Kidults of London listen up: you no longer have to grow up. The city has become one big adult playground - from massive slides and tree climbing, to ultimate frisbee, boating lakes and Lego robots – it’s bubbling over with childish silliness for big kids. So, forget about your pension plan and ditch your daily routine, here’s how to enjoy the simple fun of childhood in the capital.
RECOMMENDED: Summer in London for actual children
Big fun for big kids in London
Remember the indoor playgrounds of your childhood? Well, the humble ball pit has been given a grown-up makeover at Shoreditch’s Ballie Ballerson. Here you can frolic with your friends while scoffing truffle pizza and sipping confectionery-inspired cocktails – all the while up to your eyeballs in, well, balls. BB is open till 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, with tickets starting at £8.40.
Fancy hurling yourself down the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide? The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit opened in 2016 and remains a sell-out success. It’s 178 metres long (that’s a clammy-palm-inducing 584 feet) but will take you a mere 40 seconds to shoot from top to bottom. The ride has 12 turns along the way and ends with a satisfying 50-metre straight run to the ground. Tickets cost £16.50 for adults, which includes access to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Anish Kapoor’s glorious mirrors and a peek into the London Stadium itself.
Get to grips with the world’s fastest and longest inner-city zip line. Zip Now London will return to London in August 2020 and you will once again be able to launch yourself from an impressive 35 metres up (that’s the height of nine double-decker buses, in case you’re wondering. Drink in glorious views of Westminster and Battersea as you sail, hawk-like, through the air. A truly bracing way to appreciate the city. Tickets usually cost £25.00 but there's a £2.50 discount if you book now.
You may not have practised hitting balls in a batting cage as a kid but you’ve almost certainly watched kids doing it – in American movies and sitcoms. If you feel that you missed out on a sporting rite of passage, fear not: it can be done right here in London, but you'll have to wait until next year. Sluggers at Roof East in Stratford has closed for the winter season but promises to return so you can once again thwack those baseballs to your heart’s content. There's no opening date yet, but it's all about the weather so fingers crossed for springtime.
When you’re a kid, there’s nothing more thrilling than a good old-fashioned sleepover. PJs, a stack of movies and a tub of ice cream are the recipe for simple pleasure. Take this tried and tested formula to the next level at The Prince Charles Cinema, where you can snap up tickets for one of its all-night movie marathons (pyjamas optional). ‘The Lord of the Rings’ nuts, Disney fans and horror buffs will all find a movie bonanza to sate their appetite. Tickets cost £20. Filmgoers are allowed to bring their own snacks and drinks (but not alcohol or noisy/smelly foods).
Make like House Of Pain, and jump around on 150 grafted-together indoor trampolines at Oxygen. There are fitness classes and family-friendly bookings as well as a swish mezzanine café where you can chill out and watch other people make total tits of themselves. The coolest option by far is the ‘freejump’ session: for just £13.00 an hour you can flip, giggle and spring unfettered across the entire 27,000-square foot space.
Relive those blissful last days of term at Draughts, the home of retro tabletop gaming. Set your brightly coloured hippo avatar to work on those crazy spinning marbles and the beast with the fullest belly wins (in case you needed reminding of the rules). If this makes you weirdly peckish, there’s a tasty array of grub, plus a fridge full of craft beers. And for when it all kicks off later, there’s always Buckaroo…
The adult breakfast bowl can be a bland affair: muesli is dry, granola is lame and porridge is for peasants. So relive the colourful brekkies of your childhood with one of Cereal Killer’s fun flavoursome fusion ‘cocktails’. Our top tip is the ‘Unicorn Poop’ (£5.50): glittering fruity cereal with marshmallows and blue bubblegum milk. It tastes just as magical as it sounds.
Ace craft beer types Brewdog have recently opened what they describe as an American dive bar in the basement of their Shoreditch bar. It’s called Two-Bit and is packed with retro arcade games and pinball machines, including one themed around the lives of Metallica’s thrash-metallers (we know). Get in line for a bash at ‘Space Invaders’.
Rabble’s health-conscious premise is brilliant: solo exercise is boring, so why not play games instead? Participants charge around London green spaces like Hyde Park playing ultimate frisbee (and other knockabout classics like dodgeball), unwittingly running a few miles while they’re at it. Plus, they make friends and attend social events ranging from laser tag to fancy dress parties. Tickets cost £10.
If your folks were twee enough to bake biscuits, then as a nipper, you no doubt strapped on a pinny and ‘helped’. Meaning you trod dough into the carpet and licked the spoon. The adorable Biscuiteers have a more civilised proposition: biscuit-icing masterclasses decorating pre-baked treats over a glass of prosecco.
Did you enjoy an idyllic, Enid Blyton-esque childhood shimmying up stout, ancient yews? Or spend your summers dangling from grimy suburban poplars? Either way, climbing trees is badass. The Great Big Tree Climbing Co will lead you and into the canopy of a whopping great oak and supervise braver souls on a ‘branch walk’. Ropes provided (phew!). There are lots of locations to choose including the Ally Pally climb, which returns on August 4 next year.
Nineties kids wistfully recalling the days of playing ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ have had their nostalgic prayers answered by House of Vans. The skatewear brand opened a Californian-style indoor skate park a few years ago. Open to all, it’s discreetly tucked beneath Waterloo station. Entry is free but ticketed, with sessions limited to two hours. Strap on those elbow pads – time to relive your teenage kickflips.
Thought crazy golf was extremely 2015? Well, someone clearly disagrees, because Birdies nine-hole mini-golf course has just opened in Battersea Power Station – and it comes with an ‘immersive’ twist. Instead of miniature windmills and artificial grass, visitors will be put through their paces in a series of dark passages, pressure pads and towering ramps, just to make that hole-in-one that bit harder to achieve. Off-peak tickets cost £10, peak £12 and you can bring three friends onto the tee with you.
If you were the kind of kid who always asked for a T-Rex for Christmas and really relate to Ross from Friends (and have an equally impressive collection of fossils), spend the night at the Natural History Museum. ‘Dino Snores for Grown-Ups’ combines kiddie activities like a science show and live animal workshop, with the best of adulthood: a three-course meal, gin and an all-night monster movie marathon. Let's just hope the fossils don’t come to life in the night. Tickets cost £185.
Want to get rid of pent-up anger in a healthy way, while also getting the chance to splatter your friends with paint? The terrifyingly-named Bunker 51 supplies both, in a video game-inspired venue where your mission is to save the world from impending nuclear disaster. Also, an excellent excuse to bring your annoying colleagues and whack them with paint without having to apologise. Tickets start from £25.