The best day trips from London with kids

There’s so much to explore in London itself that you could easily fill a lifetime uncovering all the city’s secrets – but there’s no denying that it also makes a great base to explore, with a whole string of fantastic day trips from London with kids.

View of platforms at Kings Cross station in London, looking down at the trains under the curved glass roof - my top day trips from London with kids, all of which can be done by train
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Whether you live in the city and are looking for ideas of family days out near London, or you’re visiting the capital and trying to pack in a bit more of the UK at the same time, I’ve picked 26 days out for kids near London to inspire you.

I’ve tried to make these as realistic as possible – for example, you could technically go to York as a day trip from London, with trains taking around two hours each way, but it’s a long day and you’d still barely have chance to see all the fantastic attractions in York with kids. Same goes for Birmingham, which is closer but equally deserving of more than a day.

Needless to say, I haven’t included every possible place you could visit on day trips from London with kids either – I’ve focused on destinations rather than specific attractions, but there are theme parks like Legoland Windsor, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park, as well as other attractions where you could easily spend the day.

I’ve also left out Hampton Court Palace – it’s somewhere I’d highly recommend as a day out, and you do have to make a journey from central London to get there, but it’s still officially part of the city!

PLANNING TIP: If you’re travelling by train, do factor in the time needed to get from wherever you’re staying to the station you depart from: crossing London can easily add another 30 minutes or more.

Windsor, Berkshire

There’s nowhere quite like Windsor Castle – one of my top UK castles to visit with kids. After all, how often do you get to peek inside a ‘working’ palace?

A view of the Union flag flying in front of Windsor Castle - hopping on to the  Windsor bus tour with kids

One of the Queen’s favourite homes, she still regularly spends time at Windsor, and you can see the Changing of the Guard here, eye up a truly spectacular doll’s house, see the tombs of royalty including Henry VIII in St George’s chapel at the castle, as well as getting a look indoors.

Book tickets to Windsor Castle here

Of course, there’s more to Windsor than the castle alone. Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Windsor to explore some of the countryside around, including the origins of Eton, with some Shakespeare thrown in, before strolling the historic streets and maybe even tackling the well-named Long Walk through Windsor Greak Park.

Winchester, Hampshire

England’s first capital, Winchester is the perfect place to step back in history – and there’s loads for kids to enjoy as well.

The statue of King Alfred in Winchester - exploring Winchester with kids on a day trip from London

Along with the famous cathedral, which my daughter first visited as a toddler (check out the Christmas market in December too), you can see the medieval round table on display in the 13th century Great Hall, discover the city’s long past in its museums and wander the ancient streets.

For more modern fun, the Winchester Science Centre reopened in 2020 after a multimillion pound overhall, and you could easily spend a whole day there.

  • Trains from Waterloo take around an hour, and the station is only a few minutes from the city centre. Or it’s around 90 minutes by car.

For more ideas of things to do in Winchester with kids, check out my top picks

The New Forest, Hampshire

The New Forest National Park in Hampshire is the perfect family-friendly day trip from London for families who enjoy woodland walks and active adventures, including the chance to spot the wild ponies which live there.

Standing by one of the New Forest ponies while holding my toddler - a great family-friendly day out from London

You can take a scenic walk or hire bikes to explore the ancient woodland, then hop into a kayak for a trip along the river to see the beautiful national park from a different vantage point. 

If you’re visiting with toddlers and younger kids, there are also several farms where you can meet the animals and, of course, the exciting Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World – toddler and preschooler heaven!

One of the best times to visit the New Forest with kids is during the early autumn months when the leaves are starting to change colour and the cooler weather means less chance of sunburn during your outdoor adventures – although if you’re visiting on a sunny day, head to Buckler’s Hard for an ice cream by the waterfront.

  • The easiest way to reach the New Forest and explore is by car. But there are also various stations if you want to take the train to the New Forest from London: one of the best stations to head towards is Brockenhurst, which takes around 90 minutes from Waterloo.

For more things to do in Hampshire with kids, check out my top picks

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

There is nowhere in the world quite like Stonehenge – this amazing creation still has the power to fascinate and spark your curiosity at any age.

While it’s not a short visit (around 2 1/2 hours each way by car), it’s well worth the effort to look at what is probably the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

Check out my post on a visit to Stonehenge after lockdown

View of Stonehenge Neolithic stone circle in Wiltshire, UK - a family visit to Stonehenge after lockdown

At the entrance, there’s a small museum and recreated Neolithic houses to explore – the exhibition in particular is unmissable, not least for the chance to stand in a recreation of the stones at the solstice, as well as providing some background.

Then regular buses can shuttle you down to the henge itself (handy if you’re visiting with younger kids or older relatives), or even better, walk the paths through the fields for the full experience, seeing the famous circle suddenly appearing on the horizon.

There’s more information if you download the free app before you visit (or using the site’s free WiFi), instead of an audio guide, but the impact of seeing Stonehenge in real life, marvelling at the size of the stones, the precision of the design, is never less than jaw-dropping.

  • You can get a variety of tours from London to Stonehenge, including half-day options which give you a couple of hours at the stones themselves if you don’t want to drive.
    Otherwise, direct trains to Salisbury take 90 minutes from Waterloo and you can either take a taxi directly or a 30-minute bus journey each way with the Stonehenge tour bus (bus only tickets cost £11).

Salisbury, Wiltshire

Another fabulous city to visit with kids on a day trip from London if you’re interested in history – Salisbury cathedral is the best-known attraction, home to one of the copies of Magna Carta, as well as the world’s oldest mechanical clock.

View of Salisbury cathedral in the UK against a blue sky - ideas for a visit to Salisbury with kids

But that’s only the start of the things to do in Salisbury with kids – half the pleasure is wandering the historic streets, where you can still see medieval buildings as well as the cathedral itself.

Once a Saxon town, then home to a Norman castle, you can still see the ruins of this and an Iron Age fort just outside the current city at Old Sarum.

Salisbury is also a great option to team with a visit to Stonehenge – although trying to pack both into a day trip from London with kids would be distinctly ambitious.

  • Trains to Salisbury from Waterloo take around 80-90 minutes direct, or around two hours by car.

Bath, Somerset

Pretty Bath is one of my favourite cities in England, and quick trains mean it’s easily possible for day trips from London with kids (although you’ll probably be tempted to stay longer).

View of Bath Abbey in Somerset through the ornate arch on York Street - climbing the tower is one of my recommended things to do in Bath with kids once they're old enough

The city is ideal whether your kids are fascinated by Roman places, love the writing of Jane Austen and Regency elegance, or for the mix of city attractions and nearby countryside.

I’ve picked out my top things to do in Bath with kids here for more inspiration: you shouldn’t miss the Roman baths themselves and a stroll around soaking up the gorgeous architecture with its honey-coloured stone, as well as a wander to Pulteney bridge.

There’s also the Fashion Museum, Jane Austen Centre, American Museum and more, or the lovely Bath skyline walk – not to mention a Bath bun before you leave.

If you’re spending longer in the area than a day trip, check out my top things to do in Somerset with kids

Bristol

On a similarly fast train route as nearby Bath, vibrant Bristol is a fantastic place to visit with kids – you’ll find great street art, the SS Great Britain and Clifton Suspension bridge, museums and animal attractions.

My daughter touches the Bristol Gromit statue, set on a viewpoint with the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background - following the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail in Bristol, our review

The interactive science centre, We The Curious, is one of my daughter’s all-time favourites – we visit each time we’re in Bristol and the hardest thing is tempting her back out again.

Visiting the SS Great Britain and the Being Brunel exhibition, celebrating the achievements and life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is equally unmissable.

The city is also home to a fantastic zoo and aquarium, the free M Shed museum about the city, and everything street art from Banksy to lessons in creating your own works.

  • Trains to Bristol Temple Meads from London (the best station for the city, rather than Bristol Parkway) take around 90 minutes direct, or around two hours by car.

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

If you’re looking for day trips from London with kids that don’t include a long journey, pretty Henley-on-Thames is just a short train ride or drive from the capital.

A view of the bridge over the Thames at Henley in Oxfordshire - one of my top day trips from London with kids

Set on the Thames in the Oxfordshire countryside near the Chilterns, Henley is best known for its annual boating regatta – but when that isn’t on, one of the best things to do is hire a boat for the day to hit the river yourself.

Grab a picnic, and spend the day on a self-drive electric boat, exploring the river and spotting the luxurious homes and historical buildings that line the banks. 

For something more adventurous, you can also hire kayaks and canoes which are suitable for children 5+.

Plus, don’t miss a visit to the surprisingly kid-friendly Henley River and Rowing Museum – I visited when my daughter was just two and she loved the Wind in the Willows themed exhibits, but there’s plenty for all ages.

  • It takes between 45 minutes to an hour to reach Henley by train from Paddington – there are no direct routes, so you do have to change along the way – or around an hour by car.

Oxford

Even after several years living in the city, I’d still find myself stopping to stare at just how lovely Oxford is – that gorgeous honey-coloured stone, the old college buildings, the pretty riverside, the botanic gardens.

The bridge of sighs in Oxford, against a blue sky with the honey-coloured buildings of the city behind - one of my top day trips from London with kids

For kids who love reading, you can find everything from the entrance to Narnia to Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter – don’t miss the Oxford Story Museum to step inside stories, great for younger visitors as well as keen readers.

Or check out a Harry Potter tour – this one includes CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein as well as the Bodleian library, while this one mixes Oxford history with Wizarding World trivia.

The Oxford Museum of Natural History is another of my daughter’s favourites – free, with plenty of chances to get hands on, and the University Parks nearby.

The city is best explored on foot (or bike!) but the hop-on hop-off bus tour is a fun option with younger kids or for a quick overview of some of Oxford’s highlights. And on a sunny day, there’s nothing better than hiring a punt and cruising along the river.

  • Trains to Oxford from Paddington station take from around 45 minutes, or around 75 minutes by car. You can also take a coach from London Victoria to Oxford (including the Oxford Tube) which takes around 1 hour 40 minutes.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

The only non-royal country house in all of England to hold the title of palace, Blenheim Palace is around 20 minutes from Oxford, at Woodstock in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Exterior of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, seen across a statue in the gardens under a blue sky - one of the best day trips from London with kids

Famous for being the birthplace and home of wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, it’s also an incredibly child-friendly day out from London, including a great audio tour of the grand palace itself.

In the 2,000-acre estate, you’ll find immersive family exhibitions on the palace’s history, as well as sprawling gardens that feature a children’s play area, a two-mile hedge maze, a miniature train, butterfly house and pony trail for little ones, not to mention special events throughout the year.

Visit in the run-up to Christmas, and there’s an illuminated trail too.

  • It takes around 1h 20 minutes to get to Blenheim Palace from London by car, although there are also a variety of tours to Blenheim Palace if you don’t want to drive. Alternatively, the easiest way to get there by public transport is to take the train to Oxford and then a bus on to Woodstock, which takes an additional 30-40 minutes.

Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are truly the postcard-perfect image of England. Scattered across several counties, mostly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, the collection of pretty villages is known for its quaint thatch-roofed cottages and ancient stone bridges, surrounded by the rolling green hills of the English countryside.

Street lined with honey coloured stone cottages under a blue sky in the Gloucestershire village of Icomb in the Cotswolds, one of the best days trips from London with kids

As the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England, the Cotswolds are easiest to explore by car, but you could easily visit two to three villages on a day trip from London.

Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most kid-friendly villages in the Cotswolds, with a shallow river running straight through the middle that kids can splash in with an ice-cream in hand while parents relax on the riverbank.

There’s also a model village, hedge maze and Birdland Park and Gardens – which has one of the largest collections of exotic birds in the UK, and nearby Cotswold Farm Park.

Some of the other top villages to visit in the Cotswolds with kids include Lower and Upper Slaughter, as well as the beautiful Castle Combe and Moreton-in-Marsh.

For more ideas of things to do in the Cotswolds with kids, check out my top picks

  • It takes around two hours to drive from London to Bourton-on-the-Water. If you don’t want to drive, there are direct trains to Moreton-in-Marsh from London Paddington, and buses to nearby villages, although you’ll be more limited in your exploring. You can also join a tour from London to the Cotswolds, although these don’t tend to be suitable for younger kids.

Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire

This fascinating historic town is best known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and you’ll find plenty of attractions linked to the famous playwright as you explore.

The historic timbered house that is William Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon - a fascinating day out from London with kids

Visit the house that Shakespeare grew up in, where you’ll be greeted by tour guides in authentic Tudor dress who bring the experience alive and are great at engaging kids of all ages. 

There’s also a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Stratford-upon-Avon, which links several of the town’s highlights, or you could experience a Tudor lesson in Shakespeare’s schoolroom, where the young William was educated.

Mary Arden’s farm – the home of Shakespeare’s mother – is another fun family-friendly attraction, with its many farm animals, people dressed in authentic Tudor outfits and traditional crafts and activities which kids can try for themselves, including archery and falconry.

Away from the town’s Shakespeare connection, you can see the mechanical art at the unusual MAD museum, spend some time at Stratford’s Butterfly Farm and take a relaxing boat trip along the River Avon. Or

  • It takes around 2 hours 30 minutes by train to Stratford-upon-Avon from London, or slightly under two hours to drive. You can also book a tour to Stratford-upon-Avon from London, such as this option which also includes Oxford, although this a long and busy day so not one for younger kids.

If you have longer to spend exploring England, it’s easy to combine Stratford-upon-Avon with a visit to Warwick and Warwick Castle

Warner Bros Studio Tour, Herfordshire

One of the most popular day trips from London with kids, the Warner Bros Studio tour is heaven for Harry Potter fans (small and large!) Not far from the city in Hertfordshire, it’s also one of the closest London day trips in my list.

The shops of Diagon Alley at the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour - if you're visiting Harry Potter locations in London, you can't miss this

Having visited the Leavesden studios several times – it’s one of my top days out for Harry Potter fans and top Harry Potter locations in London – you could very easily spend all day there if you wanted.

As well as the chance to see props from the movies in all their impressive detail, to pose with a broomstick against a green screen, watch animatronic creatures from the wizarding world and see how they were designed, there’s a model of Privet Drive and the Hogwarts Express, a fire-breathing dragon in Gringotts and the only place you can see Hogwarts.

St Albans, Hertfordshire

The historic city is another very easy day out from London with kids, and it’s a great option if your family loves history – including a historic street market, with some great food stalls.

The ruins of the Roman amphitheatre at Verulamium Park, St Albans - a great day out from London with kids who love history

The site of one of England’s most important Roman settlements, Verulamium, as well as the home of the country’s first Saint, Alban – you can still visit the Norman cathedral – it was also the scene of the first battle in the War of the Roses so there’s plenty to discover.

Step further back in time to find Romans at the 100 acres of Verulamium Park: this stands on the former Roman city with some of the ancient walls still visible, along with the Hypocaust mosaic. Nearby are the remains of the Roman Theatre.

Head to Verulamium Museum too to find more of the objects excavated from the site, plus a hoard of golden coins, some spectacular mosaics, and family activities if you’re visiting with kids.

  • Trains to St Albans from London take as little as 17 minutes from St Pancras, or it’s around a 50-minute drive.

Woburn Safari Park, Bedfordshire

The closest safari park to London, Woburn Safari Park makes a fantastic day trip from London with kids. As well as the chance to drive through to see some of the bigger animals, there’s also a section to walk around, ideal for kids to stretch their legs.

Monkey sitting on the bonnet of a car at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire - one of the best day trips from London with kids for animal lovers

As a bonus, there are some very memorable VIP experiences too if you’re splashing out – previously there was the chance to get close to smaller animals, including meerkats and lemurs, from around age five. Currently, you can choose 30-minute guided tours to see big cats, rhino or giraffe.

Check out my review of the VIP experiences at Woburn Safari Park

It’s home to everything from elephants and bears to lions and tigers, down to monkeys, penguins and sea lions, to name just a few. There are also play areas, both indoor and out, a mini train to ride and swan and dragon boats on the lake.

  • Woburn Safari Park is around one hour’s drive from London – and you have to drive. Not only would it be a long journey to try on public transport, you have to drive to the entrance, and then obviously you can’t walk around the safari park, so you do need your own vehicle.

Cambridge

The second of England’s most prestigious university cities, Cambridge is also a great destination for a kid-friendly day out from London – get your bearings with a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city.

View across the river to Kings College in Cambridge - a beautiful day trip from London with kids

Home to several great museums, including dinosaurs at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, kids will also love visiting the nearby University Museum of Zoology and the Cambridge Science Centre. The Science Centre regularly runs fun workshops and sessions for kids so be sure to check the schedule before your visit.

And there are some fantastic ideas for family activities at the Fitzwilliam Museum for even the youngest visitors: this free art gallery is one of the most family-friendly in the UK.

On a sunny day, punting along the River Cam, admiring the city’s many impressive university buildings, is an absolute must, and save some time for a stroll around the Botanic Gardens too.

For more things to do in Cambridge with kids, check out my top picks

  • Trains to Cambridge take as little as 50 minutes from London and you can travel from Kings Cross or Liverpool Street direct. It takes around 90 minutes to drive, although like Oxford, Cambridge is much better explored on foot, so it’s worth considering parking outside the city at the park & ride.

If you’re staying in Cambridge for longer, it’s easy to combine with a trip to Ely with kids as well as some of the best things to do in Suffolk with kids

Norwich, Norfolk

This often overlooked city in East Anglia, the county town of Norfolk, is somewhere that’s fantastic with kids – I’ve visited several times with my daughter, and there’s a great mix of attractions, history and picturesque streets to wander around.

My daughter walks along a cobbled street in Tombland in Norfolk, past a series of old buildings on a Norwich Treasure Trail, one of the most fun things to do in Norfolk with kids

In fact Norwich is one of the best cities I’ve come across for putting up signs about its history, so you can discover the origins of unusual names, find out how old buildings are and learn a few local stories as you wander.

Find some of my favourite spots and ideas for how to spend one day in Norwich with kids here

Don’t miss a chance to look inside the cathedral, with its labyrinth and cathedral cat, while you can also explore inside the castle where the city’s museum is set. There are museums galore, including the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell inside a former prison, and the medieval Stranger’s Hall.

Stroll through Tombland and down to the Quayside, where the sculptures commemorate the people and trades which once helped make it England’s second city, as well as wandering around Norwich Lanes, packed with cafes and little shops.

Wherever you wander, you’ll find plenty of street art too – or if you need a sit down by this point, there’s also a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Norwich.

  • Trains to Norwich take just under two hours from London Liverpool Street – you can also travel from Kings Cross but it takes slightly longer and you need to change trains in Ely. It takes a similar amount of time to do the same journey by car.

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

For a slightly different place to try, if you’re looking for day trips from London with kids, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk is less than two hours away, with its magnificent cathedral, ruins of the old abbey and links to Charles Dickens – for starters.

Norman Tower and St Edmundsbury cathedral in Bury St Edmunds - one of the many things to do in Suffolk with kids

The author made multiple visits to the town, staying at The Angel coaching inn – you can still see a blue plaque commemorating it on the front of the building.

Opposite, the pretty Abbey Gardens have their imposing old gatehouse as well as pillars, arches and even old graves from the medieval abbey which was one of the richest and most powerful in the country. Wander inside the beautiful cathedral of St Edmundsbury too, with a Discovery Detective trail for kids to follow.

There are some unexpected sights as well: in the nearby church of St Mary, you can spot the grave of Mary Tudor – sister of Henry VIII, Queen of France and later Duchess of Suffolk, while Moyse’s Hall Museum, voted Suffolk’s most family-friendly museum, has displays on murder and witchcraft, as well as on the history of Bury St Edmunds.

Colchester, Essex

Calling itself Britain’s oldest city, Colchester is another great option if you’re looking for history-packed day trips from London with kids – especially if yours love the Romans.

View of Colchester castle, home to the town's museum - one of my top things to do with kids in Colchester

Then called Camelodunum, it was one of the most important Roman sites, with part of the ancient wall still remaining, along with the ruins of the only Roman circus in the country.

You can also see part of the huge Temple of Claudius, destroyed in the revolt by Boudica and the Iceni, in the shadow of the castle – the Norman fortress now houses a fantastically family-friendly museum, with exhibits from excavations in the area, AR recreations of life in the castle, links to the Witchfinder General and more.

For more ideas of things to do in Colchester with kids, check out this post

Take a wander around the pretty castle park too, as well as exploring some of Colchester’s other museums and wandering the old streets. There’s also a great zoo just outside Colchester itself.

  • Trains to Colchester take just over an hour from London; choose a route from Liverpool Street to Colchester Town station, which is less than 10 minutes walk to the castle (or you can travel to Colchester Station, which is quicker but slightly further outside the centre. It takes around 90 minutes to drive.

Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Southend-on-Sea is a classic British seaside destination on the Essex coast that makes for a fun kid-friendly day trip from London. 

Southend-on-Sea seafront with the longest pleasure pier in the world - one of the best day trips from London with kids if you want to be beside the seaside

As well as the large pebble beach for kids to enjoy, you’ll also find plenty of family-friendly attractions, including several gaming arcades, the Adventure Island amusement park and the Sealife Adventure aquarium.

The town is also famously home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, which features a crazy golf course, museum and several small shops and cafes. You can either walk 30 minutes to reach the end of the pier (told you it was long!) or jump on the electric railway. 

If you’re thinking this should only be on your list for a visit in summer, Southend-on-Sea is actually a lovely year-round London day trip with kids – throughout October and November each year, the town puts on an amazing free fireworks display every Saturday evening from a barge out in the water, accompanied by live music and festivities along the seafront.

  • Trains to Southend-on-Sea take around an hour, and you have a choice of two different routes – from Fenchurch Street to Southend Central, which is slightly closer the seaside, or Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria, which is slightly faster. It also takes around an hour to drive from London to Southend-on-Sea.

Mersea Island, Essex

For a slightly more low-key and chilled-out day trip to the seaside from London, head to the small estuary island of Mersea in Essex.

A view along brightly coloured beach huts on West Mersea beach, Essex on a sunny day - a great day trip from London with kids if you're looking for time at the beach

Spend an idyllic day on Mersea Island enjoying the peaceful sandy beaches, trying your hand at catch-and-release crabbing, hiring a paddleboard or kayak from Mersea Island Watersports and heading out onto the water, and snapping a few photos of the colourful beach houses that line Victoria Esplanade.

And if the queue isn’t too long, be sure to stop for lunch at The Company Shed which has a reputation for serving the tastiest fish and seafood on the island, and kids are welcome.

  • If you want to travel by train to Mersea Island, the closest station is Colchester, around an hour from London. You can take bus 67 to West Mersea from there, which takes around 45 minutes – or a taxi ride is around 20 minutes. To drive from London, it takes around 1 hour 45 minutes.

North Kent beaches

For another choice of beaches close to London, head to the North Kent coast, where you’ll find a string of lovely spots by the sea and a string of potential day trips with kids.

The view of the pier at Herne Bay in Kent on a summer day, with the funfair and classic carousel and people paddling - a great place for a day trip from London with kids

Whitstable is one of my favourites: as well as the shingle beach, there’s a great cycle track to explore a little further and a well-deserved reputation for great fish and oysters.

One of my favourite things is the street art in Whitstable though, with works to spot all over the town. Fuel up with some sweet treats from the shops along Harbour Street first (with plenty to tempt grown-ups as well as kids)

For a traditional seaside feel, choose nearby Herne Bay. Wander along the pier, check out the helter skelter and grab fish and chips to eat by the waves, before strolling further along the beach to spot the beach huts.

  • Trains to Whitstable from London take around 75-90 minutes from St Pancras and Victoria, as well as Cannon Street, while the same trains to Herne Bay take 5-10 minutes longer. Driving to Whitstable and Herne Bay from London takes around 90 minutes.

If you’re prepared to travel further, Broadstairs has several gorgeous beaches, fabulous ice cream at Morelli’s and some great places to eat along the seafront – a fast train to Broadstairs from St Pancras takes around 75 minutes, or it’s an extra 30 minutes to drive.

For more ideas of things to do in Kent with kids, check out my pick of the best

Margate, Kent

The seaside town of Margate on the Kent coast is another great day trip from London for kids who enjoy being by the water.

Traditional fairground ride at Dreamland Margate in Kent - one of the best Kent days out with kids

This traditional British seaside town has a chic modern twist, so while you’ll find fish and chips overlooking the sandy beach, you can also explore a town centre filled with cool vintage shops and hipster cafes serving cold-brew coffee.

For a fun kid-friendly day out in Margate, don’t miss a visit to Dreamland, the exciting 100-year-old amusement park which is home to the UK’s oldest wooden roller coaster.

You can also explore Iron Age remains inside the Margate caves and visit the ornate Shell Grotto – an unusual series of passageways mysteriously covered in millions of shells.

  • Trains to Margate from London take around 90 minutes from St Pancras, or slightly longer from Victoria. It takes around 1 hour 45 minutes to drive to Margate.

Canterbury, Kent

Once an important pilgrimage site, commemorated in Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales, the charming city of Canterbury in Kent is still a popular place to visit from London for the day with kids.

Medieval half-timber houses and Stour river in Canterbury, Kent - one of my top places if you're wondering where to go in Kent with kids

Older kids will enjoy exploring the city’s impressive cathedral, wandering the ancient Medieval walls, and visiting the fascinating Canterbury Roman Museum, one of my favourite Roman places in the UK.

Younger children are sure to love embarking on the Canterbury Spy Mission Trail as a fun way to explore the city’s historic streets, or you can get another view by heading to the water, and punting on the river.

  • Choose a fast train to Canterbury from London St Pancras and you can get to the city in an hour. There’s another route from Victoria to Canterbury East station, as well as to Canterbury West from Charing Cross, but you’ll need to allow at least another 30 minutes. Both stations are around 10 minutes walk from the cathedral. It takes around 75-90 minutes to drive to Canterbury from London.

Brighton, East Sussex

One of my favourite UK cities, Brighton is also one of the easiest day trips from London with kids if you want to hit the beach.

Stripy deckchairs on Brighton beach, with the pier in the background - one of my own favourite day trips from London with kids

The beach itself is shingly and pebbles rather than sand, but there are some great family attractions in the city, including Sea Life Brighton, the world’s oldest aquarium, a string of quirky museums and some unbeatable views from the i360 observation tower.

Check out my top things to do in Brighton with kids for more ideas

Don’t miss the iconic Royal Pavilion too, with a trail for younger kids to follow, and plenty of opulent royal living to make your jaw drop. Teens will love wandering the Lanes with their vintage shops and retro homewares, or checking out the stalls at the Open Market.

  • Trains to Brighton from London Victoria take around an hour – you can also travel from Blackfriars, which takes another 10 minutes. It takes around 1h 45 minutes to drive to Brighton: parking is often at a premium so be prepared for high charges or to find a space outside the centre.

Sussex beaches

If you’re looking for sandy beaches near London, the Sussex coast is one of the closest stretches to the capital for a paddle and a chance to build a sandcastle.

My daughter scrambles up the sand dunes at Camber Sands in Sussex - one of the best day trips from London with kids if you're looking for sandy beaches

There is a good choice of days out from London with kids as well, from Camber Sands to Littlehampton and West Wittering.

Both Camber Sands and West Wittering are backed by dunes, with tide pools when the tide is out: both can also get very busy on sunny summer days!

Or Littlehampton has some more traditional seaside fun at its eastern end, with sand when the tide is out and the UK’s longest bench, while the western end is more unspoiled with dunes to explore.

  • Trains to Littlehampton from London take from around 90 minutes, and it’s a 15 minute stroll down to the beachfront, or it takes just under two hours to drive, with parking just off the beach. The others are harder to reach by train: the closest station to Camber Sands is pretty Rye, around three miles away, which takes just over an hour by train, or it’s around two hours by car. Realistically, a day trip to West Wittering is only practical by car but you must prebook a parking space at the beach car park.

PIN FOR LATER: THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON WITH KIDS

The best day trips from London with kids - 26 great family days out from London, with ideas for the best beaches near London, great UK city breaks near London with kids and some of the country's top historic sites, landmarks and family attractions

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Images: Dreamland courtesy Visit Kent/Kallaway PR, main photo/Salisbury/Bath/Henley/Oxford/Blenheim/Cotswolds/ Stratford/StAlbans/Cambridge/Bury St Edmunds/Southend/Mersea/Canterbury/Brighton courtesy of Depositphotos, all others copyright MummyTravels

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