21 ways to keep the kids occupied in London

Looking to keep the kids entertained in London during the weekends and school holidays? Good news, there's plenty of things going on to make the kids (and you) happy, all around the city. We've scoured South Bank, London's museums, Greenwich, London's parks and the West End to find places to go. Here's our pick of the best places to take the kids in the city.

South Bank 

1. The London Eye

One of the most iconic sights on the city skyline, the lastminute.com London Eye offers a 30 minute panoramic tour of the city, with views stretching for up to 40km on a clear day.

2. County Hall

The County Hall building is at the foot of the lastminute.com London Eye. It's home to three of London's most popular family attractions. 

  • Shrek's Adventure is a tour through the world of the hit animated films, including a high-tech 4D magical flying bus ride. And the attraction also includes visits from some of DreamWorks' other favourites, including Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.
  • The Sea-Life London Aquarium is home to a dazzling amount of underwater life, and you can even come face-to-face with some of the deep's most fearsome creatures (although thankfully you'll be separated by protective glass) in their Shark Walk.
  • If you've got older kids, head to the London Dungeon. You'll get a warts and all tour through the dark side of London's history, and plenty of other spooky, grisly surprises.

3. Southbank Centre

One of London's leading arts venues, the Southbank Centre often has plenty of kid-friendly activities going on to complement its regular events programmes. And it's one of the city's most enchanting places to be over the festive period, with its annual Wintertime festival. Running from mid-November to early January, the festival includes a wintertime market, offering plenty of warming, tempting treats. Among the events highlights in this year's festival are the return of the charming circus-inspired Slava's Snowshow, and the interactive ABBA: Super Troupers exhibition.

4. The View from the Shard

Walk along the South Bank to London Bridge, and you'll find one of the most iconic addresses in London, The Shard. The ultra-modern skyscraper's 72nd floor is home to The View from the Shard, where you can take in the city's landmarks from 800ft up.

Museums

5. The British Museum

Now here's a museum that kids will love. The British Museum has several gallery activity sheets to keep children engaged during their visit. A great place to get little ones interested in history. 

6. V&A Museum of Childhood

If you choose to take you kids anywhere, take them here. Whether you have toddlers or teenagers, there is something for everyone at this museum. It's filled with toys and games throughout history and from around the world. Get ready for the nostalgia to hit! 

7. V&A Museum

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) is the largest museum of decorative arts in the world, with an impressive permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. Check out the family programme to see what's on - there are usually additional events during the school holidays to get kids inspired about art and play.

8. Natural History Museum

Right next to the V&A is the Natural History Museum, an absolute must for any children interested in animals and dinosaurs. Be sure to see what's on before your visit. 

9. The Science Museum

Also in this neck of the woods is the Science Museum, which  is crammed with facts and interactive displays especially designed for little ones. Great for curious kids and budding scientists.

10. Horniman Museum and Gardens

Found in leafy Forest Hill in South London, this is a great alternative if you don't fancy facing the crowds at the Natural History Museum. It offers a great introduction to natural history and anthropology. 

Greenwich

11. The O2

North Greenwich's The O2 has plenty of options to keep the kids occupied, all under one roof. In addition to shows taking place in the arena, the centre has several permanent attractions that are perfect for thrill-seekers, including the Up at The O2 roof-climbing adventure.

12. Greenwich Park and Royal Museums

Greenwich Park has five museums on site. Wander around one of the world's most famous ships at the Cutty Sark, and discover the history of  the Royal Navy at the National Maritime Museum. The Royal Observatory and Peter Harrison Planetarium is great for star seekers, and exquisite art and architecture is on show at the Queen's House. Each museum has special family-friendly holiday activities, including craft sessions and treasure hunts. And you can get a truly amazing view of the city for free from the top of Greenwich hill.

13. Thames Cruises

Travel to Greenwich in style with City Cruises. Boats depart every 30 minutes, and include three stops - Tower Pier, Westminster Pier and Greenwich Pier. You'll pass by some of London's most famous sights, get three days of unlimited hopping on and off, and a special family deal.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

14. London Stadium tour

Built for the 2012 Olympic Games, the London Stadium is now home to West Ham football team and national athletics competitions. It's worth taking a tour to explore the grounds and soak up the Olympic Spirit. Not a West Ham fan? You can tour other stadiums and sporting grounds around the city, including Fulham, Chelsea, and Arsenal's grounds, Wembley and The Kia Oval.

15. The ArcelorMittal Orbit

The ArcelorMittal Orbit was designed by the Turner Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor to mark the Olympics. Standing at more than 100 metres tall, it also offers great views across London from its viewing platform. In 2016 a slide was built around the outside. Almost 200 metres in length, it's the world's longest tunnel slide, and bigger, braver kids (and adults), will definitely want to give it a go.

Regent's Park

16. ZSL London Zoo

The ZSL London Zoo is the world's oldest, at almost two hundred years old. It's home to animals from all over the world, and its conservation projects are also helping animals thrive in the wild too. The zoo hosts special events throughout the year, as well as a selection of exciting permanent exhibits. 

17. Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is just a short walk from Regent's Park. It's been an institution for more than a century, and still features amazingly convincing waxworks of both historical and current celebrities. Alongside this there are more high-tech attractions, including a 4D cinema.

West London

18. KidZania London

KidZania is a mini city in Shepherd's Bush's Westfield London shopping centre, run entirely by children. Well, not quite... but kids do get to experience the 60 real-life role playing experiences, from being a firefighter to a pilot (just without the boring bits). If your child's over 8 you can leave them in the capable hands of the KidZania staff, while you head off for a bit of shopping. 

19. WWT London Wetland Centre

Just a ten minute bus ride from the busy streets of Hammersmith, you can find yourself surrounded by nature at the WWT London Wetland Centre. The 30 hectare site is home to a wide selection of animals and birds, including species which you won't find anywhere else in the country. Its star attraction, however, are its resident otters. You can catch otter feeding time at 11am and 2pm every day.

The West End

20. Kid-friendly theatre shows

London's fantastic theatres have plenty of choice for family and kid-friendly shows to see. For a first trip to the theatre, consider the hit musicals The Lion King and Aladdin. Or crowd-pleasers like School of Rock and Matilda.

21. ...and for Harry Potter fans

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is still the West End's hottest ticket, with seats very hard to come by. However, whether or not you're lucky enough to get tickets, you can still experience a bit of Harry Potter magic by taking a walking tour of the book and film locations in the West End. And, of course, there's the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour just to the north of the city. 

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