1. Eddie Catz Wimbledon
42 Station Road, Merton, London, SW19 2LP
Top of our list is Eddie Catz, who’ve just won their third “Aspire” award, this time for Best Multi-Site Operator of the Year. This brilliant upmarket indoor play centre has everything you would expect, and then some. If you’re looking for French lessons, ballet, music, football skills or even NCT postnatal classes, they’ve got a packed timetable and plenty of special offers. But here’s the best bit: you can drop the little ones off at the crèche and sneak into the on-site beauty salon for a little pampering – you know you’ve earned it!
2. National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4HT
“Discover adventure, banish boredom and unleash imagination.” is the last thing you expect to read on the National Army Museum website, but it’s true. Through some stroke of genius, they have created a wonderfully engaging space where children can learn through play and genuinely enjoy the museum. The Kids Zone is fully accessible and is tailored for under 10s, with art activities, a home corner, reading area, board games, construction, fun and challenging climbing frames, and a separate soft play area for babies. By far the best part is watching your little ones lose themselves in their imaginary world, with the help of a leafy forest, a majestic castle, and great dressing-up clothes.
3. Discover Story Centre
1 Bridge Terrace, Stratford, East London E15 4BG
Unleash your children’s imaginations in this magical story centre in East London – believe us, it’s worth the trek! Little ones can really bring stories to life with engaging interactive exhibits, props, dressing-up clothes, and games. There are plenty of interesting areas to discover, including a magic tower and secret caves. We just love the Sparkly River, where kids can hop over the crocodiles, trip trap over the bridge, or even slide across on a piece of toast. Their new exhibit, Greendrops and Moonsquirters is a must for any fan of Charlie and Lola, Lauren Child’s fabulously funny little creations. An annual pass to the centre only costs £20 and is well worth it for any London family.
4. London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB
One of our all time favourites for young children! The museum is right in the heart of Covent Garden, and is the perfect place to spend time as a family. Along with plenty of interactive exhibits for older children, there is a special Under 6 area where little ones can really let themselves go. Toddlers and make-believe props are a match made in heaven – they will happily pretend to drive the bus, train, tube or black cab for hours on end, or toddle along collecting pretend fares from other kids. If you do manage to pry them away for some lunch, there’s a child friendly café on site, including a quiet area for feeding younger babies, and you can keep the costs down by eating a packed lunch in the picnic area.
5. Purple Dragon
Ground Floor, Bramah House, Grosvenor Waterside, 30 Gatliff Road, SW1W 8DP
Purple Dragon, the family member’s club in Chelsea, have some great ideas for spending time together as a family. On the weekends, the children can get busy with messy play, cooking, arts & crafts, Wii gaming, construction, story time, disco and soft and free play activities for the little ones. Adults can enjoy the virtual golf simulator or catch up on the papers in the adults-only library. When it’s time for a break, families can eat together from Purple Dragon’s all-day brunch menu or savour a Traditional Sunday Roast with all the trimmings – without having to peel a single potato. Result. Purple Dragon is a member’s only club. An Out Of Towner membership costs £1,750 and entitles the member to 32 visits across the year.
0844 880 3580
6. Gambado Chelsea
7 Station Court, Townmead Road, Chelsea, London SW6 2PY
This enormous indoor play centre includes a stimulating soft play area for babies, as well as an incredible array of climbing frames for older children, a mini climbing wall, laser games, slides, obstacle courses, dodgems and even carousel rides. During term-time there are activities to keep the children occupied, such as storytelling and craft sessions, cookery club, and sports days. You can also meet other parents at the weekly coffee mornings. The YumYum café has plenty of healthy options for all ages, even Ella’s Kitchen purees if you need a little something for baby. And if you need some down time, why not go as a family and take turns unwinding in the Adult Area to read the Sunday papers?
7. Science Museum
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
Learning through play is the perfect way to introduce your little ones to basic scientific principles, and at the Science Museum, there are displays designed especially for inquisitive young children. The Garden is great for finding out about floating and sinking, shadows and reflections, construction, and how to create different sounds. Toddlers and young children will really smile when they catch a glimpse of a kaleidoscopic pattern of their very own doodles projected on a big screen with the Kaleido-patterns touch-screen exhibit. Another favourite is Footprint patterns, where the kids can waddle like a duck or hop one-legged on the footprints. Yes, parents are allowed to practice their Silly Walks too.
8. Clown Town
The Coppetts Centre, Finchley, London, N12 0SH
Not a first time mum? Clown Town is a great spot for a rainy day with the kids, especially when you’ve got more than one. What could be more relaxing than knowing your toddlers can play safely while you enjoy some time with baby? For under 5s, there are fun and challenging climbing structures, a bouncy castle, ball pit and a large enclosed space with toy cars and rocking horses. The space is well laid out, so you can easily supervise your toddler from the separate baby play area, or even while feeding baby at one of the café tables.
9. It’s a Kid’s Thing
279 Magdalen Road, Earslfield, London SW18 3NZ
Burn off some energy on a wet winter’s day at this very friendly indoor play centre a short walk away from Earlsfield station. Your wee ones, especially the under 5s, will love chasing each other around and playing in the soft play area, and you can keep the babies safely out of their way in the separate soft play area. It is relatively small and unassuming, but that’s a good thing; if you have very young children it can feel a little less hectic and intimidating than some of the larger play areas. It will soon feel like you’re stepping into your ‘local’, with familiar faces and new friends.
10. Talacre Treetops
Dalby Street, Kentish Town, North London, London, NW5 3AF
A hidden gem (but not for long!), Talacre Treetops climbing frame is part of the new Talacre Community Sports Centre, just a couple minutes walk from Kentish Town West station. This colourful, multilayered space features separate soft play areas for under 5s and under twos and more challenging climbing structures for children up to age 11. It’s not quite free, but at £1.90 full price (85p for concessions) per 90 minute session, it is serious value for money and will help stretch your maternity pay a little further. If your little ones feel a little overwhelmed with big kids zooming around, there is an “Under 5s Only” session from 9 am to 10:30 on weekdays.