Tours of stately palaces and gilded manors once populated by royals and aristocrats are part of the experience of visiting London, but for a glimpse at how the city’s 99% did their day-to-day shopping, take your family to Covent Garden. Established more than 500 years ago as an open-air fruit and vegetable market, the area has added plenty of modern conveniences, yet glimpses of its 18th century heyday remain. While most of the food stalls have moved away, the 1830 neo-classical market hall, with its glass roof and iron arches, remains filled with bustling crowds, exuberant buskers, and top-quality shops. Turn onto the cobbled stretch of James Street outside Covent Station for the most colorful approach. Flanked by street performers, your kids will undoubtedly jump when the bronze statue they’re staring at springs from its podium. Continue down the road into the stone-walled hall ringed with both brand names and local boutiques. While the kids create their very own Paddington at the Build-A-Bear Workshop, mom can hit the Dior store around the corner for a few luxury must-haves. After a brief snack in the entry arcade—or a quick pint for dad at nearby Punch & Judy’s—head to the far back courtyard. There, talented street performers make their voices heard across the large stone square, juggling, break dancing, and singing by the dingy colonnades at the back of St. Paul’s Cathedral. As the kids gawk at what feels like a public version of Britain’s Got Talent, take a relaxing moment to appreciate the fascinating scene, where generations of exhausted parents have heaved the same satisfied sighs that signal the end of a memorable family day.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden Piazza WC2E 8RF

44 20 7395 3765

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