So, bet you weren’t aware that London has up to 20 city farms and zoos for families to visit? The very best of them (which follow in the list below) are outstanding day-out ideas for young families; not least when the kids are tired of the concrete jungle. Moreover, children’ll love that they don’t have to travel too far, they don’t tend to be too expensive and, at least the ones here are definitely all rated as child-friendly…
Mudchute Park & Farm
(Pier Street E14 3HP)
Mudchute’s city farm on the Isle of Digs is one of Europe’s largest – stretched over a rambling 32 acres – with its more than 100 animals including cows, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. You can book your child’s next party at Mudchute or enrol yourself on courses in topics ranging from keeping chickens, laying hedges, dog training and spinning wool. The farm’s free to enter (although a donation is always welcome), has a lovely on-site café and is open from 9am-5pm every day, including Bank holidays.
Freightliners City Farm
(Sheringham Road N7 8PF)
Freightliners delivers a little bit of the countryside to inner-city Islington (and its location makes it ideal for those staying at accommodation near Brewery Road). With picturesque gardens and a great cafe, their focus is on education, therapeutic activity, community participation and outdoor recreation. Entry’s free but, as it’s a charity, donations are always welcome. They run regular activities in the school holidays, most of which are free. Be aware, though, the venue’s only open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10am-4.45 pm in the summer; until 4pm in winter-time.
Hackney City Farm
(1a Goldsmiths Row E2 8QA)
One of London’s most popular, Hackney City Farm (again, perfectly located for guests at the likes of The Montcalm At Brewery London hotel) has a range of farmyard animals including goats, sheep, chickens and donkeys as well as some small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs.
Its livestock moves between a farm in Kent, the city and a working farm in the country so if there’s an animal your little one really wants to see, call ahead to make sure it’s there on the day of your visit. Every Saturday from 10.30am-12.30pm is The Mini Farmers Club where children can learn about nature, make arts and crafts and get to know the animals, under the careful supervision of a livestock worker. This is a free session for children aged from eight up to 17. Younger children can get involved in pottery and baby music classes.
Entry to the farm is free but you can show your support by purchasing from the farm shop which includes fresh chicken and duck eggs and honey from their on-site bees. It is, however, closed on Mondays.
Spitalfields City Farm
(Buxton Street E1 5AR)
Spitalfields City Farm may be home to fairly standard farmyard animals but it’s their Wildclub that’s what really recommends it. Family-focused, nature-themed activities are the order of the day and children get to play outside, become inspired by nature and learn environmental crafts. What could be better?
The Wildclub takes place in three separate sessions; the Wildclub (for ages 4-7 from 10.30am–12pm; Parents involved too), the Really Wild Club (for ages 8-12 1.30pm–3pm) and Families Go Wild (for all ages 1.30pm-3pm; parents participate in activities in addition to their children). Wildclub sessions are free but donations are most certainly welcome.