Our selection of six belt-tightening itineraries to help you have fun on a budget
The toughest thing about a day out with kids is that the little blighters can’t pay their own way. We’ve allocated £20 per blighter in this itinerary, and £40 per adult.
Start the day in Covent Garden
Most kids are happy to spend hours watching Covent Garden's(1) juggling/magic/painted-statue acts – and the truth is that some of them are quite impressive. Make sure you go prepared with a stash of small denomination coins.
Hit the shops
There are two shops in the Covent Garden area with a nostalgic appeal likely to enchant all ages.Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop(2) has been selling toy theatres in Covent Garden since the 1880s. These days stock includes charming music boxes and sewing cases.
Be firm; tell the kids it’s looking-only on this occasion but be prepared to splash a little cash at relative newcomer to the area Hope & Greenwood(3), a traditional sweetie shop, where the gobstoppers are stored in glass jars and you can get sugar-free gummy bears.
Take in some culture
Next, take a walk across Waterloo Bridge(4) and head to the Royal Festival Hall(5) to take advantage of the free loos and check out an exhibition. You can also visit Topolski Century(6), a vast rambling mural by the Polish expressionist Feliks Topolski in a railway arch close to Waterloo Station, which records many of the key events and important figures of the twentieth century.
Grab something to eat
At some point you’ll want to refuel. There are sandwiches for sale in both the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre (7) (and quiet spots where you could buy a drink and eat a discreet packed lunch) but there’s a handy branch of Pizza Express(8), and the chain’s a family favourite with good reason.
Visit an underwater wonderland
Joining the many street-food stalls at Borough Market, Gourmet Goat is a takeaway with no seats, so you'll be eating on the hoof. Kid tastes more delicate than mature goat, and if you didn’t know, you’d think it was lamb. This place makes its name from offering terrific value slow-roasted kid, cooked Mediterranean-style, with oregano, bay leaves, olive oil and white wine. The meat is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Some also consider it to be one of the more ethical options if you’re a meat eater. These billy goats (from Cabrito Goat Meat in the west of England) are a by-product of the dairy industry and would otherwise be slaughtered soon after birth. They are raised responsibly and get a longer, more enjoyable lease of life. Take your pick from two serving options: in a pitta bread wrap, or in a takeaway carton without bread – both are terrific value. The meat comes with organic whole wheat dressed in zingy pomegranate molasses, a dollop of dense tzatziki, and a spinach and radish garnish.
Venue says: “May special: slow-cooked, free range, organic, maritime mutton, aubergine & preserved lemon. With bulghur pilaf, East Med slaw and hummus.”