Although it might feel like a daunting prospect to take children to such a bustling and busy city, London is actually the perfect destination for the family if you want a wide variety of activities to keep everyone happy and occupied. From world-class museums and art galleries to wide open spaces which are ideal for burning off excess energy right through to street art and shopping for older children, there really is no shortage of options in the big city.
Here are just some suggestions of places which offer family-friendly days out:-
London is stuffed full of interesting and diverse museums which will appeal to family members of all ages; and best of all, the majority of them offer free entry making them wallet friendly too. Some of the best in the city include the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the V&A Museum of Childhood, the National Maritime Museum and the London Transport Museum. Almost all of the aforementioned museums offer interactive displays, activity trails or specialised interactive galleries which have been designed to engage children from 0 to 16 years whilst teaching them something as well.
From city farms to the world’s oldest zoo, London is no stranger to wildlife and if you have children who are interested in animals then there are lots of options to explore. The ZSL London Zoo which is situated in North London is home to over 750 different species of animal and being located inside Regent’s Park there is also the option of exploring the park and the playgrounds once you have enjoyed the delights of the zoo itself. London also offers a number of different city farms (many with free entry) which would be the perfect option for younger children, allowing them to get up close with both traditional farm animals and endangered species as well. There is also the London Wetland Centre and the SeaLife Aquarium which are also worth considering. Not to mention of course the vast array of wildlife who make their homes in the great parks, woodlands and open spaces which can be found all over the city. You can go bat spotting in Hyde Park after dusk; ideal if you are staying at the Montcalm Hotel London or get up close to the freely roaming Red and Fallow deer in Richmond Park.
Getting to see a theatre show in London’s West End is a real treat no matter what age you are but luckily there are a number of theatres who cater for children and have created productions specifically designed to capture their young imaginations. The Unicorn Theatre on Tooley Street is the UK’s leading professional theatre for young audiences and only shows productions which are suitable for younger viewers. They have a wide range of shows as well as a regular programme of free and interactive events. The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is also home to the very famous production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a sensory masterpiece for children and adults alike and The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre would also be a brilliant option. You will also find pantomime productions taking place throughout the year at many of the theatres in the city as well.
As we mentioned briefly above, London is home to a surpirisng number of parks, woodlands and wide open spaces, any of which would be perfect if your children love being outdoors and need to run around and burn off their energy. The majority of the parks in the city have playgrounds and activity trails but some worth noting include the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens which has its own giant wooden ship, surrounded by play sand and teepees and the Tumbling Bay Playground in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which is home to tall treetop houses, wobbly bridges, rock pools, sandpits and plenty of space to run about. Crystal Palace Park is also worth a note as it is home to a number of giant dinosaur installations which will thrill any small fans as well as a boating lake and a playground. The majority of parks also offer sporting facilities and pitches if older children would be happier engaging in a game of football or tennis to help keep them active.
Food & Drink
London has a lot to offer in terms of the variety of food and drink on offer but we know that when you are travelling with children its important to find somewhere which will cater for all the needs of the family; including those who are a little on the fussy side. There are a number of options for family-friendly restaurants in the city including Bubba Gump Shrimp, Planet Hollywood, Spaghetti House and Ed’s Easy Diners. The Rainforest Café is close to the West End and offers waterfalls, lightning, rain, real tropical fish and a variety of animal installations to keep children occupied whilst they wait for their two course dinner to arrive and at All Star Lanes you can bowl whilst you enjoy some delicious food.
One final thing which is worth mentioning is the navigation of London’s public transport network. London has an extensive choice when it comes to methods of transport and often children under the age of 16 can travel for free or at a discount when joined by a full paying adult. The tube is the obvious choice for getting around the city as it is fairly straightforward and quick; however it is worth noting that if you are travelling with younger children and perhaps a pushchair that you should avoid the tube between commuter hours (7-9am and 5-7pm) as the stations can be incredibly busy, the trains are often heaving and young children may find the noise overwhelming. A number of the stations don’t offer escalators or lifts either, only stairs so it is worth checking which stations these are to try and avoid them (the information can be found on the TfL website)