In the third of our series exploring days out along your most convenient tube line, we’re looking at the Central Line. Hopping on your local line means fewer changes, less carrying two stone of toddler down windy and perilous staircases, and hopefully less stress. Here you’ll find suggestions ranging from Japanese canteens to bluebell woods, motorbike museums to bramble patches.
They are not exhaustive lists, so contribute your own suggestions on our Bringing Up Great Kids Facebook page.
West Ruislip: Fairway
Accessible Greene King pub by the golf course with a soft play corner.
Northolt: Northala Fields
This park, which features four hills built using rubble from the demolition of the original Wembley Stadium, looks a little like London’s answer to Teletubbyland.
Greenford: London Motorcycle Museum
A much loved museum in an old stable block that’s a guaranteed hit with mini bikers.
The Gruffalo Trail is an adventure trail pathway at Horsenden Hill featuring all the Julia Donaldson favourites as tree sculptures. Oh help, oh no etc. Between August and November, you can also catch rare breed cattle grazing at Horsenden Hill as part of a meadow management programme. Perivale Wood is open on the last Sunday in April for a spectacular showing of its famous bluebells
John Soane’s country house is reopening in mid March 2019 after major work, and is also now home to a gallery on the site of the former Ealing public library.
West Acton: Oxygen Freejumping Trampoline Park
150 interconnected trampolines and a ninja warrior course? This sounds great, even if I don’t know what a ninja warrior course is. The children will enjoy it too.
No, this doesn’t win any prizes for original suggestions, but Westfield does offer an easy solution to rain at the sharp end of the school holidays. My favourite place to go with children is Ichiba Japanese supermarket for giant Hello Kitty dolls, unexpected crisp flavours and tasty okonomiyaki. If your children are cat people or stationery people, this is a dream shopping spot.
Holland Park: Holland Park
High points include the dahlia garden in the summer, the Kyoto Garden in the autumn and following the peacocks all year round. Skip the park cafe in favour of La Piccola Deli on Clarendon Road.
Queensway: Princess Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens
One of London’s most imaginatively planned playgrounds, you can spend hours here bouncing on musical floors, clambering on a pirate ship or exploring a wooden castle. Green-fingered parents will enjoy the exceptional planting. Keep an eye out for the parakeets, who seem especially fond of W2.
Lancaster Gate: Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
A duckspotting-friendly walk along the Serpentine leads you to the fountain, where you can dangle your feet to cool off in the summer.
Marble Arch: Maroush Express
Quick, very friendly, and serving Lebanese favourites all day, Maroush is an ideal pit stop on the way to or from a park or museum outing.
Handel & Hendrix is a unique museum that celebrates the lives of not exactly neighbours Handel and Hendrix in the middle of Mayfair. As for The Wallace Collection, well, there is nowhere better in London if your idea of a good time involves looking at armour.
Oxford Circus: The Photographers’ Gallery
Check what’s on because it’s not always suitable for young children, but there’s also a busy programme of talks for teenagers considering a career in photography.
Tottenham Court Road: The British Museum
It has mummies. Kids are gory. Win.
Holborn: Sir John Soane’s Museum
Every inch of this elegant and fascinating museum is covered in art, artefacts and treasures, making it a better bet for bigger children. Toddlers = no.
In St. Paul’s you can whisper against the walls and be heard on the other side. Magic. The Museum of London is the home to the 2012 Olympic cauldron, a bit of fatberg, and everything you ever wanted to know about the Plague (which if you’re eight is always a lot). Lunch afterwards in Postman’s Park, where you can find the unique Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice.
‘Drive’ the train all the way East and back to the City again. Then see some paintings from the Guildhall’s collection, pretend to be a Roman in Guildhall Art Gallery’s Amphitheatre, use London’s buggy-friendliest loos.
Liverpool Street: Old Spitalfields Market
The market stalls make for a relaxed lunch stop. Monty’s Deli does a supreme Reuben.
Bethnal Green: V&A Museum of Childhood
With 1,000 action figures, 14,000 paper models and 100 dolls houses in its collection, this museum alone has to give you more than a month of outings.
Mile End: Ragged School Museum
Why children are so obsessed by experiencing hardline Victorian schooling, I do not know, but this is the place to do just that.
Stratford: Discovery Children’s Story Centre
Britain’s first story centre, here you can follow an imaginative trail around the Story World and Story Garden.
KuKooLaLa is a community cafe in Jubilee Park, this is the place for locals to make new friends and visitors to enjoy the healthy snacks. Marmelo is a child-friendly restaurant serving sharing plates, natural wines and super local beers.
Leytonstone: The Heathcote And Star
Spacious pub with beer garden for running around after you have finished what looks like a superb Sunday lunch.
Fairlop: Fairlop Waters Country Park
The place in Redbridge for outdoor play, come for sailing, cycling, canoeing and to explore the huge boulder park.
Full of gnarled and ancient trees, come to Hainault Forest for epic games of hide and seek. Or head to Owls Indoor Play Centre. No, it is not the most tranquil spot. Yes, it has owl-themed soft play. It also has seats. And coffee.
Theydon Bois: Theydon Bois Earthworks Sculpture and Woodland
This sculpture is made from earth shaped into the form of concentric seeds. In the summer, its wildflower meadow is a blaze of colour. Come brambling in Autumn.
Loughton-Epping: Epping Forest
Not so much a single site as a whole host of walking, climbing, cycling and riding options, Epping Forest offers day after day of fun and exploration. Check the website to make sure you get off at the right station for whichever activity you have planned, or spend a day slowly wandering around the ancient woodland.