Entertaining the kids over the weekend can be a daunting task, but there are things to do around East London for next to nothing. So here are 5 incredible ways to entertain the kids any weekend without spending a penny. Not to mention getting in some serious lessons in history, heritage and wildlife. We know you’re going to thank us later.
1A History Lesson You’ll Never Forget
This one’s for older children only, but millions of tourists flock to Whitechapel each year to visit the streets of London that Jack the Ripper terrorized, targeting the desperately poor. Book a free Jack the Ripper walking tour and prepare to be horrified at the events that took place in the East End. Perfect for history buffs, local guides walk you through the streets of London as they send shivers down your spine with each gory tale of the Whitechapel murder.
The tour takes approximately two hours and guests are advised to book online to reserve their space.
Cost: FREE (although you can tip your guide)
2London’s fastest changing art gallery
Brick Lane is best known for the great (and cheap) food you can buy there, from the run of curry houses to the famous bagel (or, more accurately, ‘beigel’) shops that have been there for decades. But it’s also home to some world-class graffiti and street art, along the entirety of Brick Lane and sidestreets.
If your experience of graffiti is mainly local tagging, you’ll see some mind-blowing designs, sculptures and murals by some amazing artists. Some of the art is commission-based with the building owners, but some is still done fast and overnight. So you never know if you’ll see something that’s just hours old.
There are tours that you can take part in (although most of them charge), but it’s free to wander around. If you’ve got older kids, they may well love it.
3Museum of London Docklands, for a Step Back in Time
Museums have been a god-send for parents and schools for years. Often completely free to the public, museums allow you to let the little ones loose to explore and discover history, heritage and myths, helping to broaden their minds and spark imagination. The museum of London Docklands offers a sanctuary for those watching their piggy banks, so get ready to explore the 10 free galleries open to the public, featuring The First Port of Empire, Warehouse of War and Sailtortown to name a few. We’d recommend bringing along a backpack of snacks to keep the kids’ energy up throughout the day.
4Columbia Road for a Lesson in Biology
Open from 8am on Sundays, come rain or shine, Columbia Road is a bustling flower market that sits on the edge of the city, just waiting to be explored. Each Sunday, the street is completely transformed into a floral paradise, from dainty bedding plants to 10 ft. banana trees. What a brilliant opportunity for a quick visual lesson in biology. With a beautiful aroma in the air, it is an absolute pleasure to walk around. As you drift through the forest of flower stalls and sellers, why not play a quick game of I Spy and the first one to name 5 flowers can get first dibs at the cupcake stall.
Winding down at around 3pm, Columbia Road is a beautiful little place to check out on a Sunday, but don’t blame us if you start on the cupcakes and spoil your appetite before your Sunday roast!
Cost: FREE, unless you give in to the cupcake stalls
5An Education in Animal Farm
So your kids might be studying George Orwell’s Animal Farm at school but if you want to bring the epic novel to life, there is no better place than Spitalfields City Farm. Developed on a former railway goods depot, this urban farm is now a vibrant mix of classic farmyard animals, bringing you a unique outdoor classroom which is completely free to the public. You might not get as much information on the Russian Revolution as you would from the book, but we can guarantee you’ll see plenty of classic characters roaming around in the barns. Spitalfields City Farm will cost you nothing but will enrich your mind, allowing you to get close to nature without ever leaving the city.
Note: All prices were correct at the time of writing. Please check with the attractions before you travel for the latest information.