12 days out in London with kids 2018
Dr Johnson knew what he was talking about. There is simply so much to see and do in an ever-changing London, that I doubt a lifetime is enough to get bored of it.
It might not be perfect (especially on the tube at rush hour), it might be frustrating, but even after nearly 20 years living here, and countless other visits during mylife, I never run out of things to discover.
So with one of my New Year’s travel resolutions being to explore more of my home city with my daughter, I’ve decided to draw up a list of days out in London with kids 2018.
Some are new, some are unmissable, but one visit per month certainly ought to be doable. And that’s without the trips we’ve already done including the wonderful museums – the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum, the Horniman and the V&A, as well as the glorious Cutty Sark – and the many things to do along the Thames including the South Bank. Oh and the currently scaffolding-clad Big Ben.
1. Postal Museum
The new Postal Museum has been on my wishlist since it opened last year – although the history of the Royal Mail might not instantly seem child-friendly, it’s been done in such a way as to be perfect for kids (and give a fascinating look at the centuries of Britain’s postal service).
With the Mail Rail to ride, a special play space, unexpected stories and the chance to dress up, this is one to set aside plenty of time for. If you’re still wondering, Scots To Travel headed there with her little ones.
2. Tower of London
It’s certainly not a new attraction – the first part was built over 900 years ago – but the Tower is without doubt one of my favourite places to visit in London. With centuries of history, often gruesome, with long tales of royalty both glorious and defeated, with its pageantry, its legends and those jewels, it enthralls me.
Although my daughter is an enthusiastic mini castle fan, it’s one I decided to save until she was old enough to appreciate it a little more – now aged five, almost six, I think the moment has come. Besides, it’s far too long since I’ve been! It’s hugely popular, so I’m hoping to make the most of living here by avoiding the holidays: more tips to come once on the best things to do and see, as well as any good ideas for skipping the queues.
3. Peter Rabbit at Kew
There’s always something new to discover at Kew Gardens, and while we don’t go quite as frequently now my daughter is at school, I’m very tempted by the Peter Rabbit festival over the Easter holidays for a return.
With an interacitve trail, plus workshops and crafts, the focus is all about edible plants, fruit and vegetables, while you can plant your own seeds in Mr McGregor’s potting shed, or pull on a pair of fuzzy bunny ears.
4. Museum of London
While we’ve been steadily working our way around London’s wonderful free museums, we still haven’t made it to the Museum of London – but with family activities and tours, as well as special events like guided walks through Roman London, there’s plenty of kid-friendly history.
Previous special events have focused on the Great Fire, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for their newest exhibitions as well. The museum itself is planning to move to a new home not far away in Smithfield Market, currently planned for 2022 with work going on to create a purpose-built space, so I feel sure this visit is going to be the first of many.
5. Watch the pelicans be fed at St James’s park
London isn’t a cheap city – but there are actually a surprising number of free things to do. Not least exploring the parks – I used to work not far from St James’s Park and it’s a gorgeous spot, plus there’s the chance to see the pelicans which live there having their afternoon fish.
Feeding time is from 2.30-3pm near Duck Island Cottage, although you can see them by the lake throughout the day. A word of warning from a friend: if you’re heading there in summer with an ice cream, the pelicans are more than happy to snaffle that when your attention is elsewhere.
6. The National Gallery’s magic carpet
My daughter’s current choice of job when she grows up is to work as an ‘art person’. We haven’t narrowed it down further, but a visit to the National Gallery would be a perfect way to spark some more creative ideas.
There are Sunday storytelling sessions on the magic carpet, which stops in front of a new painting each time – aimed at under-fives, there are also other activities for older age groups, including holiday sessions, not to mention trails to follow.
7. The V&A Winnie the Pooh exhibition
Woozles, heffalumps, honey… Winnie the Pooh is a favourite in our house, and I’d hoped to get to the exhibition at the V&A at the end of last year, having realised it was a year since we had last visited the museum.
Somehow the holidays sped by, but my daughter is primed and ready with her own small Piglet to take – and we have until April 8 to put it in our diary. Mums Do Travel went along and the interactive exhibits sound ideal for my own small fan.
8. Changing of the guard
I remember visiting my grandparents in London as a child and watching the changing of the guard – I’d love Minnie to have the same memories. There are alternatives to the official ceremony if you want to avoid some of the crowds – check out my tips for seeing London on a budget – or we might pop to Windsor for their version.
Admittedly that’s not London itself, but is actually closer to us than heading to Greenwich or east London. Plus there’s the castle to explore there too!
9. The London Transport Museum
We had a great look behind the scenes at the museum’s open day in its Acton depot but still haven’t visited the main London Transport museum. The chance to pretend to drive various vehicles always goes down well… if I’m honest, I rather fancy getting behind the controls of a tube train myself. Even if it’s not for real.
There’s a play zone too, and plenty more to tempt as My Travel Monkey’s review and video shows.
10. Go geocaching
One of the things I love about London is that there’s so much that unexpected – so much to discover, to find hidden away. I’ve tried some of the Treasure Trails on days out around the country, so they’re a great way to spot quirky details, but I fancy trying out geocaching too.
Hopefully that will encourage us to wander a bit further and give us a few challenges to get us out for an easy day. A goal always goes down well!
11. Walking with dinosaurs
The prehistoric beasts are still a favourite – last year we managed to find a dinosaur bone on the Isle of Wight and visited Jurassic Kingdom before it toured the country. This year’s Walking with Dinosaurs animatronic show is doing that in reverse, with two sets of London dates including Wembley at the end of the year and the O2 in August.
Or failing that, perhaps a day out at Crystal Palace to see their dino models instead.
12. Get my heart racing
And these are just for me… Climbing all the way to the top of the O2, suspended 52m above ground level, I can only imagine the views – and how much it will get my heart pounding. Not suitable for five-year-olds (there are age and height restrictions), the same goes for the Arcelor Mittal slide, which is also on my list. And the Crystal Maze Live Experience…
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