London is a great city to visit with small children. There are so many amazing things to see and do that will be interesting to adults and children alike. Here are my top pick’s based on a recent trip to London with one of my favorite six-year olds.
1. The Tower of London
Home to the Crown Jewels, centuries of gory executions and even a zoo, The Tower has something for everyone. The Beefeaters (the Tower’s historic keepers and guards) give free 30-minute guided tours on the hour. There is also an audio guide and child-friendly guidebook available with your child’s ticket.
2. Covent Garden
Lots of shops and stalls to explore, easy access to a variety of food and drinks and an ever changing array of street performers, Covent Garden is a family friendly destination in central London that offers a nice break from castles and museums. It’s also been a hot spot for pickpockets for centuries, so watch yourself if you stop to watch a performer. Bring small change and let the children join in the fun of supporting the street performers by giving them a handful of coins to distribute to their favorites.
3. Visit the Transportation Museum
Located in Covent Garden, this museum takes you through several centuries worth of carriages, cars, trains and taxis while offering lessons along the way in engineering and public planning. Children are admitted for free, though adults pay for a pricey ticket good for a year of admission if you sign the ticket upon purchase. In between climbing in and out of historic train cars and taxi cabs, the museum also offers kids a fun challenge to collect 13 stamps located at stations throughout the museum.
4. Hampton Court Palace
A short train ride from central London, Hampton Court is famous for being Henry VIII’s palace. There are historic kitchens and a great hall to explore, a fantastic maze to find your way through, and a number of apps designed to guide children through the palace and engage them in its history. Plus, there are costumes they can wear while they go on tour and free audio guides. This palace also offers photo ops galore for the whole family.
5. Pick a Park. Find Peter.
Hyde Park, St. Jame’s Park, Regents Park and Kensington Gardens are all easily accessible in the center of London. You can catch Penguin feedings or changing of the guards marching by. You can grab a simple lunch and picnic in the park for a budget-friendly meal. It’s also a lot of green open space where kids can run off excess energy. Children’s literature fans should also check out the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, whose landscapes inspired the tale. Pan’s author, J.M. Barrie, had it commissioned and erected it without permission or fanfare in the middle of the night. He wanted children to believe faeries had left it behind.
6. Ride the London Eye
Overpriced and overcrowded, yes. But the London Eye offers a fabulous view of the city, especially on a clear day. You can pair the ticket with other attractions to get more bang for your buck. If you are traveling in a group that can split up, consider trying to split your group into two pods. If you do, you can take a pretty amazing photo of each other in the pods themselves. (Sadly, I only realized this after we were half-way around!). The London Eye also offers their own photos (for purchase) from specific locations within the pod, but it wasn’t very clear on when you needed to stand by for your picture so don’t count on their snaps.
7. Hamley’s Toy Store & Carnaby Street
Everyone will tell you to go to Harrod’s. It’s a giant nightmare of a store. (The better choice is Fortnum and Mason, if that’s your thing.) But with children, the place to go is Hamley’s. This toy store is a child’s dream come to life. It’s not just the half-dozen floors filled with toys, it’s that on every level, there are staffers demonstrating (and selling) unique and interesting toys. For Harry Potter fans, there is an entire floor devoted to the boy wizard. Nearby Carnaby Street is a nice place for a stroll or grab a bite to eat and will provide some adult shopping after you are overloaded on children’s toys.