When it comes to planning a day out in London, put your kids in the driving seat!
All ages enjoy meeting zoo animals while 11- to 15-year-olds can learn to care for Galapagos tortoises, meerkats and giraffes as they clean their enclosures and feed them. If that tires them out, then they can stay overnight on occasional ‘bed bug’ sleepovers—which include torchlight tours, animal talks, games and storytelling—or in chalets inside the Land of the Lions. Meanwhile, the outdoor attraction Zoorassic Park, new for summer 2017 (to 3 Sept.), brings visitors face to face with eight life-size, moving dinosaurs, from the gentle giant brachiosaurus to the formidable Tyrannosaurus rex.
Tower of London
Which child doesn’t delight in gory stories? This fortress was a prison from 1100 to 1952, so if walls could talk these ones would be screaming. The free Time Explorers iOS or Android app has historical characters that take you on an interactive adventure; win the challenges and you win badges. You can also 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. Who said history was boring?
There’s no chance you’ll hear ‘I’m bored’ at this museum, as its free family trails encourage counting, hunting, colouring and quizzes—borrow crayons, pencils and pads from the family desk—plus there's a family-friendly audio guide. Meanwhile, free activity packs encourage children to dress as ancient Greeks, identify amulets while blindfolded, write in hieroglyphs or on wax tablets and make mosaics or animal masks.
There’s always something happening in Hyde Park, 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. The Lido and kids' paddling pool is open from June to mid- September.
Natural History Museum
You might have heard about the museum’s incredible 25-metre-long blue whale skeleton, Blue, which was installed in July in Hintze Hall. It's exhibited alongside many other sea mammals to tell the story of these fascinating creatures. Kids will also love the annual butterfly house (to 17 Sept.) and astounding images in the annual "Wildlife Photographer of the Year" exhibition. There are plenty of kids' activities throughout the year at this huge museum—many of them free.
What child wouldn’t want to make chocolate, put out a ‘fire’ with water gushing from a hose or fly an airplane simulator? They can try all of these experiences and more at KidZania, an indoor city on the first floor of Westfield London. Designed with children in mind, the 75,000-square-meter-space has its own currency, so in addition to being fun it’s a great way for children to learn new skills from math at a shop counter to first aid and making the bed in housekeeping.
Ripley's Believe it or Not!
Where else can you see a deformed Peruvian skull, Jimi Hendrix made from dung and a sculpture of The Beatles made from chewing gum? Ripley’s, Believe it or Not! of course. Kids of all ages will squeal with delight at the gory, gruesome, rude and downright weird oddities on display. They can also have fun in a mirror maze and illuminated ‘black hole'— which might leave them feeling rather queasy.