London is an exciting and vibrant city to visit when you have children, with lots of diverse and interesting attractions to keep the entire family happy. The only trouble with having so much to do is knowing which attractions are worth your time (and sometimes money) and which are worth giving a miss until your children are older or to stop them getting bored because they have outgrown the attraction itself. For this reason we have gathered together our suggestion for the top 10 things to do in London with kids, with some age recommendations to give you a rough idea of who the attractions are aimed at:
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a great option for any children aged 5+ right through to adults. This landmark has over 1,000 years of history for the whole family to explore with interactive exhibits which allow children to get up close with some of the artefacts, trails which encourage children to look around them and see what they can discover and lots of family friendly activities throughout the year as well. Over the centuries, the Tower of London has had a varied role in London from palace to prison, zoo to place of execution; older children and teenagers may enjoy the darker history which surrounds this historic royal landmark London especially a visit to the Tower of Torture, otherwise known as Wakefield Tower. The Tower of London is a very popular attraction in the city so we would suggest arriving as close to opening time as you can to try and beat the crowds of tourists.
The London Transport Museum
If you are staying in one of the hotels near Oxford Street London then it will take you less than 20 minutes to reach the London Transport Museum and if you have younger children then this is an absolute must. There is a large collection of buses, trains, trams and subway cars and the majority of the exhibitions are interactive with a family play zone for children aged between 0-7 years which features a real bus children can pretend to drive, uniforms for dress up, and an area specifically for babies. There are lots of special creative events which take place throughout the year, particualry over the school holidays and the museum is extremely family friendly with a café, a baby feeding room and plenty more besides.
The Royal Air Force Museum
Although this museum is set a little bit out of the way if you are staying in central London, perhaps at a Marble Arch London hotel, if you have a fan of planes in your family then you can’t go wrong with a trip to the RAF Museum. There is over 100 aircraft at the museum, the world’s only life-sized display model of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jet, an exhibition on the First World War in the air, and plenty of stories of those who served in the Royal Air Force throughout the years. Best of all, it is entirely free.
Children of all ages will enjoy a trip to Buckingham Palace and, if you time your visit well, you can also get to experience the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place at the Palace on a daily basis at 11am. If your children are particularly small then you might want to exchange the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace for the one at Windsor Castle instead, although this is at least a 35 minute journey outside of London, it offers smaller crowds and more pomp and pageantry. Be sure to head over to St James’s Park once you have seen Buckingham Palace and watch out for the resident Pelicans who reside here.
The Natural History Museum
This museum is, without a doubt, one of the most popular attractions in London but with very good reason. There is simply so much to see and do here and we think any children aged 3 upwards will enjoy exploring all that the Natural History Museum has to offer. You can get up close with animals from times gone by including sabre-tooth tigers, discover all manner of bugs and mini-beasts, and find out about the fantastic forces which shape our world such as volcanoes and earthquakes or take some time to wander around the tranquil wildlife garden. The Natural History Museum is free to enter and there is plenty here for both adults and children to enjoy.
The London Eye
If you want to be amazed at the size and scale of London’s skyline then be sure to book your tickets and hop aboard a capsule on the London Eye. On a clear day it is possible to see for miles across London and younger children may enjoy trying to spot all the famous landmarks of the city. There are interactive screens and guides within each capsule and it takes around 30 minutes for the wheel to go around fully ; although it probably isn’t for anyone who is scared of heights it does move at a slow speed so isn’t scary in any other sense.
Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Located in Kensington Gardens, the Princess Diana Memorial Playground is an excellent place to head if you want to enjoy some fresh air and let the kids burn off some energy. The playground is completely enclosed and features a giant wooden pirate ship surrounded by play sand, with teepees and a range of sensory and interactive elements for children of all ages to enjoy.
The National Gallery
Entry to the National Gallery is free although there are kid-friendly audio tours which can be hired and assist children in engaging with the vast collection of art found here. There are also regular interactive sessions for families aimed at the under 5’s and those aged between 5-11 years which take place on a Sunday.