Perhaps you think it’s daunting to visit London with kids but there is so much happening in this city it’s a pleasure to bring the family along. Here are our top tips on how to do London with kids.
The fact is that kids will enjoy the London Eye, Tower of London, Madame Tussauds and the other main attractions, but why not try to do something a little different and experience another side to London. These top tips will allow the whole family to see the city from a new perspective.
Museums that challenge young minds
©TfL, from London Transport Museum Collection
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of museums in London especially when everyone in the family has different preferences. Do your research in advance and plan just one or two museums but do them well. Popular museums for young minds include the London Transport Museum (free of charge for those under 18), V&A Museum of Childhood and the Science Museum. Each one is thought provoking and interactive for the kids.
Matinee Musical at the West End
West End Musicals are often on in the evening past the kids’ bedtime, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Why not take them to a matinee performance instead? Great child-friendly classics are on throughout the week, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion King and Matilda. The best part is they are entertaining for all ages so you’ll also enjoy the theatrics.
Treasure hunts instead of a guided tour
Instead of taking the kids on a guided tour that requires them to listen and sit still, choose Treasure Trails instead. The kids won’t have a chance to get restless or bored because they will be too busy trying to solve the mystery. In Greater London alone, there are 34 treasure trails to choose from. All you have to do is select a treasure hunt, spy mystery or murder mystery and your location. You will be given a self-guided trail to follow and your job is to solve the challenge and uncover the secrets of London. Trails are suitable for all ages and as you crack the clues, you’ll get a chance to explore the sights along the way.
Unicorn children’s theatre
London has a huge variety of theatres with programmes dedicated to young audiences. The Unicorn Theatre schedules performances aimed specifically at 2-21 year olds. This theatre attracts over 60,000 children through its doors annually with shows, workshops, events and activities. Toddlers can learn through colours, sounds and storytelling. Primary children can be inspired through dance, music, acting and performances. For secondary children, the shows touch on topical issues teenagers can relate to that will perhaps give them food for thought, as well as inspiring and entertaining. No matter of age, your family are guaranteed to enjoy the experience of watching professional actors bringing the show to life.
Enter the magical world of Harry Potter
If your children love reading, chances are (if they are old enough) they have read Harry Potter, or seen the movies, or both. Perhaps you have too? If so, turn this imaginary magical world into a reality at the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Take your family on an adventure into the film studio where the making of Harry Potter is brought to life. Walk through the exact sets where Harry and his friends had many adventures. See the iconic props, costumes, animatronic creatures and even how the special effects were made for the films. Walk into the Great Hall, along Diagon Alley, or see how playing Quidditch was possible with green screen technology. Bring Hogwarts to life with an unforgettable adventure.
Run off some energy in Hyde Park
Take a breather from the hustle and bustle of London and spend some time in Hyde Park. Here the kids can run around freely, feed the squirrels and birds and enjoy a family picnic. After lunch, why not try out the pedalos at the boating pond, visit Hyde Park Stables for a leisurely ride through the park or lessons, or try out your tennis, lawn bowling or putting skills at the park’s sports centre. The park’s Serpentine Lido provides an open-air swimming facility between June and September, as well as a paddling pool for younger kids, a playground, deckchairs for sunbathing and Lido Cafe Bar for refreshments. Hyde Park is transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland from November to January with an ice rink, Magical Ice Kingdom, circus shows and the Giant Wheel.
Diana Memorial Playground
Diana Memorial Playground is located in Kensington Gardens next to Hyde Park. This magical wonderland is inspired by the stories of Peter Pan and attracts over one million visitors annually. The play area includes a pirate ship, teepees, a beach, toys and sculptures. The tranquil setting amidst trees and plants make it a pleasurable environment for supervising parents.
Check out toy heaven at Hamleys
If you visit Hamleys, don’t expect to come out empty handed. As the children browse the store excitedly, they will find every cartoon, TV or film character they love before their eyes, and on a large scale. The store has a huge selection of preschool and soft toys, dolls such as Barbie, action games and figures, building materials such as Lego, Playmobil and Meccano, and much more. This is every child’s dream.
Cuddle animals at a city farm
London is so vast that often kids don’t get to experience rural life. Luckily, there are many city farms that bring this experience to the inner city. Take the kids along to meet farm animals and some more exotic species. Petting zoos allow the kids to cuddle their favourites, and many farms have play parks, gardens and farm shops where you can pick up some tasty local produce to try once you get home.
A day trip to Legoland®
If Lego® is the toy of choice in your household then Legoland® Windsor is the perfect day trip. Experience the thrill of over 50 interactive activities, including water rides, a pirate trail, Viking fleet and recreated cities from around the world. The attractions are aimed at 2-12 year olds and includes a dedicated Duplo Valley for the tiny tots. Meet all your favourite Lego® characters and more in this beautiful park.
To find more ideas and inspiration for your next family trip to London, check out the Day out with the Kids Guide and Visit London. The Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, London is centrally located and minutes from Hyde Park, the West End and Oxford Street making the perfect base for discovering the city.
Top image: ©Treasure Trails