Spring breaks and family holidays in London

Come rain or shine, the capital delivers on great spring holidays

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Gillian Crawshaw

Gillian Crawshaw
HomeAway travel expert


Spring by Tower Bridge, LondonSpring has sprung in London, and it’s a great time of year to take a break with your family. With a surprising amount of parks and green spaces in the city, there are glimpses of spring around every corner, peeking out from among the traffic, shops and buildings. There are lots of opportunities to get out and about, stretch your legs and experience the capital in the clear spring air after the long and cold winter. Although let’s face it, the British weather may not have got the memo about the change of seasons – so spring in London is likely to be anything from warm and sunny, through to rainy with showers, and days where it will probably still be on the chilly side.


It’s best to look out for a few things that are under cover so you have every weather eventuality planned for. Make sure you all dress in lots of layers, wear boots for jumping in any muddy puddles you might see, and carry an umbrella with you at all times as those unexpected spring showers can be just around the corner. So here’s my pick of the best fun things to do on a spring break with your family in London, both indoors and out.

 

Gillian's guide to family spring breaks in London


   

Outdoors and in at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Outdoors and in at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The first signs of spring will be on show at Kew Gardens, where daffodils, snowdrops and spring bulbs will all be making a colourful appearance. Kew houses the largest collection of living plants in the world with over 30,000 different kinds of greenery and over seven million preserved plant specimens. You can take a trip up to the tree-top walkway, 18 metres above the ground, for an amazing view all over the grounds. If it’s raining, pop into one of the botanical greenhouses, or visit Climbers and Creepers, an indoor children’s play area (suitable for ages 3-9) where little ones can slide down a giant plant and wiggle through tunnels.

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Open-air play area or the Museum of Childhood Open-air play area or the Museum of Childhood

Coram’s Fields is an open-air play area situated over seven acres of land in central London. Designed specifically for children, there’s a city zoo, green fields, a play area and even an aerial slide. If the weather is refusing to play ball, however, hop on the tube to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, home to a national collection of toys and objects of childhood. These include dolls' houses, plastic figures, teddy bears, games and children’s paintings. Clearly, the museum is geared towards a younger market, and as such there are daily storytelling sessions, craft workshops, tours and treasure hunts (how much fun does that sound?) – but it’s bound to be brilliantly entertaining for adults too, with most of the objects instantly recognisable from their own youth.

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Walk on the Southbank or the IMAX cinema at Waterloo Walk on the Southbank or the IMAX cinema at Waterloo

If it’s sunny, take a walk along the Southbank to watch the street artists, performers and market stalls along the bank of the river; if it’s raining, take a short walk to the IMAX cinema that’s just round the corner in Waterloo. The IMAX offers the biggest cinema screen in the UK, and watching a film there is a completely immersive experience. The films on offer range from the latest Hollywood family-friendly blockbusters, through to concerts, alternative content and education presentations. If you’re going to watch a film on a rainy day, you might as well make it on the biggest screen possible. Who’s for popcorn?

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Covent Garden Piazza or the London Transport Museum Covent Garden Piazza or the London Transport Museum

Based in Covent Garden in central London, the London Transport Museum aims to conserve and interpret the capital city’s transport heritage, all under cover if it’s raining. Housing busses, trams and trolleybuses, the museum’s collection ranges from the 1920s to the modern day and is a must for any junior transport fanatic. True trainspotters can also visit the second home of the museum in Acton, west London (home to an entire 1930s tube train). If it’s a sunny day, however, you can always hang around Covent Garden Piazza to grab some food, watch the street performers and take a look around some of the shops.

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Walking tour of London or the Sea Life Aquarium Walking tour of London or the Sea Life Aquarium

Take the family on a short walking tour of some of London’s most famous sights. You can see Westminster Bridge, Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and No.10 Downing street all within a short distance. But if there are grey clouds overhead, you might as well go to where it’s really wet and hang around with some sea creatures at the Sea Life Aquarium, located just over the bridge. It is the watery home to Europe’s largest collection of global marine life. There are sharks, stingrays, octopuses, glow-in-the-dark jellyfish, penguins and a whole range of weird and wonderful creatures. If you time it right, you can even see the animals being given dinner, and watch the feeding frenzy in the piranha tank.

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Images

Kew Gardens by Michael Button
Museum of Childhood by Herry Lawford 
Imax by Martin Pettitt
London Transport Museum by Paul Hudson 
Sea Life London Aquarium by Phalinn Ooi

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