Discover – Highgate
Away from the bustle of central London, Highgate is a breath of fresh air. Children will love the slower pace and the chance to just potter. Highgate is less than 20 minutes from central London on the Northern line. There’s a creative magic about the place, and it’s been a breeding ground for creatives: Peter Sellers, Christina Rossetti and George Michael are among distinguished former Highgate residents. Here are suggestions for what to do in Highgate based on our family days out.
Set in the depths of Highgate Wood, The Pavilion Cafe is a good place to fuel any picky eaters. It’s open until late afternoon, but it does a mean breakfast and brunch. As well as staples including a full English breakfast and scrambled eggs on toast, its signature dishes include avocado on sourdough bread and homemade falafel salad. The falafel is scrummy, I’d order it any time of day – morning, noon or night. After breakfast on the terrace, which is surrounded by wisteria, head to the excellent children’s playground in Highgate Wood.
After you’re done with climbing, sliding and swinging in the playground, explore Highgate Wood. It’s a perfect spot for family den building. The wood was part of the ancient Forest of Middlesex, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. At its outermost edges, loud birdsong replaces the sounds of urban life.
Highgate High Street is where you’ll find good cafés, such as The Highgate Pantry or Gail’s, whose offerings include chocolate sourdough. Have a picnic at Waterlow Park, which has lakes and tennis courts.
Many of Highgate’s pubs are child-friendly. At The Flask, kids might mingle with the children of famous locals in the beer garden. Historic regulars include Keats, Coleridge and Byron, while Dick Turpin (the highwayman) once hid in the cellar.
When I first moved to London, Highgate Cemetery was a favourite spot, filled with the graves of the rich and famous, including Karl Marx and George Eliot. My children like to ramble around, spotting angels.
If your kids are into history, they might like to see the blue plaques on houses that show where famous people stayed. We spotted ones for Sir John Betjeman and Charles Dickens. Afterwards, walk to Hampstead Heath and cross the green to Hampstead Village to continue the hunt.
Try an early-evening dinner at Kiplings Indian Restaurant. Then head to community space Jacksons Lane for some top-class fringe theatre, circus or comedy. For a livelier time, try The Boogaloo on Archway Road.