Where do you take a train, plane, bus and car mad three-year-old for his birthday in London? Why, The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, of course! This was Boy #2's treat of choice last week. Admittedly, they don't have airplanes there, but as a place where you can spot practically every other mode of transport in London, it ticked all his boxes.
The Transport Museum is tucked away in the South East corner of the Covent Garden Piazza, and is easily reachable by tube. As a family-friendly destination, they don't come much better than the Piazza, with it's host of shops and stalls on the galleries in the restored old Covent Garden vegetable market, the street entertainment on offer in and around it, the (admittedly pricey) restaurants and bars when you need refuelling, and the simple pleasure of being outdoors in what I personally find an exciting, buzzy and vibrant part of town. Add the Opera House, the local theatre, and the Transport Museum to the mix and this are becomes one of the top tourist attractions in London.
Something for all the family, then. But the reason for our visit last week was not to soak up the pavement culture and atmosphere, but to indulge my younger son's taste for all things wheeled, and boy, does the Museum deliver on that. It takes you on a tour of all forms of transportation, from the earliest organised hansom cabs of Victorian London through to the taxis, buses and tubes of today, stopping on the way to experience the earliest trains, horse-pulled trams, and first tubes (did you know they were originally steam driven?), showing you on the way how the system evolved to what we know today.
There was a fascinating section on the use of the tube stations as bomb shelters during World Wars I and II, and the chance to use a simulator and practice your stopping at tube stations, to name just two of the 'experiences' on offer.
Boy #2 loved it all, as his did his older brother, but the most surprising thing to me was how interesting I found it. Frankly, I would have been perfectly happy to have visited without the children and have enough time to take a proper look without being rushed on to the next 'big bus', and the next 'train! train!'
Finally, the museum is easily accessible to those pushing buggies, has plenty of facilities for the potty training families amongst us, and can be polished off in around 45 minutes if you're in a rush, but stretched out to a morning or an afternoon for those with time to kill.
We will definitely be going back...
This post was written by Potty Mummy, who blogs at The Potty Diaries, where she chronicles the trials of potty training her boys and tries to keep from becoming potty.
Photo credit: teflon