31 Free Things To Do With Kids In London

From exciting museums and child-friendly art exhibitions to fun-filled parks and fascinating landmarks, there are plenty of free things to do with kids on a family trip to London.

Exciting Museums

1. Come face to face with a roaring T-Rex at the Natural History Museum and find out how baby dinosaurs were born. Under-sevens will love the museum’s Explorer Backpacks, which contain a safari hat, binoculars, drawing materials and an activity booklet. Older children can visit the Investigate science centre and touch specimens in the Earth Lab.

2. See what life was like for the poor and destitute children of London’s East End during the late 1800s at the Ragged School Museum. Take a class in the reconstructed Victorian classroom, or learn more about how these children found housing, education and work.

3. Learn about Britain’s exciting maritime history at the National Maritime Museum, which is part of Royal Museums Greenwich. Under-sevens can explore the AHOY! Children’s gallery, while older children can see what it would be like to steer a ship into port from the open sea at All Hands.

4. Be wowed by the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian Mummies at the British Museum. Entertain kids at the Digital Discovery Centre, or follow a family trail for a fascinating journey through Ancient Greece and other famous moments in history.

5. Trace the history of the space rocket (and visit the Apollo 10 command capsule) or meet Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the Science Museum. Youngsters can get hands-on in multi-sensory areas like The Garden (ages three to six) and Pattern Pod (ages five to eight).

6. Explore the V&A Museum of Childhood, which houses the UK’s national collection of childhood objects. Wander through the museums’s collection of teddy bears and dolls houses, or take part in daily activities including storytelling and treasure hunts.

7. Discover the history of the river Thames at the Museum of London Docklands. Step into Sailortown, a reconstruction of 19th-century London, or let the little ones loose in the Mudlarks soft play area.

8. Take older kids to see a wonderfully weird collection of historical objects at the Wellcome Collection, including Napoleon’s toothbrush and Darwin’s walking stick.

Park Life

9. Splash about in the fountains at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There is also a climbing wall in the Pleasure Gardens play area, while the Tumbling Bay playground at the north of the park contains sand pits, tall treehouses, and wobbly bridges, as well as slides, swings and plenty of space to run about.

10. Visit the popular Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. Youngsters can climb the giant wooden pirate ship or commandeer a teepee for hours of outdoor fun.

11. Meet life-size dinosaurs (well, large models built by the Victorians) in Crystal Palace Park! The Crystal Palace exhibition used to stand in this park, which now also contains a children’s farm, playground and maze.

12. Head to Coram’s Fields in Holborn, a park and playground for children for an afternoon of family fun. It can only be entered when accompanied by a child, providing a calm, safe and stimulating environment for children to play in the centre of London.

13. Go mudlarking (the city equivalent of beachcombing) outside Gabriel's Wharf or on the City of London side of the Millennium Bridge, where you can check the surface for old clay smoking pipes and bits of pottery. Check the tide tables in advance.

Meet The Animals

 

14. Meet the gigantic overstuffed walrus at the Horniman Museum and Gardens. Kids will also learn something new from the museum’s collections of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments.

15. Feed the cows at Mudchute Farm and Park, London’s largest urban park with 34 acres (14 hectares) of open parkland. Youngsters can visit the farm animals, go horse riding and explore the farm’s educational facilities.

16. Meet Vauxhall City Farm’s three alpacas, Tom, Jerry and Ben. London’s most central city farm is also home to pigs, sheep, ducks, rabbits and more, and has a ecology area, herb and dye garden, and a picnic area.

17. Take home some farm produce from Deen City Farm and Riding School after the little ones have played with the animals in the special petting area.

18. Watch the pelicans being fed every day in St James’s Park. Prompt the family to keep their eyes peeled for water birds, owls, pelicans and bats too.

Theatre And Art

19. Take the JCB Glass lift in the Royal Festival Hall and enjoy the surprise on everyone's faces when the elevator starts to sing.

20. Look out for free events and workshops at Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre, every February half-term. Or kids go free to top theatre shows for the whole month of August during the annual Kids Week promotion.

21. Make your own temporary sculpture with Liminal at Tate Modern, which lets youngsters experiment with shape, form and composition. Or try the Time (Travel) Line, which helps children discover what artists were creating the year they were born and plan a trail through the gallery to meet artworks that are the same age as they are.

22. Fly away on a magic carpet (which sits in front of a different painting each day) with The National Gallery’s storytelling sessions for families with two to five year olds.

23. The National Portrait Gallery has storytelling sessions, art workshops and other family activities, and children will have lots of questions to ask about all the faces on show.

Fascinating London Landmarks

 

24. Watch the street entertainers in Covent Garden, from brilliant singers to talented acrobats. Send the kids up at the end of the performance with some change to say thank you.

25. See the Prime Meridian Line for free at Park Vista.

26. Create your own swashbuckling adventure aboard Sir Francis Drake’s world-famous Galleon, The Golden Hinde. This full-scale reconstruction is open seven days a week for self-guided tours.

27. There’s no charge to see some of London’s top sights lit up for Christmas. Big light switch on events include free entertainment too. The Christmas lights start to go on from early to mid-November and are up until early January.

28. Push a trolley through to Harry Potter’s magical world at the wall marked Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross.

29. Watch the Changing the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace, at Horse Guards Arch or at Windsor Castle. Youngsters will love seeing the brightly-dressed guards, and the ceremony is set to music.

30. See a remnant of Roman London at the London Wall near The Tower of London, which formed part of the eastern defences of Londinium. Most of the buildings that once obscured it have been cleared away, so you can see the monument that defined the shape of London for over a millennium.

31. Watch Tower Bridge open from the bank of the river Thames. The bridge opens approximately 1,000 times a year or three times a day. You can also see continuous images of the 19th-century landmark on our live video feed.