Looking for things to do with kids around London? Here are some great family days out near the capital
London is brimming with brilliant days out but don’t overlook what’s just outside the capital. Here are some top attractions within easy reach to keep both adults and children entertained
Enjoy a taste of Edwardian high society by visiting Polesden Lacey, which once hosted lavish parties for royalty. This National Trust property boasts sumptuously decorated reception rooms and a bounty of jewellery belonging to the former owner and socialite, Dame Margaret Greville.
Children can dress up in Edwardian finery and try their hand at folding napkins fit for a banquet table. Outside there are 30 acres of formal gardens and a further 1400 acres of estate to roam. This is where families will find an adventure playground and an amphitheatre that hosts outdoor performances in the summer.
Credit: LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort
This brick-tastic day out might be billed for children aged two to 12 but there’s plenty going on at Legoland Windsor Resort to entertain anyone who’s ever made a Lego model.
From Duplo Valley – with toddler-friendly rides and the UK’s largest outdoor water play structure – to the Lego Star Wars Miniland Model Display recreating six iconic scenes from the movies, this family attraction will not disappoint.
If you’re visiting during school holidays you might want to look into getting a Q-Bot to give you fast-track access to the 55 rides.
The historic home of the Royal Horticultural Society is a day out for all seasons. The gardens were once used for experiments in growing different plants and are now populated with one of the largest plant collections in the world.
There are no less than 24 different horticultural areas where you can admire exotic landscapes, native fruit trees, wild meadows and Mediterranean terraces. Children will love the activity trails, while parents and grandparents can gather inspiration for their own gardens.
Even in the winter RHS Wisley is a great botanical experience for young and old. From January to March you can see an array of tropical butterflies in the iconic Glasshouse.
Credit: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Immerse yourselves in JK Rowling’s world of wizards and wonder at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, London. The award-winning Making of Harry Potter takes you on a journey through the sets used in the eight films, including the Forbidden Forest, Dumbledore’s Office and Diagon Alley.
The studios at Leavesden have an astonishing collection of Harry Potter artefacts saved during a decade of filming, with thousands of props and costumes. You can learn how the set builders created the door to the Chamber of Secrets with its slithering snakes and how the special effects team made the life-like mythical beasts.
Credit: RAF Museum London
This free day out offers visitors the chance to discover the history of the Royal Air Force, the people who flew daring missions, and the aircraft they crewed.
There are more than 70 planes and helicopters on display from the past century of aviation. You can even learn how to fly in the interactive Fun ’n’ Flight gallery and experience what it’s like to sit in the pilot’s seat of a Red Arrow in the Black Hawk Simulator.
In 2018, the RAF celebrates its Centenary and the museum will be updated with many more interactive exhibits and stories for families.
Credit: Historic Royal Palaces
Lovers of Tudor history, ghost stories and fine art will not be disappointed by a day out at Hampton Court Palace.
King Henry VIII’s favoured royal palace was the stage for many historical events, both of national importance and personal tragedy. It was where Henry’s third queen Jane Seymour died giving birth to the King’s heir, Edward. In happier times it was a palace for entertaining, with kitchens equipped for serving 1600 meals a day.
Families will enjoy visiting the famous Maze, touring the extravagant Tudor apartments and elegant baroque Georgian palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren for William III and Mary II in the 17th century.
The Hobbledown farm park has been created around the mystical imaginings of author Angela Kecojevic. By stepping into Hobbledown you are entering a fictional world of mischief and fun.
Outdoors there are adventure playgrounds, a maze and high ropes, among other active adventures. Around the farm children can meet a wide range animals from pigs and rabbits to camels and meerkats.
Inside, younger kids can toddle about the multi-sensory soft play area, while there are challenges and games for older children.
An attraction to inspire budding writers is the Roald Dahl Museum. It can be found in Great Missenden where the great storyteller spent 36 years of his writing career.
The museum tells the incredible tale of Dahl’s life, from fighter pilot to the world-renowned author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and The Witches. There are plenty of interactive exhibits in the museum, allowing fans to capture their dreams in bottles, make their own movie and see some of the real places that featured in the books.
The museum also hosts craft, writing and storytelling events aimed at six- to 12-year-olds.
An underground adventure awaits families visiting Chislehurst Caves. This complex of man-made tunnels 30 metres below the surface has an incredible history.
Evidence has been found of Saxon and Roman uses for the caves, which were mined for chalk and brick building materials for the houses of London. More recently it acted as one of the largest deep air raid shelters in the country, protecting up to 15,000 people during the Blitz.
Descend into the caves for an hour-long guided tour. This experience might not be suited to younger children but will be fascinating for older kids with an interest in history. Be sure to wear sensible footwear.
Alice Holt Forest sits on the most northerly border of the South Downs National Park and offers families who love the great outdoors plenty of options to get their fill of fresh air.
You can take a relaxing walk through woodlands once used to build medieval ships on the South Coast. Follow the Gruffalo Trail or Timberline Play Trail with obstacles along the way. Hire bikes or tackle the adult and junior treetop courses of Go Ape.
Of course there’s also the option to pack a picnic, sit back and let the kids enjoy the adventure playground next to the visitor centre.