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
The Clerk & Well
This good-looking gastropub on Clerkenwell Road also has a few rooms upstairs so if you get sloshed and can't face the trek home, they'll put you up, space permitting. There's quite a selection to drink, too. Beers on draught include Longhorn IPA, Grolsch Blond, Doom Bar, Kirin Ichiban and a number of guest ales, while wines – most of which are available by the glass – are equally spread between the old world and new world. Cocktails also feature, as do summer sharing jugs of Pimm's, sangria and alcoholic iced teas. Food is pan-Asian, so expect dishes ranging from tom yum soup and seared Thai beef salad to chilli salt squid, chicken gyoza, wasabi tempura prawns and steamed sea bass with choy sum, shiitake mushrooms and soy. There's also a local delivery option, so we presume that means upstairs, too.
Venue says: “Scrumptious pan-Asian in Clerkenwell. Enjoy a main meal with a small glass of wine or pint of beer for £12!”