Family Day Out With Young Children

There are many free, fun and simple ways to keep young children occupied during a day out in London.

From family-friendly restaurants and hands-on museums to afternoons spent playing in the park, check out these tips for a great day out with small children.

Morning: Horniman Museum

Start your family day out in London with a visit to the ultra child-friendly Horniman MuseumEntry is free and there's plenty to keep young children occupied, including the aquarium and the museum's huge collection of stuffed animals. Visit on a Tuesday or Wednesday and you can also join in one of the regular Busy Bees activity sessions, designed especially for under-5s.

If the weather's nice, head out to the huge gardens where you can meet goats, rabbits, chickens and ferrets on the Animal Walk and play on giant musical instruments in the Sound Garden. Both the museum and gardens are pushchair-friendly, with accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.

Lunch in Covent Garden

Why not stay at the Horniman Museum for lunch? You can eat packed lunches in the picnic area, located near the bandstand. Or you can buy lunch from the museum café, which overlooks the gardens and Victorian conservatory, and offers a good range of hot and cold food.

Alternatively, walk down the hill to Forest Hill Train Station, which has step-free access to the ticket office and platform one – from where you can catch a train to London Bridge. At London Bridge, make the simple connection to Charing Cross Station.

Around Charing Cross, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to family-friendly restaurants. Options include Wahaca, where you'll find ethically and locally-sourced Mexican market food, and Fire & Stone, which offers gourmet pizza plus a kids' menu. Both are situated in Covent Garden and have lift entrances suitable for pushchairs.

Afternoon: St James's Park

After watching the street entertainers in Covent Garden, walk to St James's Park – passing Nelson's Column and the huge lion statues and fountains of Trafalgar Square on the way. St James's Park has lots to keep under-5s occupied, including a playground with play equipment. The beautiful lake at St James's Park is home to three pelicans, and if you visit at 2:30pm you can see them being fed fresh fish by the wildlife officers. 

The park is also surrounded by some of London's top attractions, from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. To avoid the London rush hour, leave the area before 4pm.

Dinner at a Family-Friendly Restaurant

Make bedtime as uncomplicated as possible with an early dinner at a restaurant close to where you're staying. 

You shouldn't be too far from a Spaghetti House as it has family-friendly Italian restaurants located throughout the city. Select from a special children's menu featuring a selection of classic pizza and pasta dishes (£5 for two courses or £7.50 for three courses).

If you're staying in Central London, Planet Hollywood offers a two-course kids' menu for £8.95 featuring a main course followed by ice cream, sorbet or a sundae.

Take a walk on the wild side and go to the Rainforest Cafe. This tropical eatery recreates the sights and sounds of the rainforest with animated gorillas, elephants and butterflies. Kids meals cost £12.50 for a main course, dessert and drink. An activity pack is available for an additional £3.

For parents who want to explore the city at night, some London hotels offer a babysitting service, including Fraser Place Queen's Gate, Copthorne Tara Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf.

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