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Family days exploring London for free!

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The Step Outside Blog

As anyone who looks at our books will be aware, we love London and are passionate about helping other people to enjoy our city, through cost-free family days out.


A good few people have suggested that we write a blog about London things that have caught our attention, captured our hearts or made us think - or all of the above - so here it is.

We hope you enjoy it!

Top tips for terrific trips.

By Francesca Fenn, Jun 4 2015 01:18PM

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to write a blog about visiting London for an excellent website, mykidsy.com, which has loads of information on kids activities and on family issues. I gave a bit of background about why I love London, and worked out some top tips for successful days out in the capital with kids. You can read the whole article on MyKidsy's website but for just the tips, read on.

Here are our top tips for exploring London with your family without breaking the bank:

• If possible,travel in the cheap day return slot on public transport. If you are outside Zone Six, include a one day Travelcard on your ticket - this will pay off if you want to travel around within London. Children aged 11 and under travel free on TfL services.

• This seems obvious, but do check opening days, times and other details before you go to a particular venue. A disappointed tribe on your hands will not enhance the day. Extra tip: smaller museums and galleries are often closed on a Monday.

• If you aren’t familiar with the environment, plan your route in advance! London is big and busy and can be intimidating. Retracing steps because of wrong turnings, or going off in the wrong direction, is surprisingly tiring.

• Keep looking up – and down- as well as around you. It’s amazing how many interesting details you’ll spot, and can be a great focus for using cameras.

• It’s fun for everyone if you engage the kids as much as possible. Let them consult maps and lead, or encourage them to work out which bus numbers you need from the information at the bus stop.

• If you’re in a picture gallery or museum, hang back a bit. Let the kids go ahead and look at whatever interests them. I remember the day we took our children to the Tate for the first time. Our daughter was a room ahead of us and came back squeaking with laughter because there was a picture of bird poo in the next room. It was a work by Jackson Pollock - Summertime Number 9A 1948 to be precise.

• Take regular rest-and-refresh breaks. They needn’t be long, but blood sugars are your ally in keeping the kids sweet – literally!

• Unless it’s a special occasion, I always opt for a picnic over a meal out. It can take a lot of time, money and frayed tempers to find somewhere to eat, choose your food and wait for it to be cooked and served. You can eat a picnic when and where you like, you know everyone will like the food, and it’s cheap! The kids could each carry their own lunch in a backpack (though it may be gone by lunchtime…).

• When you’re travelling within the centre of London, buses are much easier, and more interesting than the Tube. You are sure to pass some major ‘sights’, and sitting gazing out from the top of a double decker is a great way to take a break.

• If you find a whole day’s exploring a bit too much, retire to one of the magnificent Royal Parks for a couple of hours. They are great places to watch the world go by, and the kids can make as much noise as they want.

For days out that are a real day off, then Step Outside Guides are, of course, the books for you. But you know that!

We hope you enjoy your summer days out!

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