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Our guide to London: Family Tours

Although London may at first glance seem hostile to children, particularly compared to Italy and France, there are many places to delight children and which need not necessarily cost an arm and a leg.

London Zoo

Situated by Regent’s Park, the world’s first scientific zoo opened in 1828 and opened to the public in 1847.  Today it is home to 750 species of animals.  Visit the children’s enclosure where they can handle the animals and the regular “Animals in Action” live shows. The penguin enclosure was built in the 1930s and designed by the Russian Berthold Lubetkin.

Changing of the Guard

Get to Buckingham Palace by 11.00 am at the latest for the railing-side view of the courtyard where the Guard changes. The Horseguards come from Knightsbridge Barracks, so you can see them riding to the ceremony from there, through Wellington Arch and along the Mall. It’s a grand sight.

Kew Bridge Steam Museum

Although open daily, best visited at the weekend when the miniature steam railway is in operation and the beam engines are in steam.

Covent Garden

Buskers and jugglers provide no-cost entertainment in a car-free setting.

Polka Theatre

A specially designed junior arts centre aimed at kids aged up to 12 with two theatres, a playground, cafe and toyshop.  Storytellers, puppeteers and mimes make regular appearances.

Madame Tussauds

Situated on Marylebone Road (nearest tube: Baker Street) Tussauds displays waxworks of historical figures, royalty, film and sports stars and famous murderers.

Coram’s Fields

Situated in Guildford Street, WC1, kids will love the opportunity of seeing ducks, sheep, pigs, rabbits, goats and chickens.  Adults admitted only if accompanied by a child.

Ragged School Museum

This reconstructed Victorian schoolroom in East London makes kids realise what an easy life they have now!

Horniman Museum

An ethnographic museum but with lots to interest kids including an aquarium, a natural history section and lovely grounds.

Tower of London

One of London’s most amazing buildings and site of some of the most gruesome events in the Nation’s History.  Famous as a place of imprisonment and death it also houses the crown jewels among which is the Koh-i-Noor one of the largest cut diamonds in the world.   Come and see the famous Beefeaters (officially called “Yeoman Warders of her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London”!) Guided tours take place every 30 mins.

Davenport’s Magic Shop

Located in Charing Cross, this is London’s oldest magic shop selling tricks for the professional and the young amateur.

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

An extension of the Victoria & Albert museum and best known for its collection of doll’s houses, it also has a vast collection of toys and games.  Spanning toys from 1600 to the present day children are encouraged to explore the themes of childhood through the ages.   Lots of holiday and weekend activities.

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace was built around 1605 and is set in the luscious Kensington Palace Gardens in Hyde Park. It was purchased by William III in 1689 and renovated by Sir Christoper Wren. It has a colourful history which includes being saved from demolition by Queen Victoria in the 1890’s and being graced by the presence of Princess Diana from 1981-1997.  While renovations to improve accessability are taking place, Kensington Palace is now the Enchanted Palace. Ticket prices vary so view the website before visiting. www.hrp.org.uk/kensingtonPalace

London Aquarium

Located on the South Bank, this is London’s largest aquarium and is very popular with children.

Funland

Located in the Trocadero in Piccadilly, Funland has a 10 pin Bowling Alley, Sports Bar and American Pool Hall.  It also has the latest simulator rides and over 250 of the latest hi tech video games, as well as indoor bumper cars.

Chessington World of Adventures

This theme park offers a host of rides and attractions, including Hocus Pocus, Vampire and loads more fun for the family.