We are lucky enough to live only 15 minutes on the train from Southbank. Given The Bear’s love for trains we often find ourselves popping in for a few hours of free fun.
This post shares a typical Southbank morning with you – focusing entirely on what you can do for free.
For us the adventure starts at the train station! The Bear adores the train and is beside himself with excitement throughout the whole process of waiting for it, getting on it, choosing his seat etc etc! This is a key part of the trip so even though you can park for free on a Sunday we still usually stick to the train.
Once we arrive at Waterloo it is only a 5 minute walk down to Southbank itself where it is pretty much a car free zone enabling us to take the scooter and enjoy some bump free scooting.
Our top activities are as follows –
1) A look at the boats – we stand pressed up to the rails and enjoy the Thames traffic!
2) Watching the big boys at the skate park under the Southbank centre – they are normally pretty impressive and I see the The Bear idolise them more with every move!
3) The free exhibitions – there is always something (check out their website below for what’s on right now). Recent favourites have included a set of splash park style fountains and a mini beach. An urban garden exhibition that included a shed covered in doorbells ( one of Bollie’s favourite things!) which could all be pressed to the accompaniment of random chiming! Most recently (at Christmas) a huge snow globe where the snow moved if you pedalled stationary bikes! As I said there is always something and it’s usually pretty good
4) Watching the street performers – this can be fun but comes with a warning that you have to pass the carousel which is £2 a person so gets expensive!
5) The Jubilee Gardens where you can scoot round in a huge circle and then climb on the natural climbing frames
6) A wander through the Southbank centre (which is completely free and often houses indoor exhbitions) and a trip up and down in the “singing lift” which literally plays music every time you move – I can’t tell you how much The Terrorists enjoy this! There is also a little poetry library which has all of the Julia Donaldson books as well as countless other favourites
7) Exploring and climbing on the bizarre outdoor art on the higher outdoor levels of the Southbank – The Bears favourite is the pink igloo house
So in summary, even if don’t visit any of the available ‘big ticket’ attractions (you are right by The London Eye, The London Aquarium and The London Dungeons) you can have a fun filled outing on Southbank complete with access to all of the facilities you need for young children.
Top Tip – make sure you visit the poetry library in the Southbank centre as its always quiet and really lovely
Time to visit – I would say half a day for the free stuff, however you can be here for days if you include the paid attractions
Highlights – the boats, trains and singing lift for us!
Getting there –it is a 5 minute walk from Waterlooo overground but is well served by all public transport (check out their website) and parking is free on a Sunday on the surrounding roads
Pushchair access – everywhere is accessible with pushchairs as there are lots of ramps and lifts (some easier to find than others!)
Price – completely free. The key bit is the Southbank Centre where you can even picnic for free and use toilets etc
Food and Drink – Our kid friendly favourites are Giraffe – a great kids menu and free balloons, wagamanas for noodles, ping pong for dim sum as well as the weekend food market (behind the Southbank centre)where there are stalls selling food from all around the world
Other attractions nearby – The London Eye, The London Dungeons and The London Aquarium are all less than 5 mins walk
Baby facilities – there is baby change in all of the cafes but it is very well kept and free in the Southbank centre
Website – http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/