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
There may well be more to being recruited as a spy than an hour of codebreaking, briefcases and teamwork, but if it’s even half as exciting in real life as this escape game then it’s no wonder MI5 is so selective. clueQuest sees a team of 3-5 players get locked in a room that they won’t be able to escape from until they’ve solved enough puzzles to unlock every last lock in the place – and there are loads. Fast-paced, challenging and win-a-minute, even teams who don’t get out in time will have plenty to celebrate. The venue also has multiple versions of each games which allows you to race a second team, though we’d like to warn you that boys versus girls can cause a little post-match friction. clueQuest launched the third game in their ovine storyline in spring 2016, Revenge of the Sheep, which sees your team search high and low to solve clues and crack codes before an evil sheep dictator turns us all into clones of Dolly. Building on their already solid track record of imaginative challenges and satisfyingly tricky puzzles, clueQuest have gone to plenty of extra trouble to make this game even more interactive, using technology, intricate props and some pretty snazzy flashing lights to make the hour fly by. A fun-filled experience whether you’re escape game lamb or mutton.
Venue says: “Our secret coordinates are 51°32'10.5"N 0°07'00.8"W. Or you can sniff out our address in the details section.”