Looking for some hands-on child-friendly museums in London for your family’s visit on your next vacation? We have found some of our favorites to explore with your kids.
There are so many museums in London that you can’t possibly explore them all in one trip. You may not even want to try if you’re traveling with kids because many aren’t suitable for small children. We want to help you sort through the options and fill your London itinerary with the most child-friendly museums in London. We put together a list of our favorites, all of which offer a lot of interactive exhibits that are great for the little ones and the parents.
Best Child-Friendly Museums in London for Small Kids:
Horniman Museum and Gardens
You can’t get much more hands-on than the Horniman Museum. The fun starts with an aquarium, butterfly house, and 16 acres of colorful gardens. Add an interesting museum that contains collections covering everything from anthropology to music and the natural environment, and you see why Horniman visitors often return year after year for more exploration.
This is essentially a museum of things. The collections are focused on the human existence around the world, and there are many interactive exhibits. You may find yourself trying on clothing from other nations or periods in time one minute and strumming a unique instrument the next.
London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum explores the history of transportation within the city. That might not sound like thrilling subject matter for your small one, but it’s actually one of the more interactive, hands-on London museums. The exhibits are designed to engage children and adults of all ages through play, singing, and other activities.
You may also catch an Under 5s family session during your trip to London. These events take place outside of the museum and are designed for young children under the age of five to engage with museum themes in fun ways.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a massive collection with thousands of items that touch on everything from dinosaurs to volcanoes. You can expect to spend at least a few hours exploring if you go to only one or two of the colored zones. If you want to take in the entire museum, it could easily take all day or even drag into a second day of exploration.
When visiting with small kids, it’s best to look at the exhibits in each zone and pick one that is most likely to bring out the little one’s curiosity. Visit the museum’s website in advance and use the activities that are intended to go along with some of the exhibits. That’s a great way to introduce small children to the exhibits that they will see in the museum.
You can’t go wrong with the Science Museum for kids of any age. In addition to powerful exhibits that explore a wide variety of scientific subjects, the museum has special sections for younger children. Those sections allow kids to explore science on their own terms with interactive, hands-on activities.
Children aged 3-6 will feel right at home in the Garden. The gallery is loaded with hands-on activities that turn learning into playtime. From floating and sinking to understanding how light and water work, children will learn a lot while laughing and having a blast. The Garden is staffed with helpers who can help children and parents understand the interactive exhibits.
V&A Museum of Childhood
Kid-friendly is the name of the game at this unique London museum. It explores the history of childhood through toys, games, and a variety of interactive, hands-on activities. The collections are so varied and international that they often interest adults and older children just as much as the young ones.
You can explore a lot of content from the museum online before heading in for a visit. That’s a great way to introduce your children to some of the exhibits while deciding which areas of the museum will appeal most to your family.
Visiting Museums with Small Kids
Interactive activities are the key to making child-friendly London museums in London fun for small children. Some of the best museums for kids aren’t on subjects that would naturally grab the attention of kids. They still come out as your best options because they have interactive exhibitions that will keep the little ones entertained while the adults and teenagers read and learn in more depth.
You may also want to keep museum visits brief, especially if the museum doesn’t have a café or concession stand inside. Cafes are great because you can take in a few exhibits and then settle down for a bite to eat before returning to learn a bit more. Without the option to take a downtime, you may want to simply spend less time in the museum and then find a nearby café or restaurant for refreshments.
It’s also a good idea to visit a park or garden after going to a museum. It gives the kids a chance to burn off some energy and soak up the sunshine after spending time indoors.