London is the most visited city in the world, and there is a good reason for it. It seems that there are endless things to see and do, and this is even true when it comes to finding fun attractions for children.
The following ten London adventures are top-notch for families. Many are free and most offer money-saving packages for larger groups.
London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo
London Zoo first opened in April 1828 and is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. Located in the northeast corner of London’s Regent’s Park, the zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. If you are interested in getting out of the city for a little while, take the short ride north to Whipsnade Zoo, a 600-acre conservation park that is home to over 2,500 animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. Both zoos are linked to train and bus lines. Log on to the official website (www.zsl.org) to find out more.
Home to several royal notables, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton), Kensington Palace is the perfect place to take children who have fairy tale dreams. Six kids are allowed in for free for every one paying adult. Take tea in the afternoon at the Orangery Restaurant, where they serve special treats for children. Also, since the palace is located on the west side of Hyde Park, you could spend part of your day lounging or playing outside in the park, which is also home to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground.
This replica of the famous Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, is located on Bankside (not the original theatre site), next to the Tate Modern and over the river from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Tours run every day, except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the theatre runs shows from mid-April to mid-October. The best time to take children (and avoid crowds) is in the early morning hours. The earliest tour starts at 9:30 AM. Tour prices are £8.00 for children ages five and older and free for children under five. There is also a family ticket package, where two adults and three children may enter for £36.00.
V&A Museum of Childhood
Located in Bethnal Green in East London, this museum is a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum (the UK’s national museum of applied arts). Founded in 1872, the Museum of Childhood houses the largest collection of childhood objects in the United Kingdom, including toys, costumes, games and art. Admission is free for everyone and bus and train routes can take you directly to the museum site from the city.
The Royal Observatory and Planetarium
The observatory and planetarium are currently closed for the London 2012 Olympic Games, but they will re-open on August 4. This is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World. View the wonders of the universe through the UK’s largest refracting telescope at the only planetarium in London. Entrance to the Astronomy Centre is free. The fee for entrance into the Flamsteed House and Meridian Courtyard is £7.00 for adults, £2.00 for children ages six to 15 and free for children under six years of age. You can also purchase a family ticket for £15.00 (admission for two adults and two children).
Madame Tussauds, London
What began over 200 years ago in Paris has now become one of the most famous attractions all over the world. Madame Tussaud was an artist who created wax figures and tutored King Louis XVI’s sister at the Palace of Versailles. In the early 19th century, she came to Britain with a traveling exhibition of French revolutionary relics and effigies. Tussauds’ wax model exhibition of public heroes became a kind of traveling news story that brought to life global events. In 1835, Madame Tussauds’ exhibition became a permanent fixture in London as the Baker Street Bazaar. It is now located at Marylebone Road where thousands of visitors go every year to get up close and personal with their favorite celebrities and public figures. If you purchase tickets in advance online for visits after 5 PM, you can receive 50% off the regular ticket price (adults and children will enter for £15.00 per ticket).
Warner Bros. Harry Potter London Tour
Tickets must be booked well in advance online, but if your children (or you) are Harry Potter fans, this is a must-do. The tour is at the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, which is 20 miles from London. For approximately three hours you will take a self-guided tour through the actual movie sets used to create the beloved children’s movies. Tickets for adults (ages 16 years and older) are £28.00, £21.00 for children ages five to 15 years and free for children four and under. There are also family ticket packages available. Visit the tour’s official homepage to learn more.
Have any football fans in your home? If so, you can’t pass up the opportunity to attend an official English national football match. Wembley Stadium is the second largest football stadium in Europe and hosts a number of events throughout the year, including concerts. Ticket prices vary, depending on the event. Visit the official homepage for more information.
Tate is home to the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present, as well as international modern and contemporary art. Both the Tate Britain and Tate Modern buildings are kid-friendly and free to everyone. Although the museums aren’t located right next to one another, you can take the bus or train and easily visit both in the same day.
Established in 1760, Hamleys is the largest and greatest toy store in the world. It is one of the city’s greatest tourist spots, attracting around five million people per year. The store, located on Regent Street, has five floors, plus a basement. Each floor is dedicated to a particular type of toy, from construction sets to soft toys to games to girls and boys to hobby-related; your children could literally spend hours in this magical place. Admission is free, but you might not make it out without buying a few things for the kids.
This is a guest post by freelance writer and blogger Nadia Jones. Nadia enjoys sharing her knowledge on topics of education and higher learning. She offers online college advice and guidance to readers throughout the blogosphere. Reach her at email@example.com.