With a strong maritime history, London is the perfect city for children who have a love of all things pirate related, or even if they just simply enjoy discovering new things or being up close to the water. From the River Thames to the national museums of Greenwich, there are a number of attractions which offer a fantastic day out for families with children of all ages. So the next time you are planning a family trip to London, why not consider one of the following activities:-
The National Maritime Museum
This free museum is located in the heart of Greenwich and offers a fascinating insight into not only England’s rich maritime history but the history of many other countries as well. There is artwork, maps, charts, memorabilia and thousands of other objects on display in this museum, which is the largest one of its kind in the world. There are also plenty of ways for children to get interactive around the main galleries of the museum but also in the two dedicated children’s galleries. Children can have a go at stoking an engine, play at fishing, move cargo or try out some Morse code plus plenty more.
Cruise the River Thames
There are a number of different companies which offer river cruises along the Thames and many of these will be family friendly. These cruises often feature on-board commentary which may or may not be of interest to your children depending on their ages but no child could fail to love the opportunity to hop on board a boat and sail along London’s famous river. Not to mention the chance to see some of the city’s iconic landmarks including the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and the London Docklands. If you are visiting the city on a budget, perhaps because you spotted one of the London hotel special offers and it was a last minute decision to come then you could instead purchase tickets for one of the commuter boats, the MBNA Thames Clippers, which also pass by these recognisable landmarks but which doesn’t offer a guided tour, making it cheaper than an official cruise.
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Home to one of Europe’s biggest collections of global marine life, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium is a fantastic day out, especially if it turns out to be a rainy day and you need something indoors to keep everyone occupied. There are a number of different zones such as the Shark Walk, the Atlantic Depths and Pacific Wreck and there are lots of opportunities for children to get involved with daily feedings and a rockpool which allows children to get up close with some of the marine life housed here such as starfish and sea anemones.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
An absolute must for anyone which a pirate-loving member of the family, the Diana Memorial Playground is located next to Kensington Palace, the former home of the Princess and sees over 1 million visitors each year. With a giant wooden pirate ship, a sensory trail, teepees, play sand and numerous toys and sculptures this is a fantastic space to allow children to engage with their imaginations and play at being Peter Pan or their very own Captain Hook. It is ideal if you are staying at The Shaftesbury Premier London Paddington Hotel being less than a 20 minute walk from the door of the hotel. The playground is fenced off and safety is paramount here with only adults accompanied by children being admitted in so you can have total peace of mind whilst your children play and enjoy themselves.
WWT London Wetland Centre
This urban oasis is the perfect place for both adults and children alike with lots of access to wildlife, play areas for the kids, and the chance to get up close to nature. It’s hard to imagine that you are so close to Central London as you stand and soak up the fresh air and the surroundings of the London Wetland Centre. Highlights for children include the outdoor adventure playground, the Discovery Centre, and the Pond Zone which is an interactive, underwater camera which allows you to see what is living in the pool and get up close.
The London Bridge Experience
One for older children, the London Bridge Experience claims to be the scariest attraction in the city and takes you back through 2,000 years of gruesome history. You can join the Medieval Revolution, come face to face with Queen Boudica’s Iceni tribe and discover the story of the London Bridge and its vital importance in the development and progress of London.
The Golden Hinde
Located in Bankside, the Golden Hinde is a full-sized reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s shop which he captained between 1577-80. Visitors can experience the life of a 16th century explorer, search for hidden treasures, try to raise the ship’s anchor or use their imaginations to set off on an unforgettable Tudor adventure.
The London Eye
Although not technically a water-based activity, being so close to the River Thames and such as exciting and enjoyable experience that we have decided to include it anyway. This is the world’s largest Ferris Wheel and the capsules take you on a slow journey until you are 135 metres in the air and able to see right across the city of London. On a clear day you can see as far as 25 miles away and it is certainly possible to spot some of the major landmarks of London even when the rain clouds turn up. After you have completed your descent, head over to the 4D experience; it is only 4 minutes long but is completely fascinating to watch and is included free with all London Eye tickets.