Outnumbered? Family friendly London attractions

Whether you have only one child or feel like you’re in an episode of the popular BBC sitcom “Outnumbered”, when looking for a short break you’ll find London is a surprisingly child friendly city and need not be expensive.

A number of London attractions offer free entry for under 16’s plus you can take advantage of special offers like combination tickets, or may even consider purchasing a London Pass, which provides free entry to over 55 top London attractions; discounts in some cinemas, restaurants and shops and comes with a 128 page guide book to help you organise your visit. You may also find fast-track admission tickets very useful by avoiding long queuing with impatient little ones.

Here are some “kids go free” venues to help you save money towards the inevitable demands for ice creams and sweeties!

HMS Belfast

With nine decks to explore, from the captain’s bridge to the sailors’ mess, the operations room to the engine room, this amazing warship has been preserved for the nation as a unique reminder of Britain’s naval history. Launched in 1938, HMS Belfast is the only surviving vessel of it’s type which has seen active service in WWII and the Korean War, and is now home to a new family orientated interactive exhibition. An episode of “Outnumbered” was filmed on HMS Belfast, in which the childrens’ father decided to re-enact WWII during their visit. Please don’t. Some of the volunteer veteran crew guides have been through enough already!

HMS Belfast

Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms

Older children studying WWII at school will learn a lot from visiting the secret underground maze of  Cabinet War Rooms where the British wartime PM and government officials plotted and planned Hitler’s downfall. Left almost exactly as they were when the war ended, you can see the Map Room and Churchill’s “bedsit” from which his rousing wartime speeches were broadcast. In 2005 a museum dedicated to the life of Sir Winston was added, containing multimedia displays, film interview archives and personal objects. The kids may be surprised to learn that Churchill actually invented the “Onesie” – he had large red velvet zip-up boiler suit made so he could be nice and comfy whilst discussing battle strategies!

Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms

Kew Gardens

If the sun is out,  put on your sensible shoes and take the kids to Kew Gardens! With 300 acres to explore you could easily spend a whole day there, so why not take your own  picnic or buy kid’s lunch  packs from one of the restaurants? There is also a 48 page “ Kid’s Kew” guidebook aimed at 7-11 year olds available, which comes with maps, stickers, facts, activities and bad jokes – a great souvenir to take home. This year Kew Gardens is offering a boating, barbeque and botany experience on the Palm House pond, part of the IncrEdibles Tasty Trail. You can hire a rowing boat and venture into a secret banana grotto under Pineapple Island and take part in family creative workshops. There is an 18 metre high Tree Top Walkway which takes you first underground then upwards to view the crowns of the trees. Great views, without actually having to climb them (which is not allowed!) There are indoor and outdoor play zones next to the White Peaks restaurant so the adults can relax whilst the children play. Once you’re refreshed, why not take a look at the “bijou” Kew Place – a favourite retreat of “mad” King George III. Was he so mad? Well, he did have 15 children…….

Kew Gardens water lily house

More freebies for kids

Museums and Galleries that give free entry for children include the National History Museum, the Science Museum, the National Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood ( A great  nostalgia trip for Mum and Dad!). All offer explorer activity packs and interactive displays. Perfect for rainy days!

So……London really is a great place not just for Theatre and shopping but also for History, Architecture and plenty of affordable opportunities for the youngsters to enjoy – and learn!

Kate Quigley

Kate Quigley Travel Writer

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