Things to do with Kids in London

So Mrs Schweik and I are taking the children to London for two days in mid-March. Accommodation is sorted. I'm wondering what cheap/free fun things there are to do for children aged 10 to 12. Also any decent places to eat that we'd all enjoy? We've already done the Rainforest Cafe.

We will probably take in at least one of the museums. I'd quite like to do a trip on the river bus, and couple it with a double decker bus ride. Is there a circular route that I could do that would take in any interesting sites?

Any ideas?
River trip to Greenwich is always good. NMM and the Planetarium/Obs, lots of pubs for Dad to go into. Greenwich market. Fire Power down the road in Woolwich. You can even take a trip to my old house and carry out an archaeological dig in the back garden and try and recover the millions of bits of lego and toy soldiers buried there.
Imperial War museum is free but they will do bag searches
National Maritime Museum
Old royal obsevitory- good if you want to knacker the kids as its at the top of a hill
National Army Museum
Have a look at There's a section on entertainments for keeping kids amused, plus all kinds of advice on museums (Natural History or the Science could be tops!) and other things. Good reviews of restaurants as well. You may also like to find a book called "100 Things To Do In London For Under £10".
You can even take a trip to my old house and carry out an archaeological dig in the back garden and try and recover the millions of bits of lego and toy soldiers buried there.
can I have a dig I'm in the area
Thoroughly recommend waterbus from embankment to greenwich, it passes under loads of bridges takes in tower of london etc from river, maritime museum at greenwich (pirates of the carribean 4 filming location).
The usual: buckingham palace, horse guards parade, trafalgar square etc all within easy walking distance of each other. Natural History museum and science musuem at Kensington or British Museum behind st pauls cathedral are also worth a visit, food: planet hollywood in leicester square or try covent garden 10 min walk from trafalgar sq for plenty of restaurants.
Worth googling the above for current prices etc.
Hope this helps.
The "DUKW" (Duck) Tour. Leaves from by the London Eye, drives around the streets then INTO the Thames by the MI6 building (Looks kids! That's where James Bond works) for a "sail" past The House of Commons. Good fun if the kids are young enough and have no idea what a "DUKW" does. Looks like a tour bus then goes for a swim! My two sons loved it and my nephews talked about it for weeks. Usure of price, as Grandma and Grandad paid, but give it a Google. Good military tie-in if you want to get them on the history bit.

If they are Dr Who fans and saw the Van Gough episode last year, there are some VGs in the National Gallery - my son was thrilled to see what the Doctor had seen!

Finally if they are lads, then Jermyn Street to show them where the good shirts grow!

Have fun and hope the weather holds.

IWM for dad, natural history museum for the kids. Free to get into, but as said earlier, bag searches. (so don't take a bergen whatever you do!) RAF museum in Hendon is quite good too. As for mum, I'm sure something like madame tussaurds (spastic spelling?) will keep her happy.
If you contact your local MP they should provide you with tickets for a guided tour around the Houses of Commons and Lords. Quite entertaining as the children get to stand at the actual dispatch box from where Phoney Tony lied so often and so convincingly. If you're lucky you may even get to see some MPs scrabbling in the bins looking for receipts.
It is worth checking out the 2for1 deals available via South West Trains (and probably many other train companies with services to London):

2FOR1 Attractions | South West Trains

If you are in London on a Fri, one of the 2for1s is for a RIB ride up the Thames from the Eye to Greenwich (Fri is the only day this particular offer is valid) It is expensive, and depends on how old (and male) your kids are, but I hadn't had as much fun in ages! Other 2 for 1 deals include various DUKW Tours (they seem to be called Meridian Ducks now - unless it is a competitor, it seems that they've gone bankrupt again and reinvented themselves - they were Frog Tours when I first moved to London)

The Aquarium is not bad for the younger kids, but again, only really value for money on a 2 for 1 deal.

If you want to go to the Theatre to round off the day, have a look at LastMinute.Com for tickets to something like the 39 Steps - it is on at the Criterion in Piccadilly Circus (so it is central - 39 Steps was clever and funny - young teens thought it was great). Tickets were £15 for the cheapest (a Fri night - I note some nights they are £10), £25 for the next ones up. We went for £25 and found that we had no better view than the £15 seats (and there was enough room to have moved into a £25 seat anyway). If you choose one of LastMinute's dinner and theatre tickets, it can be really good value. Last time we did one, we went to Porters in Covent Garden - good standard Sausage and Mash or Pie and Chips, 2 course meal from a set menu, but I think the theatre ticket was £25 on its own or £30 with dinner! Obviously the restaurant only offers it on nights or at times when they are relatively quiet and, of course, they expect to sell you a couple of drinks (and they know when you are leaving for the show, so you won't be clogging them up when it gets busy).

And having just seen the post above, I can't remember how far in advance, but if you write to your MP you can also ask to go on a tour of St Stephen's Tower (Big Ben) - all free, fantastic view and a great experience for kids. We were allowed to be up there for the 1100 chimes (having been issued with yellow ear plugs) - surprisingly not that loud up there.
HMS Belfast is a good one for the kids. It's quite central as well allbeit on the other side of the river Thames.


Book Reviewer
The "DUKW" (Duck) Tour.
Seconded. Kids love it

Finally if they are lads, then Jermyn Street to show them where the good shirts grow!
Jesus. They are 10 and 12. Purchase some fine cheese at the cheese shop *Linky*, maybe pop over the road to the grocers *Linky* for a jar of Old English Hunt marmalade then snag a tube to Camden Town and hit Camden Lock Market. Kids love it better than Harry Potter. Its full of interesting Goth tat. Leave them there with Mum and stroll up the hill to the Sir Richard Steele for a pint of foaming mead. Sorted.


Book Reviewer
London Bridge Experience or London Dungeon, IWM, NAM, Science Museum, Natural History Museum. As the nights are getting longer, what about a Jack the Ripper tour, leaves from Tower Hill tube arouind 19.00 and takes approx 2-3 hrs £7 per adult, not sure about the kids though.
Why not teach them to pick pockets, then drop them off on Oxford Street? It works for the Rumanian kids in the city.
Loads of top suggestions already so not much to add other than if you need to choose between the Natural History and Science Museums I'd go for the Science one. The Natural History museum is largely a collection of stuffed animals which my two kids found boring after a short while. However the Science museum has something for everyone (from space travel to how we used to live) and includes a lot of interactive stuff which they loved. We actually had trouble dragging them out!

Finally ditto the DUKW tours it's great fun, either way enjoy your trip.
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