Planning the Perfect Family Day Out in London
A day out with your children in the exciting, vast bustle of Europe’s unofficial capital can require extensive planning of almost militaristic precision. While London has multitudes of attractions for families, it’s not always clear which are the best ones, the easiest to navigate and get to and what alternatives to choose if the infamously unpredictable weather puts paid to a planned outdoor activity; you want somewhere you can spend the entire day or at least two different types of place that are close to one another. Read on for some ideas on where to spend a great family day out in London that will delight the kids without bankrupting you.
London Wetland Centre
Located in south-west London not far from Wimbledon, the London Wetland Centre was last year voted the UK’s favoured nature reserve in the BBC Countryfile Awards. Covering 105 acres, this haven of nature was created by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust back in 2000 by landscaping the areas around four Victorian reservoirs, of all things. Now you can traverse the walkways between the ponds and islets and spot all kinds of fauna including falcons and sparrowhawks and even bats. In the waters you’ll see American wood ducks, Asian short-clawed otters and red breasted and barnacle geese, both of which are part of the centre’s conservation programme. There is a Discovery Centre, adventure playground, pond-dipping and interactive games. There’s also a large waterside cafe offering all manner of delights for you and the kids. A real educational, fun and interactive day out amid nature.
Another educational and fun day out, at Kew, your children can discover more about fauna, conservation and science, run riot in the interactive play and adventure areas and ascend into the canopy via the Xstrata Treetop Walkway.
The several famed glasshouses at Kew each have different temperatures and house a diverse array of plants; the Evolution House will guide you through over 3,500 million years of flora, giving your kids a sense of wonder as well as an appreciation of conservation.
Climbers and Creepers has tunnels, slides and giant plants across indoor and outdoor interactive play areas and the band-new Treehouse Towers has zip wires, slides and a mountaineering ramp. There are four cafés onsite and in warmer weather, picnics are permitted in the grounds.
South Kensington Museums
The cluster of museums around Exhibition Road are world-famous, and justifiably so. The Natural History and Science Museums are ideal for a family day out, combining interactive sessions, fun, educational tools and dining for you and your family.
Inside the splendid Natural History Museum you’ll find a staggering 70 million-plus specimens and the hugely popular dinosaur gallery, with its animatronic T Rex and Diplodocus skeleton, both of which are sure to inspire silent awe in even the giddiest or most jaded child. There are also the giant blue whale and squid models, earthquake simulators, educational and art tools and the Darwin Centre with its huge collection of species and the opportunity to visit working laboratories.
The Science Museum was founded in 1857 and attracts millions of visitors every year with its vast collections cataloguing the development of science over the centuries via interactive, fun and creative exhibits and activities. The Wellcome Wing allows kids to change their voices and digitally alter their faces and key exhibit pieces include the world’s oldest steam engine and the capsule from Apollo 10. There is also an IMAX theatre with a breathtakingly huge screen. Here, you can take the weight off your feet and be dazzled by 3D adventures in outer space and roaming with dinosaurs; mainstream animated features are shown here, too.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Ever since the first Harry Potter film hit cinemas in 2001, no kid on the planet has been able to resist the excitement and charm of the saga. Visiting the Warner Bros. Studio tour at Leavesden will allow you and your kids to experience the magic that went in to the making of Harry Potter at first-hand. The original sets are here to be visited along with demonstration of the special effects featured in the film and the sight of animatronic models in action. The Hogwarts Castle scale model is a particular highlight. Worked on by no less than 86 artists, this stunningly ornate and ultra-detailed example of craftsmanship was used for aerial shots in all the films and is lit be thousands of tiny fibre optic lights.
Whichever of the above you decide to visit with your family for a special day out, you can guarantee your children will be as entertained as they will be educated and as active as they’ll be spellbound - and the same might well be true for you, as well.
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