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© Rob Greig

101 things to do in London with kids: spoil them rotten

Sure, these one-off activities don’t come cheap but they’re in a class of their own

By Laura Lee Davies
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The city is flush with ways to treat the kids to a special, once-in-a-childhood experience. These adventures are definitely ones to keep for special occasions, and the payback is that you’ll be in your offspring’s good books for a while afterwards.

SEE THE FULL LIST101 things to do in London with kids

Treats for special occasions

Sleep under a dinosaur at the Natural History Museum

Museums Natural history South Kensington

Enjoy a real-life night at the museum. Dino Snores is a sleepover experience for children (and parents), allowing them to explore the museum by torchlight, enjoy a live science show led by one of the museum’s team, then camp out in the main hall underneath the magnificent skeleton of a Dippy the Diplodocus. Kids get to make their own dinosaur T-shirt to keep, too.

£60, £54 mems

Ages 7-11 (adult accompaniment required)

Sing your heart out at Lucky Voice

Nightlife Karaoke Soho

No, karaoke isn’t just for office workers on a night out. Kids can express themselves with classic pop hits too. Each karaoke pod is private at Lucky Voice so you can let the little ones get as musically noisy as they like. There are three party packages you can book, including the Platinum service with non-alcoholic cocktails, pizza, cake and, of course, karaoke! Suitable for four to 12 children.

£15-£25 per person

Age 11+

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© clueQuest

Learn some serious spy skills at ClueQuest

Things to do Caledonian Road

Great for parents who remember ‘The Crystal Maze’ and kids who love online challenge games, ClueQuest is one of a growing number of experiences offering adventurers a similar challenge in real life. In teams of three to five players, you get locked in a room and have 60 minutes to solve a series of puzzles and mysteries in order to escape. Perfect for parties.

From £19.80 per person

Age 9+

Learn to make Italian food at Cucina Caldesi

Things to do Cultural centres Marylebone

Show the kids there’s more to Italian cuisine than just pasta and pesto – book them on an ‘Italian Mama’s Cookery Club’ at this home of fine Mediterranean dining, which also hosts cookery school sessions for grown-ups. Children are shown how to create a three-course menu in two and half hours, with lunch included at the end – of course! They host day courses for teens too.

From £45

Ages 6-17

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Ride a Shetland pony across Richmond Park

Things to do Richmond Park

Stag Lodge Stables operates lessons and hacks in the relatively car-free settings of Richmond Park and nearby Wimbledon Common, suitable for all ages and abilities. For little ones (ages 3-6) the Shetland pony sessions are particularly popular, and include a four-day holiday course. Birthday party bookings are also available.

From £25

Ages 3+

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© Rob Greig

Sweep up exotic animal poo at London Zoo

Attractions Zoos and aquariums Regent’s Park

ZSL London Zoo in Regent’s Park has lots of daily activities that enable families to get close to the wildlife that call it home. There are also additional experiences to make a visit even more memorable. The Zoo Academy is a two-day course with games, challenges, trails and zoo-keeping duties, supported by the zoo’s education staff. Kids get to create a scrapbook of the experience to take home.

£250

Ages 8-10

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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+

Go paintballing at Bunker 51

Things to do Games and hobbies Charlton

Many live-action adventures like this are located further out of London but Bunker 51 is in Docklands and decked out like an underground nuclear shelter. The lighting and props (discarded canisters of toxic waste, abandoned 4x4s and signposts to the missile bay) help to crank up the fear factor and remind you that this is war! Though happily, only in paintball (or lasertag) form.

From £15 per person (laser tag from £6.25 per person)

Age 12+

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Paddle your own canoe at Lee Valley White Water Centre

Sport and fitness Stadiums Waltham Cross

This amazing watersports centre scores high for city thrills, not least because it’s an Olympic-standard resource built for London 2012 that was actually open to the public before the Games got started. Cool or what? Sessions include one-off rafting and kayaking courses, but a favourite for teenagers is the six-weeks of level two hour-long classes that prepare you to take on the centre’s most tricky challenges.

Prices vary

Age 12+

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