Chelsea is commonly known as a popular shopping destination for the fashionable crowd — even gorgeous Kate Middleton still likes to shop in the area (understandably not without her bodyguards).
But Chelsea is also one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in central London. You’ll always see little children dotting around in adorable uniforms during the week and riding on their scooters on the weekends.
Here are some of the best things to do with your children in Chelsea.
St. Luke’s Children’s Playground: this gated playground is the most popular playground among Chelsea children. The church grounds next to it used to be graveyards in the early 19th century and still have some abandoned tombstones, which fascinate the young minds and stir their imagination. Watching children play with St. Luke’s Church in the background is joyful, especially when you know that Charles Dickens was married to Catherine Hogarth at the church. The rock climbing area on the other side is fun for older children.
Tom’s Kitchen: situated next to the playground, it’s so handy to have such a high-quality restaurant to run to when the hungry children start whining. Weekend brunch is very popular but breakfast and lunch are equally good, with a carefully put-together simple menu in a casual setting. They have a children’s menu but a side of mac & cheese with an appetizingly browned crunchy top always hits the spot with little ones. http://www.tomskitchen.co.uk/chelsea
Chelsea Farmer’s Market on Sydney Street is a cute place to walk around. While it’s not really a ‘farmer’s market’ where you’ll see vendors selling fresh produce, you’ll find El Gaucho, an Argentine steak restaurant; Here, a health food store (good place to find children’s snacks) and an organic ice cream parlor, Dri Dri. (Personally, I prefer Amorino on King’s Road for its wide range of exotic flavors using the high-quality ingredients. And the best of all? You can choose as many as flavors as you want for your cone or cup. The skillful staff will arrange them in a shape of flowers.)
National Army Museum is a great place on a rainy day. Currently closed for a major redevelopment, the eagerly anticipated re-opening is to happen in 2016. The museum says that the new “state-of-art” Kid’s Zone will offer an exciting indoor play area as well a new cafe. Watch this space. http://www.nam.ac.uk/ Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HT
Duke of York Square: children occupy a permanent presence on this pretty pedestrian square off of King’s Rd. The water fountains entertain them in the summer and they love the Santa’s Grotto during Christmas time. And you see little children riding scooters on the square all around the year.
Every Saturday from 10 am to 4pm, you will find a lively farmer’s market with about 70 stalls selling everything from fresh oysters to fish and chips, from sweet treats to artisan products. You will often find musicians playing upbeat music.
If you’d rather have a sit-down meal, outdoor tables at Polpo or Comptoir Libanais are cheerful and relaxing. We often sit at an outdoor table and let the children play if they get fidgety.
For afternoon tea, Gallery Mess at Saatchi Gallery offers ‘Little Artist’s Afternoon Tea’ that comes with a cupcake decorating kit, sandwiches and a babyccino. The exposed bricks and a vaulted ceiling gives this place an airy and modern atmosphere but if the weather permits sit on the terrace overlooking the square. (For a city with an unpredictable weather, there are an awful lot of outdoor restaurants in Chelsea.)
I normally like going French though and pop into Cuisine de Bar by Poilane, tucked away off King’s Road at 39 Cadogan Gardens. Other than their world-famous bread, they also serve everything from pastries (try the apple tart) to tartines in a chic but casual atmosphere. Coffee is an usual accompaniment to the delicious treats but try ‘sobacha’ (roasted buckwheat tea) as a healthy and delicious alternative. Its deep and soothing flavor is so addictively good that it’s now my 5-year-old daughter’s choice of drink over hot chocolate.