We’ve recently been thinking about having a mini break in London. There’s so much stuff for kids to do in the capital and I loved visiting with my granddad when I was younger. (Although I was too young to appreciate exactly how great his knowledge of London is after being a policeman and part of MI5)
We’ve got family that live just outside the city that we could stay with and we’d be easily be able to hop on a bus to London Victoria coach station* from Bournemouth which would be much more relaxing than driving.
I hadn’t heard of this until very recently but it sounds so exciting. I can just imagine Huxley and Nick running around and solving all the clues! You buy and print off the ‘case files’ for £6.99 – or get them posted to you (you can even have them personalised for £12.99) – and they lead you all around the different sights and parks of London. There’s 33 different treasure trails to choose from so it doesn’t matter which part of London you’re planning on being in, there’s bound to be one near you. And if you’re staying a while, then why not try a few!
Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy store in the world. It has 7 floors and over 50,000 toys. Need I say more?!
I absolutely loved visiting the Natural History Museum when I was little. It’s in the most incredibly beautiful building and is just fascinating for all ages. And it’s totally free! I remember being completely in awe of the enormous dinosaur skeleton in the main entrance hall and having a blast on all the interactive exhibits.
The London Eye is a giant ferris wheel on the side of the Thames which offers some incredible views of London’s skyline and has itself become an iconic part of it. It’s a little bit pricey but it’s the kind of thing you’ll only do once. There’s a whole range of tickets available online but my personal choice would be the ‘day and night’ ticket which is only £6 more than a regular ticket but gets you two 30-minute journeys, one in the day, and one at night. You can also save up to 24% by booking online in advance so it’s definitely worth checking out the website.
I am so going to embarrass the hell out of Huxley when he’s older. I’ll be there, at the top of the bus, dressed like Hermione, forcing a Gryffindor jumper over his head and attacking him with a lip pencil to draw on the famous scar. The tour lasts for 3 hours and you can get off the coach to take pictures at several stops. (There’s also a walking tour if that’s more your style. It’s cheaper too).
HMS Belfast was originally a Royal Navy light cruiser but is now a museum ship housed on the Thames. It’s an exciting place for kids to be as they can run around it’s 9 decks and imagine what it must have been like to live on board as one of it’s 950 sailors. Under 16’s are free and adults are £15.50.
Coram’s Fields is a seven acre playground and park in Camden. There’s a duck pond, two tennis courts, sandpits, a basketball court and a pets corner too. Entrance to the park is free, as are all activities.
The Southbank Centre is Europe’s largest centre for the arts, comprising of three main buildings. There’s a really cool skatepark, a big food market and lots of street performers busking along the way. Outside the Royal Festival Hall, the popular aquatic sculpture ‘Appearing Rooms’ by Jeppe Hein means that kids can have a bit of a splash around and cool down in the warmer weather. It’s there until 7th September and is open everyday except Mondays.
Probably aimed at older kids and certainly not for scaredy-cats, the London Dungeon takes you back through 1,000 years of London’s macabre history to learn about characters like Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper. It’s an interactive experience with actors employed to play scary characters and shows that encourage audience participation. There are also 2 rides; a water ride and a ‘drop ride’ staged as a public hanging. Lovely. Again, you can save quite a bit on ticket prices by booking online in advance.
The Horniman Museum & Gardens is a free museum specialising in natural history, anthropology and musical instruments set in 16 acres of gardens. There’s an aquarium, a small animal enclosure, a nature trail, a sound garden with large musical instruments for playing and a bandstand from 1912 overlooking the London skyline. It’s a bit quieter than the more popular museums and it’s all free!
Have you got any other favourite places to visit in London with kids that I haven’t mentioned? If you’ve done the Harry Potter tour or the treasure trail I’d love to hear about it!