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London family outing ideas this summer

5th August 2013 Print

When the summer finally hits London, it doesn’t mean you need to head out of town to find activities that you and your family can all enjoy equally. No, this buzzing city has more than enough distractions and attractions for you and your kids – you just need a bit of inspiration. Read on for some suggestions about both outdoor and indoor activities for you and yours this summer.

Urban Beaches

No need to struggle towards Victoria Station for an overcrowded train ride to Brighton’s shingled beach – there are soft sands to lounge and play on right here in the Smoke. The Thames Foreshore beach just by the South Bank, which was a hugely popular summer staple from the 1930s to the 1960s, is now being revived in high summer (though paddling in the Thames is not encouraged). There’s even a beach for all your family in Camden, now too, until 24 August. There’s 150 tonnes of sand covering the terrace of the Roundhouse, complete with deckchairs, beach huts, arcade games, a chip shop and an American barbecue shack. For the elders, there’s a bar as well – all that’s missing is the sea.


Who loves the sun? Not everyone – and especially not hot ‘n’ bothered kids and sweaty and harassed parents. There’s a whole host of air-conditioned cinemas all over London just waiting to offer sanctuary to you and your kids, who will soon be silent, cool and rapt as they enjoy the latest blockbuster animations. Even with drinks and popcorn, this should be a relatively inexpensive affair – check out family offers on films at Cineworld to find out more. If your children have already seen all the big films they want to, you could always check out the kids’ programme at the British Film Institute, which shows more unusual stuff, as well as vintage cartoons on occasion.

City Farms and Park Farms

London Zoo can be unpleasantly crowded on hot summer days when every child in town is off school – not to mention expensive. So why not head for one of the City Farms with their rural atmospheres, where the animals can be touched and petted, the scale is less stressful, entry is often free and most include parks, cafes and farm shops selling fresh produce. Animals generally include: sheep, goats, pigs, geese, ducks, alpacas, meerkats, storks, wallabies, rabbits, Shire horse and llama. There are City Farms and Park Farms at Vauxhall, Hackney, Stepney, Spitalfields, Crystal Palace, Kentish Town, Hounslow and Rotherhithe, among others.


The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum - both in South Kensington - are evergreen favourites for family outings. Both are free (and air-conditioned) and both offer specific interactive exhibits and shows for children of all ages – even under-5s. There’s also an IMAX 3d cinema and a hands-on gallery where they can discover how things work. If this doesn’t sate their excitement, then you can take them next door to the Natural History Museum with its dinosaur bones and huge, angry-eyed, mechanised model of a T-Rex!