There’s no doubt about it, London is a city jam-packed with absolutely brilliant attractions for the kids. The problem can be, though, that too many are a little on the pricey side during an already costly family getaway.
Hath no fear; for the UK capital definitely comes up trump here, thanks to its array of fantastic free-to-enter venues, so many of which are perfect for entertaining little tykes – and their parents. Not least because these world-class attractions pride themselves in putting on the likes of guided tours/ audio guides, treasure trails and all manner of special activities and classes during school holidays.
Indeed, here are four of London’s very finest family-friendly attractions – to be enjoyed with or without London hotels special offers…
Natural History Museum
(Cromwell Road SW7 5BD/ Nearest Tube: South Kensington)
A destination that usually delivers nothing but awe in first-time visitors (especially the young in age and the young at heart), the Natural History Museum is resplendent not just with millions of animal and plant specimens and fossils of all kinds, animatronic and skeletal dinosaurs and mind-blowing exhibits, but also resides in a wonderfully splendid-looking, Victorian-era building.
With so much to see here, then, where to start? Well, that has to be the entrance hall, where you’re greeted by an, extraordinary, gigantic skeleton of a blue whale (the largest mammal on Earth) and, of course, you then have to turn to your left into the dinosaur exhibit area. Kids of all ages, let’s face it, are fascinating and enchanted by these amazing prehistoric creatures and it’s a brilliant experience to get up close and personal with the area’s recreated versions of them – not least the always roaring T-Rex!
(Exhibition Road SW7 2DD/ Nearest Tube: South Kensington)
Practically next door to the Natural History Museum, you’ll find this fantastic venue that enables your ankle-biters to discover all about how our world’s enabled and defined by science and technology – yes, all for free (which should go down a treat if parents are looking to enjoy spa breaks London, too).
Brimming with absolutely brilliant interactive exhibits, though it is, it’s actually usually less busy than the Natural History Museum, which might prove an up-tick for you. As far as the kiddos are concerned, though, the top floor’s ‘Launchpad’ is where go for captivating, cool experiments and informative shows, while pre-schoolers are catered for by activities ideal for the very young.
As you’d expect, too, this place’s gift shop is well up to the mark (as is its restaurant, in fact) but you’re advised to bring long because they can’t be definitely guaranteed to take cards.
Victoria and Albert Museum
(Cromwell Road SW7 2RL/ Nearest Tube: South Kensington)
An utter haven for the decorative arts; with fascinating, beautiful pieces always on display, along with exhibitions, tours, films and lectures, this place truly does have something for everyone – not least the little ones!
A near-neighbour to both the Science and Natural History Museum, the V&A (as it’s affectionately known) is undoubtedly one of London’s prime free-to-enter destinations for young and old alike; the colour and vibrancy of all the objects in its collection and its interactive exhibits being perhaps its chief highlights – and it’s extremely easy to get to from all 5 star hotels London.
Plus, you can’t really go wrong, especially when it comes to the kids, with theatre-costume dress-up stations, fascinating areas focusing on different genres and eras of music and rotating displays on varied religions and their histories.
A massive, diverse museum, then, the V&A is absolutely packed full of all sorts of different things; everything from fashion design examples to priceless pottery to delightful trinkets – so, be sure to pop on a pair of headphones for the total immersive audio-guide experience!
Horniman Museum and Gardens
(100 London Road SE23 3PQ/ Nearest train station: Forest Hill)
Away from South Kensington and, in fact, out of the centre of town in South East London, you’ll find the eclectic, unique and always kid-friendly Horniman Museum. Ever since opening its doors to the public back in 1901, this place has showcased the really rather extraordinary collection of objects, specimens and artefacts gathered together by Frederick John Horniman, a Victorian tea trader and philanthropist.
Truly, you’ll be amazed by all that’s to be explored and experienced here. It may be said that it specialises in natural history – a bit like a mini-Natural History Museum, perhaps – but with a focus, too, on anthropology and a with a very playful area set aside for all manner of musical instruments, the diversity of this place is difficult to overstate.
Indeed, there’s even something of an Indiana Jones vibe to some areas, packed as they are with exotic masks, stuffed animals and ritual pieces that evoke memories of being captivated by so-called far-off lands of times past from the stories of childhood. Perfect, then, you might say, for captivating the minds of your little ones!
However, the Horniman isn’t just about the interiors; its exteriors deserve mention, too. After all, its building is an architectural delight of the Victorian age; boasting wonderful walls of limestone and an elegant tall clocktower. Meanwhile, the gardens that surround the house are a haven of glorious green for young and old(er) alike on warm, summery days – brilliant for a picnic, to say the least!
9 more marvellous London museums
Finally, the following is a list of further free-to-enter, not-to-be-missed museums-cum-attractions for all family – and all within easy reach of Central London accommodation like Montcalm Brewery. Some are terrific behemoths (the British Museum being the obvious example); others nice surprises – the Wallace Collection, for instance, may seem a rather dry, dusty hifalutin art gallery, but kids’ll doubtless be beguiled by its awesome array of historical armour. Enjoy…!
- The British Museum (Bloomsbury/ Nearest Tube: Russell Square)
- Museum of London (Barbican/ Nearest Tube: Barbican)
- Grant Museum of Zoology (Bloomsbury/ Nearest Tube: Warren Street)
- Wellcome Collection (Bloomsbury/ Nearest Tube: Euston Square)
- London Transport Museum (Covent Garden/ Nearest Tube: Covent Garden)
- National Maritime Museum (Greenwich/ Nearest DLR: Greenwich)
- Royal Observatory (Greenwich/ Nearest DLR: Greenwich)
- Sir John Soane’s Museum (Holborn/ Nearest Tube: Holborn)
- Wallace Collection (Mayfair/ Nearest Tube: Bond Street)