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Kew Children’s Garden
Photo by Jeff Eden

101 things to do in London with kids

Get set for family fun with our round-up of exciting events, activities and other things to do for children in London

By Laura Lee Davies and Andrzej Lukowski

Whether you’re looking to entertain a restless toddler, a curious five-year-old, a noisy ten-year-old or a bored teenager, you’re living in the right city. There are endless things to do with kids in London. Many of the city's museums and galleries have special drop-in sessions where children can get creative or try hands-on activities and there’s a wealth of outdoor options, from high-concept adventure playgrounds to gorgeous open parks.

Even better, many of the greatest places for families are free to visit, stretching your budget further for those must-do attractions that aren’t. Read on to find the best things to entertain or amaze your family.

Please note that at time of update many attractions were still limited by the pandemic. We ahve included disclaimers, though there is the assumption that these measures will be phased out over time.

Big Fish Little Fish at the Museum of London Docklands 8/10/16
Photograph: Richard Stroud

Throw some shapes with Big Fish Little Fish

Get your little’uns raving early with the help of Big Fish Little Fish, the ‘2-4 hour party people’. This teeny-bopper disco crew host parties all over London, as well as festivals, especially for children. That’s not to say parents can’t enjoy themselves, too. The music is pleasantly un-annoying (think 90s dance, rather than that Bob the Builder single) and when you want a break from dancing there are workshops on offer, too, like synth playing, hula hooping and more. Phew.

Various venues

Commandeer a wigwam at the Diana Memorial Playground

Kids Playgrounds Kensington

Just next to the regal Kensington Palace, this play area has a Peter Pan theme and a fabulous wooden pirate ship as its centrepiece. It's specially designed to suit children of all physical abilities and the playground includes a beach, sculptures, teepees for make-believe games, and even a sensory trail. It’s free to enjoy, but be aware that at busy times there might be a queue to get in.



101 things to do in London with kids, National Maritime Museum
©National Maritime Museum

Play shops in the fish market section of the National Maritime Museum’s Ahoy!

Museums Military and maritime Greenwich

The NMM’s gallery especially for babies and young children is all about fun. Ahoy! features many different play zones including a beach and a ship deck, plus a game firing cannons and another that is a bit like air hockey. The fish shop is ace –rows of pretend fish, cash tills and shopping baskets. There’s also the All Hands exploration gallery for ages 6-12.

Free, but check if open as closed by the pandemic, though due to reopen some time after July 19 2021. 

101 things to do in London with kids, National Gallery
© National Gallery, London

Listen to stories on a magic carpet at the National Gallery

Art Galleries Trafalgar Square

Long before children can muse on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and remark how the impasto helps to express the texture of the seed heads, they can relate to centuries-old paintings that sing with colour and drama. That’s why the National Gallery’s ‘magic carpet’ storytelling sessions are brilliant. Every Sunday morning parents and sprouts are invited to sit in front of one of the paintings and hear stories inspired by what they see.

Ages two to five

Free, book on arrival. Has been suspended due to the pandemic but ‘new dates are coming soon’


Ride a Shetland pony across Richmond Park with Stag Lodge Stables

Things to do Richmond Park

View the lush beauty of Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common from horseback. Situated in the former, Stag Lodge Stables provide horse rides for visitors of all ages and abilities. And if your willing rider is too frightened or small for the big horses, they can ride a more manageable (and adorable) Shetland pony (ages 3-6 only).

Ages three and above

Bounce around inside a work of art at The Idol soft play centre

Sport and fitness Leisure centres Barking

Tired of the usual bright and tacky indoor playgrounds near you? Then head over to Abbey Leisure Centre in Barking and set the kids free to jump and roll and slide around a work of art. Turner Prize-nominated, multimedia artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd has created an incredible black-and-white play complex inspired by Greek mythology and science fiction. Brilliantly bonkers.


Splash about in the Science Museum's water play area

Museums Science and technology South Kensington

Let's be honest, small children don't really get that amused or inspired looking at exhibits like their parent counterparts. But no worries - the Science Museum's hands-on galleries are ready to save the day. The Garden is a free play zone where young’uns can don aprons and play with waterways and boats, jump around exploring light and shadows and discover the science of sound through all kinds of fun activities.

Ages three to six. At time of update then due to coronavirus children are restricted to 20-minute slots that must be booked in advance.


Kew Children’s Garden
Photo by Jeff Eden

Nurture a budding nature lover at Kew’s Children’s Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens Kew

There’s many a natural wonder to be enjoyed at Kew, from the magnificent treetop walk with a bird’s-eye view over the park to the not-so-sweet, rare flowering titan arum plant (no seriously, hold your nose). But if you have younger visitors in tow, head to the huge Children’s Garden. The size of 40 tennis courts, it’s packed with hidden play areas themed around earth, air, sun and water – all the things plants need to grow. 

Ages two to 12 – at time of update, booking a 60-minute slot was essential

101 things to do in London with kids - Bach to Baby Family Christmas Concert
© Alejandro Tamagno

Inspire a mini maestro at Bach to Baby

Not all children’s entertainment has to be corny and colourful, as Bach to Baby proves. Trained musicians perform child-friendly classical concerts in spaces all over London. Toddlers are free to get and up move about and babies are contented to sit on laps as the classical music floats around them. 

Various London locations 

Join the stars of the show on stage at the Chickenshed Theatre

Theatre Fringe Cockfosters

Most activities in London are aimed at ages 3+, but at Chickenshed’s lively ‘Tales from the Shed’ shows, being wee is a bonus. Parents, babies and toddlers sit on the floor or on chairs to watch gentle adventures unfold in song and storytelling. Cuddly puppets and colourfully costumed actors are frequently joined by toddlers wandering into the action from the audience. In fact it’s encouraged!

Ages 0-6 

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Come nose to beak with a penguin

Attractions Zoos and aquariums South Bank

Although the shark tank is one of the main draws at the Sea Life Aquarium London (you can walk through a tunnel beneath the incredible creatures), Penguin Point deserves just as much recognition. Delve into the icy Antarctic and you'll discover adorable Gentoo penguins, frolicking on land and water. Desperate for bird info? Expert guides do talks about these beautiful creatures regularly throughout the day and, if you’re there around noon or 3pm, you’ll get to see them being fed too. Pretty cool.

Royal Academy Burlington Gardens
© Benedict Johnson

Become a family of artists

Art Galleries Piccadilly

Through the year, the Royal Academy runs a series of free creative activities inviting children (including those with special educational needs) to explore visual art, while Art Detectives trails gives them a chance to explore the galleries and see great works of art form their own perspective. Once a month there’s a free, drop-in Family Studios session on a Sunday (11am-3pm) which explores a theme in more depth, with hands-on crafts and other activities like music making and dressing up. Check the website for the next date and theme: it’s been suspended during the pandemic but should be on its way back.

Grant Museum girl&octopus best_credit Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL..JPG
© Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL

Unearth a real fossil at the Grant Museum

Museums Natural history Bloomsbury

This zoological museum – the only one of its kind in London – seems like it's been here for a century or more. Such is the transporting effect of seeing avenues of display cases stuffed to the gunnels with animal skeletons, taxidermy specimens and creatures preserved in fluid, like a true Victorian wunderkammer. From a jar of tiny moles to a huge elephant skull, there is plenty here to draw gasps of amazement. Don't turn up too early, though; the museum opens its doors from 1pm to 5pm, Monday through Saturday.

Ages three and above


madame tussauds, darth vader, luke skywalker
© Rob Greig

Ride shotgun in the Millennium Falcon with Chewy

Attractions Marylebone

The Star Wars gallery at Madame Tussauds is one of the last things you see on an extensive tour through history and popular culture and what a finale. Working with Lucas Films, Tussauds have recreated scenes from them in key scenes from various Star Wars films and populated them with wax models of the heroes and villains. Meet Yoda in a musty-smelling swamp, take a selfie sitting alongside Han Solo in the canteen, and get up close to Darth Vader and Luke as they go to battle. Star Wars obsession will be delighted to know the attention to detail is spot on. 

© Lee Howell

Scale a skyscraper at Clip ’n Climb

Sport and fitness Climbing Fulham

Give your furniture a break and take the kids to a proper climbing centre. Clip ’n Climb in Chelsea is a colourful landscape of specially designed climbing walls suitable for various ages and levels of ability. Completely safe for beginners, with challenges including ‘The Skyscraper’, ‘Jungle Gym’ and ‘Vertical Drop Slide’, this is a brilliant place for restless little monkeys to gain confidence clambering, climbing and dropping.

Ages four and above

101 things to do with kids in London, Gamelan Sessions, Southbank Centre

Learn to play the gamelan at the South Bank

In 1987 the Southbank Centre was donated a Javanese percussion orchestra of instruments (a gamelan). Ever since, the centre has run sessions where children and adults can learn how to play the instruments. These include Dragon Babies sessions suitable for preschoolers. Family Taster workshops are also hosted at regular times through the year.

Ages three and above


Burn some energy at Barnard Park Adventure Playground

Attractions Parks and gardens Barnsbury

This purpose-built adventure playground for kids in Islington provides hours of fun. There’s a huge, fort-like structure that can be climbed, hidden in and run around. There’s a water feature for warmer days, a fire pit for chillier ones, as well as football and basketball pitches. Plus, arts and crafts classes are held regularly. See their website before heading down to find out what’s on.

Ages six to 13 


Hone your wheel skills at BaySixty6

Sport and fitness Ladbroke Grove

This skate park under the Westway is a brilliant mix of street cool and great organisation (reassuring for parents who don’t want to spend hours in A&E). Friendly and encouraging, they offer regular beginner sessions but also plenty of challenging thrills for experienced skaters, BMX bikers and professional scooters at an excellent purpose-built skatescape. Perfect for kids who want to mix it with older riders who’ve acquired serious smarts.

crystal palace, dinosaur
Photograph: Crystal Palace Park

Encounter an Iguanodon in Crystal Palace Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Crystal Palace

Not far from Crystal Palace Overground station is the famous park. Once upon a time this lush green space down south was a cultural haven for Victorians. Sports, music and art all took happened here, and when people weren’t attending one of those events, they were most likely marvelling a the full-scale model dinosaurs, which have been there since 1854. Thanks to a restoration project in 2002, the dinos are still going strong, even if a little out of date scientifically. Elsewhere in the park you’ll find a farm and a maze.

All ages 


101 things to do for kids in London, Sailortown at Museum of London Docklands
© Museum of London Docklands

Visit the (deliberately) stinky streets and dark alleyways of Sailortown at the Museum of London Docklands

Museums Isle of Dogs

This free museum has a dedicated gallery (Mudlarks) for small children, but it’s worth visiting the main galleries, for the huge model of the old London Bridge and a walk-through recreation of the docklands in Victorian times. Hear the noises, smell the scents and peer into the shadowy alleyways. Gaze through the window of the chandler’s shop and see inside an old East End boozer.


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Paddle your own canoe at Lee Valley White Water Centre

Sport and fitness Stadiums Waltham Cross

This London 2012 Olympic Games venue is open to the public for adrenalin-fuelled white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking sessions – riding the rapids that challenged the world's best makes for an action-packed experience. On the centre's raft adventure, you'll be high-siding, spinning and nose dunking on the Olympic Standard Competition course before you know it.

Age 12 and above

National Centre for Circus Arts

Things to do Games and hobbies Hoxton

At this circus-training centre there are courses and facilities for professional artists but also special bookable workshops for beginners of all ages. These include monthly Youth Experience Days where older children can develop key circus skills. Booking in advance is essential, but it’s worth it – a chance to take on the trapeze, the tightwire and the diabolo with expert supervision and tutoring.

Ages eight to 16 


Venture into the Land of the Lions

Things to do

Get stuck in at London Zoo and stay the night. After you've nosed around the exhibits, spend the night in Land of the Lions. We're not having you on, you really can sleep there. Hire a lodge and enjoy private guided tours around different animal enclosures after hours. A two-course dinner and breakfast are included, so you won't have to worry about your rumbling stomach waking up the neighbours. Plus, tickets come with free parking, which is unheard of in Camden.

Ages 14 and above

Blast your way into 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.

Ages 12 and above 

Chaos Karts, Bethnal Green
Photo by Chaos Karts

Power up your Chaos Kart

Due to open in the summer of 2021, Chaos Karts in Bethnal Green uses augmented reality and massive projections to turbo-charge a ‘humble’ go-kart circuit into something closer to ‘Mario Kart’, with power-ups and obstacles agogo. It looks raucous as hell.

Opens August 14 2021.

For ages 12 and up.

101 things to do in london with kids, teens, Roundhouse Young Creatives
© Roundhouse

Learn the media ropes at The Roundhouse's Young Creatives

Music Music venues Chalk Farm

Let your kids turn a passion into a potential profession with the Roundhouse creative sessions for ages 11 to 25. For free (in some cases a very small fee), the workshops and courses offer expert advice and hands-on experience for all abilities. Sessions include drop-in street-circus skills, learning how to DJ, radio and music producing workshops and more in-depth courses using the excellent studio facilities.

Ages 11-25 

101 things to do in london , clueques
© clueQuest

Learn some serious spy skills at ClueQuest

Things to do Caledonian Road

Get those cogs turning by locking your family in a room and trying to escape. It sounds borderline terrifying, but these escape rooms are hugely popular and have popped up all over London. ClueQuest is in King’s Cross and gives teams of three to five players 60 minutes to solve puzzles, riddles and find hidden clues in order to regain your freedom. Plus, since there are several missions to choose from, you can go back again and again to perfect your puzzle skills. Mission, accepted.

Ages nine and above

Doctor Who: Time Fracture, 2021
Photo by Helen Maybanks

Go on an adventure through space and time

London’s big new immersive theatre experience for 2010 is ‘Doctor Who: Time Fracture’l, a giddy interactive romp through space and time that casts you as a humble Earthling handpicked by the Doctor to save the entirety of reality from exploding. All your faves from Daleks to Weeping Angels are present and correct, and ‘Who’ fans of all ages will love it, though under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Carmen Flynn London Dungeon actor
Andy Parsons

Escape execution at the London Dungeons

Since it opened in 1974 the London Dungeons has managed to stay at the absolute cutting edge of shameless luridity via a series of rides and rooms based around the more macabre elements of our city’s history. Always moving with the times, the current iteration includes an escape room: in ‘Escape Execution’ you have just one hour to bust out of the Tower of London before your head is lopped off. 

For over-12s only.

Tackle the mountain biking at Lee Valley VeloPark

Sport and fitness Stadiums Olympic Park

London 2012 left us with a great legacy in the form of several cutting-edge stadia and sports facilities. Seriously, we’re spoilt for choice. You can go swimming in the Aquatics Centre, white-water rafting on the Olympic course in Lee Valley, slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit and cycle in the VeloPark. Book in advance to avoid any disappointment, but then you'll be able to take full advantage of the track and BMX options. There are three graded mountain bike runs (red, blue and black, like ski runs) and you can even hire a bike if you don’t have your own wheels.

Ages five and above 

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Go Ape at the Go Ape, Battersea Park, London on the 02/12/2015. Photo: David Tett
David Tett

Be a little monkey in the treetops

Things to do Battersea

There have been treetop adventure centres in forests around the country for a few years, but when Go Ape opened in Battersea in 2015, it brought the thrill and daring of zipwiring and high-level assault courses to Zone 1. The adventure starts on the ground with a safety briefing before you put your harness on. Then off you go, working your way through three layers of challenges heading up to the canopy, crossing tricky obstacle rope walls and wooden bridges to reach the zipwires. It’s hard work, but an exhilarating experience for kids and adults with a head for heights.

Venue says After School sessions now open Monday-Friday from 15:30. Check out our new Tree Top AdventurePlus and go higher, bolder, faster.

National Army Museum, 101 things to do with kids in London, Robotics Easter Challenge
James McCauley

Build an army camp

Museums Military and maritime Chelsea

Having undergone a major update a few years back, the National Army Museum is a free to visit, bright and airy space with dazzling gallery experiences and lots of activities and learning spaces for families. There’s also an immersive play session for toddlers and under-8s called Play Base. These one-hour sessions (£5.75 per child and accompanying adult) include challenges that reflect army life in a fun way – an assault course, a ‘command liaison vehicle’, the cookhouse, quartermaster store and a chance to build dens and hone survival skills ‘in the field’.


Be dazzled by a neon wonderland at God's Own Junk Yard

Art Galleries Walthamstow

God's Own Junkyard showcases neon artist Chris Bracey's personal collection of work in a salvage yard in Walthamstow. It contains everything from his signage for Soho sex clubs in the '60s to his work for the movie industry, including pieces that were used in 'Captain America', 'Eyes Wide Shut', 'Byzantium' and more. Once you're done being dazzled, you can grab drinks and snacks at the yard's own Rolling Scones Cafe (lolz).


Lidos and outdoor swimming pools in London

Things to do

Rarely does the weather warm up enough to jump into London’s outdoor lidos without flinching, but when it does everyone wants a piece of the action. Thankfully, there are plenty of lidos scattered all over the capital, including right in the centre. The easily-reached Serpentine Lido has a dedicated children’s play area with a paddling pool, and a sun terrace.

All ages (two adults to each under-16 swimming in the lake) 

Polka Theatre 2021
Photo by Sam Roberts

See a show and play in the treehouse at the Polka Theatre

Theatre Private theatres Wimbledon

In August 2021, iconic southwest London kids’ theatre the Polka will finally emerge from its walloping £8.5m makeover. Its busy programme of theatre for babies, toddlers and children will resume in a vastly upgraded building that features an indoor playspace, a playground with a treehouse, a sensory room, a large café and more.

All ages

Decorate your afternoon tea at Biscuiteers Boutique and Icing Café

Restaurants Cafés Notting Hill

Get hands-on with some sweet treats at this café with branches in Notting Hill and Clapham. Not only can you enjoy a bicky with your tea, you can decorate it too. At the Biscuiteers Boutique they specialise in biscuit art and host classes for all ages, as well as a Little Buscuiteers School of Icing. At the latter you can leave your youngsters to it in an hour-long lesson (£36), or simply drop-in and leave them to play with icing decoration (£15) while you relax with a cuppa and a nibble. There’s also a 


Get a birdy among the big lizards

Things to do Games and hobbies

Under the snapping jaws of a tyrannosaurus rex, this cleverly landscaped mini-golf course, complete with rope bridges and waterfalls, offers 18 holes of pre-historic putting in southwest London. Suitable for all ages (but with a few tricky holes, especially in the ‘cave’), Jurassic Encounter Adventure Golf has a number of impressive dinosaur statues to admire as you take in a round.


101 things to do in London with kids, Horniman Museum
Laura Mtungwazi

Horniman MuseumCome face-to-fish with a jellyfish shoal at the Horniman Museum

Things to do Forest Hill

This free museum in south-east London has plenty of fascinating exhibits to gaze at and (in some cases) grapple with, but there’s also a great little aquarium here you can explore for a small charge. It includes a Fijian Reef, a Tropical Rainforest, a Mangrove swamp and a UK rock pool display, stocked with aquatic creatures native to those environments. The moon jellyfish are particularly magical.


Dance among the fountains as the trains roll by

Attractions Public spaces King’s Cross

Time was that King’s Cross and St Pancras were surrounded by soot-covered warehouses, all gradually falling out of use and being turned into adhoc nightclubs. Now, though, the vast piazza spaces look positively Continental, with Granary Square’s rows of pop-up fountains and Lewis Cubitt Park offering great, architecturally designed spaces to run around. Even in winter, it’s worth taking a towel – kids can’t resist running through the spouting water jets that rise up from the ground. And while you’re here, seek out Handyside Gardens, a pocket park nearby with a charming play area especially for children.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park play area
© David Poultney / LLDC

Take command of a treehouse at the Olympic Park's Tumbling Bay Playground

Sport and fitness Parks and gardens Olympic Park
With oodles of traffic-free pathways, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a brilliant place for running around and bike rides. The Tumbling Bay adventure playground is a real highlight, with sand pits, wobbly bridges, rock pools and tall treehouses. There are also swings and slides. Note to parents with a penchant for a cuppa and a cake – it’s next door to the Timber Lodge café.

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