Family-friendly places to visit in South London
Not just perfect for kids, these family-friendly places in South London are great for everyone to visit!
When Dougie was really little, I could take him to most places and he would be totally content to sit in his buggy or on my lap. Of course, since he started walking and running around, he wants to be on the move all the time, and coffee shops and restaurants don’t keep him entertained (unless I’m continually distracting him with food).
We spend a lot of time at the parks near us, and we’re lucky that there are some great parks, but I love taking him to new places. It’s great when I discover somewhere that is not only fun for Dougie, but fun for us parents too. I took Dougie to several soft plays which are great for him for an hour or two, but often cost a lot, and aren’t always that enjoyable for parents… There’s been a few times where I’ve had plans with friends and taken Dougie along, and so I’ve been on the hunt for some family-friendly places in South London that are great for both kids and adults!
Nearest station: Peckham Rye
Peckham Levels is a redeveloped multi-storey car park, a couple of minutes walk from Peckham Rye Station. It’s one of my absolute favourite places to take Dougie. There is space to explore, stairs to climb, blocks to clamber up and a half pipe for him to run up and down. Peckham Levels also offers street food, bars, restaurants (including a vegan restaurant called Wildflower), a hairdresser, yoga classes, co-working spaces, creative studios and exhibitions.
We’ve previously gone with a couple of friends who have a toddler the same age as Dougie. We sat and ate and had a drink together while the kids raced around. It has free WiFi, a photobooth, it’s very Instagrammable, and it’s completely free. If you don’t have kids, you could easily spend hours there in the bars, trying different cuisines and browsing the exhibitions.
Brockwell Park and Lido
Nearest station: Herne Hill
I love Brockwell Park. It’s only a 15-minute walk from our flat, or a minutes walk from Herne Hill Station. It’s huge, there is a great children’s playground and a paddling pool area which Dougie spent a lot of time in last summer. There’s also a basketball court, a BMX track, outdoor gym equipment, football pitch and tennis courts. There’s a cafe at the top of the park, and there’s usually an ice cream van by the playground.
At the corner of the park is Brockwell Lido, a 50m Olympic-sized pool surrounded by an art deco building. The Lido is the ideal place to head to in summer, and is really family friendly, though it can get extremely busy. They also do adult-only lane swimming. There is a lovely café that overlooks the pool, and they do amazing food and drink.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens
Nearest station: Forest Hill
A favourite of ours, this museum has an impressive collection of exhibitions, including a natural history gallery, a music gallery, a nature trail, an animal walk and an aquarium – the jellyfish are completely hypnotic! There are huge gardens, a lovely café and a butterfly house! The museum itself is free, though some of the exhibits, including the aquarium, have a small fee for the ticket.
Greenwich Park and the National Maritime Museum
Nearest station: Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich or Maze Hill
I went to university in Greenwich, and I worked as a nanny while I was there, so I spent a lot of time in Greenwich Park. Again, there is a brilliant playground, and so much space for running around. There is a bit of a climb to the top of the park (steps or a road if you have a buggy) but the view is completely worth it – plus you can get ice cream at the top.
At the bottom of the park is the National Maritime Museum. This is free to visit, and there is a really good children’s gallery called AHOY!, which also has a buggy park. Dougie loved running around here, and on the first floor (just next to the café!) is a huge map of the world on the floor.
Crystal Palace Park and The Triangle
Nearest station: Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace Park is home to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, huge Victorian dinosaur sculptures that were created in 1854 by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. The statues are viewed from a distance, but Dougie loved playing ‘Spot the Dinosaur’ and loved being able to run around in the park. There is also a good kid’s playground and some lovely walks.
If you leave the park and walk into Crystal Palace, just behind Sainsbury’s is Barnado’s: The Triangle. The Triangle has a four-storey soft play area, an outdoor playground, a reading section and a sensory room for young babies. There is also a pretty good café and charity shop which has an impressive selection of clothes, toys and books. It’s open during the week and for children aged 1-6 the cost is £5.50. Because of the cost, it’s not somewhere I go very often, but we’ve been there a few times on rainy days, and Dougie has been quite happy there for at least two hours or so (which is amazing) and I’ve been able to sit and have a hot chocolate, so I think it’s worth the price!
Have you visited any of these places? What are some of your favourite places to visit where you live?