Family day out in London, with children

A day in London with kids: Planning a day out with kids?  Which are the best places to visit?

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London in a dayIdea One

What you will see:A trip on the London Eye, the London Dungeon, London Aquarium, and meal at the Namco Centre

Dragging your kids around London can be a nightmare, so this day uses four attractions within two-minutes of each other – literally!

The London Eye is the perfect place to start your day. Remember to buy your tickets beforehand though, as the queues can get quite heavy.

Kids aren’t really into sightseeing and taking photos, so this will allow you to point out Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament from the wheel (allow for 30-45 minutes queuing, and 30 minutes on the actual wheel).

Important! You can save a lot of money by buying a combo ticket for the London Eye, which includes entry into the London Dungeon and London Aquarium.

Take a stroll over to County Hall where you’ll find the London Dungeon (allow for 90 mins). It has a good mix of costumed actors, scary rides and audience participation.

Note: The Dungeons are not recommend for under-8s. There are also height restrictions on the rides. Check the details here.

 

Then check out the Namco Funscape. It’s a bit like an indoor funfair with arcade games, bowling lanes, and dodgems. You will find a McDonalds inside.

The third attraction at County Hall is the London Aquarium. Highlights include the two-story shark tank, underwater sea tunnel, and the walk-through arctic zone with a penguin pool (allow for 90-120 mins).

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Family day out in LondonIdea Two

What you will see:Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, and space exhibits at the Science Museum

When I was a kid we always got taken to the big museums in London. They are perfect for kids, and are within five minutes of each other. And best of all – they are all completely free!

Take the train to South Kensington and the Natural History Museum. If your kid likes dinosaurs then they’ve got a full-size Diplodocus in the entrance hall, a mechanical T. Rex which moves around and roars, and a whole zoo of dead animals (allow for 2 hours).

The Science Museum is a short walk around the corner. It covers everything from the earliest steam vehicles to the Apollo 11 moon landings.

There are plenty of push-button and interactive displays for kids, and they’ve also got a 3D IMAX cinema (allow for 2 hours).

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Day trip with childrenIdea Three

What you will see:Princess Di’s Memorial Playground, a boat on the Serpentine, and the Natural History Museum

Start the day at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (under-12s only), in the north-western corner of Kensington Gardens.

This Peter Pan-themed playground has got a huge wooden pirate ship, swings and slides, and a sand-pit beach (allow for 60-90 mins).

A short walk across Kensington Gardens is the Serpentine Lake, where you will find some boats for hire (Easter to the end of October only). The little peddle boats can carry up to 6 people each (allow for 1 hour).

Once you have finished peddling you can try the little restaurant on the south side of the lake (it also has toilets).

The rest of the day can be spent at one of the following two museums – just choose one. Both of them can be found on the south side of Kensington Gardens.

If your kid likes dinosaurs then try the Natural History Museum – they’ve got a full-size Diplodocus in the entrance hall, a mechanical T. Rex which moves around and roars, and a whole zoo of dead animals (allow for 2-3 hours).

The Science Museum covers everything from the earliest steam trains to the Apollo 11 moon landings. There are also plenty of interactive displays and a 3D IMAX cinema (allow for 2-3 hours).

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London in one dayIdea Four

What you will see:The waxworks at Madame Tussauds, and animals at London Zoo

Take the train to Baker Street for Madame Tussauds – one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.

You should definitely buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues, which can grow pretty huge (allow for 60 mins queue time, and 90-120 mins for the visit).

Your kids will probably recognise more celebrities than you do, as they’ve everything from Lady Ga Ga and Justin Timberlake, to One Direction and Rihanna. Your kids probably won’t enjoy the politicians and Royal Family so much, but they’ll love the Chamber of Horrors (must be 12-years and over).

You can also try the ‘Spirit of London’ ride, in which you’ll travel back in time in a black cab to witness some of the city’s history. Note: Height restrictions apply (see here for details).

If you have very energetic kids then you can take a stroll through Regent’s Park to London Zoo, which can be found at the most northern part of the park. Otherwise you can catch the No.274 bus from Dorset Square to Primrose Hill (allow for 25 min ride, and 5-mins walking at either end)

London Zoo will take up the rest of your day, so allow for 3-4 hours. Highlights include the lions and tigers, giraffes, Gorilla World, a rainforest enclosure, BUGS! exhibit, and Penguin beach. You can also check out the trained-bird displays, petting zoo, and big animal feeding times.

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Day in London with kidsIdea Five

What you will see:A trip on the driverless DLR train, followed by a ride on the cable car, and a show at The O2

This day really relies upon there being a suitable show at The O2, so check what’s on before you go (and buy a ticket!). It’s not just a music venue – they also have plenty of kid-friendly shows.

Start the day off by getting a train to the Excel Centre. But not a normal train… I mean one of the driverless DLR trains. There is no cabin at the front so you can sit right next to the windscreen for a great view. It travels above ground for most of its route, giving your kids an elevated view of the city from Tower Gateway to Royal Victoria (journey time 15-20 mins).

Come out of the station and head towards the water, where you’ll see a cable car across the Thames. It’s extremely high up, and shakes a bit as it goes along, but what a ride! The views from the top are fantastic. You’ll be able to see the Docklands, O2 Arena, and Thames Barrier.

 

The ride will end on the other bank, where you’ll see the O2 Arena ahead. There are plenty of restaurants outside the dome, and loads more inside too (under the outer edge of the tent). So even if you haven’t managed to get a ticket for a show, you can still venture inside for a slap-up meal.

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Day out for kids in LondonIdea Six

What you will see:Hamleys, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, Rainforest Caf
 Cinema in Leicester Square

If you want to treat your kid to some toys, then there’s only one place to go – Hamleys in Regent Street. This is the biggest toy store in London, and always has plenty of demonstrations and things to try.

The head down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, where you can show your kid the famous neon lights and Eros statue (10 mins walk). Then it’s into Ripley’s Museum of Believe It Or Not! for a couple of hours.

This museum is filled with weird and wonderful things from around the world. Some of them are freaky – waxwork models of the world’s smallest and tallest man, the ugliest guy, and hairiest woman. Some of them are scary – they have a torture chamber filled with electric chairs and the rack. And some of them are just weird – a five-legged sheep and animatronic dinosaur.

After that it’s probably time for lunch. You could try the Rainforest Café nearby, or one of the many McDonalds/Burger King-type restaurants around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

A great way to finish the day is with a big blockbuster movie at the cinema. Three of London’s biggest cinemas can be found around Leicester Square (5 min walk from Piccadilly Circus).

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