VISIT: The Science Museum, London
London's Science Museum is an outstanding place to visit for families, regardless of the age of your children. While there is plenty to entertain older children, it caters for busy toddlers and early primary years especially well. Permanent exhibits include the fantastic space exploration, technology through time, and an impressive collection of vintage cars, steam trains and planes. All guaranteed to delight your young ones. But it's The Garden and The Pattern Pod that prove to be particularly exciting. The Science Museum is all about children learning through play, making it one of the best sites to visit in London.
The Space installation is one of our favourite areas of the museum. Here, you can see spaceship and satellite models, vintage posters, a life-size landing module complete with mannequin astronaut and a fascinating look at the planets. It’s not an area we tend to spend much time in yet, as there isn’t anything children can touch, but it’s always interesting to see.
Located in the museum’s basement, The Garden is a must for families with toddlers and younger children. There’s a fantastic water-play area that all kids delight in. Plastic smocks are provided; however, I advise you take a change of clothes for toddlers and young children as it’s a very interactive area! There’s also a small soft play area with foam blocks to build and crash, a collection of instruments for making tonnes of acceptable noise, and plenty of other things to discover. Aged for children 3-6, toddlers will also greatly appreciate what it has to offer.
The Pattern Pod
Another of our favourite areas, The Pattern Pod is highly interactive for children, providing lots of touch screens for them to explore. There’s a small booth children can enter to create their own patterns using their bodies as well as a ripple mat to jump on. Aimed at children under 8, it is multi-sensory area perfect for helping children to understand patterns and how they create events.
Some points to consider before your visit:
South Kensington is home to some of the UK’s most famous museums, making it one of London’s busiest areas. Tourist and school groups frequent the area regularly during the week, and the weekends are always busy. In my experience, the best times to visit are early in the morning, when the museum opens, or late in the afternoon. Expect queues, although they will move swiftly. As is to be expected, half term holidays are incredibly busy.
There are loads of areas geared towards children, and few where they’re unable to touch things. The areas to watch out for include the space installation and the vintage cars and steam trains. I must keep a watchful eye here as it’s just so tempting!
The cafes provide rolls, biscuits and cakes, as well as a couple of salad options. It isn’t great for dietary requirements, but you can grab a juice and tea or coffee and bring a packed lunch if visiting during this time. I recommend doing that or popping into Pret on your way.
Located near the main entrance, the gift shop has a wide array of souvenirs, books and science kits. There are options for pocket money toys as well as larger items. Decide beforehand if you wish to visit.
Check the museum website for seasonal exhibitions and activities. Many of the areas are quite dark, which, although rather exciting, means I always dress my son in something bright should he wander off.Address: Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10am-6pm (please check the website for guidance during Covid)
Entry: Free. Please book online here. Donations are always gratefully accepted.
Facilities: Restrooms, baby change areas, cafes and gift shop
Access: Lifts and ramps providing easy access for buggies and wheelchairs.
Transport: A short walk from South Kensington tube station. At the time of writing this, South Ken isn’t step free and the trains on the Piccadilly line do not stop here due to station upgrade. Please check the TFL website for alternative transport routes and for updates on station upgrades.