Kid-friendly museums in London let you add a little bit of fun and learning to your family vacation plans.
From natural history to the British history and even the history of childhood, there are museums for just about every curiosity in London. As of 2021, there were over 130 museums in the city, including many free options that can help you tour London on a budget without feeling deprived.
There are more kid-friendly museums in London than we could present in this short space, so we sorted through the options to present a list of our top recommendations. Keep in mind that kids often take an interest in unexpected things when in the right environment, so consider stopping by any museum you pass while in London. You’re bound to find something that will intrigue the youngsters, especially since many offer interactive activities for children.
Do you have fond memories of waking up on Saturday morning to watch cartoons? Maybe your kids have similar memories, though cartoons are now accessible any day of the week, around the clock. While in London, you can learn about the history behind the best British cartoons and comics while visiting the Cartoon Museum on Wells Street in the Fitzrovia area.
Museum exhibitions and collections put the original artwork behind many of Britain’s most popular cartoons on display which is why it is one of our favorite kid-friendly museums in London. The museum also offers events and workshops on select dates.
Step aboard an authentic ship that was once used to bring tea to Victorian Britain from Asia. It was among the fastest ships of its time and remains one of the most popular kid-friendly museums in London. Kids are admitted at a reduced price, and there are interactive exhibits that fascinate even younger children.
You’ll find this maritime museum on King William Walk along the south bank of the Thames River. It’s close to the Greenwich Market, Greenwich Foot Tunnel, Greenwich Park, and New Zealand Memorial.
Do your children have a fascination with animals? If so, there’s more to London than the zoo. Take them to the Rockefeller Building on University Street, which is part of the University College London campus. You’ll find this museum with interesting exhibitions regarding a variety of zoology issues.
From powerful animals and their hunting tactics to extinction and an extensive collection of drawings and paintings, there’s a lot for little animal lovers to explore. You may even take advantage of the Thames River tour, which is included with admission at select times.
There’s so much to love about the Horniman Museum, and most of it is easily enjoyed by every member of the family. Start with the butterfly garden, where kids can interact with beautiful flying creatures known to perch on a nose or finger from time to time.
Add spacious gardens with top-notch landscaping and a café with equally impressive refreshments, and you see why the Horniman is one of the best museums for families in London. There’s even a market on Sunday that presents a variety of fresh produce from local producers.
This museum is dedicated to exploring issues relevant around the world, so you never know what you may find. Past exhibits have touched on everything from Black history and ecology to bugs, endangered species, and Nigerian independence. The museum makes big issues more accessible to children through hands-on activities, arts and crafts, and interactive exhibitions.
You can even listen to live musical performances if you visit on Thursday afternoon. Look for this fun museum on London Road in the Forest Hill area. You can take a bus from Central London, and it’s worth the trip. The museum spreads across both sides of the street with the sunken display gardens, expansive play park, children’s playground, nature trail, butterfly house, and even a Crazy Golf course.
This three-story museum is dedicated to the evolution of recorded sound. From delicate music boxes to high-tech instruments and even a violin that plays itself, you’ll see how the world went from hearing the surrounding environment in real time only to recording and preserving it forever.
The musical museum can be found a few minutes' walk from Kew Bridge railway station in Brentford. This is a popular museum attraction that often includes live musical performances. Make sure to leave time for the café, which looks out to the Thames River and is a great place to relax during an intense day of exploring London.
Head to South Kensington to immerse your kids in fun science exhibitions that educate just as much as they entertain. In addition to interesting exhibitions and galleries, your family will encounter a variety of hands-on activities that bring science to life for minds in all stages of development. There’s always something that piques the curiosity of children, but adult interests aren’t neglected either.
A lot of the exhibitions are relevant to the modern world because they focus on the evolution of technology and its impact on the environment. Serious issues like the revolution of clean energy are addressed alongside activities that are purely fun or interesting. The museum is great for families with kids of all ages because the content is so diverse and educational without becoming boring.
The Science Museum now offers a variety of educational videos and learning activities online. Playing in the virtual museum is a great way to introduce kids to the experience that they will one day have in the streets of London.
By nature, most children love to explore, to ask questions and find answers to exciting nature questions. For instance, what do the greater sage-grouse, mudskippers, great crested grebes and manakins have in common? Well, the Natural History Museum notes that these species number among the list of relatively few animals that can truly move to a beat. Basically, they can dance! This is just an example of the sort of questions that scientist and researchers work on at London’s Natural History Museum.
This is no ordinary museum! It’s an acclaimed research institution that publishes over 700 research papers each year and has over 350 scientific staff conducting active world-class research. It houses some 80 million life and earth science specimens.
One of our kids’ favorite sections is the extensive lepidoptera collection, the largest of its kind in the world. This includes some 8.7 million specimens of butterflies, moths and skippers from around the world, all kept in 80,000 drawers.
Located on Cromwell Road in South-West London, the Natural History Museum is one of the most prominent kid-friendly museums in London.
This popular museum can be found at 221B Baker Street, London. If you’ve read stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you may know that’s the address where Sherlock Holmes once lived, at least on the page. He rambled through the streets solving case after case, entertaining adoring fans around the world while bringing answers to his clients.
That’s also the address that now houses the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The four-story townhome was once a lodging quarters but has since been declared a protected building of architectural and cultural heritage. It maintains the Victorian style that Sherlock would have lived in if only we could make those literary stories step into reality.
What you can do is tour this small museum to see where one of the greatest characters in the literary world would have lived if he were here with us for real. You can easily introduce your children to the character before arriving, allowing them to appreciate the museum even more.
Museums are often interesting experiences when you’re on vacation. One that you believe your child will love may result in a lot of whining while one you weren’t so sure about could turn out to be a big hit with every member of the family. That’s why it’s good to visit an assortment of kid-friendly museums in London while you’re in town.
London makes it easy to vary your museum experiences because the selection field is so wide. You have options in most areas of town, from the South Bank to Chelsea and Soho. You may discover even more once you arrive in London and start exploring at the street level.
If you plan your London itinerary in advance, you can introduce your children to the museums they will one day explore before leaving home. Most museums have online activities and details regarding current exhibits. Following the museums online can make the visit more intriguing while providing a safe avenue for home education.