A Kid-Friendly Oasis: Exploring London with Kids
“The whole museum is shaking!” my five-year-old exclaimed as she experienced the earthquake simulator at the Natural History Museum in London. From massive wonders at world-class museums to small moments at beautiful parks in London, our family loved our first trip across the pond. Here are our favorite kid-friendly experiences in London:
Walk among dinosaur fossils galore and bask in ancient artifacts at London’s museums. We were awestruck by the number and size of dinosaur fossils and huge mammal casts at the Natural History Museum. See the Rosetta Stone and an unbelievable collection of ancient artifacts at the British Museum. Sit on the giant pillow, try on a muff, and design your own coat of arms at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Eat at the lavishly decorated cafe at the V&A, even if just for the excellent scones, cakes, and muffins.
Go back in time at the Tower of London, a medieval castle located in the middle of Central London. See the Crown Jewels, the knights in the White Tower, and the dungeon. Nearby, ride the London Eye. Kids and parents will enjoy the views of London on the gentle, thirty-minute ride. Take in the included-with-admission 4D movie before or after your ride.
Visit the playground of your kids’ dreams. Climb aboard the pirate ships, play in the tepees, explore the hidden paths in the garden, and even find treasure at Princess Diana Memorial Park Playground. Grab an ice cream or snack at the cafe next door. Enjoy a stroll through the surrounding Hyde Park.
View central London from a different perspective —via bike. Fat Tire Bike Tours offers kid-friendly rides, mostly in parks or trails around the city. We took the Royal Park Bike tour, which included Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and more. The guide stopped about every 5-10 minutes to allow for pictures and shared history about the sights.
Sip afternoon tea and delicacies. A historic hotel near Westminster Abbey with a beautiful foyer, St. Ermin’s Hotel offers a fun, kid-friendly tea with strawberry shaped cakes, fruity tea and chocolate treats. Afternoon tea has an adult and kids menu to please everyone in the family.
Tour the reconstruction of the iconic Globe Theatre, a must-see for theater fans. The knowledgeable tour guide gave us a glimpse of life in London four hundred years ago as well as how the stage is used today. Nearby, enjoy the trend-setting Tate Modern, with Picasso masterpieces and huge swings kids will love.
Hop on a Double Decker Bus and ride the London Underground. Getting from place to place via public transportation is half the fun of exploring London. Our kids loved riding the tube and cruising on the second level above the driver on the bus, and Google maps provides accurate and convenient directions for both modes of transportation.
Shopping in London is a huge draw. Visit famous department stores like Harrod’s and Fortnum and Mason and grab a take away pastry treat. The Piccadilly area has all the big shops from H&M to Louis Vuitton. You can also find the famous toy shop Hamley’s, six floors of toys for kids of all ages. Don’t miss an opportunity to browse the super cute backpacks and clothes at the quintessentially London, Cath Kidston stores around the city.
Visit the most famous tennis venue in the world. During the engaging guided tour of Wimbledon, we learned about the history of the tournament and imagined all the celebrities and royalty cheering on Serena Williams at Centre Court. The museum inside the stadium grounds has a fun audio tour with a thorough history of tennis and a virtual tennis experience. Grab lunch at the tasty cafe on site and stock up on Wimbledon gear and goodies after the tour.
Where to Stay in London
Be neighbors with the Royals at the Royal Garden Hotel London. This super kid-friendly hotel offers spacious two-room park suites overlooking Kensington Gardens and Kensington High Street. Kids receive an awesome kids welcome backpack with art supplies, goodies and other fun surprises to help them feel at home. Plus, there is a wigwam the kids can play in or sleep in our case (the kids took turns).
Borrow scooters for kids at the front desk to take for a spin in Hyde Park right next door. Take a break from all the go of being a tourist with the Food & Flicks Package, which includes pizza, wings, coke floats and a movie. The Park Terrace Restaurant serves an excellent kid-friendly breakfast with coloring packs to keep the kids happy. The hotel is an easy walk to the Victoria & Albert Museum, Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Book directly through their web site and make sure to join the Royalty Rewards program. You get perks like complimentary early check-in, which is nice when you arrive early from flying in from the United States.
St. Ermin’s Hotel offers a taste of traditional and fancy London with a kid-friendly focus. There are family rooms and suites with plenty of options for your family. The hotel offers a nice breakfast buffet in the Caxton Restaurant. Kids will enjoy the Bee’N’Bee Hotel, with 350,000 bees who make the honey they use throughout the hotel in cakes, cocktails and more.
Since the hotel has a very cool, spy history past, kids receive a book and activity pack upon check-in. Kids can pretend they’re spies-in-training and look for clues during their stay. After finding the clues, kids get a special spy ID and free kid cocktail from the bar. Our little spy loved this perk. The hotel is centrally located near St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben.
The Hilton London Metropole is a huge hotel that offers kid-friendly amenities like an indoor pool and pizza making classes. The queen rooms are basic, what you may expect at home. We recommend requesting a family room and a refurbished room. It’s about a 10 minute walk to Paddington station with access to the Heathrow Express trains to the airport and easy access to Edgware Road metro station.