• Tracy Tristram

Life on the quirky side: 10 unusual things to do in London with kids

unusual things to do in London with kids

Entertaining kids is a full time job, and because it's easy to exhaust the tried-and-tested measures, so we've been thinking outside the box a little when it comes to your next day out in London with the family in tow. From a prison museum to brunch in a toilet, an underground adventure to a day out with dinosaurs, we've got 10 unusual things to do in London with kids for you to cross off on your next expedition to town!

1. Clink Prison Museum

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: Clink Prison Museum

The Clink Prison dates back to 1144 (yep, it's older than us, kids) making it one of England’s oldest and most notorious prisons. Find it nestled in the heart of Southwark, built on the original site and then get ready to experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of a once-fascinating-but-gruesome spot in a one-of-a-kind adventure that the whole fam will love. Pre-booking is essential to save any tantrums!

Clink Prison Museum, 1 Clink Street, London SE1 9DG

2. The Puppet Theatre Barge

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: The Puppet Theatre Barge

For over 30 magical years The Puppet Theatre Barge has been sailing into hearts of the young and young at heart with its unique puppet shows on a converted Thames barge. Walk the gangplank to kickstart your theatrical adventure, and sit back and relax when the curtain rises and the fun begins. Check its website for deets of upcoming and current shows.

The Puppet Theatre Barge, currently at its Little Venice location, Blomfield Road (opposite 35), London W9 2PF until 1 November 2020.

3. Grant Museum of Zoology

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: Grant Museum of Zoology

Pickled brains, bones aplenty and over 68,000 zoological specimens? If that's not an unusual day out in London with kids then we don't know what is! Head over to The Grant Museum of Zoology - home to one of the oldest natural history collections in the UK - for a fascinating journey around the animal kingdom through a heap of family activities: all for free! Opening hours are limited to Saturdays at the moment, and you'll need to pre-book your spots.

Grant Museum of Zoology, Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street, WC1E 6DE

4. The Monument

Unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: The Monument via Facebook

Now here's a sure fire way to tucker the kiddos out: climb the 311 steps to the top of The Monument! Designed by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London and built in 1677, this tourist spot has been welcoming (and exhausting) visitors for over 300 years. It's well worth the climb for the spectacular views over London when you (finally) reach the top, and don't forget to pick up your certificate of recognition on your athletic achievements issued to each visitor before you leave (on hands and knees practically in our case!). Treat yo'self to one of these hot chocolates when you get home: you earned it.

The Monument, Fish Street Hill, Bridge, London EC3R 8AH

5. Chislehurst Caves

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: Chislehurst Caves via Facebook

Originally dug for chalk for the bricks used to build London with, this maze of man-made tunnels is packed with history: for starters it was once the largest deep air-raid shelter outside central London, where it protected over 15000 people every night during the Blitz. It's also been used as a venue for concerts, a munitions storage facility, for growing mushrooms, as a film set for Doctor Who, and now as a tourist and education centre complete with gift shop and cafe. Disclaimer: this one might be a little overwhelming for tiny tots (and claustrophobic folk!) as it's pretty dark down there!

Chislehurst Caves, Caveside Close, Old Hill, Chislehurst, BR7 5NL

6. Crystal Palace Park

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: Crystal Palace Park via Facebook

There are dinosaurs galore in London it turns out, and you can go see them for yourselves over at Crystal Palace Park. Okay, so they're reallly old (they were the first dino sculptures in the world!) but we think they're pretty roarsome anyway. There's also a children's play area, a farm, a fishing lake and a maze. Probably best to save this one for a dry day (if we ever get one again).

Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, London SE19 2GA

7. London Guided Walks

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: London Guided Walks

With picks including everything from Pokemon Expeditions to Street Art, Harry Potter's London Walk to Paddington Bear Adventures, there's a London Guided Walk for everyone in the fam. Don't forget to wear comfy shoes: there's nothing worse than a great day out ruined by the wrong footwear!

London Guided Walks, locations all over London, check website for deets

8. WWT London Wetland Centre 

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: WWW London Wetland Centre

Despite how much it rains in Blighty, it might still come as a surprise that London has its own Wetlands! Discover a 105-acre oasis for wildlife, explore the scenic walkways and keep your eyes peeled for a huge variety of birds, water voles and amphibians over in South West London for a day out with a difference. You'll also find adventure playgrounds, zip wires, interactive games and climbing walls to keep your own small critters busy with.

WWT London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT

9. Hampstead Observatory

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: Hampstead Observatory via Facebook

Head over to Hampstead on a clear evening and you'll discover a small but mighty observatory which is open to the public for night time star gazing. It's usually open from September through to April, but in light of the covid crazy, it hasn't reopened yet this season, so do keep an eye on its website for regular updates on experience that's literally out of this world.

Hampstead Observatory, Summit Lodge, 9 Lower Terrace, West Heath Rd, Hampstead, London NW3 6RF

10. The Attendant Restaurant

unusual things to do in London with kids
Photography: The Attendant Restaurant

Before all that unusual exploring you are going to need an unusual pit stop for a coffee, brunch and loo break, so why not combine all three in a quirky cafe located in an actual toilet? Yep, just 5 minutes walk from Oxford Street, this former Victorian toilet has been lovingly transformed into one of London’s most unusual brunch spots, and it's open until 3pm every day. Potty humour at the ready, folks.

The Attendant Restaurant, 27A Foley Street, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6DY

Like this story? Here's some more you might find useful:

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Where to find Santa in London this year

Family guide to the Tower of London

City Farms in and around London

Acing the London Underground with kids in tow

10 museums in London we can't get enough of

Eyes on the fries: our fave burger joints in London

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