12 best family days out in London: Cheap things to do with your kids

Welcome to our family days out London section! Here we’ve listed our top 12 favourite things to do in the capital with the family…

London is practically exploding with things to do, so it can be difficult for families to make up their minds. And as not everyone is made of money we thought we’d round-up the best things to do in London when you’re on a budget. Or if you’re looking for free things to do in London, we’ve got 100 of those, too!

1. Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, Battersea

Battersea represents a much cheaper alternative to the renowned (but rather pricey!) London Zoo. Children can enjoy spending quality time with a whole host of animals, ranging from lemurs to kunekune pigs (yes, there is such a thing!). There’s also a huge playground of climbing frames and swings, meaning your little ones can turn into cheeky monkeys themselves! Oh, and if you’re feeling peckish or need to rest your legs, there’s a cafe with seating available inside and outside – more picnic tables can be found throughout the zoo.
Best for: A picnic in the park
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2. Snakes and Ladders Play Centre, Brentford

It’s back with a bang after its massive £2 million refurbishment and jam-packed with even more fun. Under 5s have an area specifically dedicated to them with soft play, swings, ride-ons and more. And older children needn’t worry, because there’s a gigantic 3-tier playframe with slides, climbs, a mini-sports pitch and balls. Oh, and there’s also a very nicely revamped cafe serving food and drink – all that running about can get awfully tiring! They run regular offers such as 2 4 1 and every sixth child is free if you fill out the online form so arrange a playdate with friends and it will be cheaper for you all!

Best for: Appealing to both younger and older children
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3. Hounslow Urban Farm, Feltham

It’s likely that Hounslow Urban Farm will completely change your opinion of farms. They might be smelly, but they’re extremely fun too! There are plenty of animal encounters to be had, pig racing (yep), interactive live shows and even more. Children can go crazy in the outdoor play area and the indoor bouncy castle is a perfect shelter from hot or wet weather. Toddlers can also access pony rides on the fleet of Shetland ponies, with a helmet and supervision provided. Book online to save money on your tickets and a season ticket could well be worth an investment if you are close by.
Best for: Burning off steam
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4. London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

This attraction will take you on an extraordinary journey through time and leave you with a valuable understanding of the capital’s transport heritage. There are so many interactive and educational displays – you’ll struggle to fit everything in! Oh, and you can get behind the driving seat of a tube train simulator. Where else can you do that? Exactly.
Best for: Educating them, without them suspecting…
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5. Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill

Horniman Museum and Gardens is a must-do for families visiting London. Bulging with originality, you’ll enter a place that’s fun, diverse and more than a little bit bizarre. If you have curious kids (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), they’ll love the 4,000-item ‘Hands on Base’ where you can handle, wear and discover thousands of real museum artefacts. If you fancy a splash, there’s also an aquarium with 15 exhibits, each one showcasing a different aquatic environment from around the world. It’s definitely worth seeing! Plus there is a 16-acre garden which is perfect for picnic and letting your little one run off some steam.
Best for: Price – only the aquarium costs
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6. Wet n Wild at Waterfront Leisure Centre, Woolwich

Wet n Wild at Waterfront Leisure Centre, Woolwich

Credit: Better, Waterfront Leisure Centre 

If you’re looking to have a splashing time then a water park should be one of the first things on your mind. This place ticks all the boxes. Mum and dad can enjoy a swim in the formal fitness pool which has four dedicated lanes, while the kids will love the leisure pool which boasts two water slides, a 65m snake slide, wave machine, waterfall, volcano, water jets and five lane water slide. If you grown-ups want valuable relaxation, there’s even a spa pool. This place is definitely worth dipping your toes in and is ideal even if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Best for: All-round family fun
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7. The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon will take you and your kids on a journey through London’s darkest history with 19 live actor-led shows and two thrilling rides all in 110 minutes. Plus, after your tour you can treat the family to a free round of drinks in the London Dungeon Tavern, a Victorian pub experience.

There’s a brand new show just opened, too. ‘Escape the Great Fire of London’ takes you back to 1666 as the Great Fire of London engulfs the city as you seek shelter in the Lord Mayor’s office. The fire is spreading quickly and the city is in panic as St Paul’s is burning to the ground. Will you ‘Escape the Great Fire of London’? Book in advance and save up to 30 per cent on your ticket and to guarantee entry. Purchase more than one of London’s attractions online and you can save lots of money too.

Best for: Chills with frills
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8. Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, Wood Green

You might not know it, but grand old Alexandra Palace is a great venue for family ice skating. Not only can you just go for a classic skate, but there’s also a range of activities available and covering every aspect of ice sports, ballet classes and dance clubs. If your little one loves to climb they might also like the Big Tree Climbing experience or maybe you fancy a round of Pitch & Putt. New members are always welcome.
Best for: Children of all ages (even teenagers!)
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9. Kidspace Romford, Romford

Definitely consider this award-winning Romford adventure park for a family day out – there’s something for everyone! Little ones will love Toddler Village, which contains a themed play frame, slides, mazes, mini trampolines and an incredible sensory area. There’s also a 25ft climbing wall for over 5s to try out. Older kids are spoilt for choice too, do they shoot soft balls at people below in Thunderdome City or go on the daunting Skytrail which is suspended 3 metres in the air? Don’t worry kids, there’ll be plenty of time to do both. And dads, if you fancy a kick about, there’s a multi-activity room with a dedicated football area that’ll serve that purpose perfectly. Buy your tickets in advance and save 20 per cent.
Best for: Fun for adults, too!
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10. Rowans Tenpin Bow, Finsbury Park

No matter what the final result, you’ll feel like you just scored ten strikes when you leave Rowan’s. It’s a fun day out with the kids and you can’t beat a classic game of tenpin bowling, can you? Air-conditioned bowling lanes aside, Rowan’s also has 14 pool tables, table tennis, amusement arcades, large, overhead sports screens, karaoke and food and drink so it’s not just about bowling – what’s not to love?
Best for: Rainy afternoons
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11. London Aquatic Centre, Stratford

Take your little one to explore the marvel of London’s Olympic Park. You can visit the Aquatic Centre for £2 and if you fancy taking a dip you can book a slot in advance or on the day. During the summer holidays they host special kids slots including an inflatable assault course. The 20 metre wipe-out course ‘Aqua Splash’ is sure to excite your kids and adults can assist too…

Best for: Fun for all

12. V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Show your kids the toys that people in the past would have enjoyed and it’s sure to open their eyes! As well as rotating pay-to-see exhibitions there are plenty of free things to see here from Doll’s Houses to a look at children’s literature from the past. Your little ones will be learning without even realising it! There is a cafe on site or if you’ve prepared a picnic there are benches in the gardens. It’s also a short walk to Victoria Park which has plenty of space for the kids to run around and a climbing frame.

Best for: Fun, education and budget!

Do you know of any great things to do in London with the family? List any hidden gems you know about on our Facebook page and we might even feature them in our round-up!