For many vacationers looking to branch out of the United States and take their first family trip abroad, London is the first city that comes to mind. It’s easy to see why – it’s filled with iconic landmarks and historic locations, it’s known to be safe, and it’s filled with English-speakers, eliminating the anxiety that language barriers can bring. And for travelers with kids, it’s an easy place to get them excited about – unlike some international spots that may feel a bit less familiar.
London’s also an excellent choice for a trip with the whole family because there’s plenty for everyone to see and do – especially the kids. London is a city packed to the brim with family-friendly attractions that even the littlest members of your crew can appreciate, regardless of the season you choose to visit. If you’re looking to give your little adventurers the travel bug early on, a trip to London is a great way to do it. A few years ago I shared a few things to do with a pre-schooler, but now Madison is much older.
Not sure how to make it happen with older kids? Here are some of the very best things to see and do in London with kids:
MAKE A SPLASH WITH A BOAT TOUR
Once you’ve had a chance to experience the city from the sky-high views of the London Eye, experience London from a whole new angle on a boat tour. London is home to the well-known River Thames, and many of the city’s most famous landmarks line its banks, making a river cruise an easy way to see a lot of London in a little bit of time.
As far as boat tours are concerned, you have quite a few options. You’ll find lunch and dinner boats, slow and scenic riverboats, exhilarating speed boats, historic tours, and more. Talk it over with your crew and determine which experience sounds best – then book your tickets and have a blast!
TAKE A RIDE IN THE LONDON EYE
As long as your kiddos aren’t afraid of heights, the Coca Cola London Eye is a must-do for any visitor who hasn’t experienced it yet. This massive observation wheel will send you and your family soaring high above the London skyline, giving you a whole new perspective of the city – and some excellent photo ops.
Thankfully, you aren’t strapped into traditional seats you’d find on a Ferris wheel at a local theme park. Instead, you ride in roomy, air-conditioned pods that hold up to 25 people. You’re free to move throughout the pod so you can fully appreciate the 360-degree views of the city.
The only downside? Since this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the line to ride can get quite long. If you’re willing to splurge, buy a Fast Track Ticket, which will let you skip the queue.
TOUR THE TOWER OF LONDON
The Tower of London is a London landmark that offers a glimpse into the rich – if sometimes unpleasant – history of England. The Tower of London was an infamous prison and is home to many executions and other not-so-pleasant moments, so it may not be the best spot to take more sensitive kiddos, but those who won’t be frightened will enjoy the fun and education experience that awaits.
Take a guided tour to learn some interesting facts and hear stories of the tower’s darker days. Check out the Armoury in Action exhibit in the White Tower to learn all about swords, crossbows, and other medieval weaponry, and, of course, admire the Crown Jewels – artifacts that have been kept safe in this tower for centuries.
CATCH A KID-FRIENDLY THEATER SHOW
London is known to be one of the best places in the world to catch a theater show, but many parents hesitate to go when they’ve got kids in tow. However, there are tons of kid-friendly theater performances that the whole family might enjoy.
Kids and parents alike will appreciate their favorite kid classics like Aladdin, The Lion King, and even Shrek brought to life on stage. Love Harry Potter? Recommended for kids older than ten, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will transport the whole family into the well-loved Wizarding World for during a magical performance. And families with little kids can check out spots like the Unicorn Theater, which hosts shows geared toward even the littlest audience members.
GET A BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIEW OF THE HARRY POTTER FILMS WITH THE WARNER BROTHERS STUDIO TOUR
Situated just outside of London, Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to experience the magic behind the movies at the Warner Bros Studio. You can tour many of the sets used in the films and check out famous props and costumes up close, and you’ll also learn a thing or two about movie-making magic, including the technology used in the films to bring magical beings to life.
BURN OFF SOME ENERGY AT ONE OF THE CITY’S PARKS
London is home to lots of green spaces, parks, and playgrounds designed to give kids a chance to run, play, and have some fun. As long as the weather cooperates, you’ll definitely want to spend some time taking advantage of one of the city’s many kid-friendly public spaces.
While you can’t go wrong with many of the parks and playgrounds scattered around London, there are two that rise above the rest as prime locations for kids to have some fun. Battersea Park is one spot you can’t afford to miss if you’re visiting London with kids. You’ll find the Children’s Zoo here, which is home to a small assortment of kid-friendly animals like otters, monkeys, and sheep, as well as a kid-friendly Putt-Putt golf course. Older kids and adrenaline junkies will appreciate the high ropes course found here.
Another excellent option? Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Situated in Kensington Gardens, kids will appreciate the whimsical play structures inside this imaginative playground. You’ll find teepees, treehouses, and even a giant wooden pirate ship to explore, giving kids plenty of creative ways to play.
From free parks and playgrounds to theater shows and sky-high adventures, there are lots of great ways to keep kids engaged on a trip to London. Pack your itinerary with some of these kid-friendly attractions and activities, and the whole family will be guaranteed to have a great time.