Big kids in London rejoice, there’s a guidebook for you! ‘Big Kids’ London’ by Emmy Watts is stuffed with brilliant recommendations for things to do with 6 – 12-year-olds in the capital.
This is a small paperback you can keep in your bag for inspiration while you’re out. There are handy flip out maps in the front and back covers that lets you easily check for suggested places in your vicinity.
My kids (who fit in this age range) enthusiastically read through this book and pointed out places we haven’t been yet that they are now desperate to experience. Emmy is an exceptional London explorer, who writes honest, encouraging descriptions of a variety of venues that will encourage the “This is so boring” age group to get out and give it a go!
We asked Emmy to share some of her favourite picks in the book, what she thinks about options overall for this age group in London, and where to go if you have a Little Kid AND a Big Kid that will entertain them both!
Hi Emmy, could you please share some of your favourite picks in the book?
Culture: The Science Museum is guaranteed to get kids of all ages psyched for science, with hands-on galleries including The Garden play zone for 0-5s, the much-loved Wonderlab for juniors, and a couple of great new career-focused galleries for teens.
Young Creatives: We hadn’t visited Pop Box until I started researching the book, but I immediately wished I’d found it sooner. Their weekend and after-school art classes are so inspiring, led by charismatic founder Emma in their beautiful studio in Peckham.
Bad-weather days: Paper Stories is a new coffee shop in Gipsy Hill that offers collage kits to buy. It’s not specifically aimed at kids, but the kits are so playful they’ll find them hard to resist. The perfect creative distraction for a rainy afternoon.
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Energetic Types: My daughter is obsessed with climbing and the Yonder bouldering centre in Walthamstow was probably her favourite of all the places we tried out for the book. It’s visually stunning, super challenging and just generally really good fun, with hidden slides and even a special kids’ wall.
Playgrounds: As a family we’re so obsessed with playgrounds it’s almost impossible to choose a favourite, but Stratford’s Tumbling Bay is definitely in our top five with its perfectly imperfect treetop dens, swirling rock pools and perilous rope bridges.
RELATED CONTENT: Best London Playground Picks by Bablands
Do you think London offers enough variety for ages 6-12? What could it do better?
In terms of variety, I think we’re doing alright. We’ve visited countries who are doing kids’ stuff in general better than us – Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark for a start – with more stimulating playgrounds for older ones, better-thought-out children’s museums and more of a focus on vocational skills and nurturing individual passions.
At the very least though I think there’s a pretty eclectic assortment of things to do in London – I mean, where else can you find a café with five resident pugs, or a shop devoted entirely to Sylvanian Families? Generally I think I’ll always think we can do better. I’m forever dreaming up crazy ways to make growing up in London even more exciting. For instance, why are we turning Big Topshop into an IKEA and not a giant soft play?
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What is your general advice and pick for best place to go with an aged 6-12 AND a 5 and under, as this is a common struggle!
My eldest only recently graduated into the ‘Big Kids’ age bracket, but it does feel like there’s already a sizeable divide between the activities she and her three-year-old sister are interested in. I try to find things I know they’ll both enjoy, but equally I know my big girl will tolerate activities aimed at younger kids much better than the little one will those aimed at older kids, so I tend to gravitate towards the former. That said, a lot of places in the book are just as great for under-5s as they are big kids.
In particular, my two have both enjoyed concocting their own glow-in-the-dark slime at Gootopia, exploring the incredible indoor play barn at Hobbledown Heath, and bobbing around like headless chickens at Oxygen Freejumping. Indoor amusement centre Babylon Park is local to us and both girls love the rollercoaster (even if it’s not the cheapest), and you can’t go wrong with LEGO. The new, improved Leicester Square store is now the biggest one in the world, with loads of hands-on activities for all ages.
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We were sent a review copy of this book by the publishers.