Discover the coolest and most authentic things to do in East London with kids. From colourful markets like Brick Lane and Columbia Flower Market to family-friendly farms and parks, here is a list of popular activities to enjoy in the East.
Take the kids East!
East London might not be the area you first think of when finding family-friendly activities in the city. But, while you won’t find as many high-profile attractions as in Central London, this is still a fantastic place to take the kids.
Teenagers will love street art and all the cool independent shops. There’s plenty for younger kids as well. Take your kids to roam around in Queen Elizabeth II’s park in Stratford, and stop by the incredible adventure playground.
The buzzing Sunday markets are a treat for everyone in the family. Start your tour of East London’s markets by starting in the north with Columbia Road Flower Market and work your way down towards Brick Lane, Spitalfields Market and Petticoat Lane all the way to Whitechapel.
Enjoy the longest playground slides in Vicky Park, where you’ll also find a gated park for younger kids and a fantastic paddling pool for hot summer days.
12 East London Areas to Explore with Kids
We highly recommend taking a trip to the east of London if you are tired of Central London’s tourist spots. It’s great for children of all ages – especially Sundays to enjoy all the buzzing markets.
One of the most well-known areas in east London is Shoreditch. It is home to some of London’s most popular bars, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment, making it a great starting point for exploring the East End. This area of London is alive with street art and life.
Spitalfields, located just south of Shoreditch, is another favourite area in east. This area is full of colour, with everything from street art to Old Spitalfields Market and the merchandise for sale at Brick Lane.
Petticoat Lane Market
One of the most famous and oldest of all London’s street markets, Petticoat Lane was established over 400 years ago and still attracts thousands of punters. The Huguenots who came to London from France sold petticoats and lace here, but the prudish Victorians changed the name of the Lane and market to avoid referring to woman’s underclothes!
The market takes place in Wentworth Street on Monday – Friday, spreading on Sundays to become even bigger with ten separate trading streets, including Middlesex Street. You’ll find bargains of every kind, including new clothes from well-known chain stores as well as leather goods, watches and toys.
Walthamstow, up north, is a great place to live like a local. You will find great restaurants in this area, a famous neon shop and the William Morris Gallery. This museum focuses on the life and work of the English Arts and Crafts Movement creator.
Walthamstow has many beautiful streets. They have a mixture of heritage buildings and modern shops and workshops.
Whitechapel, located back towards Spitalfields and offers a beautiful mix of culture and history, is an excellent area in east. You will find everything you need, from the Royal London Hospital Museum to the East London Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre.
You can also add the Whitechapel Market, with its colourful fabrics, and the Whitechapel Gallery, with its art exhibits. There is so much to see and do. Whitechapel’s scene is rounded out by a mix of modern cafes and well-known, low-key Southeast Asian restaurants.
Whitechapel is a long-established, thriving local street market opposite the Royal London Hospital, right by the Whitechapel underground station. It offers bargains galore for people working in the area and the local Asian community. Come to grab a bargain every day from Monday to Saturday from over 80 stalls selling everything from fresh fruit to fish, clothing, bedding, carpets, jewellery and electrical goods, all at unbelievable prices. The nearby Mosque ensures a steady stream of visitors, and many stalls now sell Indian spices and exotic vegetables and great quality silks and saree fabric.
Wapping, located adjacent to Whitechapel, is another great area. London’s most iconic pubs can be found in this riverside district. They are situated alongside historic dock warehouse conversions and the unique Wilton’s Music Hall. Wapping also has the Ornamental Canal and historical clipper ships. Wapping High Street is home to many great shops and cafes. The Tobacco Dock hosts various events throughout the year.
6. Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington is next on my list. There are many great restaurants, cafes, shops, and other amenities in this beautiful area. Clissold Park is located in Stoke Newington. This green space dates back to William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book of the 11th century. It is a great place to take a stroll in the vicinity.
7. Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf, located near the Thames, is known for its spectacular view of high-rises. In recent years, this area has become a financial centre. Landmarks such as Billingsgate Market and the Museum of London Docklands are hidden among the steel and glass. The Gun is a historic riverside pub. It is worth visiting because of its mixture of old and modern.
8. Hackney Wick
Hackney Wick is another trendy area. This area is well-known for its vibrant nightlife scene and hip vibe. Hackney Wick is home to many artists’ studios, including those in former industrial spaces and independent breweries. There are also cool cafes along the Lee Navigation canal. This is the perfect place to express your inner hipster.
Stratford, located near Hackney Wick, is famous for its shopping centre, Westfield Stratford City. It is home to many shops and restaurants and is a popular spot in East London. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, located right by Westfield, is a sports complex with a mixture of stadiums, parks, waterways and playgrounds for children.
A new East on the rise
Around Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford, a modern edition of East is on the rise. Since the build-up to the 2012 London Olympics, this area has seen an incredible transformation with more and more activities accessible to Londoners. London’s Olympic swimming pool, the Aquatics Centre, is an excellent example of this, with different levels and a splash pool for young kids.
Also, around the Olympic Park, you’ll find the Pleasure Gardens Playground with lots of fun and challenging climbing equipment. Downtown Stratford High Street, the Discover Children’s Story Centre, has become trendy for families with young kids. The centre hosts interactive theatre shows for families to take an active part in the stories sparking children’s imagination and interest in books.
Dalston is another popular area in east. Kingsland Road is the heart of everything and is home to many excellent Vietnamese restaurants and cool cocktail bars. Another highlight is Ridley Road. Ridley Road Market sells produce and home goods and is a beautiful place for getting into the area’s spirit.
Hoxton, located near Shoreditch, is another trendy area in east. There is much to see and do in the area, including Shoreditch Park’s vast expanse and many excellent bars.
Hoxton Street Market is Hackney’s oldest market. Every Saturday, it sells food, handicrafts, clothing, and other goods.
Hackney is a favourite East London area. The area has everything, from London Fields park to National Trust London properties such as Sutton House (the oldest residential building in the region). Chatsworth Road Market is a favourite spot for vintage goods and local food. Neil Market offers delicious bagels and other tasty finds. The Columbia Road Flower Market is well-known for its beautiful blooms.
Add to these bars under railway arches, and you have great nightlife, creative restaurants, excellent cafés and a sprawling expanse of Victoria Park and Hackney.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road has a wonderful atmosphere, and the market is fringed with quirky shops and cafes, where customers compare purchases and swap stories of gardening triumphs. Tucked away in an unlikely side street in the heart of the East End – Columbia Road feels like your own secret bit of London. The magic starts as you spot the first signs of the market – people whose faces are hidden by great armfuls of plants and flowers they’ve just bought.
Follow the trail and immerse yourself in a colourful world of plants and pots, flowers and fresh coffee. There are over 50 flower and plant stalls selling quality and often unusual plants at bargain prices. Columbia Road’s characters are just as colourful as the plants, with their ready patter and gardening advice.
13. Bethnal Green
Located near Hackney, Bethnal Green features several great things to do with kids.
It is home to the V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green Gardens and a variety of East End restaurants and bars.
Bethnal Green Road is home to many great places to eat and drink. The railway arches at Paradise Row have many hip restaurants.
Haggerston is next to Dalston and has many fantastic cafes and cocktail bars. There are many places to fall in Love, from Kingsland Road to Great Cambridge Street. Add to this the beautiful Regent’s Canal Towpath, railway arches and hip restaurants.
Limehouse is located on the Thames and is a favourite among families with kids. Among other things you can enjoy kayaking up Regent’s Canal from Limehouse Basin, a historic dockland area, that is home to a marina today.
Is East London the same as East End?
East End of London is actually a smaller area within East London, limited by the City of London in the west and River Lea in the east. Among many other things, East End is famous for Sunday markets, street art, hipster bars and of course, the world-famous tv-series EastEnders.
What are the top things to do with children in East London?
Here are five suggestions for things to do in East London with kids:
1. Children Discovery Centre in Stratford
2. Tumbling Bay Playground in the Olympic Park
3. Explore street art around Brick Lane
4. Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs
5. The Flower Market at Columbia Road
Is it dangerous to take kids to East London?
No, it’s a lovely place to take kids full of friendly people and a great local vibe. Like anywhere in London you should still remember to use common sense and street smarts, especially if you’re a tourist visiting for the first time.