With the school holidays here, summer brings great opportunities to spend time together as a family. But if you’re not careful, family days out in London can come with a weighty price tag.
Luckily, in Fulham and Chelsea and beyond there are loads of local things to see and do that make for a great day out without having to break the bank.
Here, then, is the Oportfolio guide to a great day out without having to change zones on the tube.
Go for a leisurely start
If you’ve got a young family you’ll know nothing puts a dampener on an otherwise great day quite like overtired children. So, don’t be too ambitious by trying to cram too much in to a single day. Instead, aim to start a bit later late and finish early and make sure there are plenty of stops through the day.
Above and beyond the normal goods and chattels that we need to transport as a family – things like buggies or pushchairs, waterproof coats and wipes – don’t forget to take plenty to drink, a bottle of sunscreen and sun hats. And a basic first aid kit consisting of plasters and antiseptic cream is probably a good idea, too, in case of minor cuts and grazes.
Why not start your day with a trip to Bishops Park – entry is free, stopping to fuel up with a relaxed brunch along the way. There are a number of buses serving the park – the 74, 220, 430, 85, 93 and 265 – all of which drop you no more than a 5-minute walk from the park.
Fulham has lots of cafes to choose from, many of them child-friendly, but Rude Health is on the doorstep of Bishop’s Park and specialises in healthy, nutritional food and snacks. The kids will love their Babyccino and, at 50p, so will you!
In the park itself, located on the banks of the Thames, you’ll find a wealth of things to see and do, from the ornamental lakes and its unique urban beach, to a lovely riverside walk and beautiful moat garden.
And the kids will love the two play areas – one for toddlers and one for juniors – as well as the skate bowl, table tennis tables, basketball goal and water play area.
The park opens at 10am and closes at 10pm in July and 9.30pm in August.
After a couple of hours of fresh air, it’s a two-minute walk to Putney Bridge where you can either jump on a tube or catch either the 14 or 414 bus back to the centre of Fulham for some lunch.
When it comes to restaurants
Just as there are plenty of cafes in Fulham to choose from, we’re also spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants. Bailey’s serves traditional fish and chips and Primavera will satisfy the young pasta and pizza fans and offer a children’s menu. Both restaurants get excellent child-friendly ratings on Tripadvisor.
After lunch, head to the Pottery Café at 735 Fulham Road (http://pottery-cafe.com/fulham-pottery-cafe/ – booking in advance is advisable in the busy summer months) where you can relax while the small person or people take advantage of the opportunity to get artistic with plates, mugs, jugs and a myriad of other items that can be painted and kept as a memento of the day.
With baby feet painting available, even the very smallest person in your family can get involved. The number 14 and 44 b uses that might have brought you up from Bishops Park stop virtually outside the door.
You’ll pay a studio fee per person to do the painting and if you choose to buy any of the items, they’ll be glazed and fired before you collect them. There’s a café onsite where you can buy tea, coffee and soft drinks and – if they’re not already full up from lunch – snacks.
If the children still have the energy, you could round off your day at one of the many soft play centres in the area – but otherwise head home where you can all relax and wind down after a busy but enjoyable day spent entirely on your own doorstep and at relatively low cost.
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