Toys galore at V&A Museum of Childhood
There are exhibits to excite all ages, from 17th-century dolls’ houses to 1950s Scalextric racing cars. Little ones can frolic in the sandpit and ride rocking horses, while older kids make pictures from magnetic filings. Bring your own picnic and dine in the café.
Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9PA Museum of Childhood Website
Brass rubbings at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Create a medieval knight in bronze, or a multicoloured St George and the Dragon to take home. There are replica brasses of all sizes and levels, and different colours of metallic wax. Keep your ears open for free lunchtime concerts in the church hall.
Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ St Martin-in-the-Fields Website
Traditional toys at Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop
Hand-made Jack-in-the-boxes and string puppets fill this tiny specialist store, with traditional theatres made from card which make a handy souvenir to take home. It’s in the lively Covent Garden market, with street theatre, buskers and cafés.
44 The Market, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RF Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop Website
World’s a stage at Unicorn Theatre
This purpose-built theatre has a year-round programme of performances for a wide range of ages. Daytime storytelling, Shakespeare for teenagers and puppet shows with a twist mark this family-friendly London venue.
147 Tooley St, SE1 2HZ Unicorn Theatre Website
Go rowing on the Serpentine
The Serpentine lake at the vast Hyde Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with rowing boats and pedal boats for hire. In summer months you can enjoy a dip at the Serpentine Swimming Club, and there’s a paddling pool for little ones.
Hyde Park, W2 2UH Hyde Park Website
Get lost at Hampton Court Palace
Book a London hotel to explore the palace’s grounds, with labyrinthine green corridors made for getting lost. Bringing the experience to life is a gentle audio installation with sounds of furtive conversations, snatches of medieval music and giggling, just like in Henry VIII’s days.
Surrey, KT8 9AU Hampton Court Palace Website
Hip gear at Camden Market
Teenagers will love the alternative fashions at this canal-side market, with super-cool T-shirts, Goth gear and funky footwear. African masks and handmade jewellery stalls dot the indoor Stables market, with plenty of food stalls serving up cuisine from around the world.
Off Camden High St and Chalk Farm Rd, NW1
Front seat on the DLR
On the driverless overland train to Greenwich, even adults love the front seat to pretend to be the driver. The Docklands Light Railway speeds east to Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers and on to Greenwich, where the Meridian Line cuts through the vast park.
Greenwich Park, Charlton Way, SE10 8QY DLR Website
Dining alongside the Thames
Enjoy a break along the River Thames with views of the Houses of Parliament. There’s a wide choice of family-friendly London restaurants and cafés along the South Bank, between Waterloo Pier and Gabriel’s Wharf, from pizzas to fresh sandwiches to Italian deli food.
Telling tales at Discover
Unleash your kids’ imagination at Discover, where storytelling, dressing up and the Story Trail entertains the under-12s. With larger-than-life exhibitions and interactive adventures, weekends have drop-in family activities.
1 Bridge Terrace, E15 4BG Discover Website