From Giant Dinosaur Skeletons to Ice Cream Sandwiches – 18 Reasons Your Kids Will Love a Trip to London

· Culture

Treat your little ones to the wonders of the capital.

Science Museum

You can travel from Leeds to London as a family of up to two adults and 4 children for just £105 return – and do it in as little as 2 hours 16 minutes* when travelling by train with LNER. Book your tickets now.

Make life amazing for your kids and easy for yourself when you next head down to London.

From faces pressed up against the glass of the train windows to faces lighting up when they see the sheer size of London, kids love a trip to the capital. Home to big hitters and lesser-known gems, this list has everything you need to show the little ones a good time. The fun begins as soon as you arrive at Kings Cross, and if you want to go without breaking the bank, get an LNER Family Return for just £105 – it’s good for up to two adults and four children!

Platform 9¾

Your kids can get into the London swing of things straight away at Kings Cross – home to Platform 9¾ from Harry Potter. You can find out where to get the train to Hogwarts by looking for the luggage trolley disappearing into a wall and join the queue for a photograph that makes the perfect souvenir. Once you’ve taken off the scarf (in your choice of house colours, naturally), head to The Harry Potter Shop with its Ollivander’s vibes for all your wizarding world merchandise needs.

Platform 9¾, Kings Cross Station, London, N1 9AP.

National Maritime Museum

Maritime Museums

Credit: Maritime Museum Grenwich London

Greenwich is a great place to take the kids. Home to the Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark and a sublime stretch of the Thames, it’s also where you’ll find one of the best free attractions in London. The National Maritime Museum is housed in a grand building that colourfully brings to life the history of our seafaring nation. Look out for unusual timepieces, polar relics, notable art, flags, naval uniforms and more than 100,000 maps. The grounds and courtyards are a delight to explore in summer too.

National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, London, SE10 9NF.


The oldest toy shop in the world – it has been on the elegant curve of Regent Street since 1881, having first opened in High Holborn in 1760 – is a wonderland for kids. You’ll hear their jaws hit the floor as soon as they walk in, overawed by a seven-floor wonderland of games, toys and more. The entrance usually has staff members demonstrating toys, and there are areas dedicated to kids of all ages. From London-centric gifts to racing cars, build-a-bear to video games, it’s all here.

Hamleys, 188-196 Regent Street, London, W1B 5BT.

The British Museum

If your kids are learning about ancient Egyptians at school – and they always do – then the British Museum is the free day out in London of your dreams. The magnificent mummies are not the only show on offer, but they are truly stunning. Elsewhere, this is a treasure trove – often quite literally – that will sweep you across the scope of the globe, through time and back to the present. There are free trails and hunts for the kids to do, and a gift shop that is souvenir heaven.

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG.

Battersea Park Children’s Zoo

Ring Tailed Lemur

Families will have a fabulous time at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo. This pint-sized attraction is perfect for little legs, and despite its petite size, it certainly packs a punch in terms animal attractions. It makes for a surprisingly cheap day out, and the animals are, happily, are on the cute side, from moustachioed emperor tamarins to Shetland ponies and the perennially popular meerkats. Have a look online at the feeding time talk schedule – you can even help feed the pigs.

Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, Battersea Park, London, SW11 4NJ.

Science Museum

Science Museum

Credit: Science Museum Group

One of the real landmark museums in London makes science exciting, immersive and thrilling, even for kids who don’t like the subject at school. It helps that there’s an array of objects to interact with, award-winning exhibitions, IMAX documentaries and more, and also that it’s updated regularly. Entry is free, although you may have to buy tickets in advance for certain exhibitions and to access the brilliant Wonderlab, which inquisitive kids will absolutely love, paced as it is with live science shows, demos and things to try.

Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD.

Jungle Cave

Jungle Cave Elephants

Credit: Jungle Caves

There are loads of kid-friendly restaurants in London, but few feel like they were actually designed for kids first. Jungle Cave – formerly Rainforest Cafe – definitely feels like it was made for kids, or even by them. The jungle atmosphere is colourful and playful, with animatronics enhancing the mood, along with great touches such as giraffe and zebra stools, a bar lined with mock snakeskin and waterfalls. Food is comforting – think burgers, wings, Mac & cheese, pasta and coconut-fried shrimp.

Jungle Cave, 20-24 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7EU.

Natural History Museum

Museum of Natural History, London

You and your offspring can discover the entire history of the planet at this endlessly fascinating museum. Another of London’s great free attractions, the Natural History Museum contains multitudes, from huge dinosaur skeletons to blue whales, mammoths and a phenomenal amount of fossils. Travel up the dramatic escalator to learn about earthquakes and volcanoes, and make sure the kids save up some pocket money for the excellent museum shop. There are free events galore, as well as a few ticketed ones, so keep your eyes peeled.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.

The Children’s Garden at Kew

Kew Gardens

Credit: Stuart Davidson

Many kids would enjoy the splendour and serenity of Kew Gardens even if it didn’t have its own dedicated children’s garden. As it is, it’s an undoubted highlight for them, aimed at 2 to 12 year olds and the size of 40 tennis courts stuck together. At its heart is a 200-year-old oak tree, surrounded by a canopy walk, climbs, flower gardens, interactive water features and plenty more to keep them engaged. There are Earth, Air, Sun and Water Gardens within, helping your eager beavers to learn about the four elements while having a heap of fun.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE.

The Changing of the Guard

Heading to Buckingham Palace is a hugely popular thing to do with kids, but quite often there’s not a lot happening. You’ll be peering into the windows, but no-one is peering back out. So make sure you time it right and head there for the Changing of the Guard – it’s ceremonial, it’s impressive and it’s completely free. The Household Division swaps the Old Guard for the New Guard every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, at 10.45am. Get there early for a good view – the whole things last about 45 minutes.

Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA.

Discover Children’s Story Centre

Discover Story Centre

Credit: Sorcha Bridge

Magical stories for kids come to life at Discover Children’s Story Centre, an enchanting place for parents to bring their bairns. There are two floors of ‘Story Worlds’ here, immersive spaces where kids and parents can roam free, exploring and letting their imaginations run wild. There are events aimed at different age groups from babies up to 11, with monster’s tongues to slide down, sensory displays and story times. The budding writers among your kids will also be able to craft their own tales at the Story Factory.

Discover Children’s Story Centre, 383-387 High Street, London, E15 4QZ.

Chin Chin Ice Cream

Chin Chin

Credit: Chin Chin Ice Cream

With a brace of locations – one in Camden, the other in Soho – your children will be hoping you pass by a branch of Chin Chin, a place tailor-made to please all sweet teeth. Here, hand-churned ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, and the results are delicious. Their classic flavours – the burnt butter caramel and apple butter pie are essential – are bolstered by weekly specials and an array of ice cream sandwiches and desserts. Drop by for a cherry pie sundae or a brownie cookie sandwich and the kids won’t want to come home.

Chin Chin Ice Cream, 49-50 Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF and 54 Greek Street, London, W1D 3DS.

The Cartoon Museum

While we wouldn’t expect most kids to be fascinated by the history of political cartoons or the career of Boris Johnson as depicted in drawings, there’s still loads for children to get their teeth into at The Cartoon Museum. The main attraction for budding Beano contributors are the workshops, where children are taught by experts. Aimed at 8 to 14 year olds, topics range from drawing manga to making mini comics or designing monsters. Booking is essential, and most workshops last from one hour to 90 minutes.

The Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells Street, London, W1A 3AE.

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground

Diana Memorial Playground

Credit: The Royal Parks

Exploring Kensington Gardens is a lovely way to spend a day with your children, especially when the weather is being kind. This playground is one of the undoubted highlights. Situated next to her Kensington home, it’s free to enter, and the unmissable centre of it all is the Peter Pan-inspired wooden pirate ship. All aboard that, then seek out the sensory trail, tepees, beach and sculptures. After you’re done there, the park has other treasures to unearth – the Serpentine Galleries, Albert Memorial and Kensington Palace itself.

Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 4RU.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

After a wand that doesn’t work on Mondays? In need of a quill pen and ink set for writing incantations and spells? Maybe you’re after a chocolate human heart to give your other half for Christmas? Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – partly run by author Nick Hornby, who’s also behind the ‘Ministry of Stories’ writing school here – is the place for all those creepy things you never knew you wanted. Fill your basket here with Impacted Earwax (fudge), Thickest Human Snot (lemon curd) and Salt Made From Tears Shed While Home Schooling.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, 159 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6PJ.

City Cruises River Tour

City Cruises

Cruising along the Thames ticks off a lot of boxes for a trip with the little ones. Bobbing along the landmark river is one thing, the many sights you’ll see along the way are another. Starting off from the pier in the shadow of the London Eye, you can find a prime spot on the upper deck or, if the weather is a little inclement, head for the covered saloon. There’s either a recorded or live commentary, and you’ll learn about London’s rich history as you make your way to Greenwich. Under-5s go free, while a family ticket is good for two adults, and three kids aged 5 to 15.

City Cruises River Tour, London Eye Waterloo Pier, London, SE1 7PB.

The Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Academy of Arts

Credit: Fraser Marr

If you want to take in one of the Royal Academy of Arts’ brilliant exhibitions, but are worried about the cost when you’ve got kids with you, breathe easy. Kids under 16 get to go free to all exhibitions. But that’s not the only attraction for your little people – there’s lot of art they’ll love, and they’ll also get an Art Detective pack, which is a great kicking off point for discussions about art, and will keep them engaged. There are also family workshops and studio sessions, with something for everyone.

Royal Academy of Arts, , Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD.

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop

It’s a far cry from Hamley’s, but Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop isn’t just for children – it’s for your inner child too. With a history dating back to the 19th century, this is the place to come for charming, whimsical and truly unique toys. Here you’ll find puppets, music boxes and gorgeous toy theatres that capture everything from Frozen to Shakespeare by way of Pinocchio. There are paper dolls, decorations, lovely things to craft, heck, even hand-painted pewter tableaus of The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, 44 The Market, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8RF.

The Family Lounge

Family Lounge

The first Family Lounge on the UK rail network has opened in London Kings Cross. This is your go-to before you get the train home. Not only does it offer a warm cosy hideaway while you wait for the train, but it’s full of goodies to keep the kids entertained. We’re talking beach huts with table-top games, a soft play area for tiring out little legs and a bespoke Hornby train set that big kids will love as much as the little ones. And while young travellers play, parents can sit back and relax in peace.

The Family Lounge, Kings Cross Station, London, N1 9AP.

*A family is defined as being between a minimum of 1 adult and 1 child (aged 5-15 years old inclusive) up to a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children (aged 5-15 years old inclusive). Book at least seven days in advance of outward journey. Available on LNER services only, subject to availability. For more information, please visit 2 hours 16 minutes is the most common journey time between Leeds and London King's Cross, Monday to Friday. Cover image credit: Science Museum Group