6 Of The Best Things To Do In London With Preschoolers
London is the starring role in so many works of children’s literature. It has fairytale qualities and an overwhelming number of child-friendly attractions—there really is so much to do with the family, both indoors and out. Here are our best recommendations for things to do in England's capital city with little ones in tow.
1. London Transport Museum
Top of the list is the wonderful London Transport Museum. Its central location in Covent Garden means you can pop in to escape the rain or cold for a bit. At the entrance, children are given a stamp card that leads them on a treasure hunt—a great way of getting younger ones engaged.
The museum contains some incredible exhibits (the 100-year-old horse-drawn omnibuses were a particular highlight) and information about the history of transportation and how London grew into a modern metropolis.
The two children’s play spaces are terrific. Children can pretend to be bus or underground drivers, conductors, passengers and lost property officers; making it an immersive, interactive experience that little ones won't go forgetting in a hurry!
2. Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Greenwich, with its quaint, village-like atmosphere, waterside location and open green spaces, is a place you can easily fill a day or more with children. You can ride the driverless Docklands Light Rail there (a huge hit!), clamber aboard the historic tea clipper, Cutty Sark, climb the hill and visit the Royal Observatory for an incredible view of London or stand on the prime meridian.
Best of all for the little ones is the Maritime Museum. On the ground floor is a fabulous play space where children can work as a fishmonger, imagine themselves as a deckhand, shovel coal in a boiler, attempt to balance the freight on a container ship, try their hand at fishing or prepare food in a ship's galley.
There are a number of large exhibits throughout the museum including an amazingly beautiful Royal Barge and an incredible collection of ships figureheads. The enormous world map spread across the second floor, just outside the cafe was the perfect space for little ones to burn off energy.
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3. Kensington: The Museum Precinct
No visit to London would be complete without a trip to the iconic Natural History Museum. Situated in Kensington, it’s part of the museum precinct containing the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, all of which are worth a visit.
Get up-close with nature, discover fascinating creatures and intriguing science, and enjoy fun, family-friendly activities for curious kids and inquisitive parents at the Natural History Museum. There is so much to explore in the galleries and there are many free and low-cost activities running every day. With regular family exhibitions, plenty of hands-on, interactive activities and action-packed school holiday programmes, there's something for children of all ages at the Natural History Museum.
The neighbouring Science Museum is bursting at the seams with modern, gripping exhibits that will keep your budding scientists thoroughly preoccupied. There is a great mix of modern and historic and many of the exhibits are very interactive. You can create your own underground network or environmentally-friendly city.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is not especially child-friendly – it’s partner museum, the Museum of Childhood is designed for that purpose. However, it’s a wonderful place to walk around. There are so many interesting household items and object d’art in this beautiful building.
4. Museum of London
The history of London is beautifully presented in the Museum of London. The layout of the museum takes you on a chronological journey beginning in Roman times and ending in the present. Artefacts have been carefully chosen to reflect these various time periods and to give visitors a true sense of what life was like in these eras.
Many of the exhibits are interactive and include a Georgian pleasure garden, Victorian shops and a transportation display where children can move buses and trains around the city. The Museum also runs regular programs for children.
5. The Making Of Harry Potter Tour
While little ones might not be aware of the story yet, they’ll still be in awe of all of the things to do and see at Harry Potter World. They’ll love stepping onto iconic sets, like the Great Hall and Dragon Alley, whilst exploring props and costumes as well as creature effects and the art department. Kids under 4 go free, although they will require a ticket. A magical experience for the whole family!
6. See A Show
Since London is famous for its theatre, pantomimes, musicals and ballet, so it's a great way of engaging young kids in theatre and in the culture of London! There's always something to see—from iconic musicals to the latest production on the scene. Before you travel, check out what's on via London Theatre Guide to get your pick of the best shows on at the time of your trip. And a little tip: booking an afternoon performance is a great way of getting some sightseeing respite in the middle of the day, and means little ones can get to bed earlier too!
Other noteable places like the British Museum, the Wallace Collection, the Tower of London, Hyde Park, and Hampton Court Palace are also remarkable, fabulous places for children and should not be missed on a trip to London!
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