Top Things to Do in London with Kids

London Baby! I always get over-excited about London, but exploring with tots took it to a new level. I was a bit daunted by the city, but discovered that the offering for kids is fantastic. Here is the best of the best.

London is still one of the coolest cities in the world, but cool seems less relevant when travelling with tots. From a distance I was quite nervous about taking the tots to London, but when we bit the bullet and explored the capital we found a host of very, well, cool things to do with them. Here are our recommendations…

The Big Blue – the new Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum

1 – An Oldie but a Goodie – The Natural History Museum is a classic. It’s also free, which is an added bonus. The new blue whale, pride of place in Hintz Hall, is a sight to behold, and the animatronic dinosaurs are wonderfully terrifying. A more detailed post will come soon, but top tip, visit early or late to avoid massive queues.

The fantastic ‘Sorted!’ play area at the Postal Museum.

2 – Something New – The Postal Museum is brand spanking new, and its tiny wee Mail Rail only opened in September 2017. There are three attractions, the museum itself that tells the story of Britain’s social and communication’s history (which is far more interesting than it sounds, and involves dressing up opportunities and colouring-in stations for tots). The play area ‘Sorted!’, which is utterly fantastic fun, involves lots of interactive play and learning on a postal vibe. And lastly, the inimitable Mail Rail. This little train, wich once carried the post, shut down in 2003, and has now been converted to carry curious little passengers and their parents into dark tunnels. Informative and fun videos engage all, it’s a total winner. [A dedicated post will come soon.]

No entry without a child – Coram’s Fields

3 – Run Wild in Coram’s Fields – A few streets away from the Postal Muesum are Coram’s Fields. You can only enter these play areas if you have a child with you. This entry policy is something I’ve never experienced before and, whilst I wouldn’t want too many green spaces off limits to those without children, it was somehow hugely reassuring. I felt my kids were safer here, as they played and ran and climbed. [If you can’t make it to Coram’s Fields perhaps your kids will enjoy harassing the squirrels and varied birdlife in St James’ Park. It’s free and my tots loved it.]

Sightseeing by MBNA Thames Clipper.

4 – Set Sail – London Underground is not particularly child friendly, and not at all buggy friendly so, especially on a sunny day, set sail aboard MBNA Thames Clippers to get from A to B and take in the glories of the Thames as you go. Kids love it, and cruising the river engages all ages. More details to come.

Fishy goings on in the ‘Ahoy!’ play centre within the National Maritime Museum.

5 – Get Nautical – Having reached Greenwich aboard a MBNA Clipper we headed for the National Maritime Museum. Its play area, ‘Ahoy!’, is brilliant for kids. They can dress up as pirates, go fishing, shop in a fishmongers wearing ridiculous headgear, stoke the boiler of a steamship, and generally cause maritime chaos. It’s free, and when busy there’s a simple one-in-one-out policy, so arriving early is a smart idea. The exhibitions in the rest of museum didn’t cross over particularly well with our tots. For example, the Battle of Jutland exhibit interested me, but was far too adult a theme for preschoolers, and their noise level felt a tad disrespectful, so parents may have to do a bit of tag-teaming to experience see the adult exhibits. [After the museum, we ate at the Coach and Horses bar in Greenwich Market that did fantastic Sunday Roast style dishes, and a hearty kids menu.]

An Elephant Came to Dinner, in the Rainforest Cafe.

6 – Visit the Rainforest – For a dining extravaganza book a table at the Rainforest Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue. Upon entering a subterranean jungle, animatronic gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, big cats and butterflies come to life with noise and movement. The kids were beside themselves. The food is quite expensive for what it is, and the soft drinks are extortionate, but you’re essentially paying for the location, the set design, the aquarium and the fun times.

Mercator cool near the Elephant and Castle

7 – Go to the Market – To get your cool back then, if you’re anywhere near the Elephant and Castle, drop by Mercato Metropolitano. Go there whether you have kids or not! This covered food market is delicious and chilled. It works well for kids due to how spacious it is, it’s buzzing with noise, and customers can choose from numerous specialist stalls. We chose pulled pork and raclette for the boys, I indulged in a duck and seaweed dish, and craft beers, wine and champagne are also for sale. The gelato stall is fantastic. Borough Market is nearby and quite similar, but it’s almost too popular for its own good and there’s hardly any seating, so Mercato Metropolitano gets my vote.

Mesmerising jellyfish at Sealife London

8 Go Underwater – Sealife London offers a few hours of glorious underwater exploration. It’s not cheap but once inside you’ll see where your money goes. The shark tank is naturally impressive, I always have a soft spot for seahorses, but it was the jellyfish that blew my mind. Absolute things of beauty, how does nature do it? [At County Hall, Sealife London is brilliantly positioned on the Southbank for food, drink, the London Eye and the Shrek Experience.]

One of the Harrods Christmas windows

9 – Shopping Tots – London has some of the biggest toy shops and best retail experiences on offer, so if you want to treat your kids try Hamleys on Regent Street, but if you don’t want to spend anything window shopping comes into its own over the festive season. The playful Dolce and Gabbana windows were a joy at Harrods. It took us about 20 minutes to walk past the displays, lights and glitz, leaving us feeling Christmassy very early in November!

10 – Get Moving – There’s nothing like London transport to get the kids excited. Take to the skies with the Emirates Cablecar, which is giving the London Eye a run for its money, as it takes its customers right across the Thames in style and grace. It’s not as central as other attractions, but if you make it out to Greenwich, the O2 or the Excel Centre it’s easy to nip to North Greenwich and get your tots in the clouds.

London Bus Legends

My husband knows the bus routes so my boys were king of the castle, sitting on the top of a red London bus. They found this everyday journey disproportionately exciting. Whilst the tube isn’t buggy friendly in the slightest, you kinda have to use it to get around London, the plus side is that the kids love it.

Heading for Top Bunk Supremacy Aboard the Caledonian Sleeper

Avoid peak travel times, when it gets stupidly busy, and make the most of it. Generally my husband carried the buggy and I was in charge of the tots, but I wouldn’t have attempted it on my own. Lastly, the best bit of transport we’ll always associate with London was the Caledonian Sleeper. Travelling from Aberdeen to London in pyjamas!

The sheer excitement of falling asleep on a train was nearly too much for my tots. Arriving in London around 0745 it actually fitted well with my kids’ schedules. And everyone asks, did you sleep? I’m a mum, of course I slept. I’m exhausted! It was far easier than travelling through an airport so I’ll write up the experience with all the pros and cons soon, but overall it’s a great way to get to the very cool London with your very cool kids.

SHOP THE TRIP

If you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address and You’re In, or join the conversation on Facebook. For any queries or opportunities please email scots2travel@hotmail.com. We experienced a complimentary return journey aboard the Caledonian Sleeper, access to the Postal Museum and a River Roamer tickets from MBNA Clippers for review purposes. #Britmums17 kindly provided access to SeaLife London.

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20 Comments

  1. Reply

    Cat hooper

    November 14, 2017

    Sounds brilliant!! We need to start planning our next london trip-so much to do.

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 14, 2017

      We didn’t want to overdo it with wee ones, but we felt we still fitted a lot in!

  2. Reply

    Esther

    November 14, 2017

    Teehee, it’s probably me but I keep on thinking ‘I must be a kid, ’cause I’d love this toooooo!’ 😉
    #CityTripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 14, 2017

      Excellent news 😉

  3. Reply

    Travelynn Family

    November 14, 2017

    For someone who used to live only an hour outside of London, I have done so very little. And my boys haven’t been! I’m bookmarking this for when we’re next back in the UK. #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 14, 2017

      I know the feeling, sometimes the things on your doorstep are the last things you get round to!

  4. Reply

    Baby Loves Travel

    November 14, 2017

    I always enjoy posts about the best things to do in London with kids – there are a few fab new ideas here. I had no idea the new postal museum had a play area, we will definitely have to check that out #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 14, 2017

      ‘Sorted!’ is great. You get 45 minute slots, which is ample really. They loved it and we could sit and watch them.

  5. Reply

    Jenny (The Little Adventurer)

    November 14, 2017

    My word you packed a lot in! What a brilliant trip. There is a lot of new stuff since I last lived here – and I really fancy the postal museum as well as the cable car. #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 14, 2017

      I do love different modes of transport. The new postal museum is a really novel offering, makes you appreciate what goes on behind the scenes.

  6. Reply

    Allison

    November 14, 2017

    London seems so kid-friendly. I can’t wait to visit with my own little ones. #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 14, 2017

      The commuters aren’t particularly child friendly, but once you get over the transport headache everything else is bliss!

  7. Reply

    Nicola

    November 15, 2017

    Wow, I’d never heard of the Postal Museum, one for the list!
    #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 15, 2017

      It’s quite new, summer 2017 with the train opening September 2017, so go now before everyone knows about it!

  8. Reply

    MummyTravels

    November 15, 2017

    You fitted so much in – ì am dying to get to the Postal Museum but we haven’t had chance yet so it’s great to get a brief glimpse. And I had never even heard if the market in elephant & castle despite actually living here… that is going straight on my liat. Such a great mix of everything the city has to offer here. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 15, 2017

      The market is fab, a few streets from my mother in law’s. We ended up going twice, once for lunch and once for gelato. The street market thing is quite on trend but this still feels relatively authentic.

  9. Reply

    pigeonpairandme

    November 15, 2017

    You’re making me keen to revisit Mercato Metropolitano! And take the children into town to see all the window displays. We really are spoiled for choice, and I’m glad you had such a good time here. x #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 17, 2017

      Window displays in London and New York really up the festivities a notch or two!!

  10. Reply

    Truly Madly Kids (@TrulyMadly7)

    November 15, 2017

    As Londoner you’ve made great suggestions! Especially Mercato Metropolitano! My kids love Regents Park and they’re always entertained by the performers in Covent garden #citytripping

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      November 17, 2017

      Thank you! Next time we’ll try Regents Park too. The poor squirrels in St James were hugely popular!

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