Some major tourist attractions in London aren't real family-friendly. While London is full of fun attractions, there’s also a lot of big city fun that may not be appropriate or enjoyable for the little ones.
In fact, many parents dream of having sitters on their London vacations because there are so many fun attractions that are reserved only for the grownups.
To help you create a fun London itinerary that doesn’t include those not-for-kids attractions and perhaps to give you some ideas for adult-only excursions, we present a list of major tourist attractions in London that you should skip with the kids.
What fun could you have at a ball pit cocktail bar? That is why this is one of the major tourist attractions in London for a lot of adults. Head to Shoreditch or Soho to find out while you’re in London. Ballie Ballerson is a unique cocktail bar that features a ball pit filled with more than 200,000 balls. It’s like the ball pits your kids enjoy at amusement centers, but everything is created just for the big kids who want to play while enjoying a drink or two.
The ball pit is an immersive experience that includes live music from a DJ booth, and you’re permitted to take some daring leaps down into the balls. The rules aren’t the same when you’re all grown and know how to have a great time while following just a few safety protocols.
Don’t forget the bar once you’re done playing in the balls. There are cocktails based on childhood treats like Wham Bars, so your visit back to childhood continues throughout the night. While it’s tons of fun, it’s definitely not the kind of fun you have with the kids.
Circus Restaurant & Cocktail Bar
Circus is a lively cabaret restaurant and bar in Covent Garden that delivers scrumptious food and intoxicating drinks with a live show that only adults can enjoy. Each show functions as a pop-up circus, complete with contortionists, fire breathers, and scantily clad hula hoopers. The shows do have some interactive components, so you may find yourself instantly engrossed in the show but distracted by the delicious food.
The age limit at Circus is strictly 21 and over, so it’s a definite skip with the kids but a great place for the adults to relax.
Wild West Saloon Cocktail Experience
There’s an illicit ring of moonshine smugglers running loose in London, and you can join them by booking your spot as a bootlegger in the Wild West Saloon Cocktail Experience. Pick up your own liquor and step into a themed saloon designed to recreate the experience of moonshine smuggling in the wild, wild west.
This experience is one of the major tourist attractions in London but isn’t suitable for children because all guests become an active part of a live theatrical show based on bootleg moonshine and tasty cocktails. The cocktails are created partially with the liquor that you “sneak” into the saloon, so you become an active part of the illegal moonshine trade in this recreation of history.
The experience takes place at the Moonshine Saloon, which is located at 28-30 Houndsditch.
Swingers Crazy Golf
The kids love mini golf, right? Maybe so, but you don’t want to stop by Swingers in London with the expectation of a quick, family-friendly game of golf. What you will find is an adult-only bar that only admits adults over the age of 18 for a unique experience that combines mini golf, street food, and alcoholic beverages.
The elaborate mini golf course is set up for adults, so you won’t find small putting greens with wimpy curves. Some holes are more challenging than others, but they’re all well decorated and laid out to create a social experience.
Visitors also enjoy DJs and food vendors pedaling street food that will make your mouth water. Grab a cocktail or two throughout the night, and you have a fun experience that you can’t enjoy with the little ones in tow.
Harrods department store is the ultimate stop off for luxury shopping in London and one of the major tourist attractions in London. You can buy everything from clothing and shoes to furniture, home décor, and wine. Unfortunately, kids don’t always want to shop while they’re on vacation. That’s especially true at a high-end department store where they need to stay close to their parents and not disturb other shoppers.
If you want to do some brand name shopping in London and the kids have to come along, maybe look at a map of Harrods in advance and know what departments you want to shop. If your kids do enjoy shopping for their own clothing or toys, you can plan stops in those departments between visits to departments you find more interesting.
You can also take advantage of personal shoppers at Harrods. They can help you get in and out much faster while helping to keep the little ones entertained.
You’ll find this small park just north of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but it’s not one of the best parks for little kids to play. Instead of a playground, you’ll find a memorial that celebrates ordinary people who did something spectacular for others. There are more than 50 plaques that tell short stories in honor of each hero celebrated. There are also empty plaques ready to accept the names of future heroes.
These plaques and their stories are entertaining and heart touching for many adults, but the park can feel underwhelming for young kids who thought they were headed to the swing set and carousel.
The Statues of London
Stopping by to see the Statue of Eros or others standing around London may entertain adults with an interest in history, but they’re not always the most exciting stopping points for kids. The good news is that they aren’t big attractions that take a lot of time to explore, and you can plan to walk by between other attractions.
You may also plan to have a picnic or take short breaks near the statues that grab your interest. Eating or running around a little can give the kids something to do while you take in the statues and explore their historical significance.
Explore lists of London statues and monuments online to coordinate your favorites with other attractions on your itinerary. Try turning them into resting spots so the little ones are ready for some downtime when you get there.
Do you wish you could experience some of these one of the major tourist attractions in London while in town? The solution is to get a trustworthy, safe sitter to have some fun with your kids while you slip out for a day or evening of adult-only playtime. If you can afford to bring a nanny, that solves the problem. If not, then you have some options for reserving a sitter before you even leave for London.
The best options are online services like Care.com or Sitter.com. These services screen babysitters around the world and match them to clients in need of sitters. You can even select your preferred sitter from a list of recommendations, giving you some control over who stays with your child while you’re out exploring London.
If you’re staying in one of London’s more upscale luxury hotels, you may contact their concierge to see if they provide sitters. Make sure to ask if the sitters have been background checked. You may also want to ask about their experience level with kids your age, how long they have worked for the hotel or the service used by the hotel, and whether they have CPR credentials.
If hiring a sitter in London makes you uneasy, perhaps the solution is to return to London for an adult-only trip. It’s much easier to find family members or trusted sitters back home than it is while traveling abroad.