VISIT: The Natural History Museum (Dinosaurs!)
For dinosaur enthusiasts, a visit to Londons' Natural History Museum is a must! This beautiful setting never fails to impress me with its Victorian grandeur, romanesque design and light-filled atrium, but it's the animatronic T-Rex that really draws us to visit each time.
The dinosaur exhibit is conveniently located on the ground floor, making it entirely viable to just pop in for this alone. Featuring fossils and casts of dinosaur skeletons, it also boasts various audio-visual animations and learning resources, giving us a glimpse into life on earth during dinsoaurs' lengthy residence.
The T-Rex is undoubtedly the star here, and so life-like is she/he, I must confess, I did have moment of chills when our eyes briefly met. On this point, it is important to prepare young children before entering the display. I've seen many a child swiftly scooped up and removed, tears falling down little plump cheeks because they thought the dinosaur was real, parents worried and feeling guilty for upsetting their little ones. A little preparation beforehand can make the visit run much more smoothly for all involved, or even perhaps delay it until your children are older.
Some points to consider before your visit:
South Kensington is one Londons' busiest areas. It houses several of London's most famous and important museums and galleries. During the week, expect regular tourist groups and school groups. At the weekend, expect large crowds. The best times to visit are either when the museum opens, or mid-to-late afternoon. Should you visit in the morning, expect a queue, although this will move rather swiftly. If you can visit on a weekday, do. If you happen to go during half-term, the queues during these times can be rather daunting, thus proving problematic for families with babies and young children.
Beware the dinosaur gift shop outside the entrance to the T-rex exhibit! My son makes a beeline for this every time we visit and is so taken with the vast array of merchandise, it proves challenging to lure him away. For book-loving families, also beware the main gift shop! It's shelves are bursting with so many gorgeous titles I would love to be able to take home would my budget allow.
My son is an avid climber so the NHM isn't the most suitable place to take him for an extended period of time. The museum includes a few outdoor areas for children to run freely, although taking advantage of these is of course weather dependent.
The site also has child-friendly eateries, with the T-Rex grill being most popular for families; they have colouring materials, a kids menu that caters for most dietary requirements, and an animatronic dinosaur display on entry.
If you have the luxury of time, or happen to live in London (or visit during different times throughout the year), you have the benefit of being able to focus on select exhibits, reducing the amount of time spent here. Museum visits can be exhausting for the whole family! If you're visiting the city and are pressed for time, visit the museums website for further tips on how you can best plan your day for maximum enjoyment, and minimal stress.
If you have any tips of visiting museums with children, please do share them with me in the comments below.Address: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD
Opening Hours: Daily, 10.00am-5.30pm
Entry: General entry is 'FREE', although donations are always gratefully accepted
Facilities: Cloakroom, baby change, several eateries, two gift shops, outdoor grounds
Access: Relatively easy access due to the presence of lifts and ramps, although there are stairs leaving South Kensington tube station
Transport: Buses outside the museum to/from various destinations, South Kensington tube station. Plan your trip with TFL to have all the information you need.