If you’re going to be in London at any point this summer with your kids there are loads of great things for you to do. Here are my top 10 suggestions – do you have any to add? What are your favourite things to do in London with kids?
Imperial War Museum
A transformed Imperial War Museum reopens on July 19th ready to mark the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War. In the new First World War Galleries you can learn about the history of WWI through interactive displays. More than 1,300 objects are on display and there’s a Life at the Front section where children can explore a reconstruction of a trench. The new central atrium space houses displays of large objects as well as shops and cafés.
Cost: Entrance to the museum is free
Would-be sculptors and artists are invited to head to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the UK’s tallest sculpture this summer to get involved with a new programme of family art and crafts activities at the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Kids of all ages will be shown how to use their imagination to create fantastic works of art including sketches of the London skyline, mirror boxes, skyscraper hats, badges or their very own ArcelorMittal Orbit. The programme is running from 24 July – 31 August from 2-4pm and is included with entry price to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, open each day from 10am – 6pm.
Cost: Adult £15, child £7, family £40 (2 adults, 2 children).
Sea Life London Aquarium
There’s an entire marine world to explore at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. This summer from August 2-31 the attraction is looking at Warriors of the Sea. Children can pick up a free trail card and take a special journey to spot a selection of amazing creatures with some surprising natural defence and attack mechanisms. Kids can follow the trail to find creatures such as the common octopus which uses ninja-style escape moves when cornered, the Japanese spider crab with its super-tough armour, the lion fish with its poisonous spines and the moray eel with its razor sharp teeth.
Cost: From £18.36 for adults and £13.52 per child if booked in advance via the SEA LIFE London Aquarium website.
The National Trust is encouraging children and their parents to get outside and get close to nature. The charity has published a list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 to help families with ideas on how to do this. There are 50 things activities on offer at National Trust properties across the country including London. You can play pooh sticks at Morden Hall Park, one of the last remaining country estates in South London and a perfect place to play the game. For more 50 things ideas and activities click here.
Cost: Varies – check the website for details.
Books about Town
There are beautifully decorated Books about Town benches shaped like open books at sites dotted across the capital this summer. In total there are 50 unique BookBench sculptures celebrating London’s literary heritage. A host of authors and illustrators are involved: children’s author Lauren Child has created a Clarice Bean bench, Cressida Cowell has designed a bench based on her How to Train Your Dragon series and there’s a War Horse bench with original illustrations by Rae Smith. The benches will be in place until 15 September 2014 and then they’ll be auctioned to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust. For more information and to download Books about Town trail maps click here.
Kids Week is a brilliant scheme which has been running for 17 years and offers free children’s tickets to some of London’s top shows in August. An adult paying full price can take a child with them for free as well as up to two extra children for half price. Shows taking part in the scheme include Mamma Mia!, Matilda the Musical, The Phantom of The Opera and War Horse.
Cost: One child free and two half price for each adult paying full price.
Natural History Museum
My son and his friend loved seeing Lyuba, a baby mammoth who died 42,000 years ago and is currently on display in the Mammoths: Ice Age Giants exhibition at the Natural History Museum. Lyuba is the most complete woolly mammoth ever to have been found and is the highlight of the interactive exhibition about different kids of mammoths and other ice-age creatures. The exhibition runs until 7th September.
Cost: Entrance to the museum is free. Entrance to the Mammoths exhibition costs £10 for adults, £6 for children age 4-16, £28 for a family and under-4s are free.
London Zoo is a great place for children to learn about conservation. When we went there recently some rare tiger cubs had been born and we could see them and their mum via a webcam. The zoo is home to thousands of animals and is part of the ZSL charity which works to promote the conservation of animals and their habitats across the world. Before you go to the zoo have a look on the charity’s social media hub to see what’s been happening.
Cost: Tickets for London Zoo booked online cost from £24 per adult, £17.50 per child and £74.70 per family of four. Children under the age of three are free.
Summer of High Streets
This summer until 27 September there are free events across London to celebrate local high streets. From pop-up cinemas to street markets to fashion shows to food festivals there are all sorts of things happening. To find out more about what’s going on click here.
The Energy Show at the Science Museum is billed as ‘explosive family theatre for curious minds’. It’s the story of two futuristic science students in a race against time to prove their knowledge of energy and has received excellent reviews. The show is suitable for everyone aged seven and above and is running until August 3rd when it will go on tour.
Cost: Adults £13.50, children (4 to 16 years) £9.50, family £39, under 3s free.
If you travel to London by train you can get two-for-one entry via the Days Out Guide website at a host of attractions including London Zoo, SEALIFE London Aquarium and many more. Simply download vouchers from the website and then show them with your valid train ticket to receive the discount before you pay for entrance to the attraction.
Jolanta aka Casual Traveler says
Funny, I was reading this post with my eight-year-old in my lap and she was saying “Oh, that looks like fun! You said we won’t go again to London till I’m a teenager, but can’t we go sooner?” Since I loved London, I would definitely like to go back as soon as possible. We haven’t been to the Science Museum, or the Zoo, or the Aquarium yet. Plus I hope this time my daughter won’t be afraid of the animals at the Natural History Museum and we can spend the whole day there.
Jolanta aka Casual Traveler recently posted…Period Clothing at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Gretta Schifano says
There are so many great things to do in London with kids – I hope that you can go back there soon with your daughter.
Was wondering how to fill an afternoon when we visit in August and you have solved my problem! Bench hunting it will be. Loved the Gromit trail around Bristol last summer so this should keep us busy – thank you!!
Suzanne recently posted…History Live! – Time travel in a weekend
Gretta Schifano says
I hope you have a great time, the benches are such a lovely idea.
The DADventurer (Dave) says
Nice list Gretta. I love the Science Museum, whether we go with kids or not! There is also Hamleys which is a must see for any child, although make sure you set a budget before you go in as your kid will want EVERYTHING!
The DADventurer (Dave) recently posted…All Star Mr & Mrs Pregnancy Q&A
Gretta Schifano says
An excellent suggestion, all kids should be taken to Hamleys at some point!
Emma T says
This came at a good time for us. We already have our kids week tickets, so are looking for something to do in the morning nearby. I fancied the book benches, but the nearest one to the theatre might be a bit of a walk for the children. I shall have a look at some of the other options and add to my planning list
Emma T recently posted…The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile – book review
Gretta Schifano says
The book benches do look amazing. Enjoy the theatre and I hope you have a lovely day.
Great post. Thanks Gretta!
Although we are British, we have lived in Spain for most of our lives. Our children are yet to discover what amazing places London has to offer. We are planning a few trips over the next couple of years. We’ll bookmark your article and report back with our findings.
If you ever head to the Malaga region , southern Spain, give us a shout and we’ll share our local knowledge with you 🙂
Happy Family Travels.
Lisa recently posted…Our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas
Gretta Schifano says
Thanks Lisa, it’s a great time to come to London and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it. We went to Malaga for the day a couple of years ago and I really liked it. If we’re ever that way again I’ll be sure to let you know.