Outdoor activities for kids in London
Make the most of London's outside spaces (and the glorious weather) with our favourite family things to do outdoors
Diana Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens
Credit: The Royal Parks
An imaginative, stimulating play area for the family, little ones can become a Lost Boy (or girl) at this wonderful Peter Pan themed outdoor playground in Kensington Gardens, a favourite with kids, royal or otherwise, since 2000.
London Wetland Centre
Credit: Saleel Tambe
The London Wetland Centre is one of the most charming places you can take your family: they've got otters, birds of every shape and size and lots of green space for kids to tear around in. Children can also get involved in the summer activities, like pond dipping, bird watching, learning how to survive in the wild and scavenger hunts.
Spend time in the Garden Museum with the Ladybird Books exhibition
We all know that reading is so much better when you can bring the books to life and the Ladybird Books exhibition at the Garden Museum is a celebration of our favourite nature series - and an opportunity to teach the young'uns all about the glorious flora and fauna around them. Expect interactive activities like a nature hunt trail, creative workshops, storytelling, cupcake making, dressing up and lessons in plant life. And probably a mini-beast discovery or two...
Read more here
Walk among dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park
Kids are always dinosaur-crazy. Avoid the queues at the Natural History Museum and get your kids up close and personal with these epic beasts at Crystal Palace, which first got dinosaur fever back in 1854. The remains of this Victorian cultural and scientific centre disappeared many years ago, but the dinosaurs are here to stay.
Smell the roses at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden at the Southbank
Credit: India Roper-Evans
Enjoy London's glorious skyline with food and drink at Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden, which has recently reopened for the sunny season. Wildflowers and fruit trees, plus grass to run around on for the little ones, makes this a favourite urban oasis.
Jump around in Kew Gardens' new play space
Kew Gardens is the go-to destination once the sun is out, with an all-new, ENORMOUS 10,000m² space opened in May 2019. There's plenty to delight the toddler set, from sandpits to a water garden (yes, kids control the water pumps), to throwing giant pollen balls or jumping on them. Older kids have plenty to do too, like walking across the aerial walkway and scrambling on giant logs.
Check out London's animals at the farm
Photo: Hobbledown Farm
North, south, east or west, chances are that some farm animals are living in close proximity to you, no matter where in London you find yourself. Which means pigs to pet, sheep to feed, alpacas to get hair envy about... is anything better than spending time with animals? Quite simply, no.
Splash around in one of London's awesome fountains
Credit: Pete Woodhead, Southbank Centre
Who needs the hassle of getting in and out of a leisure centre pool? Not us in-the-know parents. Instead, we embrace the paddling pools and fountains of London, which happen to be in some of our favourite locations in the city: the V&A, Somerset House, Granary Square. Don't miss Southbank Centre's Appearing Rooms fountain this summer, either. See you there.
Rock climb in and around a castle
The Castle Climbing Centre in Stokie renovated the inside of a Victorian building once used to pump water into a rock-climbing gym. There's bouldering, traditional, and sports climbing options available on the grounds, so you can see for yourself that it really does look like a castle from the outside. Which sort-of counts as teaching them something historical, we think. The Castle is open to ages 5+.
Take in some outdoor art around London
Photo: Henry Moore, Christie's Sculpture in the Square
Grab the kids and wander through London's outdoor art scene, which includes everything from Frieze Sculpture 2019 in Regent's Park to Franz West in the Tate Modern's forecourt to Henry Moore, Barry Flanagan and Lynn Chadwick in St. James' Park, courtesy of Christie's.
Read more on outdoor art here
See things from a new perspective: Go Ape
With locations in Ally Pally, Battersea Park, Cockfosters and Chessington World of Adventures, Go Ape has plenty to offer your urban explorer, like treetop canopy courses and ziplines that test endurance and build confidence.
The perfect introduction to Shakespeare
Shakespeare? Kids? Trust us.
This summer, Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream has been relocated to 1920s Britain and will be played across 21 of London's most gorgeous squares. Now this is the way to get them excited about Shakespeare - and to start understanding it.
Outdoor cinema, anyone?
Photo: Neverland Beach Club cinema
Because The Greatest Showman is even greater outdoors. Trust us. From Somerset House to Shoreditch, there's an outdoor film venue near you. You can even feel the sand at your feet while watching a cool movie at Neverland's Beach Club Cinema in Fulham. Just add ice cream.
Dance on the National Theatre's River Stage
Set pleasingly on the banks of the Thames, London's National Theatre spills out beyond the Olivier, Lyttelton and Dorfman auditoriums throughout July, with an eclectic programme of live music, guest DJs, dance and performance.
Read more about outdoor theatre here