The Women’s Room potted guide to: London with teens

Blackmans

You may already live in London and are wondering what to do with the teens this summer holidays, or you may be planning a visit. Either way planning activities for teens is always a tricky one. They often don't like the idea of being organised and suggesting a day out with mum and dad can often be met with disdain, unless it involves shopping. So here are a few ideas, tried and tested by us and some of our readers.

Choose an area they haven't visited before, a trip to an unknown neighbourhood can be as interesting as a trip to another city. Brick Lane and Spitalfields on a Sunday is great if you live South of the river, and Greenwich is interesting if you are an Eastender. Both have great markets full of cool t shirts that will appeal to teen boys and trinkets and cheapish clothes for the girls, as well as great International food stalls.

A must see in Brick Lane, is the tiny scruffy shoe shop, Blackmans at 42-44 Cheshire Street E2, who sell the gym shoe/Ked style canvas shoes that every teen girl is wearing. They are only £5 as opposed to £20 in Office (but don't tell everyone!) 

Notting Hill is great if you have a skater boy (or girl) in the family. Bay 66, situated at the Ladbroke Grove end of Portobello Road under the Westway, is a popular skate and BMX park . You can take a stroll down Portobello Road together (be sure to remind them of the song in Mary Poppins, perhaps even sing it) and when you reach the skate park, you can slope off for a well deserved coffee.

A walk along the South Bank is another good idea, as there is lots to see for even the most cynical teen. Start at the Hayward Gallery where the brilliant interactive large scale installation, Walking in My Mind, is showing. If urban art is your teens thing, take a slight detour to Leake Street, a tunnel under Waterloo station where graffiti artists can legally display their work. The walls are ever changing and if you can stand the smell of spray paint, you can see some stunning work.

Next, head back along the river to the Tate modern which always has something for everyone, and currently features an excellent Futurist exhibition.
You can point out the Shakespeare Globe Theatre but no need to visit (lets not go mad, it is the holidays)
Then if you are ready for lunch, there are any number of teen friendly cafes and restaurants on this stretch of the South Bank, including our family favourite Wagamama.
 
Keep on going along the river past The Clink (not really worth a visit) and the Golden Hinde and onto Borough market, which is great to wander round if its Friday or Saturday. Let the kids pick their dinner (we love the fish stall) and a cup cake to keep them going and its on to the London Dungeon. It's worth booking ahead if you plan a visit here, as there are often long queues. Be warned, this is not for the faint hearted or young children, so only take teens who like horror movies!
If you still have any energy (or money) you can end up at the design museum, but that may be a step too far.

Another good idea is Kids Week, which runs from 14-24th of August. Children aged 5-16 years old can see a selection of over 28 West end theatre shows for free as long as they are accompanied by an adult paying full price. Visiting the theatre is something we always mean to do more of, but are often put off by the price, so think this is a great idea. 

If your teens simply cant bear the thought of a day out with the parents, you can always surprise them with tickets to the Underage Festival in Victoria Park in Hackney, on the 3rd of August. Strictly for 14-18 year olds, apparently there are some good bands on, not that we have heard of any of them!

So get out the Oyster cards and muster all your patience and you never know you may all have a good time. Let us know if you have any other suggestions, by the end of August we may desperate!

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