘Family Sundays’ with storytelling and art workshops. There’s also guided family trails to follow through the gallery. For post-gallery refreshments, visit the wonderful National Gallery cafe. Baby changing facilities for smaller members of the family are available and the truly wonderful thing: entrance is free…
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