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A family plays in Granary Square fountains, london

101 things to do in London with kids: for all the family

Child-friendly doesn’t have to mean childish. These London outings are enjoyable for every generation

By Laura Lee Davies
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There’s no need compromise your own day out just to keep the little ones entertained. Grown-ups, siblings and grandparents alike will love these fun-filled activities which offer something for all ages.

SEE THE FULL LIST101 things to do in London with kids

Things to do with all the family

Get frisked by a mechanical artwork at Novelty Automata

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

Stock up on horrible goodies at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

Shopping Bookshops Hoxton

Take your darling little one’s mind off picking and eating bogies by taking him or her along to this wonderfully fun emporium – a place that would happily sit on Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. Rows of edible treats from ‘Bah! Humbugs’ to ‘Cubed Earwax’ sound way more disgusting than they taste. (Thank goodness.) Along with scary T-shirts and spooky stationery, they make brilliant birthday gifts.

Prices vary

Ages 5+

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Dodge the water jets in Granary Square

Attractions Public spaces King’s Cross

The area behind King’s Cross is gradually turning into a charming piazza between the station and the nearby arts venues and college buildings. Already there are some lovely features, including rows of ground-level fountains that rise and fall unpredictably. Try to stay dry or just run straight in and get soaking wet as you play. Bring a towel!

Free

All ages

Race a car on the Alexandra Palace Boating Lake

Things to do Cultural centres Alexandra Palace

The boating lake and playground at Ally Pally are located behind the main building on the ice-rink side of the park. The boating lake has been spruced up in recent years and as well as the traditional swan-shaped pedalo vessels, you can rent pedal boats in the shape of a VW car or a dragon, too. Expect to queue on sunny days when school’s out.

From £8.95 for pedalos, from £7.95 for boats

12-months+

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© Rob Greig

Let a mad scientist make you an ice cream at Chin Chin Labs

Restaurants Vegetarian Camden Market

Next time the kids beg for a 99 Flake cone, wow them with a trip to the fabulously fun Chin Chin Labs in Camden Market. Flavours vary weekly and might include ingredients to suit adult tastes (blue cheese, Guinness, tobacco) but there are also sweet treats for all. The ice cream is frozen in front of you in a cloud of liquid nitrogen-generated steam, and you can adorn your tubs with all kinds of strange sprinkles and sauces.

Prices vary.

All ages

Cycle between the trees in Epping Forest

Attractions Forests Essex

The largest green space within the M25, Epping Forest is as breathtaking an escape today as it was when it served as a royal hunting ground in Tudor times. The City of London website has a brilliant cycling map with nine wooded and waymarked trails. For easier rides head towards Leyton and for Wanstead Flats, for steeper, denser challenges get yourself to High Beach and Loughton.

Free

All ages

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Hire a laid-back bicycle from London Recumbents

Sport and fitness Cycling Dulwich

Cycling for kids in London gets harder as roads get busier and space to store a bike at home gets squeezed. Happily, London Recumbents, who hire all kinds of funky, differently styled cycles in Dulwich Park and Battersea Park, are here to help. Have a go at a three-wheeler (you sit low on the ground and the pedals are stretched out in front of you) or one of the many other models suitable for all ages, including tandems and cycles adapted for special physical needs.

No need to book ahead. Hire from £8 per hour, hirer must be over 18 (ID required)

All ages

Watch a girl swung around by her pigtails at Matilda

In the RSC’s hugely successful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fantasy, a fine cast of young actors bring Tim Minchin’s smart, funny songs to life, as a little girl with supernatural powers shows us how bright children can survive stupid adults. Dahl’s gruesome humour is reflected in cartoon violence that is here magically recreated in a dynamic and colourful style. Happily, without harm to a single real pigtail…

From £24

Ages 6+

Cambridge Theatre, Leicester Square


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Watch the pelicans being fed in St James's Park

Attractions Sightseeing Westminster

Surrounded by some of London’s most popular sightseeing attractions (Buckingham Palace, Westminster and Trafalgar Square), St James’s Park often gets overlooked, but it’s one of the loveliest green spaces to let the kids run about in. Duck Island, at the east end of the park’s lake, is perfect for birdwatchers. There have been pelicans here since the 1660s, and every day you can watch these curious feathered creatures being fed fresh fish at 2.30pm.

Free

All ages

Board the Hogwarts Express at Warner Bros Studio

Things to do

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

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