So take me back to London. Whether you’re visiting on a quick trip or you’re a long time resident of London, one thing’s for sure, you’ll be surrounded by fun activities to enjoy with the kids.
Here are our favourite ideas for a children’s day out in London, including inexpensive and free days out as well as a few hidden gems.
The big London tourist attractions
A list of children’s days out in London wouldn’t be complete, without mentioning the big attractions for families.
Further down our list you can find a whole host of places to visit and things to see that are either inexpensive or free. But you might also like to enjoy these bigger attractions as well.
If you’re visiting for a weekend these might be at the top of your list. If you live in London they might be one-off treats for when you want to splash out. So here’s our roundup of our favourite family attractions:
- The London Eye. See London from a bird’s eye view, with the world’s ‘largest cantilevered observation wheel’ standing at 135 m high.
- London Sea Life Aquarium. Next to the London Eye, you can get up close with all kinds of marine animals. Take a stroll through an underwater tunnel or dare to step over ‘Shark Walk’.
- The London Dungeon. Also nearby, London Dungeon recreates some gory and macabre events in history using live actors and special effects. It teaches history in a funny style.
- Shrek’s Adventure. Next door is this fun attraction. Based on the film ‘Shrek’ this family attraction includes a 4D movie and interactive shows.
- London Zoo. From diving penguins, to swinging gorillas, there are so many different animals to enjoy. A trip to the zoo can be a full day out.
- Madame Tussauds. Get up close with 250 lifelike wax figures of your favourite celebrities.
- Peter Harrison Planetarium. In Greenwich park the Planetarium is part of the national Maritime Museum and has a number of shows that children can enjoy.
- Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. A short drive north of London. You can step into sets, see props and original costumes used in the filming of Harry Potter.
- The Tower of London. This building is an iconic London attraction on its own. See the Crown Jewels and take a Yeoman Warder tour.
- HMS Belfast. Walk around 9 decks of this warship from WWII and see what life was like on board at war and at sea.
- The London Transport Museum. Explore this display of urban transport. With interactive displays and kids’ activities, this museum can become a firm favourite.
Money Savings Hacks for Top London Attractions
Some of the big attractions have high ticket prices. So planning in advance can slash the entry prices as well as cut down on queuing time. Here are some top tips of ways you can save:
London Pass: get big savings on over 80 top London attractions with the London Pass. You purchase per day and have access to all 80 venues.
Merlin’s Magical Pass: save up to 60% with this pass which groups 3, 5 or 6 attractions into 1 pass.
Grown ups go free Kellogg’s special promotions: find the 10 digit promotional code on the bottom of certain Kellogg’s cereal packets. Use the code to redeem a ticket at the attraction entrance. Full list of attractions are here and include Legoland, Sea Life, London Eye, Thorpe Park to name a few.
Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert website: this general money saving website lists deals or ways to cut down on ticket prices for days out in London.
Go Ape – Battersea Park
If you want thrills and adventure then Go Ape is a great choice. Make your way across rope bridges as high as the tree tops and zoom down on a huge zip wire.
Once you’ve had your treetop fun there’s so much more to keep the kids entertained. Like the Pirate Ship and playgrounds, the boating lake and crazy golf.
Still got some energy left over? Then head to Battersea Park Children’s Zoo and get up close to the animals. Entry cost depends on what activities you book.
Brockwell Park Miniature Railway
Choo choo! This adorable miniature railway takes you on a ride through the beautiful Brockwell Park. It’s so much fun for little kids and big kids alike.
And it’s only £1 for each passenger (under 2s go free with a paying adult). It runs on Sundays between the months of March and October.
Deen City Farm
Want to feed an alpaca? Cuddle a guinea pig? Ride on a pony?
Then head down to Deen City Farm, where you can do all that and more.
It’s a wonderful place for kids to explore and get up close to all the animals. There’s always something going on, with all sorts of events and activities taking place.
It’s all free, but donations are welcome.
Wimbledon Park Sprinkler Park
Is your child a water baby? Let them splish and splash to their heart’s content on a sunny day at the Sprinkler Park.
It’s one of the best places to head with kids when the sun shines.
There’s six paddling pools and two large water play areas with fountains and things that squirt, splash and sprinkle water.
You can join in the fun too and see if you can run through the water features without getting wet. It’s free too.
Princess Diana Memorial Playground
At the centre of this children’s wonderland, the Diana Memorial Playground, you’ll find a huge wooden pirate ship, full of places for kids to explore.
Try the sensory trail, hang out in a teepee or cool down in the splash park, with water fountains and squirting jets. All the play structures are surrounded by sand so you can even build a sand castle or two.
Take a picnic to make a day of it or visit the cafe for a pit stop to refuel the kids.
The park is open every day (except Christmas day), from 10 am. Closing times depend on the time of year and vary between 16:45 in winter to 18:45 in summer. Be aware that in school holidays there can be long queues to get in.
The Natural History Museum
Kids will gasp at the ginormous 25 meter long blue whale skeleton that’s suspended from the ceiling of the main hall. Their eyes will light up at the volcanoes and earthquakes.
The Natural History Museum is packed full of things to see as well as engaging activities kids can do. Under 7’s can get a free backpack full of activities to keep them amused and help them get the most out of their visit.
There’s so much to explore, and it’s all free. It can get very busy during holidays and tends to be quieter in the mornings. So you can plan the best time to visit. Weekdays are also less crowded than weekends.
The museum is open from 10 am – 5.50 pm every day, except 24th-26th December.
Museums don’t get more family friendly than the London Science Museum. Round the corner from the Natural History Museum, it’s a magical place for kids to explore.
They’ll find robots, rockets and a whole host of interactive displays. For little ones there’s also an entire floor dedicated to play.
Located in the basement, it’s called The Garden. It has loads of large toys, climbing apparatus and huge troughs with running water where kids can sail toy boats.
When everyone needs refuelling there are also cafes and family picnic areas.
Entry is free but there are charges for exhibits like the amazing Wonderlab (which is well worth a visit). It’s open 7 days a week from 10 am – 6 pm.
A hidden gem – Coram’s Fields park stretches out over 7 acres and has so much for kids to explore.
They can play to their heart’s content in the huge adventure playground. They can build sandcastles in the sandpits.
But – best of all – they can pet animals, such as goats, rabbits, birds and chickens in the city farm.
Entry is free and it’s open Monday to Friday: 10am to 5pm, Saturday: 9:30am to 5pm and Sunday: 10am to 5pm.
St James’s Park
It’s a beautiful place to walk and play. And you can see squirrels, ducks and even pelicans at Duck Island, which is a large nature reserve for birds.
The pelicans have been residents of the park for nearly 400 years. If you are there between 2.30 and 3 pm you can even catch them being fed.
There’s a play park to keep the kids entertained and cafe for pit stops.
You can even rent deckchairs to kick back and relax and make the most of your afternoon.
London Zoo has become a firm favourite with parents of toddlers and young children. With a huge range of enclosures and areas to explore, it can give you a day of family fun. The exhibits include:
- Butterfly paradise – where the butterflies flit around you and sometimes land on your jacket.
- Penguin beach – where you can see the penguins dip and dive. They also have feeding times that you can watch.
- Reptile House – see all kinds of reptiles including a king cobra and a real croc.
- Land of the lions – a large new enclosure and habitat for lions has recently opened.
- Rainforest life – a heated building housing all kinds of rainforest animals, including a nocturnal section.
- Gorilla kingdom – get up close to these amazing creatures. They sometimes even have their young babies with them too.
- Tiger territory – watch the tigers prowl around or have their mealtime.
- In with the spiders – Europe’s only spider walk-through. Do you dare?
Tickets for day visits at the zoo can be pricey – starting at £23.40 per adult. But if you live in London an annual membership can make a lot more sense.
A family of 1 adult and up to 5 children can get a membership from £166. Which, if you’re making over 10 visits a year can make much more sense. Under 3’s go free.
All prices are at the time of writing and may vary.
Barnard Park Adventure Playground
Barnard Adventure Playground is packed full of things to do.
Feeling adventurous? Then head straight for the huge adventure playground with rope swings and zip wires.
Feeling creative? Your children can put on a dance or show in the amphitheatre. Or join in a craft activity.
Feeling hungry? There’s an outdoor pizza oven or an open fire to toast marshmallows.
It’s free and suitable for kids 6-13. Playworkers are on hand to supervise and lead extra activities and workshops.
Kentish Town City Farm
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and spend a day on this wonderful farm, getting close to nature and animals.
You can meet Shirley the cow, who plods along the field, eating as much as possible along the way.
You can also see goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, geese, plus 3 horses, 2 donkeys and pigs. There’s a wildlife pond and gardens to enjoy too.
A good time to visit is between 9-10:30am or 3:30-4:30pm when all the animals are moving to and from their different pastures.
It’s great fun to watch the pigs and sheep running up to their fields.
Golders Hill Park
A lovely place to spend a day with the kids. Not only is it beautiful but there’s so much to do – including a playpark, tennis courts, table tennis and a croquet lawn. The best thing?
There’s a free zoo, where you can meet laughing kookaburras, ring-tailed lemurs and ring-tailed coatis. If you don’t want to pack a picnic there’s a cafe there too.
Explore the fascinating story of the first 100 years of the RAF.
There are so many hands-on exhibits – with buttons to press and sensory areas to explore.
You can try on an RAF outfit and even test your flying skills.
You can experience what it’s like to fly through the sky in a red arrow jet in the 4D theatre.
Outside there’s a fab outdoor play area. And, after all that adventure there’s a cafe and restaurant to refuel. Entry is free.
Regents Park is one of the loveliest parks in London. It contains London Zoo but regardless of whether you visit the Zoo as well it’s still a great place visit with the kids. They’ll love walking through the beautiful rose garden or having a snack at the cafe.
There’s a lake with pedalos for families on weekends and school holidays. And in the summer months there are shows at the Bandstand.
There’s so much open space for your kids to run around and play in. As well as 2 playgrounds. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a picnic.
Surrey Docks Farm
All the fun of the farm right in the heart of the city.
Take the kids to see farm animals – such as cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, guinea pigs and rabbits at this lovely city farm.
Throughout the year there are some fab hands- on activities for children. And the best thing of all is that entry is FREE.
Discover Children’s Story Centre
A magical place for kids. They can creep through caves, captain spaceships, perform in a puppet show and slide down a monster’s tongue.
If they need a rest after so much fun they can curl up and listen to a story in one of the daily storytelling sessions.
There’s a Story Garden outside to explore too and a cafe for refreshments. It’s not free but is a reasonable £6.50 entry.
V & A Museum of Childhood
Packed full of toys from days gone by, you’ll enjoy this museum as much as the kids. It’s like taking a trip down memory lane.
There are crafts and storytelling sessions. And, if you get tired, there are deckchairs on the second floor, where you can kick back and relax.
In the school holidays there are various activities you can join in too. And it’s free to enter.
Known as the ‘People’s Park’, this is the oldest public park in London. It’s a great place to spend the day with kids.
There are two big lakes as well as a boating pond. And there are swings and play parks too.
When it’s sunny they’ll love the Splash Pool – a magical cobbled area full of fountains where kids can splash to their heart’s content. (remember to take towels and a change of clothing).
Need a bit to eat after so much activity? There are two lovely cafes too.
Victoria Park opens at 7am and closes at dusk, 365 days a year.
The Splash Pool is open from 11am until 5pm from the last weekend in May until the first week in September.
Ragged School Museum
Take your child back in time as they have a lesson in a Victorian classroom with the rather stern ‘Miss Perkins’.
Will they blot their copy books and have to wear the Dunce’s cap? Will they be able to write on slates? How will they feel about wearing ragged clothes?
A visit to the Ragged School Museum is brilliant for kids. It’s free (donations welcome).
Open 10 am – 5 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 2 – 5 pm on the first Sunday of each month, when you can join in a lesson (2.15 pm or 3.30 pm) on a first come, first served basis.
One of the coolest and most exciting things for kids in London. They won’t want to leave.
It’s a ‘kid’s city run by kids’. Your child can try out over 60 different jobs.
Will they be a vet? A radio DJ? A surgeon? A firefighter? They even get paid in ‘kidzos’, which they can spend having fun on leisure activities, such as the music studio.
It’s an experience like no other. For kids age 4-14 (but there’s an Early Years area for younger siblings). Prices vary. Book early to get the best deal.
In peak times a ticket can cost £38 but booking in advance can cut this price down.
Holland Park Adventure Playground
Where can you find a 10 person see-saw, a 10 person dragon swinger and a 25 m zip wire? At Holland Park Adventure playground.
A breath of fresh air that’s a world away from the busy pace of city life. Kids will love the huge adventure playground with swings, aerial runway, mini climbing wall, climbing frames and so much more.
After all that rushing about change the pace by strolling through the beautiful Japanese Kyoto Garden or visit the Ecology Centre, which has loads of hands-on activities and events that children will love.
Museum of Brands
Ever wanted to travel through time? You can at the Museum of Brands.
Walk through the time tunnel to see how life has changed since Victorian times. There’s so much to take in. It’s fascinating for kids and adults alike. A family ticket costs £24.
The Postal Museum
Think a museum about posting letters and parcels sounds a bit dull? Think again. There’s sack loads of fun to be had at The Postal Museum.
Hop on bard the Mail Rail for an underground adventure. Then head to the mini-town with streets buildings, trolleys, pulleys, slides and chutes to enjoy.
Then follow the Jolly Postman trail to see if you can find the oldest letter in the collection. A child’s ticket costs from £9 and an adults from £16. It’s cheaper to book online in advance to get the best deals.
Bramley’s Big Adventure
A soft play heaven for kids. With three levels of playframe, slides and ball ponds to explore there’s hours of fun to be had.
A separate under-five’s and babies area ensures every child can join in the adventure. You’ll have trouble persuading your little ones to leave.