London is easy if you are a couple or a group of friends, but visiting with a young family or a wide spread of ages can take a little more planning if you are all to enjoy the experience.
We have put together a few suggestions of interesting, multi-age things you and the family can do in London. Some take longer than others, so you can plan your day to include as few or as many as you like and as you will discover family days out in London need not be a chore!
Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman is a free entry museum and gardens in Forest Hill, South London. It is full of interactive displays of everything from fossils to musical instruments indoors and nature walks and beautiful gardens to explore outdoors. As well as all the child friendly exhibits, the Horniman is good for disabled access and has a café, cloakroom and baby feeding facility.
Some of the temporary exhibitions and the aquarium have entrance fees.
Dinosaurs: Monster Families (13 February – 30 October) gives a fascinating insight into how dinosaur families lived and includes life-size models and a nearly complete dinosaur embryo skeleton. Plenty of hands-on activities for children, including digging in the discovery pit and handling a real dinosaur leg bone make this a must for those with dinosaur fanatics in the family. Adults: £7 Children £4 or £17 for a family of four
Horniman Museum and Gardens
100 London Rd SE23 3PQ
Opening hours: Daily 10.30am – 5.30pm
Gardens: Monday – Saturday: 7.15am – sunset
Sundays and Bank Holidays: 8am – sunset
(May Bank Holiday Weekend) Each year, the Inland Waterways Association organises a gathering of canal boats in London’s Little Venice. As well as over a hundred gaily-decorated boats, there are many riverside attractions for the family to enjoy. Traditional fun and games, Morris Dancing, a real ale tent, live music, refreshments and children’s activities, stalls and street entertainers all combine to make this a truly memorable family day out.
Between Blomfield Rd Warwick Avenue and Warwick Crescent London W9 2PB
Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre
All the family will enjoy Roald Dahl’s story of Matilda, the little girl whose vivid imagination and special powers cause mayhem and adventure at the expense of the adults in her life. The award-winning musical, written by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, and performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is a delight for all age groups. The theatre, which is Grade II listed is a feast for the eyes, but it was built before disabled access was considered a priority. The website gives information about access, and the staff are friendly and helpful, so any disabled or infirm family members can share the experience fully.
The Cambridge Theatre
0207 494 5081
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Since the London Olympics in 2012, the park has been developed as a facility for sports and leisure, and an active family could easily spend a day or a week here, trying new sports, enjoying the open space for picnics, or playing in the Tumbling Bay playground. There are various tours of the park available, including a riverboat trip, or you can wander freely and visit the places where the medals were won, enjoy the art and sculpture around the park, or just enjoy the scenery. Also within the park is the Arcelormittal Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture. You can take the lift to the top, and enjoy the panoramic views, or enjoy the interactive displays and concave mirrors inside the tower. Access in the park is good, and dogs are allowed, as long as they are kept on a lead. Opening hours for different parts of the park vary, so check before you visit.
0800 0722 110
If you fancy the idea of a mystery trip around London, combined with the elements of a treasure hunt, geocaching could be a great alternative way to enjoy your time in London. All you need is a mobile phone and a sense of adventure. Using an app on the phone, you navigate around the city, searching for caches, which you log online. Caches may be a box or a capsule, for example, and contain a variety of objects, some of which may be trinkets that you can swap with something of your own to leave for the next treasure hunters. Geocaching hunts can take anything from a couple of hours to a whole day, depending on which hunts you do, so you could send teenagers off to do a short hunt while you enjoy something more sedentary, or the whole family could take on a longer adventure together. If you really enjoy yourselves, there are geocaches in many towns and locations all around the world.