It’s that time of year where the rationing of chocolate seems to increase and supermarket visits involve running the gauntlet of Easter egg displays. With Cara’s nursery school breaking up for term time earlier than normal, it means trying to find activities to keep her busy over the three-week Easter break.
Cara’s fortunate enough to have a great support network, so while her Mum and I are at work, she’ll be with a childminder that she adores. Mostly because she gets to spend time playing with her and her grandkids. However, what about Good Friday, Easter Monday and the weekends? What’s there to do during the Easter break? Here are some suggestions, mostly London-based, to help you if you’re stuck for ideas:
Easter Egg Hunts
Given that we’re in Easter, a good ol’ Easter egg hunt is almost a must-do. It would be like Christmas without visiting a Santa’s Grotto. However, with forecasts of rain all long weekend, it’s not always ideal, so please check before heading out. Some options include:
- Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt (UK wide): Perhaps the largest one, it is held at most National Trusts and includes other ‘eggciting’ activities. You can enter your postcode and it will provide the closest site to you. Costs include the hunt itself, plus entry into the National Trust house or site. Once they have finished collecting eggs, you can spend the rest of the day wandering around the grounds. Although most sites run from Good Friday through to Easter Monday, please check dates and times as some locations vary.
- Horniman Museum Easter Fair (Forest Hill, SE23): One of Cara’s favourite museums to walk around on any weekend, it also has a special Easter Fair on Saturday (31st March ) and Sunday (1st April). Like most of the museum, the Fair is free to attend, with additional costs for the exhibitions. In addition to the music and animal displays, it has egg-cellent grounds for the kids to run around.
- Discover Story Centre Egg Hunt (Stratford, E15): Available all Easter long weekend (30th March – 2nd April), the Discover Story Centre in Stratford provides an indoor and outdoor play area. There’s currently a Julia Donaldson (i.e. of The Gruffalo fame) exhibition until September 2018 as well. The centre has an entry fee, with additional fees for the exhibition, however the egg hunt is included in the entry fee.
- Hampton Court Palance Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt (East Molesey, KT8): For those families looking to splurge a bit more, the HCP offers the chance to hunt for some Lindt gold bunnies. Although the entry fee is higher than the others mentioned above, the Palace is a great day out in itself, so adding a bunny hunt can only make it better. The Magic Garden is due to re-open on 30th March as well, with the bunny hunt scheduled to run from 26th March to 15th April, so plenty of time to enjoy it over the Easter break.
If wandering around in the cold and rain (based on current forecasts) in search for eggs isn’t your thing, then perhaps a nice, warm museum will do the trick. With a plethora of museums available in London, it’s tough to narrow them down to the select few. I will endeavour to provide a more in-depth review of some of the museums below, but for now, I hope it provides some inspiration for a family day out. All of the museums below contain a cafe with child-friendly amenities. They are also located close to public transport and restaurants.
- Postal Museum (Farringdon, WC1X): You can find a more in-depth review of the Postal Museum here. It’s a decent and affordable day out as there’s an interactive play area for the younger kids (45 minute sessions). For older children, there’s the chance to take a 15 minute ride on the mail rail underground. And for adults, including the mail ride, there’s the historical information of how the Royal Mail came about. Given its location, there’s quite a few options when planning around brunch, lunch or dinner.
- National Maritime Museum (Greenwich, SE10): Cara’s “go-to” museum on rainy days due to its location, the National Maritime Museum is very child-friendly. It contains an interactive play area for children on the ground floor, which gets very busy during peak times. Upstairs, there’s a digital world map that the kids can explore with some tablets and a boat simulator. You could spend a couple of hours in the museum. Once you’re done, there’s Greenwich Park (which has a large playground), Royal Observatory, and Greenwich Markets to explore.
- London Transport Museum (Covent Garden, WC2E): Always busy during school holidays, the London Transport Museum offers a fantastic day out for the whole family. There’s plenty of interactive ‘stations’ (pun intended) for both children and adults. Ensure your phone or camera is charged, as there’s lots of photo opportunities inside old train carriages or pretending to drive buses. A corner of the museum is dedicated to a children’s play area where you can set them loose while you take a coffee break. Remember to keep your adult tickets as they remain valid for up to 12 months.
- Science Museum (Kensington, SW7): Right next door to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum offers just as much entertainment. It also seemed a lot less busier when we visited. Structured over five floors, the museum opens your eyes to what humans have achieved. Hopefully it’s an inspiration to the kids that visit. With rockets, cars, trains and boats, there’s a mountain of things to see and touch. Please note that some exhibitions require an entry fee, however the general admission is free.
Whoever invented the soft-play centre deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. If they had frequent flyer miles for soft-play, Cara would be a platinum member by now. Here are a few that we’ve visited and can recommend:
- Gambado (Beckenham, Chelsea, and Watford): Cara has visited the Beckenham and Chelsea centres, both of which were quite large. They are pricier than the standard centres but they do offer a wide range of activities. If you do decide to visit frequently, they offer an annual pass starting from £14.50 per month. Centres have the usual climbing equipment and slides, but Gambado also has video games, with the Beckenham centre has a Merry-Go-Round and little electric cars.
- Better Gyms (various locations): If you are already a Better Gym member, you may have walked straight to the change rooms for the gym or pool. However, you may not have realised that they also offer play sessions for toddlers. Usually at set times depending on the centre, it allows toddlers to run around indoors, so it’s ideal for rainy days. The Greenwich Centre has a bouncy castle, while the Woolwich Waterfront Leisure Centre has a ballpit. Costs are fairly low, especially if you’re a full member.
- East London Gym (Beckton, E6): Cara’s favourite place to visit on Sundays when she was 1-2 years old, the East London gym is where some international Olympians trained during the London Olympics. It provides a huge play area and cushy animals, against a large backdrop of climbing equipment and slides. Very affordable and is close to an ASDA if you need to fit in some shopping afterwards. As it’s mainly a gymnastics centre, there’s no cafe on site compared to the other options.
Here’s a brief list of other potential activities to keep the kids entertained during the Easter break. I will aim to provide more detailed reviews in later posts, as you’re probably already tired just reading the above.
- Parks: Dependent on your local park and the weather. The reliable trip to the park is not only fun, but great exercise (for both you and your child)
- Farms: Great to visit and learn about Old McDonald, especially around lambing season
- Funfairs / Circuses: Not a huge fan of these as costs can add up versus time spent, but it could provide a day’s entertainment
- Theatre: There’s plenty of theatre shows aimed at children these days, bringing their favourite books to life
- Libraries: Although they seem to be disappearing as quickly as pubs, there are some that still exist. Some even offer story time and activities for toddlers
- Staying Home: If you have enough toys, playdough or arts and crafts material, nothing beats the comfort of staying home
Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further information on the above. Also, if I’ve missed any obvious activities, please share them in the comments section below.
As always, thanks for reading and enjoy the Easter break with the family, no matter what you decide to do.