1. Parks, Commons and Wetlands
Brockwell park is a great family venue. Not only is the park an ideal place for a family stroll or picnic, there are plenty of things to see and do. Ponds, ancient oaks and a walled garden add to the countryside feel of the park. Keep a look out for the 19th century clock tower while you explore this large park in Herne Hill. As well as a selection of sporting facilities, Brockwell park is also popular for its miniature railway and lido. The park opens from 7.30m every morning and hosts a wet play facility in the summer months.
Greenwich park sits just south of the river, where the Thames meanders below the Isle of Dogs. The park has over 180 acres of green open space for the kids to roam around in and have fun, and offers fabulous views across the river Thames. Fallow and red deer can be seen in Greenwich Park which the little ones will love. Greenwich Park also contains lovely gardens and some of London’s most iconic attractions, including the National Maritime museum and the Royal Observatory, where the Meridian line can be found. Your family can have one foot in the west and one foot in the east here.
This 200 acre park in south west London is excellent for families. The swings, slide units and trapeze bars in the children’s playground are great fun for the little ones, who will also love the small zoo located within the park. Meerkats, otters and lemurs are among some of the animals you will find at this zoo, with family tickets priced from £35.50. The park’s flat trails provide good cycling opportunities for the family to explore the park with its riverside promenade and large lake. The park itself is free to enter and is open every day from 8am.
London Wetlands Centre
Located in Barnes, the London Wetland Centre offers plenty for the whole family to enjoy. This is a 105 acre nature reserve, an urban wetland with a variety of habitats that hosts a wide array of wildlife, including otters. The centre is very much geared to children with special events like the Easter duck trail, plus a pond zone, an interactive discovery centre and an outdoor adventure play area suitable for all ages. A family ticket covering two adults and two children costs £36.63 without gift aid.
Further Parks to Explore
Access to green space is so important for our well-being and south London has plenty of parks where you can escape urban life for a while. A trip to Wimbledon and Putney common is recommended, a 1,140 acre site of special scientific interest and an important habitat for wildlife. Relax on a family walk along the nature trails or visit the unique Windmill museum.
Dulwich park is another good option for families with its boating lake, large children’s playground and gardens to explore. There is also a cafe toward the centre of the park when it is time for a drink and a bite to eat. The grade II listed Crystal Park also offers family friendly facilities including a charming city farm and its famous resident dinosaurs.
2. Museums and Palaces
Horniman Museum and Gardens
The eclectic mix of items held in the Horniman museum will engage inquiring young minds. The Handling Collection feature at the museum is ideal for children, with around 3,700 objects from around the world including musical instruments, masks and clothing that they can touch and play with to help better understand. Natural history plays an important role in the museum with a butterfly house and an aquarium within the gardens. The Horniman museum is free to enter and has a cafe open every day except Wednesday.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is one of the jewels in London’s crown. The hammerbeam roof in the Great Hall and the Haunted gallery in the state apartments are not to be missed. Once home to Henry VIII, Hampton Court palace is set in 60 acres of gardens, including the famous Hampton Court maze. Learn about Royal life from centuries ago, before heading out to to the Magic Garden, a children’s playground full of mythical beasts and mock palace battlements. Family tickets start from £45.60, and there is a cafe on site with indoor and outdoor seating areas.
The Windmill museum on Wimbledon common is a quirky and fun place for the family to visit. Windmills hold a fascination regardless of age and a visit to this small museum is ideal after a walk on the common. The museum tells the history of windmills and has exhibits aimed at children as well as adults. The museum is free to enter and the Windmill Tearooms are close by for refreshments. Another bonus is that Wimbledon Village is also just a short walk away with more cafes and shops to explore.
Eltham Palace and Gardens
Eltham Palace has plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy. The art deco house with its stunning medieval palace and magnificent great hall are worth a visit alone. However, Eltham Palace also has 19 acres of gardens to roam, and includes a series of pools leading down to a moat. A wooden outdoor play area and an animal explorer trail are just a sample of the activities provided for the kids to enjoy. Eltham Palace is only a 10 minute walk from Mottingham station, and family tickets start from £25.10 when booked online.
More Must Sees
Just south of the river on Lambeth road is the famous Imperial War Museum with its imposing naval guns greeting your approach. As well as charting momentous times in history, the museum tells the personal stories of those impacted by war. Items on display include tanks, an iconic spitfire plane, medals plus an immersive World War one trench experience. There is more than enough in this impressive museum to hold the children’s interest the whole way around.
You will find it hard to find a more relaxing day out for the family then visiting stunning Kew Gardens. There are acres and acres of gardens and woodland for the kids to explore. The different gardens, the lake and pagoda are just a small sample of the treats in store. The Children’s Garden is designed with the kids in mind to help break up the day, providing an interactive area in a natural setting where they will be able to run, climb, jump and generally explore all around them. Advance family ticket prices start from £23.
3. Tours, Theatres and Entertainment
Wimbledon Tour and Museum
This is the ideal day out for any tennis loving family members, a behind the scenes look at the location of the most famous tennis tournament in the world. The 90 minute tour gets you up close to the pristine grass courts, as well as allowing you to walk all the areas normally reserved for the players. The tour visits the media centre too, as well as the Wimbledon museum which is packed full of historic artefacts, including championship trophies and items of clothing donated by some of the tennis greats. You can also test your tennis skills on the Batak wall.
This reconstruction of an Elizabethan theatre is wonderfully atmospheric and provides plenty of family oriented events and activities throughout the year. Fascinating tours, workshops, performances and festivals allow the whole family to enjoy the workings of a theatre from the days of Shakespeare. The Swan bar and restaurant is welcoming to children of all ages when it is time for refreshments, and provides a bespoke children’s menu. Located on Bankside in the borough of Southwark, the Globe theatre provides free entry to all their productions for children under three years old.
The Southbank Centre is always a buzz of activity, with many family friendly places to eat, as well as being a site for markets and festivals across the year. The Southbank centre is an arts and crafts hub, the largest of its kind in the UK. The centre houses the Royal Albert Festival hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery. There are plenty of events and shows aimed at families, including plays, music and immersive performances to entertain and engage your children. It is well worth checking out what’s on at the Southbank Centre ahead of a visit to south London
4. City Farms
Deen City Farm
This is one of London’s oldest city farms and a place where your kids will adore a chance to get up close and feed the animals. Cows, donkeys, sheep, rabbits, goats, chickens and pigs are just some of the animals you will see at the 5 acre Deen City farm in Merton Abbey. Animal feed can be bought for £1 per bag, while meet and greet sessions with the animals costs £2.50 per child. Be sure to check out the Brioche cafe where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, as well as homemade cakes.
Vauxhall City Farm
Let your children escape city life for a while at this rustic urban farm, where you can embark on a self-guided tour armed with a bucket of feed for the animals you meet along the way. All your children's favourite farm animals are here, and they are sure to the love the alpacas too. Located a short walk from Vauxhall underground station, the farm is open Tuesday to Sunday, with entry by donation. The Old Dairy cafe serves hot and cold drinks and snacks, while picnics can be eaten in the adjacent Pleasure gardens.
Surrey Docks Farms
This is a working charitable farm located on the Thames path at Rotherhithe Street. The farm is free to enter, although donations are always welcome to help maintain the upkeep of the farm. You enter the site from the Thames path through the goat yard, before following a one way route around the farm where you will be able to see all the animals. Meet the animal sessions can be provided for children accompanied by an adult. The farm has a pop-up cafe, as well as a farm shop selling fresh produce from its gardens.
5. Bowling, Adventure Parks and Indoor Fun
Ten pin bowling is a great way to bring the family together to have some fun. Tenpin in Bexley Heath has 28 bowling lanes and is open every day of the week. Family deals are available up to 6pm with prices starting from £30.30. However, Tenpin offers much more than just bowling, with food, pool, air hockey and arcade machines also on site to help you make a day of your visit.
Woolwich Adventure Play Centre
Adventure playgrounds allow children to have fun while learning coordination and balance skills. The Woolwich Adventure Play Centre offers rope swings, zip wires, climbing walls, walk ways and more where your children can both challenge and enjoy themselves. When the weather takes a turn for the worse there is also an indoor play area with facilities for playing pool and table tennis, as well as board games too. Children can also take part in arts and crafts at the centre, while quieter areas with computers are available when homework needs to be done.
Apple Tree Children’s Cafe
Located in Herne Hill, the Apple Tree Children’s Cafe provides a range of stimulating activities for five year olds and under, while their parents can sit and relax and still be able to watch their kids play. Play sessions last for 90 minutes and cost £6.50 per child. Role play will engage a child’s imagination, while the ball pit, giant toadstools, climbing frame and tunnels will be equally fun and a useful source of exercise. The cafe menu caters for the kids as well as the adults who can keep an eye on their children while enjoying coffee and cake.
For some unique family time, why not head to Sensas in Vauxhall. Sensas offers a multi-sensory experience, where for two hours your family’s senses will be put to the test. This is a fully immersive series of playful puzzles and challenges. Amass tokens for successfully completed challenges, which are then converted by Sensas in to donations to a local charity partner. At the end of your two hours of senses overload and fun, you get the chance to have a family photo taken in their ‘anti-gravity’ room. Admission is £34 for adults and £28 for under 18s.
South London has plenty of activity centres where your kids can let off some steam while having great fun too. Kids do love a bit of slime and Slime Planet in Lambeth offers workshops in all things slime! Children will learn all about the science of slime while making their own slime. This is a great venue for a children’s party too, where the kids get to work together to create one giant piece of slime. Tickets cost £15 per child, with accompanying adults admitted for free.
Tumble Tots is a national venture with over 300 children’s activity centres across the country, including sites in Raynes Park and Beckenham. They provide play programs for children up to the age of seven, which are designed to develop physical, cognitive and social skills. Areas such as climbing, agility and coordination are the focus, with each session overseen by specially trained staff. Prices vary according to age group, but you can take your child for a one off trial session to see if they enjoy themselves first, the one-off session costing £8.