Sometimes it seems that no matter how much you plan activities, pack the books, colouring pens, iPads and various other gizmos to keep the kids amused, sooner or later you end up hearing those dreaded words: I’m bored!
But that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about when you visit London, because this is one place in the world that’s packed with fun things to do – and they don’t need to break the bank either. We’ve put together a list of 7 fun activities for kids in London that will suit all ages, and that the big kids, (AKA, the adults), will also enjoy. After all, what’s more fun than spending quality time with your children and watching them enjoy new experiences…
1. Open Water Swimming
Hyde Park is perhaps one of the most famous of all London’s Royal Parks. It’s definitely the largest, and offers a green oasis in the centre of the metropolis. Now it goes without saying that every good park should have a lake, and Hyde Park certainly doesn’t disappoint. And between the months of May and September, it’s possible to go swimming in the area known as The Serpentine.
Home to the oldest swimming club in the UK, this is also home to a famous swimming race on Christmas Day – although only the hardiest of souls would brave the icy waters at that time of year!
The Serpentine Lido is suitable for children of all ages, as well as adults. There’s a paddling pool for the toddlers, open water swimming in The Serpentine itself, as well as a children’s play area, sun terrace and area for sun bathing. If it’s a bit early on and the water still has a chill, wetsuits are permitted. There’s also a kiosk serving hot and cold drinks, as well as snacks. And for the adults, the Lido Café Bar serves decent meals.
This family day out is super affordable. Prices range from £1.60 for children and £4.60 for adults, with discounts for families and if you enter the lido after 4pm.
2. Sleepover with Dinosaurs
There’s something about dinosaurs that catches virtually every kid’s imagination. So can you imagine the excitement of having a sleepover in the world famous department! The monthly Dino Snores gives you and the children the chance to do just that. Enjoy a torch lit trail through the dinosaur gallery, watch a live science show, make a dinosaur t-shirt to keep and then snuggle down in a sleeping bag beneath Dippy – a full size Diplodocus Skeleton or an enormous blue whale. In the morning breakfast is served, and then watch a live animal show including owls and meerkats.
Prices are £60 per person, and children need to be accompanied by an adult (Oh! Shame that, because we reckon the adults are going to enjoy this just as much as the kids…). And for those adults who really enjoyed it, the museum also offers a dedicated Dino Snores for Grown-Ups as well.
3. Horse Riding in Hyde Park
Hyde Park has been home to horse riding for centuries. In the 1500s this was one of King Henry VIII’s favourite hunting grounds where he kept a herd of deer specifically for this purpose. Since then, the park has remained a favourite area for horse riding.
Hyde Park Stables offer horse rides and horse riding lessons in their arena or around the park itself, where you’re likely to meet other horse riders from the Household Cavalry and the Metropolitan Police.
Prices start from £79 per hour, and the youngest age that can go horse riding is 5 years.
4. Ice Skating
Whizzing around an ice rink is always a fun day out – just be prepared for the kids to be far better at it than you are! London has 2 excellent ice rinks, both easily reached using London’s underground trains, or if you prefer, the famous red London Buses. The first of these locations is Alexandra Palace Ice Rink – perhaps one of the most iconic palaces in London. The great thing about coming skating here is that you really can make a full day out of it. From skating to visiting the palace, playing on the pitch and putt golf course to boating on the lake – Alexandra Palace will keep even the most hyperactive of kids busy all day.
The second place to ice skate in London is Queen’s Ice Rink and Bowl. Located in busy Bayswater, public skating session prices start from around £7.00 for juniors and £8.00 for adults, and include the hire of your skates.
5. Visit the most Famous Toy Shop in the World
It would be virtually criminal to bring the kids to London and not visit Hamleys. The oldest toy shop in the world covers 7 floors of prime, Regent Street real estate, and has delighted children and their parents since its opening in 1760. Every toy you thought possible (and many you didn’t) is available to buy here. And of course, going into the shop is free – just don’t expect to not be able to spend any money once your children see what’s on offer…
6. Take a Thames River Rib Tour
Ribs, or speed boats, are undoubtedly a way of getting a great adrenaline rush. And don’t kids just love that! But taking such a tour along the River Thames has an added bonus – because it offers a unique method of sightseeing from the perspective of the river. See such sights as The London Eye, Houses of Parliament and St Pauls Cathedral as you zoom along. Various companies offer this service, such as London Rib Voyages, and Rib Tours London. Prices start from around £19.00 for a child, with family discounts offered.
7. Go Animal Spotting at an Inner London City Farm
Animals are always a hit with the kids. And going to a city farm gives them a chance to get up close with lots of different animals. Hackney City Farm gives children the opportunity to meet animals, such as pigs, goats, donkeys, chickens, sheep, geese, ducks, rabbits and guinea pigs. The well-informed staff give loads of information on learning about nature, food and the environment. Open all year round from Tuesday to Sunday, and entry is free. The farm simply asks that you make a donation to help them continue with their work.