If you know me, you know I love my food tours. I basically can’t go anywhere new without going on a food tour now. I booked George and myself on the Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail tour.
Not only was George an absolute rock star on this tour (seriously – he either slept or chatted happily to his hands the whole time) but I found the tour absolutely excellent. I spent an entire summer strolling through Soho without actually seeing it or knowing that much about it. This tour opened me up to basically the best gin & tonic I have ever tasted, fabulous Spanish tapas, and Lebanese food (mixed with fun facts about prostitution and drugs in the area – so totally suitable for kids!).
Not only was the tour guide absolutely incredible but she, and the rest of the tourists, were so accommodating of George and the stroller. I didn’t hesitate to book another food tour for the very next day. This time we indulged in the East End Tour which takes you to Spitalfields Market and around where I had the best, and I mean the best, bread pudding of my life.
We also had fish and chips so tasty I went back the same day for more (and have since gone back on other trips to London). Plus, we had curry, bagels and cheese. To say I was stuffed at the end of the tour is an understatement.
Both tour guides were fantastic, both tours left me so full I had to be rolled to the tube, and both tours opened my eyes to areas of London I didn’t really know that well.
I had never gone to this museum before and I am really happy I did. I think this is a fantastic stop for your first time to London as well – but is overshadowed by the big galleries.
It’s great for all ages as they have really unique programming: story telling about ancient Roman London, family-centred museum guided tours, or toddler sensory activities like creating their own herb pouch.
When I went, George thankfully slept the entire time so I was able to actually enjoy myself. Basically, you walk through the history of London starting with prehistoric London (who knew hippos once lived under the Thames!?) through Roman London, to the great fire, the plagues, war time and the present. Absolutely fantastic for the history buff.
I must commend the museum on the displays as well. Not only were they easy and informative to read for an adult, but they often would include facts or clues for a grade-schooler to read.
I watched a grandmother and her grandson go from area to area reading clues and discovering facts together.
Yes, I basically stalked them like a creep.
But nothing is more endearing to me that a little kid who loves history.
3. Any of London’s Markets.
My two favourites are Old Spitalfields Market and Borough Market
The key is to hit these guys early. Luckily with a 12-month old alarm clock, I was always ready to hit the town at 8AM.
London’s markets are absolutely fantastic – so full of great food that is ready to eat, gorgeous produce and meats, and other unique items.
Borough Market is the oldest market in London (I believe it dates back to 1014). It’s sheer history and incredible range of traders make this a very popular destination with both tourists and Londoners.
Read: it gets insanely busy.
You might recognize it as the place Bridget Jones buys food for her failed birthday dinner in the movie. As well as where her flat is:
I beeline right for the duck confit sandwich at Le Marché du Quartier – so good even my non-eating child devoured half of it.
There are also so many cheese traders that if you love cheese like me, you will be in heaven. I may have gasped in wonder when I stepped into Neal’s Yard Dairy. And when I say ‘gasped’, I mean squealed. And clapped my hands. Even as I write this, just thinking about the place evokes so much happiness in me that I want to book a ticket to London this minute.
I won’t lie. It’s hard with a kid. I couldn’t stroll and stop as much as I would have liked but I was able to grab some food and then look wistfully in cafes as people sat sipping glasses of white wine and nibbling salads. If you have a stroller, it’s absolutely imperative you get here early. By 11 am, it’s bonkers to get around and you will be fighting with crowds. Nothing is worse than fighting crowds with a stroller.
There are a couple of food tours of the market I would have loved to have gone on, like this one or this one but George had had enough. Maybe you will have more luck!
Old Spitalfields Market is another favorite. It’s totally different than Borough – it has been fancied up so it feels more like an informal shopping mall. It is still old (older than my home and native land of Canada) but is quite shiny and full of trendy and fancy stores and cafés.
Not surprisingly, one of my favorite places is Androuet – a French cheese shop and restaurant where you can have fondue, raclettes or charcuterie boards. Or just stuff your face with cheese samples if you have a baby in tow, like I did.
I did manage to sit and have some wine at Vagabond Wines. I couldn’t pass this place up. IT’S A SELF SERVE WINE BAR!!!!! You buy a card that is like a library card, take your glass to one of the wine taps and tap your card to purchase a sample of that wine. And then the wine magically comes out in a perfect amount. Seriously. The best thing ever (and there are several locations in all the places I tell you to go so feel free to top that card up!).
Oh, and of course you have to go to Poppie’s Fish and Chips for some of London’s best fish and chips. I mean when in London right? You must must must have fish and chips when visiting. Poppie’s is one of the oldest and yummiest in the city. Although what gets me here are the mushy peas. Don’t poo poo the mushy peas as gross as they sound. They are absolutely delicious. We had these on our food tour and one American woman liked them so much she licked out her bowl. The bowl she was supposed to be sharing with other people. She didn’t get that memo.
When you see a drawling American woman with a fanny pack licking the bowl of mushy peas – you know it’s a good thing.
Here is a list of the other markets of London. I have been to and love them all. You can’t go wrong!
PICNIC IN THE PARK
Which park? Any park!
I love love love the green spaces London has.
It doesn’t matter if you are traveling solo, with friends, with your partner, with a baby, with five kids – go for a picnic in the park. Unless it’s winter and raining. Then don’t go for a picnic obviously.
London is full of parks. The massive ones like Hyde Park or Regents Park are incredible: sprawling green lawns, gardens, ponds to watch toy boats float, smooth surfaces to ride your Santander bike and plenty of playgrounds.
There are also small green squares dotting the entire city so you are never very far from a spot to plop down for a rest with your little one.
And you will need your rest when travelling with a little one.
Once again, I should remind you (because I often had to remind myself), you can’t just go go go like you used to or want to.
Your child can’t handle going to museum after museum or tour after tour or shop after shop or wine bar after wine bar.
And neither can you.
This is when you pop into a nearby Marks and Spencer (my go-to for fun and easy picnic food) or any food store, grab some food and drinks, a bubble wand and a blanket and take a breather in a park.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous – you must grab a picnic from Harrods food hall. It is to die for gorgeous, exciting and filled with interesting characters (albeit often chaotic with what I can only assume are the harem girls of Brunei).
Oh, and one of the best things about food on the go in the UK: you can easily find pre-filled wine glasses where you simply fold back the foil or cans of ready-made Pimm’s cup.
There is nothing better than a warm afternoon in a London city park. It is alive with happy people making use of the sun and taking a rest from the bustle of the city.
I can’t tell you how much I love it – I never get the same sense at home.
You will see kids flying kites, hear so many different languages, laugh at the students having political debates like they know everything, and see business men/women slipping off their shoes or jackets and basking in the sun.
This is when having a baby with you and slowing you down is a good thing.