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Best Things to Do in London with Kids

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This extensive list of the best things to do in London with kids is divided into sections for kids under 5, children over 5, best activities for the whole family, food experiences, and theatre.

This extensive list of things to do in London with kids is divided up into sections for kids under 5, children over 5 years old, best activities for the whole family, food experiences, and theatre.

I have done my best to include links and information on ticket prices throughout this guide. Since information often changes, double-check individual websites for any closure information and updated pricing.

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids

Table of Contents

London is a very family-friendly travel destination. Many museums are free, and most have children’s play areas. London’s playgrounds are incredible, and most have cafes and bathrooms on site. Plus, the underground makes getting around a breeze!

London Family Travel Tips

Getting Around

The underground is usually the fastest and easiest way to get around, but it isn’t the most stroller-friendly since most stations have escalators instead of elevators. I bring a folding travel stroller to London. It’s easy to carry onto the tube, plus it allows our toddler to nap on the go.

London’s black cabs are exempt from the rules that require children to be in car seats. I know this might sound scary to an American, but considering how slowly the traffic moves in London, it hasn’t worried me. On occasion, we will take a black cab. Note that car seat regulations are different in Europe, and American car seats may not be approved for use in England.

Lunch on the Go

I have found that most London museums, including the Science Museum, Postal Museum, Museum of the Docklands, and London Zoo offer affordable kid’s lunch boxes at the cafes. The boxes have a simple sandwich, chips, fruit, and juice box and are an easy lunch option if you are on the go.

Be Prepared for Crowds

My favorite hack is to wear bright colors when we go to busy spaces. It never hurts to have your little ones wear brightly colored hats or jackets when you bring them to a playground or a crowded place. I wear a red backpack, so I am easy to find, too.

Activities for the Whole Family

These are activities that your family will enjoy no matter what children’s ages are – impressive museums, historic sites, and unique London experiences.

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids of All Ages - these are activities that the whole family will love!

The London Transport Museum

Located in Covent Garden, the transport museum is fun for all ages. Visitors can get an up-close look at black cabs, trolleys, trains, and double-decker buses. There is a play area for young children, and visitors can climb aboard some of the vehicles. The £24.50 adult admission ticket for this museum gets you a yearlong membership and kids go free. Book your tickets in advance since this is one of the very best things to do in London with kids, and it is especially busy on weekends and during school breaks.

The Science Museum

The Science Museum is terrific because it is a free museum with a play area for young children and exhibits that older children will love. You can avoid waiting in line by pre-booking your admission ticket. Families will love exploring the Space Gallery with space suits, descent modules, and rockets. Don’t miss the Wonderlab, an interactive gallery, or the chance to see a show in the IMAX theatre.

The Museum of Natural History

London’s Museum of Natural History is home to the most intact Stegosaurus skeleton ever found! More family favorites include the Dinosaur gallery, animal specimens (including the extinct dodo bird), and the Volcanoes and Earthquakes gallery. Entry to the museum is free, and you can avoid lines by booking tickets online. The Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum are next to one another, so you can easily make a day out of going to both.

Kew Gardens

Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to over 50,000 living plants! Walk through gardens and greenhouses, stroll along the Treetop Walkway, and see the Waterlily House. Kids will love the Children’s Garden, an outdoor play space inspired by the earth’s elements.

The Paddington Bear Experience

Opening in May 2024 at County Hall in Southbank, The Paddington Bear Experience takes you inside Paddington’s world as the Brown Family prepares for the Marmalade Day Festival! The journey begins by boarding a full-sized train carriage and traveling through London to the Brown’s home at 32 Windsor Gardens. Visitors get to dance, play, and dine on festive treats. Children’s tickets start at £24.50 while adult tickets start at £32.50.

The Changing of the Guard

Watching the changing of the guard is one of the most popular things to do in London with kids. It takes place at Buckingham Palace at 11 a.m., usually on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. However, always double-check the website for up-to-date information.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden 7

Covent Garden is a marketplace that is home to restaurants, luxury brand shops, and market stalls. Street performers can be found singing, doing circus tricks, or doing magic outside on the piazza. A visit to the market is an essential thing to do in London with kids. Make sure you stop into Neal’s Yard, a colorful hidden courtyard. The Transport Museum is in Covent Garden so you can combine a visit to the market with the museum.

The London Zoo

The London Zoo is home to over 10,000 animals, including lions, tigers, giraffes, alpacas, monkeys, zebras, penguins, and hippos. Ticket prices start at £18.90 for children 3-15 and £27.00 for adults. Children 2 and under are free. Be sure to check out the petting zoo and playground. Conveniently, there is a cafe that offers coffee, snacks, and kids meals beside the playground.

If your children are at least five years old, you can stay overnight at the London Zoo Lodges beside the Land of the Lions habitat. The stay includes an after-hours tour of the zoo, meals, and a meet and greet with a zookeeper.

The London Eye

This massive revolving observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions. The ride lasts 30 minutes and provides 360-degree views of London, including landmarks like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace. Book online in advance for the best pricing: tickets start at £26 for children and £30 for adults.

IFS Cloud Cable Car

This cable car runs across the River Thames between the IFS Greenwich Peninsula and the IFS Royal Docks. The ride lasts about 10 minutes and costs £30.00 for a family round-trip ticket (2 adults and 3 children). It’s an affordable and less crowded alternative to the London Eye, but it isn’t as centrally located. I recommend pairing this activity with a visit to the National Maritime Museum or the Cutty Sark which are both in Greenwich (get there by hopping on the ferry from North Greenwich Pier to Greenwich Pier).

Sky Garden

What to do in the City of London Sky Garden

If you want to experience panoramic views of London for free, go to Sky Garden. Located on the 35th floor of the building affectionately known as the “walkie-talkie” due to its unique shape, Sky Garden is a public garden under a glass dome.

What to do in the City of London Sky Garden View

Visitors can admire the lush gardens and the sweeping views of the city, including a fantastic view of Tower Bridge. Admission is free but book a reservation online.

Hamleys

The Regent Street shop opened in 1881 and is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world. It spans seven floors and has sections devoted to Harry Potter, Peppa Pig, Lego, Barbie, and more. The top floor is transformed into Santa’s grotto at Christmastime, and children can meet Father Christmas. All kids agree that a trip to this store is one of the best things to do in London with kids.

The Waterbus

The waterbus connects Little Venice and Camden Market. Purchase one-way tickets in either direction for a 45-minute tour that explains the history of the canals and the buildings alongside it. My daughter loved this experience and I thought it was a convenient way to travel along the canal (something we needed to do since we stayed near Little Venice). Adult tickets are £15 and children between 5-16 are £11. Kids under 5 are free. Book tickets online.

Horniman Museum and Gardens

The unique and unusual specimens at this museum devoted to displays of anthropology, natural history, and musical instruments include an over-stuff walrus and a merman. The museum even has a 15-exhibit aquarium with Fijian coral reefs and poison dart frogs.

Some special exhibitions and the aquarium require a paid ticket, but prices are affordable with the aquarium costing £13 for a family of four.

Hampton Court Palace

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids - Explore Hampton Court Palace and the grounds and then go to the Magic Garden, an exceptional playground!

This is more of a day trip since it is about an hour from central London – but I highly recommend it! Hampton Court Palace was the home of Henry VIII and visitors can see Henry’s Crown, explore the kitchen garden, and view the paintings in the Mantegna Gallery. This is one of the best things to do in London with kids because it truly mixes an immersive educational history experience with the chance to visit an exceptional playground.

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids - The Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace is an exceptional playground on a historic site!

For children, the most spectacular part of a visit to Hampton Court Palace is a visit to the Magic Garden, a huge fairytale-inspired playground. Admission is included with palace tickets, and parents will be happy to hear that the playground has a cafe, Wi-Fi, and bathrooms. Adult tickets for Hampton Court Palace start at £27.20, children between 5-15 are £13.60, and children under five are free.

The Golden Hinde

The Golden Hinde is a full-sized replica of the Elizabethan galleon Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the world! In addition to offering guided tours, kids might want to check out their escape room and pirate training events. Admission for adults and children costs £6, admission for a family of four is £18, and children under three are free. The Golden Hinde is docked near Borough Market, so it would be easy to pair these activities.

Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is Victorian-era tea clipper famous for being the fastest ship of its time. Climb aboard and meet (guides playing) the captain and crew of the ship, visit the crew’s quarters, and play interactive games. The Cutty Sark is located in Greenwich, just beside Greenwich Pier and is a short walk from the Maritime Museum.

I recommend pairing a visit to the Cutty Sark with a stop at The Cove, the new playground at the Maritime Museum. Adult tickets are £20 and children’s tickets are £10. Children under four are free. Children ages 10 and up might want to try the Cutty Sark Rig Climb experience.

A Walk in London

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids - Books to Read before You Go!

A Walk in London is a book by Salvatore Rubbino that can easily be turned into a DIY tour of London’s landmarks! Leading up to our trips to London, I get our daughter excited by reading London-themed books including A Walk in London and All Aboard the London Bus. A Walk in London includes tidbits of history while highlighting landmarks that most tourists visit during their time in London such as Big Ben, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and the Tower of London. The book neatly outlines a specific route that starts at Westminster Bridge and finishes at Tower Pier where you can catch the Thames ferry back to the starting point. While we haven’t done the full walking path, I like to show my daughter specific pages of the book before we go to those sites.

Best London Playgrounds

I’ve written a detailed guide to our favorite playgrounds, including Diana Memorial Playground, Coram’s Field, Tumbling Bay at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Hobbledown Heath, and Paddington Recreation Ground. These exceptional playgrounds all have on-site cafes and bathrooms, and are spaces where your children can explore and play.

Babylon Park

This indoor amusement park has rides, games, and activities for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. You can drive bumper cars, ride on a little rollercoaster, play air hockey, and try arcade games. If you have toddlers or young children, there is a climbing structure for them to explore. Just note that shoes need to be taken off and socks are required.

Family Photos

We always struggle to get photos of our whole family while we are traveling. We booked Gráinne through Flytographer and had a great experience and loved the photos!

Crystal Palace Park

This park is home to a farm, a Victorian maze, and dinosaur statues! The farm is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 12 pm to 3:30 pm, and it gives children the opportunity to meet and greet animals, including goats, ducks, pigs, ponies, alpacas, and reptiles. The statues depicting dinosaurs and extinct animals on the south of the park are especially popular with families. While Crystal Palace Park looks far from the center of London on the map, it’s just 22 minutes from Canada Water station on the Overground.

Battersea Park Children’s Zoo

This zoo has smaller animals like parrots, monkeys, otters, goats, lizards, pigs, and ponies, plus an adventure playground. While this zoo is smaller than the London Zoo and doesn’t have as wide a variety of animals, it is significantly more affordable (about half the price)! Adult tickets are £13.95, children’s tickets are £11.95, and children under 2 are free.

Sealife London Aquarium

To put it bluntly, this aquarium feels like a tourist trap. Tickets are expensive, with children’s tickets costing £30 and adult tickets priced at £33. When we went, it was very crowded, to the point that we felt like we were fighting for a space where we could see the fish.

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A complete guide to the Best Things to Do in London with Kids: activities for toddlers, older kids, and entire families!

Food Experiences

Don’t believe the stereotypes about British food, these food experiences are a must when you visit London.

Afternoon Tea

Essential London Restaurants The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Afternoon tea is the essential London foodie experience! Feast on finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries paired with tea, champagne, or hot chocolate.

There are some afternoon teas that are more geared toward children and families. The Chesterfield Mayfair has a sweetshop-inspired family-friendly afternoon tea, and Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tours offers multiple children’s themed tours. If you don’t want the full afternoon tea experience, The Ivy Cafes offer cream tea which is tea and scones.

Sunday Roast

british foods to try in london 1

If you are in London on a Sunday, make a point to go to a pub for the Sunday Roast! This meal is only served on Sunday afternoons and consists of roast meat, potatoes, vegetables, yorkshire pudding, and gravy. Most pubs offer a choice of roast chicken, beef, pork, or lamb. Usually, pubs offer a half roast, which is a children’s sized portion. It’s best to make a reservation in advance. My favorite Sunday Roast is at The Warrington in St. John’s Wood, but most pubs offer this meal.

Full English Breakfast

british foods to try in england

Nothing fuels you up for a day of sightseeing like a Full English Breakfast. We like to go to The Ivy Cafe since this meal is available there every day of the week. Traditionally, this meal includes eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, and baked beans served with toast. Often, vegetarian options are available.

Camden Market

Camden Market is part food hall, part antiques market, and part arts and crafts fair. This massive market has over a thousand stalls. The food market is located outside in the courtyard and includes dozens stalls serving global street food. Several tours of Camden Market are available.

Borough Market

Borough Market

The last time I went to Borough Market was at 11 am on a Tuesday in March—not exactly high season or a peak time, but it was packed. This food hall is home to the viral chocolate strawberries as well as street food from around the world. One thing that I like about Borough Market is that it is covered, so it can be enjoyed on rainy days.

Best Things to Do in London with Kids Under 5

The Best Things to Do in London with kids under 5 - a complete family travel guide.

Many of the museums are on this list of things to do in London with kids under five because they have great play spaces geared at young children.

Discover Children’s Story Centre

This exceptional indoor/outdoor place space meant to inspire the imagination has two levels, a special exhibition, and a large outdoor playground. This isn’t a touristy activity; if you visit, you will be surrounded by locals. Book tickets in advance, and I recommend adding tickets to the special exhibition, which is an immersive journey to another planet. Ticket prices start at £10 for children and adults.

The Postal Museum

I was shocked at how much we loved this museum! Not only are there excellent exhibits for young children, it felt like the museum was created with families in mind. The cafe can warm up bottles for little ones, plus the cafe has affordable kids’ meals (this is standard at London museums), and signs in the bathroom indicate that extra diapers and wipes are available for caregivers who ran out.

The big highlights for young ones include Sorted!, a postal-themed play space that requires an additional booking, and the Mail Rail, the underground train that used to deliver mail between stations that has been turned into a ride and exhibit. Tickets start at £17.60 for adults and £10 for children.

See the Paddington Statue and Shop at the Paddington Shop

Chances are you will find yourself at Paddington Station at some point, so why not check out the Paddington Statue and the Paddington Shop while you are there? This was when we got off the Heathrow Express after arriving in London at 6 a.m., which is why my daughter is in pajamas.

Museum of the Docklands

You might wonder why I list a museum about the River Thames and the shipping industry as one of the best things to do in London with kids under 5. The answer is that their play space for young children, called Mudlarks, is adorable! There is a soft play section, a climbing area, water play, and stations where kids can dress up like dockworkers and load toy boats. Entrance to the museum itself is free, and Mudlarks play sessions are just £3 per person. (Pre-booking is recommended).

National Maritime Museum

Similar to the Museum of the Docklands, the National Maritime Museum has a wonderful play space for young kids. The nautical-themed space called AHOY! has a pirate ship, toy cannons, and a fish market. Note: AHOY! is closed until Summer 2025 while roof work is being completed.

The museum has just opened a new outdoor playground called The Cove, which has a multi-level ship jungle gym, a shark maze, and a giant sea creature. This playground was built to be an inclusive space for children of different abilities and sensory needs.

Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Brigit’s Bakery offers a variety of afternoon tea bus tours that combine classic afternoon tea with sightseeing on a vintage double-decker bus. The Peppa Pig tour is unique because it welcomes children between the ages of 2 and 5. Other tours are for children ages 5 and up. My daughter loves this tour so much that we have been on it twice.

Mudchute City Farm

Did you know that London has urban farms? This large farm on the Isle of Dogs is free to visit and allows children to see sheep, cows, chickens, and goats up close. The park and farm span 32 acres and are home to over 100 animals. We went since we are city dwellers, and my daughter loves farm animals.

Best Things to Do in London with Kids over Five

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids Over 5 - museums, historic sites, playgrounds, and activities for a memorable trip!

The best things to do in London with kids over five years old include historic sites, museums, and activities that bring history to life.

Young V&A

London’s newest museum is free and geared toward children! It has three main galleries: Imagine, Play, and Design. The museum has both exhibitions that take on topics like Japanese folklore and hands-on workshops where young people can learn skills like collage and sewing.

The Tower of London

The Best Things to Do in London with Kids - The Tower of London

A visit to the Tower of London tops most lists of best things to do in London with kids since history is brought to life here. The tours, led by guides dressed in their Beefeater uniforms, are excellent and included in the price of admission. Make sure you plan to spend several hours here since there is so much to see. I recommend going right when the tower opens and heading straight to the Crown Jewels since that line can get quite long. Then go on the Beefeater tour and explore the The White Tower, Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Battlements, and the Medieval Palace. It is important to note that the Tower of London does have a dark history and the tour discusses the Princes in the Tower and executions. This isn’t suitable for all children.

Book tickets online in advance since this is a top London attraction. Tickets start at £34.80 for adults, £17.40 for children 5-15, and children 4 and under are free.

London Dungeon

Visiting the London Dungeon is an immersive experience brought to life by theatrical actors, rides, and special effects. The darkest parts of London’s history are brought to life including witch trials, Guy Fawkes, the Plague, and Jack the Ripper.

Tickets start at £26.50 for adults and £20.50 for children 5-15 years old. Children under five are not permitted. While children over the age of five are permitted to visit the London Dungeon, personally, I would carefully review the website and only bring children who are ten or older.

The British Museum

The British Museum is one of London’s most iconic museums. Home to artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, Raphael sketches, the bust of Ramesses the Great, and Samurai armour.

This museum is free, so you can make a quick visit without feeling like you need to get your money’s worth. If your children like history, it is easy to spend half a day here. You might want to start your visit with the Children’s Trail, which takes you to see 12 objects in the museum’s galleries. The museum also has a one hour trail, a three hour trail, and thematic trails to explore.

It is best to book your free tickets online in advance for priority entry. There is a charge to visit special exhibitions.

It’s easy to slide a visit to this free museum beside Trafalgar Square into your itinerary. Explore portraits spanning the 1500s to today. Collection highlights include portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, The Brontë Sisters, Winston Churchill, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Like London’s other free museums, it is best to book your free ticket online in advance to avoid lines.

Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is devoted to displaying works by British artists and has the world’s largest collection of works by JMW Turner. More highlights include Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, Carnation Lily, Lily Rose by John Singer Sargent, and The Seagram Mural by Mark Rothko.

This museum is free, and pre-booking is not required. If you would like to view a special exhibition, you should purchase your ticket in advance.

Tate Modern

While Tate Britain is focused on displaying works by British artists, the Tate Modern displays works from artists of all nationalities from 1900 to today. You can find works by Picasso, Pollock, Matisse, Warhol, Duchamp, and Hockney displayed here.

Admission to the museum is free. The Tate Modern is located in Bankside and is a short walk from Borough Market on the South Bank.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum

What to do in Mayfair and Marylebone | The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Enter the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and take a step back to the Victorian era. This museum and ode to the famed fictional detective is located at the exact address where Holmes and Dr. Watson resided from 1881 to 1904. There is often a line at this museum, so book tickets online in advance. Prices range from £12.00 to £20.00 for adults and from £7.00 to £15.00 for children.

Platform 9 3/4

Located at King’s Cross Station, Platform 9 3/4 is a fun Harry Potter-themed photo opp. You can find the platform with the luggage trolley embedded in the wall in the station concourse (it isn’t between platforms 9 and 10 as it is in the films). After you get your photo, you might want to check out the Harry Potter Shop at the station.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour London | The Best Things to Do in London with Kids

A visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour is an easy day trip from London. Explore iconic Harry Potter sets, see the costumes and props, and step on to platform 9 3/4. I went years ago and loved it – this is a must for Harry Potter fans of all ages. This is extremely popular, so book it in advance.

The House of MinaLima

While we are on the topic of Harry Potter, the House of MinaLima is a gallery and store in Soho from the team behind the graphic art and design in the Harry Potter films. It’s free to visit and open daily.

Leadenhall Market

Harry Potter Filming Locations - Leadenhall Market

This covered Victorian market in the City of London neighborhood served as the location for Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Look for 57 Leadenhall Market. Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, you will be amazed by this beautiful space. You can read more about Harry Potter Filming Locations in London here.

The Wallace Collection

What to do in Mayfair and Marylebone | The Wallace Collection

This free museum (donation encouraged), located in a former estate, is filled with oil paintings. Kids will enjoy the armory, which houses a collection of arms and armor from medieval Europe to 19th-century Asia. It also has a restaurant in a stunning glass-covered courtyard, offering afternoon tea and light meals.

Did you know that there are Roman ruins in London? The Romans conquered much of Britain in AD43, and founded Londinium, which became London, in AD47. Britain remained under Roman rule for over three and a half centuries and some Roman ruins can be found in modern-day London. One of the more notable examples of Roman ruins in London is the amphitheater that was discovered in Guildhall Yard in 1987.

In addition to the Roman Amphitheater, Guildhall is home to the art gallery that houses the City of London Corporation’s art collection. The collection is known for its Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite works. Admission to Guildhall and the Roman Amphitheater is free, but make a reservation online in advance.

Shrek’s Adventure

Although I don’t quite understand Shrek’s connection to London, this attraction promises an interactive fairytale experience. Ticket prices start at £27.00. Note: strollers are not allowed and must be stored before you can walk through this experience. Reviews say that the whole Shrek’s Adventure experience lasts under 2 hours and is aimed at kids between the ages of six and twelve.

Theatre Experiences

Depending on your children’s ages, you might want to visit a children’s theatre or go to a musical in the West End.

West End Theatre

Compared to seeing theatre in the United States, the West End is more affordable. It’s also more casual, so there’s no need to pack fancy outfits. There is no shortage of family-friendly shows, including Matilda, The Lion King, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Frozen. Note: parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are pretty scary – if your children are comfortable watching all of the films, they can handle the play.

The Puppet Theatre Barge

This floating fifty-seat barge has been introducing children to marionette theatre for forty years. Most shows are 45 minutes to an hour long, and the website indicates which ages the shows are suitable for (usually 4 or 5 years old and up). Note that the barge docks in a few different locations, usually in Little Venice or Richmond-upon-Thames.

Unicorn Theatre

The Unicorn Theatre is a children’s theatre with shows for children of all ages. Check each individual show’s listing for the recommended ages, but there are shows for kids 0-3, 4-7, and 8-13. Currently, the schedule includes The Princess and the Pea, The Odyssey, and Odd and the Frost Giants.

Little Angel Theatre

This puppet theatre, which was established in 1961, has performances for babies, toddlers, and older children. The website clearly indicates the ages that each show is aimed at.

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A detailed guide to the best things to do in London with kids - neatly organized into activities and outings for whole families, toddlers, and older children.

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