London is bursting with great museums, galleries, theatres, and parks, perfect for families with young children. However, many of these can be full to the brim with people, particularly during the school holidays. If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle or even looking to try something new, here are our top tips for an alternative family day out.
What to do in the morning
No doubt your little ones will have woken you up at the crack of dawn, so you can start your day early. After breakfast, head to the family-friendly Horniman Museum & Gardens, a free attraction in South London’s Forest Hill. The museum is less of a tourist-trap than the big museums in central London, making this an ideal school holiday destination. As well as an aquarium collection, the museum has a natural history collection which contains over 250,000 specimens of local, national and worldwide origin. There are plenty of workshops and events aimed at children of all ages including ‘Busy Bees’ for under 5s and ‘Hands on’ family workshops which explore a different theme each week. Before you leave, make sure to explore the gardens which boast stunning views across London.
Alternatively, if you are lucky with the weather, why not head to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which has seen a lot of re-development since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Climb the ArcelorMittal Orbit - the tallest sculpture in the UK at a towering 80metres. Coming soon to the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the addition of ‘The Slide’ which will be the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide at 178m. During the 40-second trip, visitors will circle around the Orbit 12 times and travel at speeds of up to 15mph – this ride is only for the brave! The park boosts 111 acres of open space including two large play areas, rolling meadows and intricately designed wetlands, so it’s the perfect place for a family picnic!
A day out in London is not complete without a ride on the Underground, hop on board and travel to your next destination. If the kids are keen to learn about the secrets behind the London Underground, why not try our London Underground and Tube Walking Tour.
What to do in the afternoon
London has an abundance of family theatre taking place across the capital as well as a number of theatres specialising in children’s work. Situated behind City Hall, the Unicorn Theatre is a leading professional theatre producing and presenting work for 2-21year olds. This highly regarded theatre boasts two performance spaces and the theatre strives to offer accessible performances every season. If your little one is completely fanatical about the theatre, you can organise their birthday party at the theatre complete with themed decorations and a gift from the Unicornershop.
If your family loves the theatre but are looking for something quite different then try the Puppet Theatre Barge. Moored at Little Venice, the Puppet Theatre Barge produces critically acclaimed marionette and animation shows. The barge is open all year around and moves to Richmond upon Thames from August.
Perhaps the most surprising family activity you’ll find in London is the city farms dotted all over the capital. Hackney City Farm has been giving the local community experience in farming for over 20 years. Children and adults can get up close to a range of farmyard animals including pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and chickens. As well as a number of animals on the site, the Farm grows a range of seasonal vegetables and other food plants where children can learn how they can lead healthier and happier lives with a low environmental impact.
If you are looking for more alternative and quirky things to see and do in London, book on to our Quirky Walking Tour.