Things to do with toddlers in London
It can sometimes be hard finding something fun and enjoyable to do with young children when travelling. Luckily we’ve found plenty of child-friendly things to do in London, from free museums to animals, theatre and playgrounds to keep your little ones occupied while on a budget!
In this guide to keeping your toddlers entertained in London, we have found:
- Free museums for curious kids
- Places to see animals up close
- Indoor play for a rainy day
- Free parks and playgrounds
- Indoor fun to suit your budget
- Theatre and arts for petite performers
See the city by bus for the best way to explore toddler-friendly London. With our London Kids Tour, you can introduce your children to London on a sightseeing bus tour, designed especially for them.
1. Free Museums for Curious Kids
From trains to pterodactyls, the best London museums for kids have plenty to offer and a variety of daily workshops and activities to satisfy curious little minds. If you’re looking for free things to do in London for toddlers, a trip to the museum is a great choice.
Natural History Museum
Hope, the blue whale, welcomes guests of all ages to the Natural History Museum where she hangs high above Hintze Hall. If your children love learning about sea creatures or are dinosaur mad, the Natural History Museum will help them explore the natural world. The museum offers free entry every day from 10am-5.30pm and holds workshops and shows for schools and nurseries visiting with under 5s.
London Transport Museum
If you spend your days singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ or watching ‘Thomas the Tank’ then the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden will be perfect for you and the kids. Annual adult tickets are £17.50 and under 17s go free. You’ll also find a dedicated ‘All Aboard’ play zone for children aged 0-7 and term-time activities for under 5s.
For the little genius in your life, the Science Museum has interactive galleries for under 8s including the Pattern Pod multi-sensory area. In The Garden, children aged 3-6 can explore water, light, sound, shadows and reflections through play, making this one of the great places for toddlers in London. The museum, in South Kensington, is free to enter and is open daily from 10am-6pm and there are various exhibitions and events throughout the year.
2. Places to See Their Favourite Animals up Close
From sharks to giraffes, little ones love seeing the favourite animals up close. So, why not take them to the zoo or aquarium to meet their favourite animals on land or sea?
ZSL London Zoo
At ZSL London Zoo, under 3s visit free and there are also discounts available for family, group or online bookings. There are daily shows including feeding sessions and live talks. Seasonal events also take place, including opportunities to visit Santa at an additional cost. London Zoo in Regent’s Park is open daily from 10am, with seasonal closing times.
Battersea Children’s Zoo
Battersea Children’s Zoo offers family tickets from £31. It is open from 10 am every day with alternating closing times depending on the time of year. During your visit, you and the kids can watch different animals getting fed throughout the day and your tots can monkey around on the adventure playground.
SEA LIFE London
For kids who love all things under the sea, the SEA LIFE Aquarium allows them to see their favourite swimmers up close. You can explore the aquarium through the ocean tunnel or shark walk, find Nemo in the coral reef and stroke smaller creatures in the Rockpool. This is one of the great places to take 2-year-olds in London because under 3s visit free!
3. Indoor Play for a Rainy Day
If you are looking for indoor places for toddlers in London, there are plenty of play centres in the city which are perfect for a rainy day in London. These are toddler-friendly and have separate play zones for tiny tots.
Gambado is the ultimate indoor play centre, with prices for 1-3-year-olds starting at £8.50. Under 1s visit free and there are dedicated soft play areas for under 4s with stimulating sensory activities. These include an infinity tunnel, bubble tubes and bouncy ball pits. The entry price includes unlimited use of fairground rides. Cafes are available on-site and opening times vary depending on the time of year.
KidZania is the indoor city run by kids. Located in Westfield shopping centre, KidZania is a great place to take your little ones and there are lots of fun activities for kids 4 and older visiting London. With education, exploration and entertainment at the heart of the play centre, children can role-play a number of different professions during your four-hour visit.
Surrey Quays shopping centre offer tons of fun for a great day out with the kids including bowling, a cinema, restaurants and Discovery Planet indoor play centre. The shopping centre provides free parking for 4 hours and the play centre is open from 10am-5pm mid-week with amended weekend hours. There’s a toddler area for under 4s and Discovery Planet hold a midweek parent and toddler session between 10am-12pm for only £1.99!
4. Free Parks and Playgrounds
Come rain or shine, kids love to play outside. There are plenty of outdoor places to take toddlers in London and lots of playgrounds for them to explore.
Diana Memorial Playground
This pirate ship playground in Kensington Gardens opens at 10 am every day, with different closing times depending on the time of year. Toddlers can explore the sensory trail, teepees, beach, toys and sculptures and there is seating available for parents. The playground is permanently manned by staff and on busy days, such as school holidays or weekends, you may need to queue up before entering.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Tumbling Bay Playground is free to enter and is complete with rock pools, sandpits, tree houses, swings, slides and much more. The park is in a natural landscape environment and there is plenty of open space for picnics on sunny days and free play. Tumbling Bay is also close to the Timber Lodge Cafe if you fancy a bite to eat.
This 7-acre playground in the St Pancras region has grassed areas, playground equipment, a sensory music area, sandpits and paddling pools which are open in the spring and summer months. There is a small farm, cafe and an under 5s drop-in centre that is open mid-week between 9.30am-12.30pm. Drop-in centre activities include soft play, role play and crafts and there is a selection of classes to attend with your tots for just £2.
5. Indoor Fun to Suit Your Budget
If you’re travelling with toddlers in London, days out can be difficult to plan. Enrich their minds by introducing them to the world of art and storytelling, visit child-friendly attractions or treat them to a new toy.
National Gallery Storytelling
Every Sunday morning, fly away on a Sunday storytelling adventure in the National Gallery. Stories are inspired by paintings in the gallery and told in front of a different painting each week. The free storytelling session is perfect for families and is aimed at children under 5, but arrive early because places are limited.
Hamleys Toy Shop
On Regent Street, Hamley's toy shop is spread over 7 floors of fun and is a perfect rainy day option to suit any budget. There are free toy demonstrations every day and a dedicated preschool section with toys for tiny tots to aid in learning and development. The store is open from 10am-9pm from Monday-Friday, with amended opening and closing times of a weekend.
Discover Children’s Story Centre
Not far from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is Discover Children’s Story Centre, open every day from 10am-5pm. There are over two floors of stories and play facilities and a Story Garden playground outside. Visitors can bring their own picnic and there is a cafe, free lockers and a buggy park. Family tickets are available from £22 and under 1s go free. Don’t forget to check out storytelling events and performances before you visit.
6. Theatre and Arts for Petite Performers
Does your little one love to put on a show? There are some great theatres about specifically for kids, which encourage engagement and exploration through role-play activities.
The Unicorn Theatre showcase theatre productions especially for children and babies. The baby and toddler shows are centred on sensory performance and experiences and some productions include a post-show play session. Show prices vary and the venue is child-friendly, encouraging audience participation during productions. There is also a ‘Living Room’ area which has a range of books, toys and a sitting area for adults to relax.
The Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre offers different events and workshops all year round centred on theatre, film and exploration. Some family-friendly workshops are free and the Framed Film Club + Extra on a Saturday morning start from £3.50 for under 18s and screens animated films which have been specially selected for younger audiences.
If your little one loves the performing arts, the Southbank Centre has a variety of musical workshops, productions, nursery rhymes and story time sessions aimed at under 5s. Arts events are year-round and some have free admission or offer a free adult/child ticket with a paying participant. There are also plenty of places to eat and drink or you can bring your picnic to eat at the Royal Festival Hall foyer.
Whether your toddlers love to run around in the park or settle down for story time, there are tons of ways to brighten their day. Add to the experience by taking them to see the most exciting sights in London on our Kids tour.