London is big, it’s fast and it’s busy – but if you think that it’s not for kids, oh how wrong could you be! Away from the traffic and the noise lies a fascinating city with many wonderful sights and attractions for children, many of which cannot be found anywhere else. So forget the idea that London is just for grown-ups and take a look at our list of places that are perfect to visit with your little ones and the not so little ones too! Read on to find out more…
See the Animals at London Zoo
Nestled away in the far corner of Regent’s Park, is London Zoo. If you haven’t been there yet you should make it a top priority: the Zoo is home to gorillas, penguins, komodo dragons, tropical fish, big cats and pygmy hippos and many less well known species too, so it provides plenty to see. A day there is both fun and educational and we can assure you you’ll love it just as much too! The Zoo is currently in the process of its annual weigh in, where all animals big and small get weighed and measured. From weighing tree frogs in a special ‘tea spoon’ scale, to taking tigers measurements against a chart painted on a glass window, this is no small feat and great fun to observe if you’re there at the right moment!
Go to the Science Museum
The Science Museum has a huge collection of interesting exhibits, meaning there is lots to see and interact with there. Start your visit in the Energy Hall where you’ll gaze at huge steam engines and learn how steam power helped Britain to become the first industrial nation, then move on to the Explore Space exhibit and see rockets, satellites and space probes up close. Next go to the special exhibition showing 150 objects that helped to make the modern world magnificent, there are many you’ll recognise and a few surprises too! After that head to the Launchpad where children of all ages can get their hands into some serious play, with a Physics theme of course…but they might not even notice as they’ll be having fun! We love the Science Museum as this museum has really thought about entertaining everyone from the tiniest of tots to much bigger kids and parents. And the best thing? It’s free!
Stay in a Railway Hotel
The Great Northern Hotel at London’s Kings Cross St Pancras Station is the city’s original Railway Hotel. Built by the Victorian architect Lewis Cubitt it has a defiant curved shape and joins right on to the station concourse. As the area of Kings Cross has had a makeover so too did the hotel – a rather large one at approximately £44 million -but gosh has it been worthwhile! The Great Northern has 91 rooms, all decorated to a 5* standard, as well as pantries on every floor (where you and the family can help yourselves to homemade cakes) and excellent in room entertainment, which is all complimentary. If you need something a little bit more substantial than cakes and biscuits, you can check out the range of dining options available with their beautiful restaurant and bar, which both serve food until late. They can provide cots for babies and the staff are very happy to have children in this beautiful luxury boutique hotel.
See Trafalgar Square
From the fantastic lion sculptures, to the fountain, Nelsons Column and the relatively new Fourth Plinth, which has become one of London’s most exciting and well-loved public art spaces, we love Trafalgar Square. It’s a really is a memorable place to visit and in fact some of my first London memories feature the famous square. You know you’re in London when you’re there, so pack a camera and off you go.
Go to the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
If you struggle to interest your children in a full scale art gallery visit, a trip to the Turbine Hall may be just the answer. It houses just one exhibit at a time and is itself the most impressive of spaces. Children (and adults) are captivated by the sheer scale of the place and it should provoke some interesting discussion afterwards. If the kids are enjoying themselves you could take them on to explore some of the galleries permanent collections too, which are free to view and include everything from Cubist art, to Abstract art to installations.
Row on the Boating Lake in Victoria Park
Queen Victoria created this wonderful royal park for the people of London in 1841, when it was realised that living conditions in the East End were getting very bad. Today of course East London has moved on from its rugged past but the park is still enjoyed and loved by many people who live, work or play in the area. The park was even given an extra burst of cash last year when the Olympics came to town and one of the areas to benefit most was the boating lake in the west of the park. It’s great fun rowing around in your very own boat and the children can enjoy watching swans, ducks and the occasional heron glide in the water as you splash around too. If you’re a little peckish afterwards visit the Pavilion Café, where they serve good coffee, yummy cakes and a range of chilled drinks for the kiddies.
So where will you and your family go on your next trip to London? We hope you enjoy our suggestions – and if you manage all of these in one visit you’ll be doing very well! If you have any ideas yourselves we’d love to hear about them, so please do feel welcome to get in touch.