London is an exciting city for people of all ages and has lots to offer young children. There are interactive sections of museums designed specifically for children, artistic activities, adventure playgrounds, treasure hunts, children's theatre and IMAX 3D cinemas running children's films. Even London public transport is exciting for young children, too, with the iconic red double-deck buses and river trips from which you can see the famous Tower Bridge open and close. A visit to London should also include a trip to the world-famous toy shop Hamley's.
Many museums hold little interest for children, but the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green has a massive collection of childhood objects such as toys, dolls, teddy bears and games. The Science Museum in South Kensington has designed sections to help children learn about science interactively with lots of experiments to participate in such as making giant bubbles. A 3D IMAX cinema within the museum is tailored to young visitors.
City Bus and River Trips
The London red double-deck bus is famous and young children will love to sit on the top, waving at pedestrians and other vehicles. Try the Original London Sightseeing Tour which has a tape commentary for children and a free activity pack. A one-time fee allows you to hop on and off during the day and includes a free river trip for a different perspective of London. If money is tight, buy a one-day travel card and use the normal red buses to get around the city.
If your child is old enough to walk well, try a treasure hunt. Visit www.huntfun.co.uk for details of the walks. Children get a map with directions and have to solve the clues as they walk around London.
The Pottery Cafe, with outlets in Fulham and Richmond, south London, will bring out your child's creative side. You choose a piece of pottery and then decorate it with sponges and paints. All the paints are child-safe and nontoxic. The only downside is that you have to go back and collect your masterpiece about a week later. If you are in London for a trip of 10 days or more this would be ideal. The Cafe will try to get the pottery ready well within a week but cannot guarantee this.
Let your children play pirates on Captain Hook's massive wooden pirate ship at the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens.
Battersea Park Zoo
Children can have an exciting animal experience in Battersea that combines a zoo, animal encounters, a play area and a cafe.
If your child is keen on acting and the theatre, a live production at the Polka Theatre could be just his cup of tea. Polka Theatre offers lively productions for young audiences of up to 13 years of age. For information on current productions visit www.polkatheatre.com.
Take the children to Hamley's, the famous toy shop in Regent Street with its vast selection of toys and games. It may, however, be difficult to leave without buying something. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace which takes place at 11:30 a.m. daily from April to July and every other day during the remaining months. Have a picnic in one of London's parks like Hyde Park.