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tried & tested

6 hours with a 6 year old on a tourist Day in London

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My 6 year old and I took a trip in to London over half term. I hadn’t been since before Covid, so was really excited to take him on a proper touristy day out, as I last took him when he was 3, so I don’t think he even remembers. 

I asked for recommendations on my Instagram page, so thank you to all who sent ideas. As promised, here’s a run-down of what we got up to. 

Let’s start at the beginning…


Travel 

I went and got our train tickets the day before, in case we were short on time on the day and was pleasantly surprised to find out that my son’s off-peak travel card was only £2 ('Kids for £2' train tickets are available for travel on weekends year round, and over the school holidays, when travelling with a fare-paying adult). 

We parked at the station, so here’s a word of warning: whilst off-peak trains start at 9:30am on weekdays, off-peak parking doesn’t start in the station car park until 10am, which is a bit naughty! (Blaming the private company here, not the train station). Worth bearing in mind as parking cost me £9.10 for the day! 

Entertainment 

I brought my son’s Kindle Fire tablet to keep him occupied. A bit of a risk, yes, but it’s small and I had a rucksack to bury it in. Cue smug parent mode when we queued 45 minutes to get in to the Lego store - the tablet was invaluable to avoid tired moaning! 


Our first destination
 



Tipped off by my friend Hayley (Lewis Family Blog), we changed at Farringdon and got the Elizabeth line to Canary Wharf to board an Uber Boat (run by Thames Clipper) to cruise the Thames down to the London Eye. It was about a 10-15 minute walk from Canary Wharf tube so leave plenty of time (or prepare to carry your lazy 6 year old and arrive sweating!). It’s really great value and convenient as you can just turn up and have a few options to pay: use Contactless or Oyster to tap in and out, use the Thames Clippers App (recommended if you travel often with them), or use the Uber app or buy your tickets from the ticket machine at the dock. There were staff around who were really proactive at helping you get the right tickets- I was advised to use contactless for my ticket, and the machine for my son as his ticket would be 50% off. They gave us a colouring set (great touch!) and we boarded the boat. You could choose to sit outside at the back or there is plenty of seating inside too with great views. By chance we went right to the front and the bench seats were free so we were essentially at the front of the boat with a great view. It took us about 45 minutes to travel from Canary Wharf to the London Eye dock. There were quite a few stops in between, but with so many sights to look at it, it was a nice-length journey. Towards the end of the journey we went to the back and stood outside so we could get a full view of the London Eye as we docked.

Once we’d disembarked, we walked along the river front to see The London Dungeon and Shrek’s Adventure, then back to the London Eye. I hadn’t planned to go on it as I don’t think his attention span would last the full rotation.


Play time!

Just as we were about to head for lunch, we discovered the Jubilee Gardens Playground, which is a great Adventure Playground right below The London Eye.


Lunch

I’d previously booked a fun restaurant near Covent Garden for lunch, but following many recommendations of “just go to McDonald’s” I decided a few days before to keep things simple and just do that. I planned for us to walk 10 minutes to Waterloo Station to the McDonald’s there, so we could get the tube to Oxford Circus for Hamley’s. However, arriving at Waterloo, we discovered the McDonald’s there is more of an ‘express’ setup with nowhere to sit, so we decided to jump on the tube and go to McDonald’s on Oxford street, as it's just a couple of minutes’ walk from Oxford Circus and a large restaurant.


Hamley's


After a quick lunch, we headed to Hamley’s which has special memories for me, as my dad used to take us up to London at Christmas to visit the store. There was a spooky entrance which my son loved and we had pictures with the Halloween characters.

 
Aside from being every child’s dream to run around a giant toy store, there are lots of demonstrations and fun things going on in the store, so it’s great to explore. For Halloween there was a trick or treat hunt and a spooky Frankenstein games area. It’s worth looking on the website to see what they have going on as they do special events throughout the year.

 
The lower ground floor was particularly popular with my son as there was a gaming area with Minecraft and Mario characters.


Lego Store


Next, we walked down Regent Street admiring all the Christmas lights, heading for Leicester Square. It took about 10 minutes to get there and we decided to visit the Lego Store first. Presented with a huge queue, my heart sank, but they were very good at keeping it moving and we ended up queuing about 40 minutes, which is probably down to it being half term. This is where the Kindle Fire came in super handy to keep my son occupied, but there are also Street Acts around that you might be able to watch from the queue, depending on crowds. Aside from being an excellent place to buy Lego (I didn’t find it more expensive than other stores, phew!), there are lots of things to see and do in the store (so worth the queueing!).  From building areas, to photo opportunities and even making your own Lego Mini, you can definitely spend a decent stint of time here.
We were in a bit of a rush as we needed to get the train back and still wanted to visit M&M’s World, so after a wander and some playtime, my son chose a Lego set with his birthday money. At the checkout we were asked if we’d like to become a Lego VIP, which is free and means you get a Lego keyring, so it’s worth doing that, as you can then earn points to unlock discounts, get early access to exclusive sets and enjoy member-only gifts, amongst other things.


M&M's World

 
Directly opposite the Lego Store is M&M’s World, which is also great fun! It’s the world’s largest candy store at 35,000 square feet, spread over four colourful M&M’s-filled floors! In addition to an extensive range of M&M'S chocolates and merchandise, it's home to the world’s biggest chocolate wall with over 100 M&M'S selections to choose from. You can even have your face printed on M&Ms to take home! Just a word of warning- it’s very easy to fill a bag or cup, so make sure you set yourself a budget! There are lots of photo opportunities and some interactive displays so it’s great fun for kids and the we only had to queue 5 minutes to get in, as it’s so big inside!


Leicester Square Street Performers

 Before heading home, we had a look at the street performers in Leicester Square and my son loved having his picture taken with Pikachu, Charlie Chaplin and Darth Vader. It’s generally expected that you pop some money in the performer’s collection in exchange for a picture- it blew my son’s mind that some of the “statues” were in fact people!

So, with our (extremely small, thanks to my desperate speedy pleads of "STOP" when he was using the dispensers) haul of M&Ms, we headed for the train back to Hitchin having had a brilliant day in London.

I hope you’ve found this guide useful, feel free to message me if you have any questions and do follow my accounts on Facebook and Instagram (where there’s also a Reel of our day) for more great ideas for days out.

Other places we were recommended by Instagram followers, that I hope to visit in the future, were:

The Theatre Café- The Theatre Café is a multi-award winning stagey coffee shop, situated in the heart of London's Theatreland.
China Town - find authentic East Asian restaurants, fun activities, shops and more.
Ice cream in The Parlour at Fortnum & Mason's - go 'on the hour' and watch the world famous clock chime.
Milk Train - Home to the first candy floss ice cream cone in the UK! Visit for magical ice cream and more!
Babylon Park, Camden - Babylon Park is an outer-space-themed amusement park.
Sorted! The Postal Play Space, near Russell Square - Discover an immersive mini-town with streets, buildings, trolleys, pulleys, slides and chutes; everything to keep the little ones happily occupied.
The Science Museum - The home of human ingenuity, come and visit award-winning exhibitions, iconic objects and stories of incredible scientific achievement for free.
The London Eye - Discover one of the best London attractions, the lastminute.com London Eye.
The Paddington Bear Statue - Paddington has returned to his home on Platform 1 in Paddington Station, from the station entrance near Praed Street. He can be found near his former position below the station clock on platform 1. We look forward to his permanent home being announced by Network Rail later this year.
Jungle Cave Family & Kids Restaurant, West End - originally The Rainforest Café.
Kids' Toy Shop in Selfridge's, Oxford Street - Delve into our virtual toy shop to find playsets and games to keep kids entertained.
SEA LIFE Centre London Aquarium - Find out about penguins, sea turtles, sharks, jellyfish and much more!
Inamo Restaurant, Covent Garden - Serving Japanese, Chinese & Thai cuisine, with unique interactive tables.
Natural History Museum  - Delve into stories about the Museum's collections, scientists and research. 
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden - A collection exploring London's history and its transport system over the last 200 years.
Dopamine Land, South Kensington - Dopamine Land is a multisensory experience that combines media, technology and play in one place.

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