Winter is a great time to visit London with families as it never gets very cold, rarely snows and, who are we kidding? London summers can be temperamental. At least you know what to expect in winter and every attraction is less crowded! Here's our top picks.
You can’t go wrong with any of the classic historical attractions, which are indoors: Tower of London http://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/, St. Paul’s Cathedral https://www.stpauls.co.uk/, and Westminster Abbey http://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us. For views, the London Eye is iconic https://www.londoneye.com/, but I prefer the less crowded (and less expensive) Emirates Air Line http://www.emiratesairline.co.uk/tickets-information/ for city views in motion and brings you to Greenwich (see below).
There’s a wealth of museums to choose from, obvious favorites for children are the Science Museum http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk, and Natural History Museum http://www.nhm.ac.uk/, which incidentally has a picturesque ice rink up in winter. For little ones it is worth a trip east to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/home/, which can be combined with the fragrant and fun Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday mornings http://www.columbiaroad.info/. Tops for historical museums, The British Museum is tremendous, so our preferred way to enjoy with kids is by doing one of the free family programs sponsored by Samsung, http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar/family_events.aspx, which generally focus on one exhibit using technology to explore. The Victoria & Albert is another incredible place to learn about history through objects http://www.vam.ac.uk/. For families with time (pun intended), Greenwich is worth a day to see the Royal Museums http://www.rmg.co.uk/: the recently restored tea clipper, Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory, where it is a unique thrill to stand on the Prime Meridian of the World and visit London’s only planetarium.
Best museums too see art with kids include the Tate Modern, which currently has an amazing exhibit of Alexander Calder, the artist who essentially invented the mobile for the crib, on until April http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern. Follow time at the Tate with a meal at Sea Containers at the Mondrian https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/mondrian/mondrian-london/eat-drink/sea-containers, which has the most delicious food (and a kids menu), unbelievable cocktails and stunning views of St. Paul’s. My not so obvious pick for kids is the National Portrait Gallery http://www.npg.org.uk/. However, kids will enjoy the captivating images of Britons throughout the ages. Afterwards, ask them to draw a portrait of themselves and let the creativity begin.
For many children, London is Harry Potter. Essential for Potter Fans is a trip to the Warner Brothers Studios https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/, which tours you through the making of the films. For more Potter, there are walking tours that take you to actual sites from the films in London http://britmovietours.com/bookings/harry-potter-walk/. Best Part: We think this is a great way to get cranky children excited about walking around the city.
Starting this summer is the new “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a two part play showing in the West End http://www.harrypottertheplay.com/ticket-information/. Tickets sold out as soon as they were released, but there will be daily and weekly ticket lotteries, and perhaps connected concierges will have magical ways to help.
London also has a number of great children’s theaters; favorites are the Unicorn https://www.unicorntheatre.com/, which has different plays suited to children all year long, located conveniently beside The Shard (another option for city views http://www.theviewfromtheshard.com, or for amazing puppet shows "The Little Angel in Islington" https://littleangeltheatre.com/. Our favorite family show running in the West End is Roald Dahl’s "Matilda" http://uk.matildathemusical.com/.
Good to splice up all the culture with a bit of running around, of course there’s all the gorgeous Royal Parks http://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/england/londons-parks, but to really get the adrenaline pumping we love the new Go Ape http://goape.co.uk/battersea-park tree top adventure ropes course in Battersea Park. If it rains, an indoor high energy release is climbing, try Clip n Climb http://www.clipnclimbchelsea.co.uk/ in Chelsea or bouldering at The Arch http://archclimbingwall.com/ in trendy Bermondsey http://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/england/london-neighborhoods-explore, or another new favorite, Oxygen Free Jumping http://oxygenfreejumping.co.uk/, a two-level trampoline park on the edge of west London.
One thing is for certain, no matter the season, it is difficult to get bored with children in London!