Planning a trip across the great pond? Traveling to London is a great adventure, but for families with young children it can be a challenge to find fun things for kids to do in London. The city’s history dates back over a thousand years, but that is not going to interest young children. Taking kids to London means planning ahead for activities and destinations that will appeal to them.
Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood
The Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood is a wonderful destination for kids who are tired of the vacation. Everything about this out of the way museum is dedicated to children and the things they enjoy. Glass cases display toys from two previous centuries. Intermixed amongst the displays are hands on toys that kids can actually play with encourages the imagination. The museum often features hands-on workshops and games in the afternoon, but the schedule changes so visitors take a gamble. If planning a week’s stay in London, make this a stop on the third or fourth day of the vacation for a couple of hours in the afternoon. It’s a wonderful way for kids to relax, decompress from traveling and just be kids.
Location: Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9PA United Kingdom
Hours and Admission: Open from 10:00 – 17:45 every day/ admission is free.
Hundreds of species call the London Zoo home. The Zoo is one of the oldest in the British Isles and features animals from all over the world. Cost of admission is a bit expensive and the Zoo is located in Regent’s Park. The zoo is a minimum half-day trip for families. The zoo is not a must-see stop for tourists, but for long vacations it can be a welcome relief for kids to be able to run, see the animals and relax in a somewhat familiar surrounding that a zoo affords. A London Zoo trip is also a great time to pick up child-friendly souvenirs from stuffed animals to T-shirts and more.
Location: Regent’s Park, London, England NW1 4RY
Hours: Summer hours: 10:00 to 18:00, Off Season: 10:00 to 16:00
Admission: Adults: £13.90, Children: £10.90, Under 3: Free
Telephone:+44 (0) 20 7722 3333
The British Museum possesses some of the best collections of artifacts in the world. Young children will particularly enjoy the archaeology demonstrations that allow them to get hands on experience with some artifacts in various parts of the museum. Off the main hall is a touch and feel exhibit where visitors can get their hands on replicas of some of the British Museum’s best treasures including the Rosetta Stone. Audio tours featuring Vid the Martian are available for kids to get them excited about the exhibits. Be prepared that coin collections and odd stone works are not necessarily going to interest the kids, but the Egyptian exhibits and the mummies definitely will. These rooms tend to be really crowded the later in the day it gets, so be prepared for it. Pick up a layout map when arriving and skip the gift shop until the end of the visit. The gift shop is pricey so if kids want a souvenir, encourage them to pick up a bookmark or post cards.
Location: Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DG
Hours and Admission: Open every day, 10:00 — 17:30.
General admission is free.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7323 8299
Big Bus Company
The most expensive activity on this list is the Big Bus Company. The Big Bus Company is an open air double-decker bus tour that runs continuously throughout the day in and around central London. Tickets can be purchased at place the bus stops including from the drivers on the bus. If they can’t sell the tickets, families can go ahead and board and the ticket agent will get them later down the pike. Three different lines feature tours of major London landmarks and ticket holders can get on and off as many times as they want in a 24 hour period. Tour guides on board the buses give historical highlights, humorous commentary and cheerfully point out the best camera angles. Ticket holders can also take a boat ride down the Thames for a river view of London. Kids will love riding on the top of the open-aired double deck bus and seeing all the sights. Parents will enjoy the historical tour and both will like being able to hop off the bus and explore the area that appeals to them confident that another bus can pick them up on the route a little later in the day.
Location: All over London
Hours and Admission: Winter: 8:30 — 17:00, Summer: 8:30 — 18:00. Adults: £22.00, Children: £10.00
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7233 9533
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is an interesting diversion and part of a larger complex of museums in the South Kensington area. The Natural History Museum is a great stop for kids because it features many exhibits on dinosaurs and boasts a life-sized animatronics Tyrannosaurus Rex that roars so loud it makes the floor vibrate. Younger children may be more than a little scared by how loud it is. The exhibit winds through time and kids will delight to see faux nests set up with dinosaur eggs tucked into corners. Various parts of the museum discuss the evolution of the planet and rock formations. The free admission makes this a wonderful place to stop and explore.
Location: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
Hours and Admission: Every day 10:00 – 17:50
Admission is free
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7942 5000
Kensington Gardens is one of the larger park complexes in central London. Located near Kensington Palace, it is home to the Princess Diana Memorial as well as the Serpentine and the Peter Pan memorial. Play parks are open throughout the day and Londoners turn out in crowds during sunny weather to soak up the warmth. The length of the park makes it a nice outdoor excursion with a lovely café in the center to eat lunch at. Kids will love seeing the Queen’s swans, which make their home in the Gardens along with other varieties of water fowl. Paddle boats are also available for rental. Kensington Gardens is a relaxing place to visit during a vacation, particularly on a nice day.
Location: Kensington Gardens, London W2 2UH
Hours and Admission: 6 a.m. to dusk, Admission is free.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7298 2141