Fun family days out don't have to break the bank. Here's our list of inexpensive but great destinations for adventures in north east London.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Families have 560 acres to explore in this Stratford park. There's so much to see, from discovering sporting venues including the Lee Valley Velopark and London Aquatics Centre, to climbing up, then sliding down London's biggest public artwork, the Orbit. Trails can be downloaded to make the trip easier to digest. Landscape designer Nigel Dunnett's beautiful meadows are the perfect picnic destination and there are also play areas across the park including the Tumbling Bay in the north and climbing walls in the south. This summer there's BeachEast — a replica tropical beach to enjoy with a giant paddling pool, funfair rides and live screenings of all the action from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST. Free entry to the park, some venues have entry fee, tickets to BeachEast is £1 per child, £2 per adult (23 July-4 September). The park is open all day, every day.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Visit east London's world famous flower market on Sundays to buy the finest cut flowers, perennials, bedding and pot plants. Spot the odd celeb browsing the stalls and learn more from the friendly, knowledgeable sellers. The market first opened on this Hackney street in 1869, initially serving the local residents many of whom had small gardens. These days the colourful atmosphere is complemented by boutique shops including that of Rebecca Louise Law's, where she turns flowers into sculptural artworks. This month the RHS is on tour running free workshops at the market where kids can make seed bombs, flower crowns and bird feeders out of recycled materials.
Columbia Road Flower Market, E2 7RG. Open Sundays only, 8am-3pm.
Hackney City Farm
Meet pigs, donkeys, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, sheep and geese at Hackney City Farm near Bethnal Green. Established in 1984 the area was transformed from a derelict lorry park into a thriving community farm with café and pottery studio. The livestock is on rotation with a farm in Kent, so the animals get regular breaks from fast-paced city life. Fresh chicken and duck eggs can be purchased in the shop as well honey made from the farm's beehives. There are downloadable activity sheets for families to use on their visits, as well as regular events to attend.
Hackney City Farm 1a Goldsmiths Row, E2 8QA. Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4.30pm. Free Entry
William Morris Gallery
This gallery is devoted to Victorian designer William Morris, and housed in his 18th century Walthamstow townhouse. The collection is made up of textiles, furniture, ceramics, paintings, designs and personal items connected to Morris and his contemporaries the Pre-Raphaelites. Displays tell the story of Morris's beautiful art and poetry as well as his socialist political activism. Responsible for the revival of British textiles art. Morris's intricate flower pattern designs inspired the arts and craft movement. There are plenty of free family activities on offer, from manga and poetry workshops to pottery and art outdoors.
William Morris Gallery Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP. Open Wednesday-Sunday and bank holidays 10am-5pm. Free entry
Straddling the border between north east London and Essex, Epping Forest is the largest open space in London, covering 2,400 acres. Families can start their trip to this ancient site at one of four visitor centres. The View's interactive displays tell the story of the forest while The Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge allows families to learn about Henry VIII's favourite hunting destination with Tudor food and fashion exhibits. Families can also stop off in the 18th century to visit The Temple in Wanstead Park's landscaped gardens. There are walking trails to follow and frequent events including open air theatre this August.
Epping Forest The Warren, Loughton, Essex, IG10 4RW. Free entry
V&A Museum of Childhood
The V&A's other museum in Bethnal Green houses the national collection of children's objects amassed since the 1920s, with toys ancient and modern, clothes, games and paintings. A nostalgic treat for parents, it holds endless fascination for children — rarely will exhibits relate to their own life experiences so directly. Dolls and dolls houses, teddy bears, delicate paper models, famous character puppets and toy theatres appear alongside mechanical toy cars and plastic figures of all shapes and sizes. Current temporary exhibitions include The Clangers, Bagpuss and Co giving 21st century kids the chance to meet some old school 90s favourites. There are Montessori backpacks available and daily family activities include sensory animal storytelling, drop-in art and object handling.
V&A Museum of Childhood Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA. Open daily 10am-17.45pm. Free entry
This medieval manor in Dagenham is still partially surrounded by a 700 year old moat and went through a major renovation in 2010. Inside, new galleries tell the history of the manor; exhibits include a 1921 model of the house when it was still a private residence as well as archaeological finds from the local area like a Roman sarcophagus and Saxon drinking glass. Families will love spotting the variations of trees in the grounds including holm oak and coppiced hazel but might have trouble with some of the more exotic varieties such as the tulip tree and gingko biloba. There is also a herb garden, beehive, Dig for Victory plot and replica Anderson shelter to discover.
Valence House, Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 3HT. Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm Free entry
The Geffrye is London's museum of the English home from 1600 to the present day, with a collection of household goods, furniture, wallpaper, paintings, books and archive material spanning the past 400 years. Housed in a former almshouse in Hoxton, you walk along a kind of 'corridor of time' peeking into private quarters from times gone by. Alongside the museum there is also a chapel, reading and painting rooms and period gardens to explore. There are plenty of self-guided resources for families including backpacks, a quiz desk, object handling boxes, tea party hampers and a family audio tour. Family drop-in craft activities are frequently on at weekends and holidays for ages 2-16yrs.
Geffrye Museum 136 Kingsland Road, Hoxton, E2 8EA. Free entry. Tuesday-Sunday and bank holiday Monday 10am-5pm.