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Child-friendly London – how to keep little ones happy in England’s capital city with our guide to the best activities

Child-friendly London – how to keep little ones happy in England’s capital city with our guide to the best activities

Our five top activities for children on a family trip to London

London Eye

This enormous big wheel is a great place to start any visit as it helps children get their bearings in the capital.

The queues can be long but you can book a timed entrance which is recommended in peak season. The ride takes half an hour. Tickets and information are available via the London Eye website

Some pods on the London Eye on a sunny day

The London Eye

South Bank

The south bank of the River Thames is popular for a family day out.

A child-friendly route along the Embankment between Westminster Bridge and Jubilee Bridge has carousels, mime artists, stalls and indoor attractions galore.

We went to the Sea Life Centre London which is a good rainy day option or, in our case, a welcome escape from the heat outside. The penguins and sharks were particular favourites.

The parks

A dose of green space is welcome on a visit to London. Our favourite city centre option was St James’s Park, a small but charming park near Buckingham Palace.

Our children also had lots of fun cooling off in Hyde Park, paddling through the Diana Memorial Fountain stream.

There are rowing boats and pedal boats to hire on the Serpentine Lido or you can take a ride on the UK’s first Solarshuttle, powered only by the sun (check opening months and times for all these activities first). The Lido Cafe Bar has tables outside by the water.

A sunny day at St James Park in London with daffodils and people relaxing

St James’s Park is one of London’s best green spaces

Museums

The famous exhibits at the Natural History Museum – or the Dinosaur Museum as our children call it –  are eye-opening for children and interesting for adults too.

You can combine a visit with a trip to the more interactive Science Museum next door and entrance is free – although be prepared for long queues in peak season. For tickets and information go to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum websites.

Outside the Natural History Museum in London next to the road and tube stop

The Natural History Museum is free to enter

Boat trip on the River Thames

For a more daredevil adventure, try the Thames Rib Experience. Speed boats take you along the river on various routes, we tried one to Canary Wharf and back.

It all starts gently enough, with guided commentary, but when the James Bond music comes on, prepare for a thrilling, high speed ride. A great way to see London from a different perspective. The minimum weight is 15kg or three stone.

A speedboat on the River Thames with the Thames RIB Experience

The Thames RIB Experience

RELATED CONTENT: How to do London on a budget with children & our top tips for a cheaper break

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What are your favourite activities for children in London? Please comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Note: Some pictures in this article are courtesy of VisitLondon.com

 

We review a top secret family break in London and share our tips for seeing all the best attractions with children

We review a top secret family break in London and share our tips for seeing all the best attractions with children

We plan a three-day itinerary for children in London and become secret agents at St Ermin’s Hotel

“Sir. We’ve been expecting you.” The receptionist slips an envelope marked Top Secret into my son’s hands. He becomes the latest ‘spy’ to take up residence in St Ermin’s Hotel, opposite Scotland Yard and next to St James’s Park, just a few hundred yards from the heart of Westminster.

Top Secret files

The hotel’s budding Bond’s package

This hotel was once home to MI6 and was where the famous Communist double agents Burgess and McClean met their Russian handlers. 

The spy theme is being continued by the budding Bond package for families which encourages little ones to scour the hotel for clues as part of their trip. 

And this elegant Victorian hotel is a joy to explore. 

The exterior of St Ermin's Hotel

St Ermin’s Hotel

It might have some of London’s top attractions on its doorstep, but as you walk down the tree-lined entrance, it’s easy to forget you’re in the heart of the city.

And following a £30 million refurbishment a few years ago, the interior is stunning.

The interior of St Ermin's Hotel

The hotel interior

We enjoyed a delicious breakfast here every day and one fabulous afternoon tea with sandwiches and cakes, beautifully presented, but soon demolished by us. 

Our lovely family suite boasted two big beds and the added luxury of two bathrooms.  

But we were not there much as there was so much to fit in. 

So, what is the secret to a successful trip family break to London?

With our two young children in tow, we decided the answer was to keep it short and simple. We broke it up into three manageable days. Each one in a specific part of the capital:

Day one

London Eye – this big wheel and a half is a great way to see the capital from above. An iconic way to start a visit to London and get your bearings. 

The London Eye

The London Eye

Sea Life Centre – the aquarium is a good rainy day option or in our case, a welcome escape from the heat outside. The penguins and sharks were particular favourites.  

Big Ben – children won’t want to miss seeing and hearing this famous landmark.

St James’s Park –a lovely oasis near to our hotel. We ambled through this Royal park to Buckingham Palace to watch Changing of the Guard. 

Day two 

Natural History Museum (or the Dinosaur Museum to our children) and the neighbouring Science Museum followed by fun in Hyde Park, paddling in the man-made stream.

Three fabulous and free activities in one corner of the capital.

Day three

A great history lesson at the Tower of London, touring the cobbled streets and towers and viewing the Crown Jewels.  

From here we had a great view of Tower Bridge which my son and I were hurtling under a couple of hours later on a river tour with a difference. 

The Thames RIB Experience took in all the sites with great commentary but became less ordinary once the James Bond music kicked in and our boat sped  and bounced along the Thames in an adrenaline-filled trip. 

A boat full of people enjoy the Thames RIB Experience

An adrenaline-filled trip with the Thames RIB Experience

In conclusion

Back at the hotel and our own 007 son had completed his mission and collected his prize. 

He’d uncovered the secrets of St Ermin’s and we’d all discovered the secret to a fabulous family break in London. 

*For more ideas see the official visitor guide www.visitlondon.com. 

RELATED CONTENT: Child-friendly London – how to keep little ones happy in England’s capital city with our guide to the best activities

RELATED CONTENT: How to do London on a budget with children & our top tips for a cheaper break

Accommodation: We stayed as guests at St Ermin’s Hotel in London for the purpose of this review. All views are our own.