London with Children: Kid-friendly activities on a budget

Posted in: London Sights

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Hamley's London
Let the kids loose in Hamley's on Regent Street. Photo: Robinh00d

By Lara Kavanagh in London—

There are many worthwhile child-friendly attractions in London, but when you’re on a budget some of the entry prices can be intimidating. To balance out costs during your visit, consider these four free activities, guaranteed to entertain the whole family.

Exploring Hamleys
188-196 Regent Street
London W1B 5BT
Tel: 0871 704 1977
Web site

Opening hours: Mon-Wed, Sat 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thur and Fri 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun noon-6 p.m.
Free entry

Treat the little ones to the UK’s ultimate toy shop experience at the flagship Hamley’s store on Regent Street. Wander seven magical floors containing all sorts of toys, and let them play to their hearts’ delight. It’s free to go in, but you may struggle to leave without making a purchase.

V&A Museum of Childhood

The V&A Museum of Childhood. Photo: Avail

Playing and learning at the V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9PA
Tel: 020 8983 5200
Web site

Opening hours: daily 10 a.m.- 5:45 p.m.
Free entry

Excellent free museum with row upon row of display cases packed with toys throughout the ages, all the way up to the present day. Alongside the static displays there are interactive corners where children can play with exhibits and try on shoes from different eras, plus rotating exhibitions catering to young ones, with low-mounted displays and multimedia features.

An afternoon on Hampstead Heath
Web site
Free entry

Escape to over 800 acres of parkland to the north of the city, where the heath offers bags of space to run around in, hills to roll down, pools, ponds and signposted walks. There’s a wealth of family-friendly pubs around the edges; better still, pack a picnic and have lunch perched on a hill overlooking the city.

Going back in time at the Ragged School Museum
46-50 Copperfield Road
London E3 4RR
Tel: 020 8980 6405
Web site

Free entry; donations welcome.
Opening hours: Wed and Thur 10 a.m.-5 p.m., first Sun of the month 2 p.m.-5 p.m.

This compact museum was once a school for impoverished Victorian children, and now plays host to a fascinating museum on the history of the school, its founder and the surrounding East End. Call to find out about special interactive sessions held in a recreated Victorian classroom led by a stern schoolmistress.

About the author

Lara Kavanagh

About the author: Lara Kavanagh is a travel editor and freelance writer based in London, and has also had the great pleasure of living in and writing about Paris. Top vintage shopping, great food and quirky nightlife are her favourite things about London.

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