Exploring the capital this summer? Georgina Blaskey runs through the best things to do in London with kids during the holidays
What: Summer in the city must mean skiing, right? At ChelSki you just need leggings or a tracksuit and you’re ready to be clipped in to ski boots and skis. Begin by holding a bar to help you get used to the sensation, and the rolling carpet (like a running machine but huge and white) gently speeds up according to your ability. It’s a very different feeling to skiing but a great way to introduce the idea to beginners.
Where: Sotheron Place, Chelsea.
Age: Five years and over for regular ski sessions.
Price: From £34.95 each.
What: Harness up and clip into treetop-climbing adventure Go Ape. After a safety briefing, little monkeys will navigate wobbly bridges, knee-knocking crossings, rope walkways and some high-flying zip wires. You can either join them or watch from below as they unleash their inner Tarzan. Go Ape experts are dotted around to gently encourage them along the way.
Where: Alexandra Palace, Trent Park, Black Park, Battersea Park.
Age: All ages, but there is a minimum height requirement of 1m.
Price: From £18 each.
Clip ’n Climb
What: Indoor climbing walls come in all colours, shapes and sizes at the well-designed Clip ‘n Climb venue. Once little ones have been harnessed up and told some basic rules, it’s off for a 55-minute, jam-packed session of scaling walls, beating the timer and abseiling off ledges. There are extras you can purchase, too, namely the Vertical Drop, Leap of Faith and Stairway to Heaven. There’s even a viewing balcony complete with café if you don’t want to take part.
Where: Michael Road, Chelsea.
Age: From four years and over.
Price: From £17.50 each.
What: Indoor skydiving is gaining momentum, and we went to iFly to try its vertical wind tunnel. After a detailed safety video and quick change into special flying suits, we stepped into the chamber where our instructor was waiting. Using the position we’d learnt, we experienced the feeling of free fall for two 60-second flights (which is, in fact, 15 seconds longer than the average sky dive). It’s a sensation that takes time to adjust to – but it is a thrill!
Where: Basingstoke Leisure Park.
Age: From three years and up.
Price: £49.99 each.
What: Does your child want to run off to join the circus? They might after this Flying Fantastic class, where they learn skills on aerial silks, hoop, sling and trapeze. Great for kids who love gymnastics but want something a bit different, this class builds cardio and muscular strength, improves flexibility and develops coordination. Plus the instructors are amazing to watch and great fun. Holiday courses are two days and a longer summer camp is in the planning.
Where: Battersea, Wimbledon, Southwark.
Age: Four years and over.
Price: From £12 per session.
Putt in the Park
What: Putt In The Park has three mini golf courses and clubhouse cafés set in beautiful surroundings. We tried the Wandsworth Park course and loved it. With the Thames as our backdrop, we tapped our way around the (at times, challenging!) course and finished with tea and cake in the on-site café. The courses are designed to suit all abilities, so it could be a great way to pass the time with visiting grandparents.
Where: Wandsworth Park, Battersea Park, Acton Park.
Age: Suitable for all ages if they can swing a putter!
Price: From £6 each.
What: Escape rooms are great fun for a rainy day. ClueQuest offers three missions, and Agent Bella and Agent Noah tackled Plan52 with their friends. Teams have 60 minutes to escape using common sense logic to gather clues and solve puzzles. Against a ticking clock (and with a bit of help via screen clues and a walkie talkie), we had to search Mr Q’s apartment to find the double agent and escape before time ran out.
Where: Caledonian Road, King’s Cross.
Age: Best suited to those aged nine years and over.
Price: From £27 each.
What: All kids love to run, jump and climb, and Parkour Generations helps your child discover how to explore their potential in a safe environment. Run by experienced coaches, each session starts with a warm up followed by time on different stations to help children improve the physical qualities they need (jumping between boxes, planking while rolling a ball, for example), plus there’s a short course to practise.
Where: Victoria, Westminster, East London.
Age: Seven years and over.
Price: From £5 each.
Sherlock Holmes Tea
What: If you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll enjoy high tea with a twist at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, where the new Sherlock Holmes tea complements the existing Alice in Wonderland offering. Showcasing a mystifying selection of culinary rarities, indulge in treats such as Moriarty’s Bomb (mini cheesecake), the Sherlock Holmes Smoky Cigar (smoked caramel mousse) and Watson’s Moustache (a stout cupcake), plus plenty of props to keep you all amused.
Where: 51 Buckingham Gate, Victoria
Age: All ages welcome.
Price: £35 per person.
London Recumbents bike hire
What: Explore London’s parklands using the power of pedals through London Recumbents. From bananas to tandems, the aim is to provide a cycle experience not normally found at your local bike shop, while having lots of fun and a burst of exercise to boot. All ages and levels of fitness can enjoy this activity, and there are special needs options available, too.
Where: Dulwich Park, Battersea Park.
Age: All ages.
Price: From £10 per bike.