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Taking kids to London can seem a little daunting, but with a bit of planning it is a great day out for the family and an excellent treat, especially during the school holidays.
London is a really easy place to get to from Cambridge, with frequent fast trains into Kings Cross & a slower service into Liverpool Street. If you book your tickets in advance & travel off peak, you can often get a good deal – make sure you check to see whether it is worth buying a family rail card.
There is so much to do and see for families in London that we could come up with ideas for hundreds of day trips. If none of these ideas grab you, drop us a note on our Facebook page and we will see if we can crowd source a few more ideas for you.
We have focused on free things to do, as by the time you have paid for transport, food & drink, paying for attractions can make for a horribly expensive day out.
1) Museums. One of the most popular family activities in London is to visit one of the many museums with no admission charge. We have picked out our favourites. Click here for a list of our top picks along with some other helpful information for visiting families.
2) Galleries. Our top picks for free galleries in London with the kids are the Tate Modern and the National Gallery.
The Tate Modern is brilliant for kids. If there is no exhibit in the Turbine Hall, it makes for a fantastic space for kids to run around, there are amazing views across the river to St Paul’s & the city & we absolutely love the Bloomberg digital drawing bar & the Liminal family activity gallery.
The National Gallery has a vast collection so it is worth thinking about what you want to see most and starting there. Check out their website before you visit as they hold lots of events for families with workshops, story telling, trails & other activities.
3) Sight seeing & walking tours. In our experience, kids love walking around the capital, spotting some of the famous sights, taking in some street theatre and just enjoying watching what’s going on. We have pulled together a range of ideas for sight seeing on foot that you can adapt to suit the leg length & stamina of your family. Click here for our pick of free family activities in London.
4) Parks. The London parks are a great resource for families. If the weather is good we like nothing more than stopping off in one of the parks for a picnic lunch. Most of the parks have deckchair hire for the adults (we make the kids sit on the grass because we’re mean) & there is so much going on that there is always plenty of people watching to be done. Places that are particularly popular with kids are the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens & the pelicans & ridiculously tame squirrels in St James’s Park. Another good spot to be aware of is the Camley Street Natural Park near Kings Cross station. This can be a great option for little legs to run off some steam before getting on the train. Coram’s Fields, also near King’s Cross and the British Museum, is one of our favourites too. It has play areas, a city farm and seasonal cafe. It’s free but you’re not allowed in without a child!
If you don’t know London well it can sometimes be difficult to find a place to take the kids to eat. We have pulled together a selection of our favourite family (& wallet) friendly places to eat in London & listed them by area, along with a note of where there are clusters of the usual family friendly chains. Click here for our picks.
The fastest way to travel around London is usually by Tube. However, the Tube can be somewhat difficult to navigate with younger children, busy and with lots of stairs that make life very difficult if you have a buggy or pram. The Tube map shows which stations have lifts – look for the (shockingly few) ones with the wheelchair symbol. The TFL step free map can be a useful resource to download before you travel.
The bus can often be a better option, slower but more manageable with a couple of little ones. London buses no longer take cash so you will need to pay with an Oyster Card, a contactless payment card or a travel card. Kids travel free so you don’t need to worry about them.
London is also surprisingly compact. It is often worth checking the map to see how long it will take to walk somewhere as this can be quicker than using public transport.
The best resource for information on transport and planning your journey is the TFL website.
One of the particular pleasure of London with kids is trying to find a loo in a hurry, so to save you that panic, here they are.
There are public loos in Covent Garden at the west end of the Piazza, by St Paul’s Church, as well as beneath Jubilee Hall.
Around Trafalgar Square, head to the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery.
On the Southbank, there are paid public toilets between the Hungerford bridge and the London Eye. Another good option is to head for the Royal Festival Hall. This has loos on every floor which is handy to know as there is often a queue for the ones on the ground floor. There are also decent baby change facilities here.
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