London is expensive and homes are small so raising kids in the city can be a challenging experience. There are countless opportunities, however, to entertain the kids around the capitol and many activities are free. London is dotted with parks and spaces to play and there even a few city farms (Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens).
State schools are acceptable, but there are excellent public (the equivalent of “private” schools in most other countries) and international schools throughout the city and suburbs. These institutions provide myriad activities for children to explore and develop in addition to their core education.
Children who are raised in London have access to rich cultural offerings. The Science Museum (http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/), for example, is a favorite destination for kids (and adults!) and is free to enter. And, perhaps less cultural, but certainly fun, a trip to Legoland (http://www.legoland.co.uk) never fails to impress the kids. For more ideas and weekly updates on all the best London events for children, the kid’s section of Time Out (http://www.timeout.com/london/kids) is invaluable.
When it comes to restaurants or pubs, kids are not as warmly welcomed as they are in other parts of the world. If you are invited for dinner at someone’s home, you will be expected to go without children unless you are told otherwise. Pubs welcome kids mostly on Sundays at lunchtime and in the summer when the pub-gardens are open. The old adage “children must be seen and not heard” is still present at most social occasions. Kids themselves therefore will be rather reserved compared to their American and European counterparts.
Note that a family Travelcard for public transportation is an excellent value, especially on the week-ends.
The city is relatively child-friendly but is not considered the safest place to be. Teenage crime is up and there is a certain youth culture in Britain that tends to promote a rather rough image of the city. As in big cities around the world, it is prudent to be watchful and careful. Children should be supervised everywhere, including shops and playgrounds.