Ruby Violet, handmade organic ice cream


A new ice cream parlour has opened up (in my neighbourhood! hooray!), and the ice cream really is the best in town. Ruby Violet in Tufnell Park might be located on a busy and not otherwise impressive street, but this charming little shop with its tiled floors and thoughtful decor, will win you over immediately. The ice cream and sorbets are all handmade on site using the finest natural and local ingredients. You’ll find such interesting flavours like Regent’s Park Honey, Cardamon and Lemon, Flintham Damson with Sour Cream, Liquorice with Blackcurrant Ripple, etc, and the flavours are so fresh and recognisable. You can also buy tubs of their ice cream to take away, and they also make ice cream cakes and other desserts for parties and events.  They’re open every day from 11-7, sunshine or no sunshine. (more…)

Byron for proper hamburgers

It’s not easy to find good hamburgers in London. Unless you go to Byron.

Byron is a proper hamburger joint, hoping to ‘do a simple thing, and do it properly’. They source good meat from Scotland, mince it fresh every day, and then cook it medium so it’s pink and juicy. They then place it in a soft, squishy bun with minimum fuss and fanfare, and ‘serve it with a smile’. I love that.  They also serve great milkshakes, good French fries and other sides, and have a kids menu.  Byron now has several locations across London, so check their site to see which one is nearest to you.

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The London EyeThe London High StreetPrincess Diana Memorial Playground

The London Eye

We took the kids to the London Eye a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit! It’s funny how sometimes these really ‘touristy’ things are actually quite nice to do (I feel the same way about the Bus Tour).  Anyway, it’s a fun way to see the sprawling city (25 miles, actually), and the kids really enjoyed the ‘ride’. The queue seemed long, but it moved really quickly, and before we knew it, we were up 135 meters in the air.  It takes 30 minutes to go around, which really seemed like the perfect time to be inside a glass bubble. I really recommend the experience!

Click here for visitor information and opening times.

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Hope & GreenwoodBenjamin PollocksByron for proper hamburgers

Huggle — A shop, café and playspace in one!

Imagine a children’s shop stocked full of great toys, baby equipment, children’s decor and stylish furniture… doesn’t that alone sound impressive? Now, imagine this store has buggy parking, kiddie toilets and baby changing facilities, a little café, and an indoor play space for kids — aaahhh, it’s like heaven for parents! This heaven is called Huggle, and it’s a newly opened shop located in Swiss Cottage (just opposite the leisure centre). It was started by a local husband and wife team who spent two years researching the market before opening up their shop and who completely get what it’s like to be a new parent struggling to find the best products for their kids. (more…)

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Carluccio'sSwiss Cottage Leisure CentreDaunt Books interior
Carluccio’sSwiss Cottage Leisure CentreDaunt Books

River Café

The River Café hardly needs an introduction. This well-known restaurant is both a celebrity hang-out and a favourite brunch locale for London families.  The prices are high, but the food is so good it’s worth it.  I once read somewhere that the best Italian food in Europe can be found at the River Café — meaning even better than Italy itself. I’m sure that made the Italians angry… and perhaps it was a generous compliment, but the food is really that good.  The restaurant is located on the Thames and has a grassy courtyard separating it from the river. On a sunny day you can sit outside and let your kids run around while you finish your meal.  Otherwise, they have paper and crayons to keep your kids entertained inside.  Perfect for family brunch on the weekend. Just make sure to book well in advance.

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No tantrums here…Bobo KidsThe Polka Theatre

The British Museum

The British Museum, founded in 1753, is dedicated to the history of the world’s different cultures. The collection includes a large and impressive section devoted to ancient Egypt, and it is here where you will find the famous Rosetta Stone, treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb, a piece of the Sphinx’s nose, impressive Eqyptian sculptures, and real mummies (which never cease to impress my kids!). We also love the Medieval Europe gallery and the section for Ancient Greece and Rome. The museum is absolutely stunning and certainly worth a visit. It’s also (rather surprisingly) very geared for families with a Children’s Multimedia guide, free activity backpacks and designated family trails. There’s also the Ford Centre for young visitors on the lower floor which has feeding and changing rooms for babies.

Check out the Family Visits section of the website, which lists all the different activities available for children, as well as the Young Explorers page which has online games and other interactive and educational activities. (more…)

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Hanover Gate Playground in Regents ParkThe London EyeBrora

Rossopomodoro Pizza

Sometimes you just feel like eating pizza. So easy, so tasty, so casual… and kids always love it! Rossopomodoro is a Naples-based pizza chain with three locations in London (Chelsea, Covent Garden and Notting Hill). All their ingredients come from the Napolitan region of Campania — even the water used in their pizza dough is rumoured to come from Naples! Pretty impressive for a Pizza chain. They also have highchairs and welcome children — they’re Italian after all.

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Kew GardensPetit AiméPetersham Nurseries

Borough Market

The Borough Market is not for the crowd-fearing or for the buggy-pushing — its popularity is widespread and it gets crowded! But, if you’re a food lover (and who isn’t?), it is definitely worth visiting. It is London’s largest and most renowned food market with more than 130 food stalls and culinary experts. It has been around (in this very location) for more than 250 years and continues to get better with each passing year. This is where the chefs and well-known restaurateurs can be found on Saturday morning picking from the finest fish, meat, cheese, produce, etc.  Kids will love trying all the samples, checking out all the displays (my kids love the fish stalls!), and taking in the buzz of foodie talk and knowledge.  Just don’t take a buggy if you can avoid it — carry babies in a carrier. And if you can, go on a Thursday or a Friday — Saturdays are insane! Check their website for more info. (Image from Flickr) (more…)

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Tate ModernBroraCarluccio’s

Tricycle Theatre

The Tricycle Theatre, located in Kilburn (North London), is a publicly subsidized performing arts venue most well known its ground-breaking, politically charged performances. They specialise in presenting plays which reflect and promote the cultural diversity of its community.  The venue includes both a large theatre and a 300-seat cinema as well as smaller studios for workshops and other small plays.  They also have a Children’s Theatre Programme which puts on some of the sweetest little shows for kids, often with the use of puppets, live music, storytelling and singing…and with an added ecological or social message to their stories.  We recently went to see The Three Billy Goats Gruff and it was great fun! (more…)

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Belgo — for mussels and frites!Swiss Cottage Leisure CentreKentish Town City Farm

Hanover Gate Playground in Regents Park

The Hanover Gate playground, located on the west side of Regents Park, has just recently been renovated and now includes two different play areas: a traditional playground for younger children and a new timber tree-house section for older, more adventurous kids. It’s also a great little spot to spend a sunny afternoon because it’s right next to the boating lakes and boat house where you can rent pedal boats (both family-sized and single) and float around, taking in the beauty of the park.  (The children’s boating pond is only open on the weekends and is meant for kids aged 5 and up — they have to be able to reach the pedals.) There’s also a little restaurant in the Boat House with outdoor seating facing the lake. It’s a beautiful setting, especially when the weather is cooperating. (more…)

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Paddington Street Gardens and PlaygroundThe London Duck ToursBrora

Paddington Street Gardens and Playground

The playground in Paddington Street Gardens is one of my favourite in Central London.  I love that it’s tucked away off the beaten path in Marylebone, slightly hidden unless you know it’s there. It means that it never usually gets too crowded, and you get the sense that all the kids there are from the neighbourhood. The playground has been recently renovated so all the equipment is new and the grounds are well looked after. In redesigning the playground they did a good job of catering to both babies and bigger kids as they have a variety of toys to play on. Plus, I love when playgrounds are covered in that rubbery flooring — it’s nice for babies to crawl around on, and means safer falling for the older ones.  Not to mention… it’s located just off my favourite street in London — Marylebone High Street. So it’s a great spot to take a break/have lunch/let the kids run around whilst visiting the many great shops on the high street. Just turn off Marylebone High Street onto Moxon street and walk to the end (or you can access the gardens from Paddington Street.) For more details, click here.

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Primrose Bakery — our favourite cupcakes in LondonThe Charlotte Street HotelThe London Duck Tours

The Charlotte Street Hotel

charlotte street hotelMy experience with hotels in London is actually quite limited, as we’ve never actually ‘vacationed’ here.  But the Charlotte Street Hotel is one hotel we’ve become very familiar with over the years as its located literally next door to my husband’s office. It has become a go-to spot for breakfast/lunch/coffee/tea/drinks, etc., and is where many of our friends and colleagues have stayed when visiting.

The hotel is small but charming, the staff always friendly and the location could not be better — Charlotte Street is lined with one good restaurant after the other, and is located just north of Oxford Street and Soho and within walking distance to many of London’s tourist attractions. (more…)

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london high streetrossopomodoro pizzalondon duck tours
The London High StreetRossopomodoro PizzaThe London Duck Tours

Elias & Grace

Elias and Grace is a small but well stocked children’s shop located on the main strip in Primrose Hill. This trendy boutique has one of the best selection of clothing brands in London, including all our favourite European brands like  Simple Kids, Quincy, Maan, Album di Famiglia, Petit Bateau, Pepe Shoes, Bonton, etc. Everything is displayed really well (in sections divided by gender) and they do a really good job of creating ‘looks‘, mixing up the different brands and styles. They also have a great online shop, and they ship internationally. (more…)

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Daunt Books interiorSwiss Cottage Leisure CentreTricycle Theatre
Daunt BooksSwiss Cottage Leisure CentreTricycle Theatre

Getting Around

Navigating London can give any newcomer anxiety — the city is so big, so spread out, and has so many wonderful and different neighborhoods which you’ll want to see… and if you add kids to the equation it becomes even trickier! Here are a few of the best ways to get around:

1.) By foot: If you have the luxury of time, the best way to navigate the city is by foot — it gives you a better appreciation for the city and its people and gives you a better idea for how city is laid out and the way the neighborhoods connect to each other.  There are also so many green spaces in London that it’s easy to take a rest from time to time and enjoy the many parks and playgrounds. Just wear comfortable shoes!
2.) London Underground: Taking the ‘tube’ in London might be the quickest way to travel (especially in peak traffic hours), but if you have a buggy you’re probably best to avoid it entirely. Most tube stations have multiple staircases or escalators and only a few have elevators (lifts). Carrying your buggy up and down the stairs is certainly ‘do-able’… it just depends on whether you’re up for it. Click here for a tube map — the stations with lifts are marked with a wheelchair sign.
3.) London Bus: You’re never far from a bus stop in London, and most buses allow buggies (generally up to two at one time). Plus, bigger kids will love sitting on the upper deck (hold on tightly as you climb up!), and it’s a great way to take in London’s scenery, architecture and other little details. Search online for details and routes.
4.) London Black Cab: Taking a taxi is probably the easiest way to travel. Unlike the taxi drivers in many cities, London ‘cabbies’ are really experienced and totally reliable. You can also put your buggy into the back of the cab and leave your child in it – no need to collapse your buggy or wake your sleeping baby! Cabs can fit up to 5 people and most modern black cabs also have a fold-down child restraint in the back seat.
5.) Addison Lee car service: Booking an Addison Lee car is really easy and can be done either online or by phone. This is also a good car service for airport pick-ups or drop-offs. Conveniently, most Addison Lee cars also have two built-in child restraints, so there’s no need for car seats (just make sure to request the appropriate vehicle).

Tate Modern

Matisse at TateI haven’t been to the Tate Modern since having kids and I think I had forgotten how cool it is! I also completely underestimated how much my kids would like it. Interestingly, I think kids are really attracted to the vibrant colors, the huge paintings, ‘bizarre’ objects, etc. In some ways, it’s the kind of art that kids can relate to — art that inspires discussion.

On weekends the Tate hosts family-friendly events and interactive kid zones.  Or you can pick up a family trail sketchbook to keep kids interacted as they tour the museum (available every day of the week).

The gift shop on the bottom floor is WAY cool, and they have a great section of chilren’s books and unique toys. The café on the 2nd floor is also kid-friendly, with highchairs, crayons, etc.  But… the most impressive thing is the view from the restaurant at the top which looks out over the river Thames and offers one of the best views in London. (Even if you don’t eat there, it’s worth going up just to see!) (more…)

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Konditor & CookCarluccio’sBorough Market
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