A place where every member of the family, from the tallest to the smallest, can feel at home, East London is an urban sprawl that offers more than the usual fare of coffee shops and restaurants. Brimming with young families, the leafy area, boasting parks, museums and city farms, offers a variety of kid-friendly visits, for all ages.
We’ve hand-picked ten of the best child-friendly spots to keep the kids safe and entertained this summer.
- V&A Museum of Childhood
A great place to inspire a child’s curiosity and feed their knowledge, the V&A Museum of Childhood is arranged by theme, and offers a rotating roster of exhibitions. Across three floors, kids can enjoy craft and storytelling workshops, a treasure trail, Punch and Judy puppets, a free-play area and display cabinets of antique dolls – some that date back to 1872. During the school holidays, extra activities and exhibitions take place. It’s a good idea to bring a few 20p pieces for the interactive displays. When too much play makes for hungry children, the cafe offer tasty treats, though parents are welcome to bring kids’ snacks from home. This is a great day out for kids big and small.
Cambridge Heath Road
020 8983 5200
- Hackney City Farm
Hackney’s oldest farm offers a variety of activities to educate, illuminate and entertain. Dating back as early as the 1800s, at the city farm children learn about food, nature, craft (including pottery) and the environment. Children can also volunteer in the farm or sponsor an animal, the possibilities are endless. Though it is the farmyard friends, including the gaggle of geese, the waddling ducks, the clucking chickens, pigs Pearl and Pepper, and the star attractions of the farm, donkeys Larry and Clover that are sure to delight children of all ages. Flagging parents can stop by the Frizzante Cafe, where they’ll find fresh chicken and duck eggs for sale, alongside honey from the bees.
1a Goldsmith’s Row
020 7729 6381
- GrowUp Urban Farms
You’re never too young to learn where the food on your plate comes from. Proving there’s space for farms in the bustle of the city, GrowUp Urban Farms teaches kids how fresh food can be grown in a way that’s good for the environment. Did you know growing crops in the city cuts down on fuel costs and the environmental impact of CO2? All thanks to the sustainable food production approaches, including vertical gardening and aquaponics technology – both could be something out of a Marvel Comic. This is certainly a day to remember. All children are encouraged to take what they’ve learnt home with them.
To book a tour, go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/growup-community-farms-11050480655
- Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
Behind an unassuming green door lies a secret garden filled with silver birch and alder, small ‘copses’ of hazel and wild cherry, and a community-built clay oven. A beautiful outdoor space free to the public, this garden cum cafe holds regular events for music, dance, cooking and gardening activities for children of all ages. Large enough to explore, kids can run around and discover different types of plants and birds all within the safe surrounds of the curve garden. Tots will love munching on the oven-fresh pizzas and while BYO juices and soda are welcome, alcoholic drinks can only be purchased in the cafe.
13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF
- Victoria Park Kid’s Fountain Playground
In hot weather, this is the coolest place in East London. Once the kids tire from riding paddle boats around the lake, they can make a splash in the fountain playground. A cobbled space complete with fountains and gushing channels of water provide relief on summer’s day. When hunger strikes, choose between two foodie-friendly cafés – the Pavilion and the Park Café and for more choice? Lauriston Village is a stroll away. It does gets quite busy on weekends with cyclists and runners so always ensure kids are a safe distance from the path.
Grove Rd, E3 5TB
- Brick Lane
A popular tourist destination, this iconic strip offers something for everyone. Vintage stores, novelty cafes and top-notch coffee spots keep visitors busy during the week. On weekends, market stalls of bric-a-brac, global cuisine, independent jewelry and pre-loved garments line the street. Offering bargain prices, you can even afford to treat the kids to the treasures they find along the way. Sunday are busy so with crowds growing as the day progresses, be sure to keep a close eye on the little ones. For an undercover alternative, nearby Spitalfields Market offers an eclectic range of retailers and restaurants.
Brick lane, E1
- Columbia Flower Market
Daffodils, tulips, cherry blossom, oriental lilies, hyacinths – both bulb and cut flowers – oh my. Columbia Flower Market is a spectacular display of flowers and plants, and if the rainbow of colour does not entice you, the intoxicating scent will. A dainty street lined with market stalls, simply follow the crowd as it weaves its way from one end to the other. Wear comfortable shoes and if your little ones are out of the pram, come early to avoid the crowds. The charisma from the local vendors and vibrancy of the street scene makes this Sunday jaunt one not to be missed. As queues for the cafes can be long, it’s a good idea to take snacks to keep the kids happy.
- Borough Market
- Spitalfields Market
- Broadway Market
Food glorious food. If there’s one thing London does well, it’s outdoor food markets. Southwark side, Borough Market serves up a variety of cheeses, meats, home-baked cakes and treats, and for those with more adventurous taste-buds a delicious seafood variety awaits. Whether it’s sweet or savoury, lunch or a late snack, a trip to Spitalfields Market will please all cravings. Even the smallest, and often pickiest of eaters will find something they love. For parents with tots, Broadway Market neighbours beautiful London Fields, where a playground and unraveling verdant greenery are waiting to be discovered. While the kids play, parents can take five and enjoy artisanal treats from market.