6 Of The Top Places To Take Kids In London
1: ZSL London Zoo
Zoorassic Park – new this summer – brings visitors face to face with eight life-size, moving dinosaurs, from the gentle giant brachiosaurus to the formidable tyrannosaurus rex. Kids can learn to care for Galápagos tortoises, meerkats and giraffes as they clean their enclosures and feed them. If that tires out the children, stay overnight on ‘bed bug’ sleepovers – which include torchlight tours, animal talks, games and storytelling – or in chalets inside the Land of the Lions.
2: Natural History Museum
You may have heard about the museum’s annual butterfly house, of which Prince George is a fan, but did you know you can also now join scientists to examine specimens in Investigate for Families? Budding Sherlocks can become an investigator to solve a murder – with a killer on the loose, they must work with forensic experts to get evidence and conduct experiments to establish how the victim died (18 Aug).
3: Tower Of London
If your child loves gory stories, this is for them. This fortress was a prison from 1100 to 1952, so if walls could talk, these ones would scream! The free Time Explorers iOS and Android app has historical characters that take you on an interactive adventure – complete the challenges to win badges. Join Beefeater tours to hear stories of imprisonment, torture and execution, or collect a family trail from the welcome centre, which is packed with quizzes, facts and illustrations. There are costumed guided events, too. Who said history was boring?
4: Hyde Park
There’s always something happening here, whether you want to play tennis, swim in the Serpentine, hire rowing or pedal boats or glide across the lake on a solar-powered SolarShuttle. Join a campfire sunset safari (4 & 25 Aug) or a family bat walking tour (30 Aug), where you’ll use bat detectors – which make echo-location calls audible to the human ear – to listen for common pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles and noctules, then take a quiz. See locations that inspired children’s author JM Barrie on a Peter Pan walking tour (11 & 18 Aug) before making a miniature clay vessel. Fancy dress is encouraged.
5: The British Museum
There’s no chance you’ll hear ‘I’m bored’ here, as the free family trails encourage counting, hunting, colouring and quizzes – borrow crayons and pads from the family desk. As well as a family-friendly audio guide, kids will enjoy Little Feet: Make a Splash (11 Aug), which is inspired by Katsushika Hokusai ’s Great Wave. Take a towel, as you’ll get wet! Free activity packs encourage children to dress up as ancient Greeks, identify amulets while blindfolded, and write in hieroglyphs. Or pay for the Fun & Games themed activity by THATMuse and get the opportunity to hunt and photograph treasures from a clue list.
6: River Thames
The river is London’s liquid lifeline. It was once the great trading route and a symbol of the British Empire, and is now the city’s biggest playground. Children will love London Duck Tours – a bright yellow vehicle that offers an amazing amphibious adventure, which goes from the road into the river. Interactive tours include a pirate treasure hunt and a code-breaker challenge.
The London map is by Alice Tait, and taken from her book No, Nancy, No! – an action-packed lift-the-flap book of the city. It’s the perfect introduction for first-time sightseers. Available now at all good booksellers.