It’s half way through half term… entertaining your youngsters might be starting to feel like a challenge. But don’t worry! East London is packed with fun (and free!) things to do for all the family. Here are some ideas for great days out that won’t break the bank…
The Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green
Part of the V&A, the Museum of Childhood, a few minutes walk from Bethnal Green station, is difficult to miss. A huge red brick 19th Century building, you’ll recognise it instantly for it’s imposing structure and enormous arched windows.
The Museum is the largest collection of childhood artifacts in the world, from retro games that Mum and Dad will remember to Victorian tin toys and puppets, old games, and the largest collection of dolls in the UK.
As you’d expect, the Museum isn’t just about display cases, it’s very much set up with children in mind, with loads of interactive and hands on exhibits. They also run regular competitions for children.
On a sunny day, you can enjoy a picnic and let the kids run around in the Museum’s spacious and enclosed grounds.
Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston
Behind a small door just off Dalston Lane, a secret green oasis awaits.
Dalston Curve Garden, which was created in 2010, is a free community garden packed with wildlife friendly plants and trees, including butterfly bushes and raised beds for growing food.
There’s hot and cold drinks and cakes for sale, you can sit in the open air or stay cosy in one of the snug glass houses (where there are loads of creative materials and activities for kids).
They also host regular events and welcome volunteers for gardening.
Hackney and Stepney City Farms
Meet donkeys, sheep, pigs and chickens at the city farms in Hackney and Stepney. Both farms want to teach children and adults about how a working farm operates, where our food comes from, and encourage people to learn new skills from arts and crafts to growing vegetables.
Both farms are open all year round (excluding Bank Holidays) and host regular events and workshops.
Victoria Park, Hackney
Green Flag Award winning Victoria Park is a great place to spend a sunny day in East London. Hunt for frogs and newts in the ponds, feed ducks, stroll around the Victorian pagoda, see canal boats on Regent’s Canal, or set the kids free at the skate park. For smaller children, there are two large playgrounds with swings, climbing frames and slides.
On Sundays from 10 – 4 you can also enjoy tasty treats at the street food market. There are also two permanent cafes (both dog friendly) and fantastic pubs on every corner.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford
There’s loads to do at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, from cycling around the wild gardens and wetlands, to splashing in the computer-controlled fountains, tacking the outdoor climbing walls, and exploring wildlife with a free trail tour.
Refresh with a hot drink and a sandwich at the Timber Lodge or venture along the canal to Here East where you’ll find a water-side row of excellent restaurants and cafes serving up everything from burgers to Italian food and Sunday roasts.
The Ragged School Museum, Bow
Give your little ones a taste of history at the Ragged School Museum. This interactive museum is dedicated to teaching visitors about the history of the East End and giving an insight into what a Victorian school was really like. The original building once housed the largest free (or “ragged”) school in London, set up in 1867 by Thomas Barnardo.
Between 2:15 and 3:30 on the first Sunday of each month, you can experience a Victorian class, led by an actor in full costume (ticketed on a first come first served basis daily). They also run regular talks and free arts and crafts activities.