London is such a fantastic city to spend a weekend with the family. From the bright lights of the West End and the diversity of the East End, to the relaxed vibes of the numerous parks and green spaces, there are plenty of places to discover around the city. If you’re looking for inspiration to plan your trip or week off around, look no further…
For The Train or Plane ObsessiveIf your little one is obsessed with anything to do with transport, there are a couple of great places you could check out as a family. The London Transport Museum must certainly be every little aspiring train drivers’ heaven, and is ideally located in the heart of Covent Garden. A favourite amongst locals and tourists alike, the museum houses a collection of buses, trains, trams and tube trains, with children being able to enter most of the exhibits. A hands-on museum, children stay entertained through interactive screens, posters, maps, illuminated boards, signs and working models. Even better, children and young people under 18 go free! Alternatively, why not head off to the Royal Air Force Museum. Yes, it is a little further out of the way (nearest tube is Colindale), but the museum proves to be a popular attraction for anyone with an interest in aircraft or the forces. In fact, the museum is situated on the historic site of Hendon’s London Aerodrome. It tells the story of the Royal Air Force, through its people and collections; which include early aircraft through to the modern day jets.
For The Budding ZoologistAnimal lovers ought not to be disappointed with range of opportunities London has to get up, close and personal to some wonderful wildlife. Regents Park is of course home to ZSL London Zoo, and has loads of great activities going on over the summer months for families. Not one for the ‘scaredy cats’, the zoo is aiming to challenge some misconceptions around the world’s most misunderstood critter, the spider, in its new walk-through exhibit. Fear not…there will be no poisonous spiders housed in the walk-through…that would be silly! The Zoo will also be running their ‘Sunset Safari’, where visitors to the zoo will see the animals in a different setting, and learn about new behaviours as the sun goes down.
Hyde Park Stables offer both private and group riding and arena lessons all year round in the stunning setting of Hyde Park. Choosing ponies and horses according to their personalities and temperament, the school caters for all ages and rider abilities. With five miles of bridleways and two outdoor riding arenas, the stables offer simple riding lessons, and more formal sessions for jumping and dressage.
If you fancy more of a rustic experience, why not head down to Hackney City Farm. Nestled on the busy throughway between Colombia Road and Broadway Market, the farm attracts a varied crowd, from weekend market-goers to families. The farm is home to a range of animals, from pigs, donkeys and goats to sheep, chickens and guinea pigs. A hub for community projects, the farm also offers courses on bee-keeping, organises collection schemes for local charities and in-need local people.
For The Avid Historian
Of course, London probably has some of the world’s most amazing and prestigious museums, including the renowned British Museum. However, there are some really interesting museums which can be found off the beaten track which may prove interesting for a young historian in the making.Smaller than its counterpart, the V&A, the V&A Museum of Childhood is located in Bethnal Green and houses a vast collection of childhood objects, dating from the 1600s to the present day. With toys, dolls and games, the museum exhibits a wealth of objects which showcase the evolution of childcare, play and learning throughout the ages, alongside clothing worn by children. An interesting place to show children how lucky they are to have the iPad’s they have today, by immersing them in childhoods of the past!
The Horniman, located in Forest Hill, is an anthropological museum set in beautiful landscaped gardens. Despite not warming to technological innovations in museum presentation, the Horniman continues to attract visitors in their droves; who appreciate the traditional display cases which showcase the museums extensive collections. The Horniman provides extensive facilities for families, including nature trails, workshops and hands-on experiences where children can touch museum objects.
For The Sports EnthusiastNow, sports aren’t up everyone’s street but if your little one is a football fan, there is a number of amazing stadium tours you can go on in London. Whether you support Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs or just fancy checking out Wembley, many of London’s greatest stadiums offer tours of the pitch, the changing rooms and dugouts, and generally go behind the scenes of the beautiful game.
Equally, if tennis or even cricket are high on the sporting agenda in your family, you can check out the tours at Wimbledon, The Oval and Marylebone Cricket Club.