Life on the quirky side: 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, 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!
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, and we've got a whole guide on the fun for you to check out before you head on over.
Clink Prison Museum, 1 Clink Street, London SE1 9DG
Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
London’s oldest supplier of goods for the living, dead and undead delivers to monsters right across the UK and was recently awarded the terrifyingly good accolade of being vote 'No. 1 Kids' Shop in London'. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies was established in 1818, though the exact details of why, and by whom, have tragically been lost to history but whether you’re a Vampire, Werewolf, Sasquatch, Fairy or something else entirely, it has everything you need to keep your little monsters happy on this most unusual of activities in London! Utterly brilliant place.
Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, 159 Hoxton Street, London N1 6PJ
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
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
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
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 café. 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
London in the Sky
Taking unusual things to do with kids in London to new heights is the London in the Sky experience next to the o2. This 22-seat Sky Table is suspended 100ft in the air where you'll be served lunch, dinner or afternoon tea with a big side order of spectacular view. Kids need to be 1.4m to snag a seat, and under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.
London in the Sky, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX
Crystal Palace Park
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). Want some more dino-fun during the school hollibobs? Check out Dinosaur World Live over at London Wonderground too.
Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, London SE19 2GA
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
WWT 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
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's unclear (but hopeful) for a reopen for this season, so do keep an eye on its website for regular updates on an experience that's literally out of this world.
Hampstead Observatory, Summit Lodge, 9 Lower Terrace, West Heath Rd, Hampstead, London NW3 6RF
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 café 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
Wands & Wizard Exploratorium
Cast a spell and make your own wands, explore five floors of magic and science and then have a spot of afternoon tea at the Wands & Wizard Exploratorium: Definitely a wonderfully unusual thing to do in London with your little witches and wizards.
Wands and Wizard Exploratorium, 26 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 5DE
God's Own Junkyard
If you like your activities big, bright and 'grammable then you need God’s Own Junkyard on your neon radar. Expect a huge and eclectic collection (the largest in Europe in fact) of vintage neon signs to dazzle your eyeballs with and then pop into its onsite eatery, The Rolling Scones Café, for a dazzling array of snacks and drinks.
God's Own Junkyard, Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, London E17 9HQ
Like this story? Here's some more you might find useful:
Fam-friendly places to eat in London
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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