50 Things To Do in London with Kids, on a UK Family Vacation

Get a bird's eye view at the London Eye. Photo courtesy of Visit London
Get a bird's eye view at the London Eye. Photo courtesy of Visit London

London is a city so famous for fun things to do that they say when you tire of it, you're tired of life. Of course, try impressing a kid with a quote like that, and he'll show you tired of life! The proof for kids is always in the pudding (so we've included several restaurants that have delicious pudding). Each of the 50 items on our Best of London list is a tried and true kid pleaser, from pirate ships to princess' palaces, with a good dose of Harry Potter, the Beatles, all the king's horses, and all the king's men thrown in. Some of these items need planning ahead; others make for neat spontaneous adventures when you've got an hour to fill in Greenwich Mean Time. One thing's for sure: these 50 great things to do in London will leave no one time to get bored.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

Best Things To Do in London with Kids

  1.  Fall under the spell of the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour.
  2. Visit the Museum of London—sums up the city's whole history in one fun visit.
  3. Tour and/or sleep aboard the Golden Hinde.
  4. See The Mousetrap—best murder mystery ever and a classic bit of London theater history.
  5. Ride a paddle boat on the Serpentine.
  6. Take a River Bus up the Thames.
  7. Play in the fountain art at the South Bank Center.
  8. Shop the bargains and listen to the old school salesmen chanting at Brick Lane Market.
  9. Follow the Changing of the Queen's Life Guard from The Cavalry at Knightsbridge all the way to Buckingham Palace.
  10. Visit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station.
  11. Go looking for herds of deer at Richmond Park.
  12. Try out the Whispering Gallery at St. Paul's Cathedral.

    Diana Memorial Playground has several different themed play zones. Photo courtesy of The Royal Parks
  13. Play in the marvelous Princess Diana Playground at Kensington Gardens.
  14. Walk the Princess Diana river fountain at Hyde Park Lido.
  15. Hop on the back and ride in the top front seat of a number 15 heritage bus (the old routemasters).
  16. Wander Liberty's fantastic old building, and maybe buy some fabric scraps for a craft project.
  17. Set aside two days (or one long one) to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child where it all began.
  18. Visit the critters of the enormous London Zoo.
  19. Enjoy critters at the slightly less overwhelming Battersea Park Children's Zoo.
  20. Show older kids how UK government works at Question Time at the Houses of Parliament.

    Point out Dippy the Diplodocus at the Natural History Museum. Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the Natural History Museum
  21. The free and fabulous Natural History Museum is not to be missed.
  22. Also free, also fabulous, the Science Museum is next door to the Natural History Museum.
  23. Attend the daily, ancient Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.
  24. Skate at an iconic seasonal outdoor ice rink—like the ones at the Tower of London, roof of the South Bank Center, or Somerset House.
  25. Spend a morning shopping the eternally trendy Portobello Market.
  26. Fight the crowds to shop sales at the flagship shops on Oxford Street.
  27. Get inside famous trains, buses, and stations at the so-satisfying London Transport Museum.
  28. Visit the free Wallace Collection to see loads of real swords, armor, and knight's gear.
  29. Have boatloads of fun at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
  30. While in Greenwich, visit the Prime Meridian Line at The Royal Observatory and explain the whole concept of time.
  31. Navigate the garden maze at Hampton Court Palace.
  32. Spend a couple of hours in Kew Gardens; don't miss the treetop walk and the badger caves.

    The Children's Garden is just the beginning of the fun at Kew Gardens. Photo courtesy of RBG Kew
  33. Experience the history of free speech from the soap boxes at Speakers' Corner.
  34. Shop the cool stalls and watch the canal locks working at Camden Locks and Market.
  35. Take a family photo on the crosswalk outside Abbey Road Studios. Some day they'll get it.
  36. Look down on everyone from the London Eye.
  37. Watch the world's most famous street performers at Covent Garden.
  38. Choose a manageable section of the potentially overwhelming British Museum.
  39. Show your teens and tweens you're cool by taking them shopping on Carnaby Street.
  40. Ride a horse through Hyde Park like royalty.
  41. Take a deep breath and plunge into Hamley's, the world's oldest, largest toy store.

Best Restaurants in London for Kids

Strawberry banana lollipops are part of the Kids' Meal Deal at Giraffe. Photo courtesy of Giraffe

42. Giraffe: a super kid-friendly chain with great, healthy food—and balloons.

43. Masala Zone: a chain with excellent Indian food made easy for kids.

44. Wagamama: London's ubiquitous, unpretentious noodle bar.

45. Wahaca: A modern, friendly chain serving healthy, yummy Mexican small bites.

46. Any restaurant on Gerrard Street in Chinatown has great, affordable Chinese food.

47. The Orangery Restaurant at Kensington Palace: If you want high tea, do it at a princess' palace in a park.

48. Geale's: Fresh, memorable fish 'n chips with a kids' menu.

49. Bill's Covent Garden: Delicious, adult-pleasing food in an atmosphere that's extremely welcoming of kids.

50. La Baita Bandstand Cafe sits in the heart of Clapham Common with indoor/outdoor seating and plenty of room to romp.

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