London is one of my favorite cities, mostly because the city brings back a lot of memories of when I used to live there as a student and for a 1.5 year stint as an adult. I always think about the lovely neighborhoods, especially Notting Hill, and one of my all time favorite activities – having a few pints on a sunny Sunday afternoon outdoors at a pub. Ah, the good old days. In planning a trip for a friend, she asked what she should do with her kids while there so I started thinking about things I would love to visit in London with my kids so I narrowed it down to my top ten in no particular order:
- Tower of London – such a fun place to visit with so many tours available. You can see the crown jewels, go on a spooky after hours tour, or go during the day and take any of the many children activity trails.
- Borough Market – one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday, walk around and sample all the various food vendors, stop for oysters and champagne, and end at the famous raclette stand.
- British Museum – as someone who isn’t a huge fan of spending all day in a museum, this is still one of my favorites. I took a class in college in London about all this museum has to offer, including several Greek Parthenon marbles, the Rosetta Stone, and Egyptian mummies. For kids, I noticed they have fun children’s audio tours and you can get activity trails and activity backpacks (weekends and holidays only) from the family center in the Great Court as you enter the museum.
- London Eye – you can’t really miss this for kids, and its one of London’s new famous landmarks. The views are incredible and even toddlers will be amazed at the heights.
- My second favorite museum is the Tate Modern. Here, kids can sketch their own masterpieces at the Bloomberg digital drawing bar and then have their art projected onto the gallery’s walls. The Sonic Trails app is especially designed to take kids on sound journey through the gallery, while the Tate Kids Collection Case is a scavenger-hunt-like exploration of the Materials and Objects display.
- The last museum I will mention is the V&A museum of Childhood – so so much fun stuff to see here: there are dolls’ houses through the ages, vintage board games, construction toys (Lego, Meccano), battery-powered robots, and toys from the 20th century, decade by decade. It is so fun to to take various family members here and possibly spot your own favorite toy from when you were a kid. Side note: Admission is totally free!
- Parks – One of the things I miss most about London is how many large parks are smack dab in the city. My favorite was Hampstead Heath (great for picnics), Regents Park ( several excellent playgrounds, the London Zoo, boat rentals, and a beautiful rose garden with tons of bridges for great picture), & St. James Park (I recall some pretty amazing play areas and pelicans to see on the duck island). Now, I would also probably also take a trip to Kew Gardens, as I’ve heard they have a treetop walkway with great views.
- Boat Tour on the Thames – this is the easiest way to see all of London’s major sights without walking too much. You can see which tour and sights combo makes sense for your family, and older kids might enjoy the speedboat tours!
- Harry Potter Tour – I’ve never done this, but I would definitely plan on it (mostly for myself) on my next trip!
- Last but not least, the good old famous London double decker red bus sightseeing tour. Kids would love it and it is always a good time. It is not that expensive and you can hop on and off at any time so perfect for families.
Other things that are fun but not in my top 10 are Changing of the guards, 3 hour kid friendly hike/bike tour, Kidzania, kid friendly shows in the West End like the Lion King & Shrek (they have TKTS similar to NYC), Tower Bridge, Imperial War Museum, London Dungeon, London Zoo, catching a UEFA soccer game if possible & Cutty Sark. A lot of these places would be amazing with kids – I just have not visited them and probably wouldn’t head there on my first trip with kids. But to each his own!
The Tube and bus are the best ways to get around and kids under 10 are always free.