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Free and Cheap Ways to Keep the Kids Happy this Summer

By Beth Colmer
09 August 2022

By Beth Colmer

We can’t move for news of the cost of living being on the rise and inflation at an all-time high. So, what better time for the summer holidays to hit?! Renowned for being the most expensive time of year for families (after Christmas that is), here at SEC Newgate, we have curated an array of inexpensive ways to entertain the sproglets in London this summer, whilst keeping your purse strings intact.

Eating Out:
A picnic is of course the cheapest way to feed the brood on a day out, however, if the kids (and you!) are bored of squashed sandwiches and mini sausage rolls, here is a list of thrifty foodie deals to be had across the UK.

  • Bella Italia: Kids eat for £1 with the purchase of every adult main course (available between 4-6pm, Monday to Thursday)
  • The Real Greek: One child can eat for free for every £10 spent on an adult meal (available only on Sundays) 
  • YO! Sushi: Kids can receive one free meal for every £10 spent on an adult meal (available 3:30pm-5:30pm, Monday to Thursday until 29 September)
  • Ikea: Kids can get a meal from the children's menu from between 95p and £1.50 in the store's restaurants until 3 September
  • Dobbies Garden Centres: Kids eat free with an adult main meal at the garden centre restaurant (available daily from 12 noon)
  • Tesco: Kids can get free meals when an adult Clubcard holder purchases an item in any of its 311 cafes (available all day until 26 August)
  • Cafe Rouge: Kids eat for £1 with every adult that purchases a main course (excluding Saturdays)

Getting Out and About:
Any parent will know nearby parks, playgrounds, and soft plays like the back of their hand…and possibly be quite bored of them! Try heading further afield with the below free adventures for kiddos. It’ll be busy but worth it!

For the dino-devotees:

  • Amaze and delight with a trip to the Natural History Museum completely free of charge! Dippy the Diplodocus has returned and is one of thousands of staggering displays of natures on show, including an earth-quake simulator and the infamous blue whale skeleton in the main hallway.
  • Head south to Crystal Palace Park which houses the Dinosaur Court; a trail of life-sized dinosaurs created in 1854 which means by modern day standards, they are highly inaccurate, however still magnificent to look at…if not quite scary! There is also a fantastic playground complete with giant sandpits and dinosaur bones to unearth, a pond with pedalos and café and restaurant.

For the water babies:  

  • Unwind in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where they can spend the day splashing about in the fountains
  • Head to Hyde Park for a paddle in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, then trundle a short 10 minutes to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. The kids can climb the pirate ship and let their imaginations run round, and you have a coffee

For the science lover:

  • Spend hours at the Science Museum spotting rockets, learning about space and pressing thousands of buttons!
  • Head to the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road, to learn how the human body works with a wide collection of medical equipment, scientific artefacts and even Charles Darwin’s walking stick on display.