London – Southbank – with Children!

Posted on August 22, 2013

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I love London! I love so much about it – the atmosphere, the sense of history, the fun, the food, the laughter…it’s got it all. So a weekend in Southbank sounded like a great idea…a chance to relax and soak up the atmosphere. This area is fantastic with children and there is SO much going on that it’s impossible to see it all in a weekend – it’s impossible to see it all in a couple of weeks! So this is part one and we will do a winter round up of the other sites soon!

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1. Where to stay & eat

We booked fairly late and at the height of summer so prices were high and lots of places booked out. We ended up at the Travelodge which is always well priced and fairly basic but we found it to be clean and well maintained so for the budget conscious I’d definitely recommend it.

Where to eat? The whole of Southbank is absolutely buzzing with cool eateries and we certainly had our fair share over the weekend.

We had a family meal at Le Pain Quotidien which is a great place to stop with children. They have a really high vaulted room inside where noise just gets swallowed up so it’s a really nice place for families to relax – and they’ve got plenty of other areas which are quieter too.

We had a wonderful meal – their food comes in great sized portions and is very fresh and delicious. Here’s our 2 year old getting stuck in to the watermelon cooler!

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But NOTHING compares to the puddings…so even if you’re in the area and are in need for coffee and cake – stop here! They were amazing. The pavlova was fantastic, full of berries and cream and my daughter had the raspberry fool from the specials board and it was everything I could do to stop myself wrestling it off of her once I tasted it!

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All in all a really great meal and it set us up for the whole day – http://www.lepainquotidien.co.uk/.

Wahaca was fully booked while we were there but we did eat at the street cart on Southbank and thought it was a great place to pick up a quick burrito.

My 6 year old loves sushi, so when we found out there was a Feng Sushi in the middle of Southbank we knew we had to try it. They do some brilliant kid’s meals which include different varieties of sushi for the more adventurous and fish and chips (for example) for the less so.

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They also do a great vegetarian selection which was great for me – the mock duck rolls were delicious and I’m still having cravings for more!! They have a large fish tank for keeping kids entertained for ages with watching them and also lots of nice colouring and pencils for the rest of the time.

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Feng Sushi are great for linking up with events happening in the Southbank centre as well – often doing great offers – like a free edible tree (see here), made from sushi, yum!! – for people going to events there so it’s always worth checking what they’re up to!

We left lovely and full and most of all our sushi-fan son gave it a firm thumbs up!! – http://www.fengsushi.co.uk/feng-sushi-restaurants-in-london/royal-festival-hall/

2. How to get around

If you stay in Southbank you can walk everywhere if you want to. There is so much on the doorstep that you really don’t need to leave. There are very handy tube stations if you do want to get to other areas, Westminster is just a bridge away and you can get a sightseeing boat tour from a Southbank pier if you fancy finding out more about the areas alongside the beautiful Thames.

3. Things to do

We spent nearly a whole day just wandering along the Southbank. We were very lucky with the weather and the street performers were out in full force so we spent a very happy time wandering from performer to performer – escapologists, break dancers, famous faces look-a-likes…and all of our favourite, the bubble man! Every ten minutes or so he would get out his bubble sticks (!!) and let loose huge swathes of bubbles, much to the excitement of all of the children in the area. Ours spent absolutely ages chasing after them while we sat on the grass facing the Thames and Big Ben and relaxed. It was a wonderful atmosphere.

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London 16

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For those looking for a bit more excitement there is of course the London Eye. We used fast-track tickets and the queue to board for those that just turned up was quite considerable – but again this was the height of summer.

The views from the pod were incredible and it was wonderful seeing Big Ben from up high and the little red London buses moving past. As someone who doesn’t like heights…at all…I was a little unnerved by the (very slight) swaying whilst we were up high – but no one else seemed to notice anything and the children thought it was fantastic and were pointing out all the landmarks they recognised. It would be really interesting to take a night-time trip next and see London lit up.

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The Southbank centre is also a great place to hang out. They have various activities on and when we were there we walked into the absolutely amazing Beanotown. For anyone who didn’t grow up in the UK, the Beano is a comic that most children at least grow up knowing about. It is iconic and its characters – Dennis the Menace and Gnasher the Dog are part of most childhood memories. So to suddenly find Beanotown, we were all very excited!!

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There was a reading area, a drawing area, cafe, shop and then a whole museum dedicated to rare, framed comic strips. It was fantastic.

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This is just a temporary exhibition but that’s what is so brilliant about the Southbank centre – it has rolling exhibitions so there will always be something on and you never know what you might discover.

4. Top Tips with children

This area is unbelievably child-friendly. There is a lovely playground made primarily from wood which is really safe and enclosed and perfect for letting them run about for awhile.

There is a great Southbank beach where they can dig about in the sand on the banks of the Thames.

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And there are plenty of ice cream vendors and candy stands for little snacks along the way.

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5. What to buy

The Southbank centre has a brilliant shop full of items from local artists and it’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir…or two…and a piece of jewellery…and little notebook!!

Globalmouse was the guest at Feng Sushi and Le Pain Quotidien and provided tickets to the London Eye for the purpose of this review but all views are my own.

Posted in: England