The Easter holidays are nearly upon us! Whether you are looking forward to spending some quality time with your children, or are desperately trying to think of ways to keep them from driving you mad, you may appreciate some ideas on where to take them.
London is absolutely full of exciting experiences, museums and theatres, but alas, many of them can be expensive for a whole family to visit and two weeks is a long time to fill if you are not dripping in money. So we have found some great places to visit in North London for free
that your kids will enjoy and – even better – do not require you to sit in a room filled with soft play equipment and other people’s children.
1) Granary Square
Granary Square is located just behind Kings Cross
Station and is a great place to visit if the weather is warm. It is a rather grand public square, where you and the kids can enjoy a picnic on the steps of Regent’s Canal before having a splash around in the magical, choreographed fountains. There are over a thousand individual fountains that are lit up and programmed to ‘dance’ whilst your children run around in them.
There are lots of restaurants and cafes surrounding the area, too, so if you don’t feel like packing a picnic you can treat everyone to lunch or just call in for a hot chocolate to warm up after a good splash. Be sure to pack towels and a change of clothing for anyone who is planning to get wet, and for you (who may not be planning to get wet, but will still do so).
2) Coram’s Fields
This is a lovely playground area set in seven acres of park that includes a city farm as well as children’s and youth centres. The large playground contains play equipment suitable for toddlers, plus an aerial slide and adventure playground for older children. There is a vegetarian cafe on site if you fancy lunch, but of course, there is plenty of space for picnics if you prefer. Located between Kings Cross and Holborn
, this is a charity-owned facility
and so everything is free to use (though donations are welcome). There are lots of organised activities that take place during school holidays, so check before you visit to see whether there are any that your children would like to join in with.
3) Kentish Town City Farm
If the weather is a little wet (and, let’s face it, it probably will be) you can still enjoy the outdoors if there is shelter, and a city farm is ideal in this regard. Located in Camden
and run by a charity, the Kentish Town City Farm
is free to visit and you can call in on any day of the week from 9am to 5pm. They have a wildlife pond and all the usual farmyard animals including horses, goats, sheep, geese, ducks and a cow: they may be in the barn (which works well on wet days) or out in the fields; during holidays and weekends there are also pony rides available (for a small charge) and other special events. Parking is free at weekends and during weekdays from 11am.
4) Regent’s Park
attraction is the famous Regent’s Park, open each day from 5am (for those early risers...) and free of charge. It contains Marylebone Green playground with lots of play equipment and experiences for children of all ages, as well as large open spaces ideal for ball games and picnics.
5) Camley Street Natural Park
Found beside Regent’s Canal near Camden
, this is an amazing little wildlife reserve
full of woodlands, wetlands and grasslands to explore. See if you can spot frogs, kingfishers, stag beetles or even pipistrelle bats! There is a visitor centre where you can use the toilet facilities and seating areas for you to eat your picnics; there is also a vegetarian cafe that opens at weekends.
This park is run by the London Wildlife Trust and is free of charge, though you can donate to the Trust through their website if you would like to support their work.
6) Barnard Park Adventure Park
This is a huge, nine-acre park that stretches across much of Islington
and is full of playground equipment. There is a large adventure playground, with a water park that operates in warm weather (check before you visit – if the water feature is working, you’ll need towels and fresh clothes) as well as large open spaces ideal for burning off energy with a football, scooter or kite.
7) Freightliners City Farm
This is a charity-run city farm
in the heart of Islington
where you can find several rare-breed species of animal and lots of fun activities aimed at kids. There are beehives (you can adopt a bee if the mood takes you), ducks, chickens, cows, goats, rabbits, pigs and sheep. There is also a cafe and farm shop but, otherwise, the farm itself is free (with donations welcome). It is closed on Mondays (except bank holidays), so plan your visit carefully to avoid disappointment.
8) Museum of Childhood
Near Stoke Newington
, there is the V&A Museum of Childhood
, which is free to enter. You can have a look at toys of bygone ages and the museum is very much child-friendly. This is a very good place to remember if it is raining, especially because during school holidays they offer various kids’ activities, tours, treasure hunts and storytelling.
9) Hackney City Farm
A free city farm
for anyone to enjoy; children aged between 8 and 17 can even get some hands-on, supervised work experience with the animals and learn about their care. On site is an award-winning family restaurant, and you can also buy fresh hen and duck eggs, the money for which is fed back into the farm to maintain the animals.
10) Finsbury Park
Perhaps the best part of this large, Green Flag park in Hackney
is the dog-free play area with a water feature that was designed by children. There is also a lake where you can feed the ducks (duck food is available to buy on site), and a cafe with those all-important toilets. If your children are skateboard or scooter mad, they can take advantage of the skate park, too. Run by the council, it is free to the public.
11) Woodberry Wetlands
These wetlands cover 17 hectares and yet are only five minutes’ walk from the urban population of Stoke Newington
. Here you can explore a woodland trail or sit in the roof terrace cafe. The wetlands are free to access, but you can also choose to sign your children up for kids’ workshops during school holidays where they will learn about wildlife, bushcraft, orienteering and tracking. Run by the London Wildlife Trust
, you may wish to make a donation to the charity before or after your visit.
With so many free family activities in north London, we're sure you'll be visiting these attractions throughout summer too!