London is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world and is a hotspot for visitors throughout the year. Perhaps you and your family are regular visitors to the capital city? You’ve tried out every experience in the Science Museum, the kids cry “not again!” when you suggest a ride on the London Eye, and you’d rather not experience a toilet queue quite that long again.
Or perhaps you and the kids are visiting for the first time but prefer to find experiences a little off the beaten track. If this sounds like your family, read on to find out some recommendations for some of the more unusual things to do in London that will keep the little and not so little kids entertained!
What to do with the kids in London?
1. Gods Own Junkyard
For a bright, neon, multisensory delight hop on the underground to God’s Own Junkyard. Crammed into an unassuming warehouse in Walthamstow are thousands of bright, beautiful, and bonkers neon signs. Little faces will be dazzled by light up palm trees, giant rock and roll skulls, and the hidden nooks and crannies of this eccentric collection.
The Rolling Scones café on-site will keep you stocked in hot chocolates and cake and, if the sun is shining, big kids can grab a pint at the Wild Card Brewery just across the yard.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea
This one’s a bit pricier than most on this list, but if you’re in the city to celebrate a special occasion and you’ve got a Roald Dahl superfan in your household, then the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea is the one for you and your family.
In the heart of the Westend, One Aldwych hotel will take you on a journey of pure imagination with a magical feast of scrumdiddlyumptious treats. From whipple scrumptious cake pops to luscious lemon candy floss and scones with snozzberry jam you’ll be full up for hours.
3. House of Minalima
Perhaps instead of snozzcumbers and whizzbangers, your kids are more into their alohomora and wingardium leviosa? Of course, you can head out of town to the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour, but for a wizarding experience that’s a little more quirky, set those broomsticks on course for Greek Street in Soho to the front doors of House of Minalima.
Created by two of the graphic designers from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, this experiential gallery cum store features original illustrations, magical installations and wizarding world collectables to spend that saved up pocket money on.
4. Unicorn Theatre
There’s no denying that going to see a West End Musical is one of the ultimate London experiences, but if you’re looking for something a little different, or something created just for younger viewers, then take a look at what the Unicorn Theatre has got to offer.
With creative shows for children from as young as six months old produced in-house throughout the year, there is sure to be something to intrigue even the littlest ones. If you’ve got a show booked you can make a day of it by taking advantage of the family living room with toys, books, games and a comfy sofa for the adults.
5. Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds
For the slightly older kids, a dip in the swimming ponds at Hampstead Heath is a must. These are only open to kids aged 8 and up, they must be accompanied by an adult, and pass a quick swimming test for the lifeguards.
With those bits sorted they can jump in from the wooden pontoon, duck and dive with the resident birds and lie back to do some cloud spotting on the water’s surface. We highly recommend a sunny summer afternoon and a walk up the hill for a fantastic view of the cities skyline with a big picnic packed for afterwards.
6. Yaki Yaki
If you think a Mr Whippy 99’ flake is the epitome of childhood ice cream treats then think again. There is a new kid on the block, and it comes in the shape of a fish. Asian ice cream phenomenon taiyaki has hit the streets of London, and it is a culinary and visionary delight.
“What on earth is taiyaki?” you may ask. Well, the answer is a freshly baked fish-shaped waffle cone, that is filled with delicious soft-serve ice cream and topped with a tiny waffle fish of course! Yaki Yaki is the ultimate destination to try it with kids delighting in its novelty and teens grabbing that all-important Insta shot outside the beautiful shopfront.
7. Horniman Museum
You’ve marvelled at the skeletons in the Natural History Museum, and you’ve walked the halls of the V&A, but you haven’t quite got your cultural fix as a family just yet. Grab the overground line from London Bridge to Forest Hill and explore the slightly smaller, but just as exciting, Horniman Museum.
Head inside with the kids for them to discover a giant taxidermy walrus, give them a chance to try out some historical instruments or get involved with the many hands-on experiences that are offered on weekends and school holidays. An abundance of green space, an interactive nature trail, and an outdoor animal enclosure (featuring alpacas and bunnies!) mean there’s plenty of room to run off a little of that extra energy too.
8. Dulwich Park
While you’re in the neighbourhood, we recommend a stop off at Dulwich park. Head through the main gates to explore its varied footpaths, play a game of rounders in its wide-open spaces or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, hire a rowboat or tandem bicycle to explore from a different perspective.
Located at the heart of the park is a delicious café selling stonebaked pizzas and ice cream which is sure to keep small bellies full. For the slightly older bellies, we recommend a stop off at Gail's Bakery on the way for an absolutely mouth-wateringly good of artisan baked treats.
London is brimming with endless exciting adventures for the whole family. With all that adventuring, food tasting, show watching, outdoor swimming and wizarding discovering you’re going to need somewhere to recharge. Based in the heart of the action in Zone 1, Dolphin House serviced apartments offer an excellent base to explore some of the more unusual sights and sounds of London.