Visiting London – is Kew on cue for kids???

Run, run, run, fall, stumble, cry, holler, head, heels, head, heels, run again…  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Being a toddler in the countryside is dramatically similar to being a toddler in a densely populated city like London so when the tots went to the big smoke we sought out a few contrasting parks to let them do their worst.

Tiny Tot. Tall Tree.

Tiny Toddler
Tall Tree

The first hit was Kew Gardens or, by its proper name, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  It’s gone out of its way to attract families, holding lots of kiddie events and activities so if you’re organised you can tap into an attraction, but if you randomly turn up, tourist stylee, that will work out just grand too.  Firstly the gardens are pretty vast, 300 acres to explore.  Despite Kew being desperately civilised, and in a lovely part of the city, here your wild things can run wild.

Why hello

Why hello…

There are picnics to be eaten, trees to climb, geese to gape at, and elegant houses before which your child can perform modern interpretive dance – as toddlers sometimes do.  This kind of open space in London is not to be sniffed at.

Mr Baby expressing himself

Mr Toddler expressing himself through modern dance

The Royal Botanic Gardens sound and feel like a very adult space – parents can admire the plants and gardens, the landscaping, the architecture etc., yet kids are so very at home here too.  For example the Palm House is considered to be the most important Victorian iron and glass structure in the world.  But whilst parents admire the 16,000 panes of glass the tots explore the humid, lush, green interior – a space for real adventurers – and great for a rainy day too.

Mr Baby goes tropical

Mr Baby goes tropical

Creep downstairs to the Marine Aquarium where their wee eyes pop at the brightly lit tanks and subsea beasties.  Four marine habitats have been created: coral reef; estuary and salt marsh; mangrove swamp; and rocky shoreline, all to educate and entertain.

Then you get the grand finale – in toddler terms – the cherry on the cake, the game changer, the creme de la creme – THE PLAYGROUNDS!!!  Mr Toddler quite possibly wet himself when he saw them.  Outdoors is the grandly titled Treehouse Towers – a tree themed outdoor play area where (apparently 300) little angels can climb, clamber, crawl and career.  Then indoors is Climbers and Creepers – here “As ‘insects’, children climb inside a plant to learn about pollination. Thrills come when they learn about the dangers insects face from carnivorous plants when they trap model flies with Venus fly traps or are themselves ‘eaten’ by a giant pitcher plant”.  I must admit Mr Toddler simply went nuts, and was a little young for such role play, but I love the thought that has clearly gone into each and every piece of equipment and the the focus on ‘education through fun’.  For a location as iconic as Kew to be so wonderfully child friendly is to its merit.  I have no photos of the play areas as, to their credit, they were absolutely swarming in happy children playing.

And if you really want gold star parent awards let your kid have an icecream from the kiosk cleverly situated next to the play park.  Or if they’re small enough put the them in a forward facing buggy and eat one yourself – they’ll never know.

Practicalities and Logistics – Kew has a designated tube stop so public transport is on hand – click here for more info and other options.  We had a hire car and found parking no problem (and free!) on nearby residential streets after midday – before noon parking permits were in force for residents only- and we accessed the park from Victoria Gate.  This page tells you the best gate to enter depending on your circumstances.  Prices are here – I was the guest of my pal who has the Kew equivalent of a season ticket so I was very lucky to get in for free, tots under three are free too.  Getting to London – we flew with flybe (good kids’ baggage allowance) into London City, a delightfully small airport, and picked up a hire car there, a mere stone’s throw from the airport front door.  When lugging children, buggies and luggage around small airports are definitely beautiful.

Mummy Travels

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26 Comments

  1. Reply

    Mrs Tubbs

    August 11, 2015

    Looks like you had fun. We love going to Kew

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 11, 2015

      Is there anywhere else in London you’d recommend? We’ll be visiting more frequently from now on – with the tots in tow!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 11, 2015

      Is there anywhere else you’d recommend in London? We’ll be visiting more frequently from now on – with the tots in tow!

  2. Reply

    helenathingor2

    August 12, 2015

    Thanks for sharing this information! We’re going to visit London next year. Ken and the Royal Botanic Gardens will be on my list, for sure 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 12, 2015

      Are you UK based or travelling far?

  3. Reply

    momwithf

    August 12, 2015

    You look you had a wonderful time there. It was a great post, thanks.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 12, 2015

      Thanks. Lots of room for five to run around too 🙂

  4. Reply

    Clare Thomson

    March 22, 2016

    It sounds like a brilliant day out! I haven’t been to Kew in years and had no idea it was so child-friendly. I’ll have to take my two. #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 22, 2016

      Good weather always helps too 🙂

  5. Reply

    tinyexpats

    March 22, 2016

    I love Kew Gardens! I’ve been thinking of when to take the kids there and you solved my problem 🙂 I obviously completely ignored playgrounds when I went there before – didn’t even remember that they were there 🙂 Now I know where we’re going on the next sunny weekend! #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 23, 2016

      Really good facilities – plus an icecream shop next to the playground – so enjoy yourself.

      • Reply

        tinyexpats

        March 23, 2016

        Sounds great!

  6. Reply

    Nell@PigeonPairandMe.com

    March 23, 2016

    Kew is on the other side of London to us, so I’ve never taken the children there, but I’ll have to get round to it at some point. It looks great for kids, and I do love a bit of nature!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 23, 2016

      We were staying at the Elephant and Castle so I understand that the other side of London is bloody far away! I loved Burgess Park too which is totally off the tourist route but lovely for kids too. Not sure what part of London you’re in but so many options…

  7. Reply

    Herself

    March 23, 2016

    Been to Kew a few times with the kids and it is a great place with some lovely seasonal touches all year round (I liked the pumpkin displays in autumn). My son even got to have a school trip there and their educational programme was pretty fabulous too (I was a designated adult).

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 23, 2016

      I liked the way education was wrapped up in fun in such a subtle way. Really clever.
      And what a great school trip. Very lucky boy.

  8. Reply

    Wander Mum

    March 23, 2016

    I went to Kew for the first time last year with my daughter. It’s a huge place and we didn’t have time to explore the playground!! Oops…it sounds amazing!! Clearly another trip is in order! Thank you so much for linking up to #citytrippig

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 23, 2016

      It is massive. One of my best friends from university lives nearby and guided me and my tribe around – she’s a regular! – without her I would never have found half the attractions.
      Glad to finally link up. Kept meaning to but life kept getting in the way – and by life I mean small people.

      • Reply

        Wander Mum

        March 26, 2016

        Haha – they have a habit of doing that! Great to have you linking up. Xx

  9. Reply

    MummyTravels

    March 24, 2016

    We live very close to Kew so have a pass for the year, and usually go quite regularly – as you say, there’s always something to see and do, or just acres to run around in if not. We hit a small snag last time as we were told the rules had changed and no scooters/balance bikes are allowed in, which makes it trickier with a preschooler who’s too old for a buggy but too big to be carried far when she gets tired… #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 25, 2016

      That’s a shame. We’re not close to that point yet but I can imagine it makes a huge difference. They must have had their reasons but I wonder why they did that as there are lots of paths for bikes/buggies/wheelchairs/scooters. My friend has the pass too and loves it, hope you can return soon without too many problems.

  10. Reply

    Rosie Hill (@EcoGitesLenault)

    March 26, 2016

    I visited Kew before we left to come and live in France with my, then, 4 and 5 year old boys who loved it – being a plant person so did I and I must try and get back one one of my slightly sporadic trips to the UK #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 26, 2016

      It’s ideal when a venue appeals to both parents and children. Good weather also helps.

  11. Reply

    JustGoPlaces (@justgo_places1)

    March 27, 2016

    I love Kew with the kids. We’ve got an annual pass. Their favourite is still the treetop walkway. I also like their Christmas sound and light show. visiting from #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      March 27, 2016

      It speaks volumes how many people have an annual pass – always something to do and something to see.

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