I grew up in Islington, in North London, and so my childhood was shaped by the capital. The wonderful thing about entertainment for children here is that it’s great for adults, too. For example, The British Museum has free activity trails such as Hunting for Dragons, Sailing on the Nile, and Dancing with Shiva. The South Kensington Victoria and Albert Museum gives children free backpacks to guide them from the Emperor's Party to the Middle Eastern Marvels and onward to Discovering Architecture. The newly-renovated Imperial War Museum has an incredible array of airplanes and tanks, and an extensive children’s play area in the basement with a café serving delicious fare for the cultured-kid. Children love the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but adults won’t tire of this fanfare either. I still visit all these places as an adult and continue to learn new things.
London Transport Museum
This overview of London’s transportation history includes more than 450,000 artifacts and spans 200 years. Here, kids can take to the wheel of an old-fashioned London double-decker or an underground train: both stationary. The year 2014 marks the centenary of World War I, when buses carried soldiers to the Western Front. In honor of the anniversary, the museum is celebrating the Year of the Bus with heritage bus runs, and special events.
The London Zoo
Visit the zoo’s exclusive Tiger Territory, where these fierce felines scale high feeding poles and patrol their Indonesia-inspired terrain. You and your kids will come face to face with these majestic creatures: through floor-to-ceiling, thick glass panels, of course. Earlier this year, Sumatran tiger Melati gave birth to triplets – another compelling reason to visit.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and Playground
The Memorial Fountain is a wonderful place for kids to run through the water and let off steam. Located beside the Memorial Playground is an enormous pirate ship. Look out for teepees, a beach, and other outdoor hideaways. Nearly a million people visit every, so pack a picnic and claim a shady patch by the exquisite gardens.
V&A Museum of Childhood
This museum is a must for children not only from abroad, but also for British tykes, too. At this East End center, visitors will learn how childhood has changed since the 1600’s. Kids will be kept entertained by the world’s oldest rocking horse, will admire exquisite dolls and their houses, and covet the 1,000 action man figurines.
The Wallace Collection
Housed in a former estate home, the collection of Titian, Rembrandt, and Velázquez also features a vast amount of shiny knights’ armour. Children can get dressed-up in samples, too, which is a guaranteed hit. Visiting trails include Warrior Kings and Looking for the Owners, and are best paired with the recommended children’s audio guide.