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101 things to do with kids in London: museums and attractions

Plan the perfect outing with our guide to London’s top kid-friendly museums and attractions

Written by
Laura Lee Davies
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These must-visit museums and awesome attractions are famous for good reason, and are worth visiting whether you’re here on holiday or have access to them year-round. We’ve picked some of the most child-friendly corners of the big venues to get you started.

SEE THE FULL LIST101 things to do in London with kids

Museums and attractions for kids

Board the Hogwarts Express at Warner Bros Studio
  • Attractions
  • Hertfordshire

This studio complex near Watford was the location for a lot of the filming and production for the Harry Potter movies. Happily some of the sets remain and are open to the public. The ‘Making of Harry Potter’ exhibition doesn’t disappoint, and it offers insights into the creative process of filmmaking. Permanent displays include a painstakingly recreated Platform 9¾, and the magnificent Hogwarts Express steam engine.

£33, £25.50 under-16s, free under-4s

All ages

Play Bond for a day on the Thames Rib Experience
  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • Victoria Embankment

Forget a sedate cruise down the river. Opt instead for the pacey pleasures of a high-speed trip down the Thames, bouncing over the water in a rigid inflatable boat (Rib). There are few other ways to go this fast in central London – and, fittingly, one of the special trip experiences on offer is the ‘Spy Charter’ – hire the whole boat and make like a special agent with a licence to thrill.

Prices vary

Minimum passenger weight 15k

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Discover George I's favourite chocolate recipe in the Chocolate Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace
  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Hampton

George I had a passion for hot chocolate – a very chic treat in London 300 years ago. He even hired one of London’s great chocolatiers to live in the palace and prepare his daily drink. Those rooms have been refurbished and are open to explore. Kids love this glimpse into everyday royal life – download the recipes when you get home and try them out yourself.

£19.30, £16.00 concs, £9.70 under-16, free under-5s, £48.20 family

All ages

Sail the Thames Nipper at the London Transport Museum
  • Museums
  • Transport
  • Covent Garden

Covent Garden’s LTM is a joyful place and it’s brand new All Aboard play area for babies and under-8s takes the hands-on experience even further. Wannabe bus drivers can get behind the wheel of a real bus, ‘repair’ a mini tube train, or ‘sail’ on the Thames Nipper, a recreation of the Thames Clipper riverboat service. There’s even a make-believe buskers spot.

Free with entry (£16, £13.50 concs, free under-18s, with unlimited re-entry for a year)

Ages 0-7

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  • Attractions
  • Towers and viewpoints
  • Greenwich

Located next to the Royal Observatory, the Peter Harrison Planetarium is a large domed cinema space showing films combining real footage captured by spacecraft with advanced CGI, providing a vivid picture of what our universe is all about. Shows include regular ‘Space Safari’ events for younger children and the ‘Meet the Neighbours’ live shows at weekends and during school holidays, which are hosted by the Observatory’s astronomers.

£7.50, £6.50 concs, £5.50 children, free under-3s, £15.50-£20 family, free mems

All ages

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Tower Hill

Even younger children can get a lot from a trip to the Tower because so much of the original castle still stands, including its Medieval White Tower. Before you go in, seek out the spot where pubic executions happened at Tower Hill and then join one of the free Yeoman Warder tours inside the castle walls to hear fascinating tales about Traitors’ Gate, beheadings and the Crown Jewels.

£24.50, £18.70 concs, £11.00 under-16s, free under-5s, £60.70 family

All ages

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Meet a giant at the Hunterian Museum
  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Holborn

If your child has a fascination for nature’s gory details, then the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons is a must. This collection of specimens belonged to eighteenth-century surgeon and anatomist John Hunter, and additions to the collection ever since help form a fascinating gallery. Included is the skeleton of Charles Byrne – ‘The Irish Giant’ – a celebrated London curiosity who was 7ft 7in tall.

Free

Age 7+

  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Tower Bridge

An active ship during World War II, HMS Belfast is an evocative day out. Explore the decks for a sense of life onboard in conflict and peacetime. Join the free activities at weekends and during school holidays. One of the most popular workshops is themed around the sailors’ obsession with tattoos. Don’t worry, your kids will only get to commit their designs to a T-shirt, not their arms!

Free with admission (£14.50, £11.60 concs, £7.25 mems and under-16s, free under-5s, from £25.45 family)

All ages

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Scrub the deck for Sir Francis Drake on the Golden Hinde
  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Bankside

Docked at Bankside, the Golden Hinde II is actually a full-size replica of the sixteenth-century ship used to circumnavigate the world, and its interactive tours and actors bring Drake’s adventure vividly to life. Self-guided tours are available daily, but there are also regular pirate fun days and battle workshops, with dressing-up and a chance to get hands-on with sailor duties. You can even book an overnight stay.

From £7, £5 children, £20 family

Age 4+

Get frisked by a mechanical artwork at Novelty Automation
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Holborn

We might live in a digital age, but kids and grown-ups alike are still fascinated by the kind of mechanical curiosities that used to amuse Edwardians in old coin-operated machines. Taking that tradition and giving it a humorous, twenty-first-century spin, engineer and cartoonist Tim Hunkin’s gallery of jolly mechanical scenes in Holborn includes an ‘Alien Probe’ and the ticklishly good ‘Autofrisk’. This is what science lessons should be like.

Free, buy tokens to operate the exhibits

All ages

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