16 things to do in London with kids

Parenting

Think a trip across the pond with littles in tow sounds like hard work? Think again! London, England is brimming (right to the top of your teacup) with family-friendly sites, free activities and one-of-a-kind moments that will have everyone super chuffed. Here are some of the best things to do in London with kids.

Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

Since tours inside the Palace are notoriously difficult to book (the Palace opens its doors for only 10-weeks a year, from July 22- to October 2), it’s a great idea to schedule your visit to Buckingham Palace to coincide with the Changing of the Guard. This 45-minute outdoor ceremony (no Royals are present) where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard is a bit of pomp and pageantry that the whole family will marvel at. The ceremony happens at 10:45 am daily in June and July and switches to Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays the rest of the year. Keep in mind that this attraction draws a large crowd so it’s a good idea to get there an hour early and make sure bathroom stops happen before you secure a viewing spot! For more info visit changing-guard.com

*The Changing of the Guard is free of charge

Go inside the iconic Tower Bridge

View of the Tower Bridge above the River Thames on a day with a clear blue sky

Photo: Courtesy of Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge and its famed fairy tale architecture is one of London’s most iconic sites. After taking a million snaps of the photogenic bridge outside, take a family tour inside to discover the history and mechanics behind this spectacular structure–kids will love seeing the Engine Rooms. Don’t forget to check out the glass walkways on the upper section of the bridge; it offers a birds-eye view of London from 42 metres above the River Thames. The bridge is also fully accessible for strollers, with elevator access to all levels. For more info visit towerbridge.org.uk

Discover the main sites by Double Decker Bus

Sara Duck with her two children standing next to a Toot Bus

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Duck

Taking in the sites in a big city with little ones can be exhausting, right? A hop-on hop-off bus tour offers flexibility, a great experience and a comfortable seat. Did I mention cruising around in a cool double-decker bus? Toot Bus offers a perfect 45-minute kids tour around major sites, such as Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, West Minster, etc. Sit back and relax while the guide shares interesting facts about London and some of its most famous sites. There is even an audio guide channel just for kids so there is no chance they will be bored. The bus accommodates strollers as well. For more info visit tootbus.com

Visit Hamleys, the oldest toy retailer in the world

There are toy stores, and then there is Hamleys flagship toy store on Regent Street. Prepare to blow your kid’s minds with seven themed floors of toys which translates to more than 50,000 different types of toys to peruse. The shop is incredibly interactive too, with toy demonstrations on each floor and spontaneous choreographed singing and dancing by Hamley workers on the main floor. Founded by William Hamley in 1760 in High Holborn, London (originally called Noah’s Ark), Hamleys is a 259-year-old toy company with serious kid appeal. For more info visit hamleys.com

*Hamleys is free of charge (not including the toys you will be forced to buy!)

Jungle Book Afternoon Tea at the Brown’s Hotel

Afternoon tea set with a copy of Jungle Book

Photo: Courtesy of Brown’s Hotel

Queen Victoria loved to have tea at this historic hotel (London’s first-ever hotel), and your family will too! Afternoon tea is a lovely British tradition where you are served a cuppa, a variety of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and mini pastries. In homage to English author Rudyard Kipling who wrote the children’s classic Jungle Book, the Brown’s Hotel offers a unique Jungle Book themed Afternoon Tea. Your kids will love all the special touches, such as a jungle-themed colouring sheet and of course, the epic treats, like the Tropic Shake and “Roar”ange Chocolate Biscuits. For more info visit roccofortehotels.com

See multi award-winning musical Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins (everyone’s favourite nanny!) is a magical theatre production with cool choreography, incredible effects and catchy songs. Kids will fall in love with the live performance and will be singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious for days to come! This production is recommended for kids seven and up because it is almost three hours long; that being said, if your child loves to sit and be entertained, it’s definitely doable for younger ages too. For more info visit marypoppinsonstage.co.uk

Have breakfast at Kensington Palace

Two children standing in the gardens of Kensington Palace in front of a statue of Queen Victoria

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Duck

Only in London can you dine on the grounds of an actual palace! Kensington Palace is the birthplace of Queen Victoria and has been home to Royals for 300 years–it’s the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate!). Enjoy breakfast in the Pavilion or garden cafe and then take a walk in the stunning 265-acre gardens–be on the lookout for the statue of Peter Pan. For more info visit kensingtonpalacepavilion.co.uk

*Kensington gardens are free of charge

Search for souvenirs at Portobello Road Market

Nestled in the stylish and Instagram worthy district of Notting Hill, Portobello Road is home to London’s famous Portobello Road market on Saturday mornings from 9am to 7pm. Head there early to avoid crowds and take in the amazing selection of antiques, handmade toys and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. The biggest draw for kids will probably be the entertainment (think buskers and live music) and the variety of hot food stalls that serve up so many tasty options. For more info visit visitportobello.com

*Portobello Road Market is free of charge

Take a flight on the London Eye

Close-up view of the London Eye and city skyscrapers during sunset

Photo: Courtesy of London Eye

This modern ferris wheel stands 135-metres high on the banks of the River Thames and gives you a panoramic view of London up to 40 km in all directions. Each London Eye capsule is fully air-conditioned and comfortably holds up to 25 passengers. Whether you prefer to stand or sit, the wheel slowly rotates for 30 minutes to give you ever-changing views. You can take a compact stroller on board, but it must be folded. Or if it’s big, you can store it for free in the ticket office but it’s first come first served. For more info visit londoneye.com

Discover London’s parks and gardens

Tired of sightseeing? Take a green break and discover one of London’s 3,000 parks. Yes, that’s right, 3,000! From Hyde Park to St. James Park, there is plenty of green space in this bustling city to enjoy. Jubilee Gardens is a landscaped park on London’s South Bank (the London Eye is close by and makes for a dynamic backdrop). Children will enjoy the enclosed adventure playground, which was recently refurbished. There are also loos within the garden because, you know, when a kids gotta go, a kids gotta go. For more info visit jubileegardens.org.uk

*Jubilee Gardens is free of charge

Rained out? Check out the Natural History Museum

two children looking at a dinosaur skeleton

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Duck

Rain in London is inevitable (pack a brolly!), so planning a few indoor activities is a must, and museums are a great option. The Natural History Museum is a perfect spot for kids to explore and learn about life on earth. Check out the museum’s dino exhibit, which includes the most intact stegosaurus fossil skeleton ever found, a robotic t-rex and earthquake simulator. You can also meet Hope, the 126-year-old blue whale skeleton that’s 25-metres long! For more info visit nhm.ac.uk

*The Natural History Museum is free of charge

Take a pic with Paddington Bear

Do your children love the curious bear from the darkest Peru? A bronze statue of the beloved bear can be found in Paddington Station (where Mr. and Mrs. Brown found him)–a perfect place to snap a pic. While in the station, check out the official Paddington shop that offers a wide range of stuffies, books and gifts about the famous bear. For more info visit store.paddington.com

*The statue is free of charge to visit

Get up close and personal with the Tower of London

Child walking towards a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Duck

A castle, a secure fortress, a royal palace and infamous prison, the Tower of London is bursting with history and fascinating stories. Families will love taking pictures with the Yeoman Warders (or Beefeaters) that have been guarding the Tower since the time of the Tudors. And, of course, seeing the vast collection of Crown Jewels (coronation regalia) that have been kept here for over 600 years is simply unforgettable. When traveling with little ones, keep in mind that this activity is not stroller friendly, there are many stairs to climb and tight quarters to maneuver. It may be the time to break out the carrier. For more info visit hrp.org.uk

Have dinner in a garden in the sky

The Sky Garden is an enlarged glass dome with floor-to-ceiling windows and beautifully landscaped plants and flowers; it’s London’s highest public garden at 160-metres in the air. Book your reservation at Darwin Brasserie (serving up seasonal British fare) while the sun is setting and enjoy golden hour with 360-degree views of the city. For more info visit skygarden.london

*Don’t fancy dinner? The Sky Garden is free to visit

Stay at a luxury hotel with a teddy bear experience

Two children carrying teddy bears inside the lobby of the London Marriott Hotel

Photo: Courtesy of Wonderhatch

There is no shortage of hotels in London, and there is something to suit any budget. But, if you are looking to splash out with an extra special treat for the kids, the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane is your best bet. The stunning five-star hotel is in London’s West End overlooking Hyde Park and boasts luxurious amenities, including an indoor pool and a Hamleys Teddy Bear Experience. Kids get to choose a bespoke teddy and enjoy an in-suite teddy bear picnic. A teddy turndown service is provided at the end of the day, complete with a warm glass of milk, cookies and teddy bear stories. For more info visit marriott.com

Cool off with a candy floss ice cream cone

Milk Train is home to England’s first candy floss ice cream cones–a sweet match-up! Kids will love customizing their ice creams and milkshakes at this unique ice cream shop in the lovely, cobbled area of Covent Garden. Choose your base and then start adding in your favourite mix-ins for a unique treat. The cherry on top? The candy floss topper! They also have limited-edition menus to choose from based on each season. Vegan options are available, too. For more info visit milktraincafe.com

How to get around London

Traveling with children under 11? They can travel for free any time via the Tube, DLR, London Overground and some National Rail services in London. The city is also incredibly walkable and is amazingly connected via buses and the Tube (underground subway). Most Tube stations have lifts (elevators) which help when traveling with a stroller.

Travel tip

Post lockdown, the city of London is buzzing. This unfortunately can equate to long “queues” and main attractions selling out quickly. It’s a good idea to book any attractions in advance to avoid any disappointment and help minimize any whining (wink).

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