V&A Museum of Childhood
While taking the kids to a museum of toys they can’t touch may seem like a disaster, the V&A Museum made an extra effort to include interactive exhibits that will keep little hands busy. Adults can enjoy nostalgic exhibits of dolls’ houses and rag dolls dating back to the 1600s while kids can try rocking horses and activity stations with Legos and sandpits. The museum also has free daily activities like treasure hunts.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL +44 20 8983 5200
Natural History Museum
What kid can resist the appeal of dinosaurs? While not specifically a children’s discovery museum, the Natural History Museum in London has one of the world’s most famous dinosaur exhibits. The museum features the first T. Rex fossil ever discovered plus a specimen of the Baryonyx, one of Europe’s largest meat-eaters ever found. The museum has exhibits split into four zones. The Blue Zone has a life-size model of a blue whale that leaves kids in awe while the Red Zone, dedicated to geology, takes the whole family on a journey to the center of the earth.
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD +44 20 7942 5000
Sometimes kids just need space to run and play. The Horniman is one of the most popular London museums for kids with nearly 16 acres of gardens to explore, plus daily free activities for kids. Founded in 1901, the Horniman Museum has dozens of family-friendly exhibits like a Nature Base with live animals, a hands-on exhibit that lets kids touch museum pieces, and an aquarium with fifteen exhibits of environments from around the world. The Horniman Museum was awarded the Kids in Museums’ Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award in 2013 and it was voted by families as one of the city’s most kid-friendly museums.
100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ +44 20 8699 1872
The Science Museum of London proves that science doesn’t need to be dull. This science museum for kids is one of the most-visited museums in London with over 3 million visitors each year. London’s Science Museum has exhibits for every age group, including galleries for kids under five, the Pattern Pod for kids up to eight, and the Launchpad, which has more than 50 hands-on experiments for older kids.
Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2DD +44 870 870 4868
The National Maritime Museum is the largest maritime museum in the world with 10 free galleries to explore and a collection of artwork, maps, and memorabilia. The National Maritime Museum is one of the best London museums for kids interested in pirates, shipwrecks, and adventure. The museum has an interactive Children’s Gallery for kids to learn about maritime technology while loading cargo, arming a cannon, and sending semaphore signals. Kids can easily spend hours playing and working together in the interactive boatyard where exploration and adventure come to life. Older kids can appreciate the Ship Simulator Gallery to try piloting a ship and steering it into port.
Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF +44 20 8858 4422
The Royal Air Force Museum has free admission to more than 100 displays of aircrafts with interactive exhibits and fun activities for kids. See the world’s only life-sized model of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet then visit the Bomb Bay TV under the huge Vulcan Bomber. Kids can enjoy the 4D Theatre in the Historic Hangar with dynamic seating and special effects to experience time travel or an adventure as the pilot of a B-17 Bomber on a mission. 4D Theatre tickets do cost extra. Free interactive exhibits for kids include learning how an aircraft flies and learning how to pilot an aircraft at the Aeronauts Interactive Centre.
Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL +44 20 8205 2266
The Golden Hind was the famous English galleon on which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe. Kids can experience life as a 16th-century sailor aboard the Golden Hinde II in London. This full-size reconstruction offers interactive tours with actors in period costumes. Kids can explore the deck, raise the anchor, fire the guns, and watch a staged sword fight. Older kids may enjoy the Golden Tour, which includes a visit from a 16th century Barber Surgeon who demonstrated how illnesses and injuries were treated at the time with a prop box of frightening medical tools.
1, Pickfords Wharf, Clink St, London SE1 9DG +44 20 7403 0123
The Grant Museum of Zoology is London’s last zoological museum with some of the world’s rarest specimens. The museum has one of just seven remaining skeletons of the South African zebra, extinct since 1883, plus preserved bones of the Dodo bird, which has been extinct since 1681. Older kids can enjoy gawking at thousands of strange preserved specimens including a huge jar crammed with eighteen whole moles. The purpose behind the jar of moles isn’t known, but they may have been prepared for an anatomy class at one point.
The Burgh House is a popular museum for families with young children. This historic property has period costumes visitors can try on, a reading corner, and a museum trail to explore. The house also hosts a Mini Mozart class for babies and toddlers as well as weekly art workshops for older kids. Admission to the Burgh House is free.
Burgh House New End Square, London NW3 1LT +44 20 7431 0144
While not specifically a children’s museum, kids can enjoy pretending to go back in time at the Geffrye Museum. Founded in 1914, this museum explores the home setting from 1600 to present day through a series of period rooms. Take a walk back through time and see how domestic life has changed. The rooms are presented chronologically with an introduction. Each room features the type of furniture and furnishings popular in an English home at the time. Admission to the museum is free. The attached cafe is located in an open space overlooking the period gardens with a variety of hot meals, sandwiches, salads, and pastries.
136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA +44 20 7739 9893