Now that children have broken up from school, I’ve been inundated with requests from family and friends on how to keep the kids entertained this long (oh, so long) summer holiday.
When you’ve tired of the local park, cinema and the swimming baths, there is an abundance of things to do with children around London – some free of charge and some not, but if you’re planning a few day trips to the Capital check out some of these fantastic activities and attractions – there are so many, I’ve decided to post them over two parts.
And don’t forget the usual London haunts from Royal Parks, outdoor splashzones and lidos, zoos, urban beaches and museums.
Mums and dads, best get planning all those adventures…
Get bouncy at an Oxygen Indoor Trampoline Park
Head to west London and enjoy free jumping in Acton’s newest indoor trampoline park – there are over 150 interconnected wall-to-wall trampolines. From family events to Little O’s for under-fives.
Oxygen Freejumping, Vision Industrial Park, Kendal Avenue, London W3 0AF; £12.50 for a one hour session; £6 for under 5’s
Let the kids boss you about at KidZania
KidZania is run by kids and designed for children to learn essential life-
KidZania, Westfield London, Ariel Way, W12 7GA; Adult: £16.50; Child 1-3 £10.00; Child 4-14 £28.00
Get creative at Summer Camp with Apple
Apple Summer Camp is a place where kids aged 8 to 12 bring their imaginations to life. They’ll learn to make movies by storyboarding ideas, shooting video and creating an original soundtrack. Or they can create interactive books complete with their own illustrations and sound effects.
At Apple Stores across the UK, Sign up online; Free of charge
Catapult across the Gherkin Plaza with Archikids
Archikids is Open-City’s flagship family festival of architecture. It is an annual weekend programme of free architectural activities located in the City of London’s Square Mile. There are so many fab things to do including racing dad to build the highest Lego tower and learning to propel your own car with a balloon and raceing it along a track.
ArchiKids at Open City, From 25-26 July 2015; Activities on a first-come-first-serve basis
Become a nature explorer
Have your children ever tried pond dipping? Do they know how to track creatures or identify animal poo? Have they ever seen the insect that can fly better than a helicopter? Well with their special passport from the London Wetland Centre they can do all of that and more with eight wildlife themed activities.
London Wetland Centre; 25 July-31 August; Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT; Adult: £11.59; Child £6.36; Under 4’s Free
Get theatrical in Kids Week
For the whole month of August, you can choose to see over 35 West End shows and kids go free! Productions such as Aliens Love Underpants, The Gruffalo and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom are suitable for younger children, but book early to avoid disappointment!
Kids Week; From 1-31 August 2015; Book your tickets online; One free child ticket for every adult ticket purchased
Stalk dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park
Thankfully, a trip to Crystal Palace Dinosaurs won’t put you in mortal danger, however the kids are going to love the full-size dinos which lurk behind the trees in one of south London’s popular outdoor spaces. The models were built by the Victorians and you can find out more about them at the Crystal Palace Museum also located in the park.
Crystal Palace Park, SE20 8DT; Free
Watch Three Little Pigs on a Barge
The Puppet Theatre Barge is a unique, fifty-seat marionette theatre on a converted barge in London. Currently moored in Richmond, little ones can be delighted by a unique retelling of the classic story Three Little Pigs – where Captain Grimey’s journey to become Captain Shiney is full of adventures.
Puppet Theatre Barge; 83 Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 6UT; From 25 July to 9 August; Adult £12.00; Child £8.50
Ships Ahoy at the National Maritime Museum
Head to AHOY! at the National Maritime Museum and discover a new exhibition for Under-7s. Marvel as they they stoke the boiler of a steamship, land a fish and work together with new friends in the interactive boatyard. Polar exploration, pirates and a host of other maritime themes are brought to life in this playful and immersive gallery.
National Maritime Museum; Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF; Open Weekends, School Holidays and Tuesdays; Free
Beat the obstacles at Aqua Splash
The Aqua Splash at the London Aquatics Centre means you can try your luck at leaping over the high jump and landing in the water, scaling the floating pyramid, and jumping through the hoops like a dolphin. Great fun for the whole family – and older, more daring members can try their hand at the Extreme Aqua Splash which is 40 metres long and only for children over 8 and competent swimmers.
London Aquatics Centre; Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2ZQ; Aqua Splash on Saturday/Extreme Aqua Splash Sundays 13:30pm -17:30pm; Adult £7.50; Child £5
Zip across Coram’s Fields
Coram’s Fields’ unique seven acre playing fields right in the heart of London not only has a city farm, duck pond, large sand pits and summer paddling pools – but their adventure playground with a mix of equipment is a real hit with youngsters – particularly the large aerial slide.
Coram’s Fields; 93 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1DN
Get Behind The Wheel of a Real Bus
All Aboard is a new, interactive play zone at the London Transport Museum specifically for children up to the ages of 7. Kids can repair a mini Tube train and play in the ‘Lost Property’ office. They can also enjoy ‘sailing’ the Thames Nipper and fly the Emirates Air Line cable car.
London Transport Museum; Covent Garden Piazza (south east corner) WC2E 7BB; Adult £16; Child Free
Catch A Show at the Polka Theatre
Head to Wimbledon where you will find one of the very few venues solely dedicated to producing and presenting work to children. Not only do they have several productions running this summer including Dot, Squiggle and Rest – a secret musical garden, but they have plenty of workshops for children of all ages such as making your own puppets and weekly drama groups.
Polka Theatre; 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1SB; Prices vary, see online for more information
Ride On The Hogwarts Express
Even if you’re not a fan of Harry Potter, there’s no denying how much enjoyment you get from a visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Apart from discovering all the magic behind the popular films, you can now jump on board The Hogwarts Express at Platform 93/4. Tickets aren’t cheap but it’s well worth a visit.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour; Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden WD25 7L; Adult £33.00; Child 5-15 £25.50; Under 5s Free