King’s Cross was once a place to be avoided but recent renovation has made it one of the most exciting and diverse areas in the city with lots for tourists and visitors to see and do. It is one of London’s most newly regenerated areas with more than 50 new buildings, streets, public squares and attractions. It is also home to a number of the city’s significant cultural markers such as Central St Martins. The King’s Cross area went into decline following the end of the Second World War and has long been in need of a facelift; it has undoubtedly been restored to its former glory and is a part of the city which is now well worth exploring.
So what is there to do around King’s Cross? Unless you happen to be an avid trains potter or plan to travel on further afield you might think that there isn’t much beyond the station but here you would be mistaken. We have handpicked just some of the wonderful ways to keep yourself and your family busy if are in the King’s Cross area:-
Discover Platform 9¾
One of the most famous connections which King’s Cross has is, of course, to the Harry Potter books as it is from King’s Cross station that the Hogwarts Express leaves London. In homage to this there is now a luggage trolley complete with fluffy Hedwig and cases situated between platforms 9 and 10, just where the secret Platform 9¾ was said to be in the books. You can join the queue of the many Potter fans that descend here daily and take your turn at pretending to push the luggage trolley through the wall, without being spotted by Muggles if you can, and don’t forget to visit the Harry Potter shop which is located next to the platform. It has been created in the style of Ollivander’s Wand Emporium and has lots of Harry Potter themed paraphernalia including robes, models and even chocolate frogs.
If the weather is nice then the perfect way to keep everyone happy is to head down to Granary Square. There are over 1,000 choreographed jets in the Square, each one is individually controlled and lit and they squirt and splash in various leaping patterns. The whole area is pretty transport-free so you can let your children run around and enjoy the delight of getting wet without having to worry and for older children there is an app called ‘Granary Squirt’ which allows them to take control of the fountains as well as playing other games. Surrounding the square are benches and tables so you can bring a picnic or pick something up at one of the nearby supermarkets and there are toilet and changing facilities too so that you don’t need to travel far if your little one suddenly needs the toilet. All you need to remember to bring is your sense of fun and a change of clothing unless you are staying in one of the nearby London boutique hotels and can make a quick dash back.
The Skip Garden
The Skip Garden is a community garden run by Global Generation with the help of local young people. It is open to the public and children of all ages are invited to get involved, get their hands dirty and enjoy some of the produce which is planted and grown in the garden. The garden is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm and there is plenty to see and do. You can watch the bees buzzing about their hives, learn how things grow, see the worms in their worm factory or visit the resident chickens. Each Saturday between July and October, Global Generation also runs special events for families, between 2pm and 4pm which involve gardening, cooking and crafts. It is entirely free and homemade snacks are also on offer although we recommend emailing to secure your place to avoid disappointment.
The House of Illustration
Also, located in Granary Square, so perfect if you are coming from a Montcalm hotel London is the House of Illustration; the only public gallery in the UK which is dedicated solely to the world of illustration. Here you will find a regular programme of exhibitions, talks and events as well as the opportunity to see and learn about illustration in all its various forms from advertisements to picture books, animation to fashion design. Founded by Sir Quentin Blake, the House of Illustration opened in 2004 and has already proven to be a wonderful new addition to the King’s Cross area.
SNUG Soft Play
All parents know the joy of soft play but how about soft play with a difference? SNUG soft play is all about engaging with the creativeness of children; instead of fixed play equipment there are soft shapes which children can move and build with to create their own play landscapes instead. From dens to tunnels, obstacle courses to trampolines, the options are limitless and there is literally hours of fun to be had for children here. Situated in Lewis Cubitt Park, the play equipment is also placed outdoors between 10am and 4pm providing that the weather is not too wet and there is also plenty of open space for older children to explore if the soft play doesn’t appeal.
Camley Street Natural Park
A true hidden gem within the built-up area of King’s Cross, Camley Street Natural Park is a two acre space situated right in the middle of the urban centre and yet it feels like you could be a million miles away. The Park is home to a vast array of wildlife including rabbits, bats, geese, herons and lots of amphibians too. There is a specific viewpoint where you can take a good look at the woodland and meadows, completely hidden from view from the wildlife. The London Wildlife Trust also runs a regular programme of family-friendly events from Camley Street Natural Park including pond dipping and bird box making.