One of the joys of having children and bonding as a family is taking them out and showing them culture that you may also have enjoyed when you were little. But is it possible to see the sites of London and keep the kids entertained? Our Blue Badge Guide, Josephine Sinclair takes us on some of her favourite London child friendly tours.
I don’t think it’s ever too early to start going into London and seeing the famous sites, even if it means taking the pushchair on a train to get there. There certainly is a difference to having a professional Blue Badge Tourist Guide with you when you’re off on a family adventure because they can take you straight to the bits that the kids will enjoy. This will save time and stop the kids getting bored and tired.
1. National Gallery
The proud backdrop to Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square, there are amazing canvasses here that children of all ages will enjoy gazing at. I’m particularly drawn to large scale works like Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, and even Rembrandt’s self portraits.
2. Science Museum
My 7 year old daughter is learning about space in year 2 (Primary, Key Stage 1). They can text astronauts questions in the International Space Station. In this South Kensington museum you can see Tim Peake’s Soyuz Capsule in the Wellcome Wing, which brought him back to Earth from the ISS in 2016. In Exploring Space there is the (replica) Eagle that landed on the Moon in 1969. So a visit here brings you into contact with physical objects that make space travel real. Additionally upstairs are the brilliant hands on areas Who Am I? and Energy.
3. Tower of London
Yes it’s enormous, yes it’s ancient with a wealth to enjoy here. Gruesome torture equipment, stories of disappearance, ghosts and animals, magnificent amour. Did I mention the Crown Jewels too? Read about why the Tower of London is so perfect for families.
You may not consider this to be a place where having a professional Blue Badge guide would help, because the obvious draw are the dinosaurs. But that’s the whole point, because there is much more to this museum than the blue whale and the dinosaurs, and a guide will show you. We can help you beat the crowds and you’ll come away from South Kensington with memories to cherish.
5. Harry Potter tour
This is the clincher for book and film fans of the legendary wizard with a professional guide. Take our Harry Potter themed tour and we will help you find the shop front that became the doorway to the Leaky Cauldron in The Philosophers’ Stone; the government building that turned into the Ministry of Magic in the Order of the Phoenix and the station where Ron and Harry fly off to Hogwarts.
6. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The park encompasses 560 acres of diverse habitats in Stratford, East London. There’s almost no end of excitement for children here. Younger children will love Tumbling Bay playground, where you can play with sand and let water flow through the channel you choose.
There are trick water fountains in the south of the QEOP, so take spare clothes.. And if you are very brave (and age 8, 1.3m tall) you could try the Slide down The Arcelor Mittal Orbit. It’s designed by Carsten Höller, twists 12 times and you could reach speeds of 15mph.
For sports there’s swimming, tennis, hockey, bmx cycling and basketball. There’s something here to suit most budgets and you can tie your visit in with a guided walking tour with a professional Blue Badge Tourist Guide on Saturday and Wednesday mornings 11am from Eat at Westfield Stratford City. Read more about the Olympic Park tour.