101 best things to do with kids in London

From free museums to singing elevators, treetop adventures to puppet shows on barges, find loads of brilliant ideas to help you keep the children happy.

Best London museums for kids

  1. Let your imagination run wild at the Discover Children’s Story Centre.
  2. Touch a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite in the Peter Harrison Planetarium at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
  3. Experience the ground-shaking sensation of an earthquake at the Natural History Museum.
  4. Visit the Science Museum to ogle the Command Module of Apollo 10, a spacecraft that went around the moon in 1969.
  5. Learn how people lived in olden times by peering into the miniature world of historic dolls’ houses at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
  6. See Egyptian mummies at the British Museum.
  7. Gen up on modern art with the whole family at Tate Modern.
  8. Rub shoulders with the rich and famous at wax figure museum Madame Tussauds.

Free things to do with kids

  1. Watch the Changing the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.
  2. Be wowed by the street entertainers in Covent Garden.
  3. Climb aboard a tank and play at soldiers at the National Army Museum.
  4. Go on a journey through London’s past at the Museum of London.
  5. Learn about the history of the river Thames at the Museum of London Docklands.
  6. Stoke the boiler of a steamship at AHOY! Children’s Gallery at the National Maritime Museum.
  7. Sit in a reconstructed Victorian classroom at the Ragged School Museum.
  8. See Tower Bridge open from the bank of the river Thames.

Fun ways to get around London

  1. Soar above the river Thames in the Emirates Air Line cable car and enjoy great views of London.
  2. Sit at the front of a driverless Docklands Light Railway train to pretend you’re driving it!
  3. Rest your feet while getting an eyeful of the city’s top attractions aboard a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
  4. Cruise along the river Thames on a City Cruises boat.
  5. See how many of London's family-friendly attractions you can check out in one visit, with a money-saving pass: choose from the London Pass, the five-in-one Merlin Magical London Pass or the London Explorer Pass.

Top transport attractions for kids

  1. Take a ride through underground tunnels on the Mail Rail train at the Postal Museum.
  2. Step aboard Europe's largest preserved WW2 warship, HMS Belfast.
  3. Discover what life was like on board the legendary sailing ship Cutty Sark.
  4. Hop aboard a miniature railway in Brockwell Park (every Sunday from March until October).
  5. Sit in the driver’s seat of a red bus at the London Transport Museum.
  6. Explore The Golden Hinde, a full-scale reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s famous sailing galleon.
  7. See cars from the James Bond films at the London Film Museum.
  8. Climb aboard a classic Concorde and enjoy a virtual "flight" at the Brooklands Museum.

Best outdoor activities for all ages

  1. Enjoy a refreshing dip in one of London’s gorgeous lidos.
  2. Explore ancient woodland in Epping Forest.
  3. Go bug hunting and pond dipping at Camley Street Natural Park.
  4. Get lost in Hampton Court Palace’s legendary maze.
  5. Stroll along a soaring treetop walkway at Kew Gardens and learn all about plants in the new Children's Garden.
  6. Go rollerblading or hire a pedalo or a rowing boat on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park.
  7. Race to the top of Primrose Hill where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of London.
  8. Climb and play at one of London’s fun-filled adventure playgrounds.
  9. Have hours of fun at Coram’s Fields, a seven-acre park and playground in Holborn.

Coolest play fountains in London

  1. Make a splash in the 1,080 fountains in Granary Square, an attractive courtyard in King’s Cross.
  2. Go for a refreshing dip in the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Kensington Gardens.
  3. Enjoy a paddle in the More London Riverside fountains next to The Scoop, while soaking up the view of Tower Bridge.
  4. Cool off in the fountains at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, near the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
  5. Try to predict the next move of Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms Fountain at Southbank Centre, outside Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Animal-spotting in London's farms and zoos

  1. See sharks, green sea turtles, penguins and more in the SEA LIFE London aquarium.
  2. Get up close to lions, tigers and penguins at ZSL London Zoo.
  3. Spot birds, otters and other wildlife at the WWT London Wetland Centre.
  4. Pet and feed farmyard animals at one of London’s city farms.
  5. Meet monkeys, meerkats and more at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo.
  6. Watch the pelicans being fed in St James’s Park.
  7. Go deer-spotting in Richmond Park.

London's top foodie experiences for families

  1. Tumble down the rabbit hole by tucking into the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea at Sanderson.
  2. Feast on a scrumptious ice cream, gelato or sorbet at one of London’s top ice cream parlours.
  3. Discover London’s wildest family dining adventure at the Rainforest Cafe.
  4. Stuff yourself with cupcakes, brownies and macarons at one of these cake shops.
  5. Enjoy a taste of America’s Deep South in the Forrest Gump-themed Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
  6. For something a little different, try ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen at Chin Chin Labs.
  7. On a budget? Have a picnic in one of London’s Royal Parks.

Best film locations and attractions

  1. Visit the locations from the Harry Potter films and books with our guide to Harry Potter’s London.
  2. Learn more about everyone's favourite nanny on a Mary Poppins film locations tour. And check out more top film locations in London.
  3. Check out Shrek’s Adventure London!, an indoor walk-and-ride attraction inspired by the hit film.
  4. Enjoy the world’s most immersive movie experience at the Science Museum’s IMAX 3D cinema.
  5. Go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter film series at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and discover the new Gringotts Wizarding Bank set.

Top London shows and theatres for kids

  1. See one of Roald Dahl's most celebrated stories brought to life at Matilda The Musical.
  2. See a puppet show in a watery setting at the magical Puppet Theatre Barge.
  3. Be wowed by one of these top London shows for kids.
  4. Learn all about the Bard on a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
  5. Enjoy a show in one of the city’s family-friendly children’s theatres.

London's most thrilling attractions

  1. Whizz down the UK’s tallest public artwork with a 40-second ride on the tallest and longest tunnel slide in the world at ArcelorMittal Orbit.
  2. Enjoy an exhilarating ride down the river Thames on a speedboat tour.
  3. Take a trip to one of London’s theme parks for an adrenaline-packed day out.
  4. Go on a zip wire treetop adventure at Go Ape Battersea.
  5. Swim and dive in the wake of champions at the Aquatics Centre, one of the venues of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  6. Take part in an exhilarating expedition over the roof of The O2 with Up at The O2 (for over-10s).
  7. Have a thrill-a-minute water adventure at Lee Valley White Water Centre (for over-14s).
  8. Climb a skyscraper at Chelsea’s Clip n’ Climb (for over-fours).
  9. Take a ride on the Coca-Cola London Eye for spectacular 360-degree views of the capital.

Cool places for teens to learn about history

  1. Stand astride two hemispheres on the Prime Meridian Line at Royal Observatory Greenwich.
  2. Scare yourself silly by delving into the capital’s dark and bloody history at The London Dungeon.
  3. Head down into the underground headquarters that sheltered Churchill and his wartime government during the Blitz at Churchill War Rooms.
  4. Explore the history of surgery at the Old Operating Theatre.
  5. See Napoleon’s toothbrush and Darwin’s walking stick at the Wellcome Collection.
  6. Take a trip into the haunted tunnels of London’s famous bridge at the terrifying London Bridge Experience.
  7. Hear the stories of people whose lives have been impacted by war at the Imperial War Museum London.
  8. Learn about the rich history and important work of Parliament on a family guided tour of the Houses of Parliament (best for seven to 12 year-olds).

Best shops in London for kids

  1. Find toys galore in London’s most famous toyshop, Hamleys.
  2. Visit the world's largest sweet shop at M&M’s World in Leicester Square.
  3. Shop at the world's largest Lego Store.
  4. Little vampires and werewolves can stock up on quality goods at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

Quirky things to see and do with kids

  1. Step inside the London home of one of the world’s most famous detectives at the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
  2. Try out more than 60 professions through role-play adventures at KidZania.
  3. See an over-stuffed walrus and a merman at the Horniman Museum.
  4. Roam among the world's oldest life-size dinosaur sculptures at Crystal Palace Park.
  5. Go mudlarking outside Gabriel’s Wharf, where you can dig around for ancient clay pipes and bits of pottery.
  6. Take a ride in the singing elevator (JCB glass lift) in the Royal Festival Hall.
  7. Meet the world's oldest teddy bear at the tiny Pollock's Toy Museum.
  8. Marvel at a jar crammed full of moles at the Grant Museum of Zoology.

Best for family festive fun

  1. Get your skates on at one of these pop-up Christmas ice-skating rinks.
  2. See polar bears made of ice at the Magical Ice Kingdom at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
  3. Munch on gingerbread at Southbank Centre’s Winter Market.
  4. Shout “he’s behind you” at one of London’s hilarious pantomimes.
  5. Soak up the festive atmosphere in Covent Garden.

Discover more family activities in London and find family-friendly restaurants.

Are you visiting London with kids in tow during the school holidays? Find things to do during the Easter holidays, the half-term holiday and the school summer holidays.

Planning a trip over the festive period? Discover 101 London Christmas things to do, plus check out the city's best festive shows, markets, Christmas trees sure to impress the whole family and shopping hotspots.