Meet in the middle on London family holidays

Awesome attractions for adults and little ones alike

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Kai Sedgwick

Kai Sedgwick
HomeAway travel expert

London family holidaysPlanning a family holiday involves trying to please everyone. But it’s not that simple. How do you choose a destination that’s kid-friendly yet full of culture? Action-packed but with scope to relax? If there’s one city that can be relied upon to entertain adults and littles ones alike, it’s London. The capital crams in enough shops, parks and restaurants to engross tourists of all ages, so you can have your cake and eat it too (and perhaps their share for afters!).

Kids will love the theatre shows, workshops and museums we detail below just as much as the grown-ups. And from the Natural History Museum to Hyde Park, London’s attractions will need little introduction. But perhaps what you'll need is a handy guide; one that shows you the things that'll instantly appeal to both you and your brood. So here it is.


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London family holidays: shopping London family holidays: shopping

No trip to London would be complete without stopping to shop. But where will satisfy your wallet, while keeping them from pulling your shirt sleeves? There's your idea of retail heaven – a street market selling artisan wares, a gleaming mall stocked with international brands, or the upmarket boutiques of Kensington – and then there's their idea of fun: Hamleys. It's not going to be easy to drag them out of here, but in all honesty, you might not want to. Come on – it's the biggest toy shop in the world, with seven floors containing over 50,000 toys. No? You could always shop for small clothes instead; Armani Junior in Knightsbridge should quench your desire for designer! 

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London family holidays: theatre London family holidays: theatre

When it comes to sheer all-out entertainment, the West End is the best end of London to be. With 13 million visitors a year checking out the West End’s 40-odd playhouses, London’s entertainment industry is booming. But what to see when there's such a giddy array of award-winning musicals, dramas and comedy productions? Well, if the likes of Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The Lion King don't light up your inner kid, we don't know what will. Well, maybe the Unicorn Theatre, which always seems to showcase one old classic or another; be brought back to your childhood with their Up Club, which offers tickets alongside free (yes free) activities on Saturdays! 

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London family holidays: galleries & museums London family holidays: galleries & museums

Every family holiday should involve a trip to the museum; of all our recommendations, it’s the one place where everyone is guaranteed to have a great time. At the Natural History Museum, little ones will gaze in awe at the colossal dinosaur skeleton, while you discover some of the greatest archeological discoveries of modern times. There’s also the British Museum to visit, not to mention Tate Modern and National Portrait Gallery – but perhaps they're better suited to adults... If the kids are kicking and screaming, the obvious choice is the V & A Museum of Childhood. Even grumpy Mums can't fail to love its collection of 100 dolls' houses, while the kids go on a treasure hunt. 

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London family holidays: parks & waterways London family holidays: parks & waterways

Parks are a breath of fresh air in the city – a place to unwind from the bustle and sit back while the kids play. And although it packs its fair share of skyscrapers and subways, London is hardly an expanse of urban clutter. The capital is famous for its leafy green expanses and meandering waterways. There's Hyde Park, where you can boat on The Serpentine, but trips along the Thames’ will be better suited to morbid boys! You can recount the grisly beheadings of Tower prisoners – delightful. At Battersea, hire pedalos on the lake, or take active kids to the adventure playground complete with slides, climbing structures and nets. You can kick back with a Pimms, of course.

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London family holidays: dining London family holidays: dining

In an ideal world, every family has a favourite cuisine – one whose tastiness can be unanimously agreed on. But those without kids don't quite understand the phrase 'fussy eater'. If your little ones aren't aquainted with hummus and fava beans yet, give them Chinese duck, Italian antipasti or hearty British grub, Spanish tapas, French paté or good ol' burgers and fries. You’ll be spoilt for choice during your time in London. For a taste of fine dining without the formalities, pay a visit to the Blue Elephant on Fulham Broadway; dinner is preceded by face-painting. Benihana, which has three sites across the capital, is a great Japanese eatery with a children’s menu, with chefs plying their craft for all to see. There's something for everyone – just keep looking, and prepare to have your taste-buds blown.

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