12 best family days out in London: Cheap things to do with your kids

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  • Looking for fun family days out in London? With restrictions easing, trips around the capital are back on the table. 

    Some of the best family days out in the south-east of England are in London, as it’s just exploding with things to do with kids while also being fun for adults.

    And despite London’s reputation for being pricey, there are actually plenty of adventures to be had that really won’t break the bank.

    Ideas for family days out in London:

    1. Wet n Wild at Waterfront Leisure Centre, Woolwich

    If you’re looking to have a splashing time then a water park should be one of the first things on your mind. This place ticks all the boxes. Mum and dad can enjoy a swim in the formal fitness pool which has four dedicated lanes, while the kids will love the leisure pool which boasts two water slides, a 65m snake slide, wave machine, waterfall, volcano, water jets and five lane water slide.

    Wet n Wild at Waterfront Leisure Centre, Woolwich

    Credit: Better, Waterfront Leisure Centre

    If you grown-ups want valuable relaxation, there’s even a spa pool. This place is definitely worth dipping your toes in and is ideal even if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

    Best for: All-round family fun
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    2. Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, Battersea

    Battersea represents a much cheaper alternative to the renowned London Zoo. Children can enjoy spending quality time with a whole host of animals, ranging from lemurs to kunekune pigs (yes, there is such a thing!).

    There’s also a huge playground of climbing frames and swings, meaning your little ones can turn into cheeky monkeys themselves. Oh, and if you’re feeling peckish or need to rest your legs, there’s a cafe with seating available inside and outside. More picnic tables can be found throughout the zoo.

    Following a change in the rules on May 17 2021, Battersea Park Zoo is now open to visitors post-lockdown. The zoo is operating a ticketing system and one-in-one-out when the space reaches full capacity.

    Best for: A picnic in the park
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    3. Snakes and Ladders Play Centre, Brentford

    It’s back with a bang after its massive £2 million refurbishment and jam-packed with even more fun. Under 5s have an area specifically dedicated to them with soft play, swings, ride-ons and more. And older children needn’t worry, because there’s a gigantic 3-tier play frame with slides, climbs, a mini-sports pitch and balls.

    There’s also a very nicely revamped cafe serving food and drink – all that running about can get awfully tiring. They run regular offers such as 2 4 1 and every sixth child is free if you fill out the online form so arrange a playdate with friends and it will be cheaper for you all.

    Snakes & Ladders is now open again after lockdown. For tickets, book online.

    Best for: Appealing to both younger and older children
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    4. Go Ape, Alexandra Palace

    Go Ape is an incredible way to spend a day! There are three types of tree-top adventures to be had at Alexandra Palace’s Go Ape: Treetop Challenge, Treetop Adventure and Treetop Adventure Plus. Each one comes with inspiring views of London’s skyline as you work your way through the course’s heights and climbs.

    Adults will definitely want to get involved in this too and they’ll have to as one adult is required by centre to supervise up to two children, if they are under the age of six. This superb day out in London is ideal for any adventurers over 1 metre tall and a maximum of 130kg in weight.

    Best for: Views of London’s skyline
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    5. London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

    This attraction is one of the days out in London that will take you on an extraordinary journey through time and leave you with a valuable understanding of the capital’s transport heritage.

    There are so many interactive and educational displays – you’ll struggle to fit everything in! Oh, and you can get behind the driving seat of a tube train simulator.

    Best for: Educating them, without them suspecting…
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    6. Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill

    Horniman Museum and Gardens is a must-do when brainstorming for family days out in London. Bulging with originality, you’ll enter a place that’s fun, diverse and more than a little bit bizarre. If you have curious kids (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), they’ll love the 4,000-item ‘Hands on Base’ where you can handle, wear and discover thousands of real museum artefacts.

     

    If you fancy a splash, there’s also an aquarium with 15 exhibits, each one showcasing a different aquatic environment from around the world. It’s definitely worth seeing! Plus there is a 16-acre garden which is perfect for picnic and letting your little one run off some steam.

    Horniman Museum and Gardens is now open to all post-lockdown.

    Best for: Price – only the aquarium costs
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    7. The London Dungeon

    The London Dungeon is certainly one of the more frightening days out in London! A trip here will take you and your kids on a journey through London’s darkest history with 19 live actor-led shows and two thrilling rides all in 110 minutes. Plus, after your tour you can treat the family to a free round of drinks in the London Dungeon Tavern, a Victorian pub experience.

    Book in advance and save up to 30 per cent on your ticket and to guarantee entry. Purchase more than one of London’s attractions online and you can save lots of money too.

    The London Dungeon is now open to all visitors post-lockdown. The venue is operating at limited capacity, under Covid-19 restrictions, so book in advance to avoid disappointment.

    Best for: Chills with frills
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    8. Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, Wood Green

    You might not know it, but grand old Alexandra Palace is a great venue for family ice skating. Not only can you just go for a classic skate, but there’s also a range of activities available and covering every aspect of ice sports, ballet classes and dance clubs.

    If your little one loves to climb they might also like the Big Tree Climbing experience or maybe you fancy a round of Pitch & Putt. New members are always welcome.

    Alexandra Palace is now open again for most events.

    Best for: Children of all ages (even teenagers!)
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    9. Kidspace Romford, Romford

    Definitely consider this award-winning Romford adventure park for a family day out – there’s something for everyone! Little ones will love Toddler Village, which contains a themed play frame, slides, mazes, mini trampolines and an incredible sensory area. There’s also a 25ft climbing wall for over 5s to try out.

    Older kids are spoilt for choice too, do they shoot soft balls at people below in Thunderdome City or go on the daunting Skytrail which is suspended 3 metres in the air? Don’t worry kids, there’ll be plenty of time to do both. And dads, if you fancy a kick about, there’s a multi-activity room with a dedicated football area that’ll serve that purpose perfectly. Buy your tickets in advance and save 20 per cent.

    Kidspace Romford is now open again after lockdown for up to two households or the ‘rule of six’.

    Best for: Fun for adults, too!
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    10. Rowans Tenpin Bow, Finsbury Park

    No matter what the final result, you’ll feel like you just scored ten strikes when you leave Rowan’s. It’s a fun day out with the kids and you can’t beat a classic game of tenpin bowling!

    Air-conditioned bowling lanes aside, Rowan’s also has 14 pool tables, table tennis, amusement arcades, large, overhead sports screens, karaoke and food and drink so it’s not just about bowling – what’s not to love?

    Tenpin bowling balls lined up at the bowling alley

    Credit: Getty

    Rowans is open again now lockdown is lifting, with particular restrictions – including compulsory face masks – in place.

    Best for: Rainy afternoons
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    11. London Aquatic Centre, Stratford

    Take your little one to explore the marvel of London’s Olympic Park. You can visit the Aquatic Centre for £2 and if you fancy taking a dip you can book a slot in advance or on the day.

    During the summer holidays they host special kids slots including an inflatable assault course. The 20 metre wipe-out course ‘Aqua Splash’ is sure to excite your kids and adults can assist too…

    Following the reopening of fitness centres in April, the London Aquatic Centre is now open again.

    Best for: Fun for all
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    12. Hounslow Urban Farm, Feltham

    It’s likely that Hounslow Urban Farm will completely change your opinion of farms. They might be one of the smellier days out in London, but they’re extremely fun too. There are plenty of animal encounters to be had, pig racing (yep), interactive live shows and even more.

    Children can go crazy in the outdoor play area and the indoor bouncy castle is a perfect shelter from hot or wet weather. Toddlers can also access pony rides on the fleet of Shetland ponies, with a helmet and supervision provided. Book online to save money on your tickets and a season ticket could well be worth an investment if you are close by.

    As much fun as a trip to Urban Farm would be, it’s unfortunately still closed due to Covid-19 restrictions in the area.

    Best for: Burning off steam
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    Enjoy your day out at one of these incredible locations!

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