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Children’s Places in London
Detail: Many think of London as a place for urbane adults with large credit limits and a big appetite for shopping and fine dining. While attractions like the London Eye, London Bridge, Madame Tussauds, musicals, and big museums are on the radar of most families, there are other gems that both adults and children will relish and these are less crowded too.

Kew gardens: A great place to start is the world-famous Kew Gardens in Richmond, Surrey( It requires a bit of travel outside of central London, but is still conveniently accessed via the Tube. Not only are there plenty of thematic exhibitions and activities all year-round, plus many child-friendly play areas and cafes, Kew Gardens opened a new zone for kids this April.

Mudchute Park & Farm: Still on the nature theme, a farm is not the first thing that comes to mind when visiting London, but there is a fantastic one right in the heart of the city: Mudchute Park & Farm (

Mudchute is unbeatable for families that love animals and wide, green spaces. Admission is free at this generous 32-acre site - Europe's largest city farm - which also happens to be a full working farm, with over 200 animals and an equestrian centre.

The V&A Museum of Childhood: This is a must-go for kids (and adults) of any age ( It houses the largest collection of children's toys in the United Kingdom and is fascinating for its permanent displays, which are divided into three main sections.

There is Moving Toys, which showcases an extensive collection of moving and optical toys; Creativity, featuring toys related to the development of imagination; and Childhood, which tells the social story of childhood using objects ranging from dolls' houses to childrens' clothing from the 1600s till today.

National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, Greenwich: It's also worthwhile making a trip to the National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, Greenwich (

Apart from learning at the museum about waves, tides, human exploration, and how our lives are tied to the ocean, the young ones will also get to try old and new maritime skills and technologies. These include sending signals, loading a cargo ship, firing cannon, and even using a simulator with real navigational equipment to steer a ship into port.

A stone's throw away is the Royal Observatory, which is, of course, the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World - the official starting point for each new day and year. The Observatory is also where you'll find London's only planetarium, the Harrison timekeepers, and the UK's largest refracting telescope. Admission to the museum and observatory is free.

Arsenal Emirates Stadium Tour: Meanwhile, football fans big and small, especially those who like the English Premiership's Arsenal football club, should sign up for the Arsenal Emirates Stadium Tour (

The guided tour takes you behind-the-scenes into the belly of the stadium, including the first team's dressing room, hydrotherapy pool, and physiotherapy room, as well as Arsenal's press conference room and media facilities, and out to the seats where team manager and his assistants sit on matchdays. It's an eye-opening experience, even for non-football fans.

Source: Based on a story by Corinne Kerk, The Business Times Singapore, November 17, 2010 Wednesday
Date: February 19 2011