5 Things to do with Kids in London
We recently spent an amazing 12 days in London with our kids. There are so many family friendly activities to do, we decided to put together a list of things that we all really enjoyed. Sometimes when you hear kid activity you cringe because you think you are going have to endure something rather than enjoy it. This is not the case here, everything was truly fun for the whole family!
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a great way to explore London, it is FREE, and there is something for everyone to see. If your kids are explorers, you can grab a free explorer backpack that is packed with themed activities and fun guides for them while they venture through the museum. Our kids really enjoyed the whale (there is a fee for this exhibit but we felt it was whale worth it!!) and dinosaur exhibits, there are also other great exhibits with fun hands on activities for kids like an earthquake simulator and insect display. If you are there around Christmas, you can take some time to check out the carousel and ice skating rink just outside of the museum. During the holiday season you skate around a gorgeous Christmas tree that gives out a great vibe making you feel more you relaxed and excited to be visiting such a great city.
Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben
Royalty and the Big Ben Clock Tower come to mind when you think about London. So, our first walk about in the city was to see Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, Big Ben is being restored for the next four years and you can only hear the sound of the bells on special occasions. Do not fret, Westminster Abbey and the Royal Palace are nearby. They are very impressive to see at night with all of the lights, but you must stop by during the day to see the Changing of the Guards or take a tour of the Abbey. The changing of the Guards can be crowded and busy, however it is manageable and something we all enjoyed. Click the following link to read the blog written by our eleven year old from her perspective: Changing of the Guard
Tower of London
The Tower of London is a tour that should be on everyone’s list. Why? It was originally built in 1066, is a famous residence of both royals and prisoners, in addition to hosting the Crown of Jewels. The best part of the tour for us was meeting Billy the Beefeater. He is a Yeoman Warder who lives at the Tower and shows you the fortress through his eyes. The best part is he is more than qualified as a decorated veteran of the armed forces with a degree in medieval military defense and he is wildly entertaining. Click on this link to learn more: Beefeaters and the Tower of London. Why is it good for kids? Our kids felt like they were transported back into time and were excited to learn about the colorful history of the Tower of London. They learned that every language has a collection of wise sayings. For instance the idiom “work your way from the bottom up” is not a job they would have wanted back in the medieval days.
Harry Potter Walking Tour and Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross
If you or your kids are Harry Potter fans then Strawberry Tours has a great walking tour in London. We highly recommend Strawberry Tours, they provide the tour for free but do ask you to tip the guides. Will was our guide, he was fabulous, very charismatic, and made the tour fun for everyone. We have never seen our kids walk so fast because they were dead set on being in the front of the group, right alongside the guide. They did not want to miss a word he said about the sites that inspired J.K. Rowling to write the Harry Potter series. It is truly amazing to see the buildings, streets, and neighborhoods that inspired her. The insights into how the first book was published and what it took to film the movies was astounding. This tour was our daughters favorite and we are pretty sure she would be up for coming back in the future to be a guide herself. To gain a kid’s perspective, follow this link to her blog about the tour: The Harry Potter Walking Tour
You can follow up the tour with a visit to King’s Cross Train Station to visit platform 9 3/4. This is a great place to take your kids because the photos are free, unless you like the ones the professional photographer takes. The line can be long, but the kids did not complain because they were excited to pretend they were heading to Hogwarts. They had a blast talking about what it would be like when they arrived in the wizard world. Interesting fact, on the Harry Potter Walking Tour we learned there is no wall between platforms 9 and 10 at the King’s Cross Station. J.K. Rowling made a mistake and had actually left out of the Euston Train Station the morning she had the idea for the 9 3/4 platform. So, if you want to see the real wall that inspired her, you will need to take a train that leaves from either platform 9 or 10 at the Euston Train Station.
The Borough Market
The Borough market is one of the oldest in London dating back to the 13th century. The Holiday vibe was so festive with smells of mulled wine, chocolate, and cheese. We spent the majority of the day at the market trying samples, listening to Christmas music, eating lunch, and learning more about the vendors. We were not disappointed by our choices for lunch (so many options, everyone can find something to their liking) and it was fun for all of us to explore while trying something different. Picking up some fresh bread, artisan English cheese, and some authentic Prosciutto di Parma made for a great addition to our dinner that night. We can’t wait to go back!