Frugal family days out: The 10 best FREE places to visit in London with kids!

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If you’re looking for frugal family fun in the capital, here are the 10 best free places to visit in London with the kids on your next day out. There are LOADS of free places to visit, and things to see and do, to entertain kids of all ages. And, with free travel for children aged 10 and under too (for travel via the tube, DLR, Overground and TfL rail services) it can be great fun exploring the capital on a small budget!

If you’re travelling into London from the surrounding areas in the South-East, then you’ll also want to check out my ‘kids for a quid’ article, for more info on how to get £1 children’s train tickets.

We love a London mini-break with the kids, and when we’ve planned visits to places like ZSL London Zoo, to see a theatre show or something a little bit pricey, then we’ll balance out our trip with play parks, museums, the Sky Garden, the Changing of the Guard and all of the other free and wonderful things that the city has to offer – enjoy!

1. The Natural History Museum

We’ve visited the Natural History Museum a few times now – Lola always wants to go there whenever we head to London as she loves the animals, and Finn enjoys their huge dinosaur exhibit. I think most kids love getting up close and personal with the creatures which used to roam the Earth!

The good news about indoor activities (like museums) is that you can explore whatever the weather – so if you’re visiting London in the winter or you get a rainy day, then this is the perfect place to spend a few hours in the warm without spending a penny. For more info, visit their website: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/.

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2. The Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

The Changing of the Guard is the ceremony where The King’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard. As the guards march, they are accompanied by marching bands – creating a fantastic atmosphere whilst keeping everyone entertained. If you’re visiting London, I would definitely recommend a morning watching The Changing of the Guard – this is one of Finn and Lola’s favourite things to do in London!

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Just head over to Buckingham Palace first thing – it begins at 11am and lasts for around 45 minutes – arrive a little early to make sure that you don’t miss it, as it only happens once each day! My two absolutely adore watching it all unfold, and the bands are brilliant!

Before visiting check the schedule at their website (changing-guard.com) but these are the typical days:

  • August – May: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays
  • June / July: Daily

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3. London’s Fabulous Playgrounds

There are lots of brilliant play spaces in London, so pack a picnic and entertain the kids for free! In fact, there are so many play areas that you could easily spend a weekend just letting the kids explore and play in the London parks. You can find details about the London play areas at: londonplay.org.uk.

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A popular park is the Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground – most of the action takes place around the enormous Peter Pan-inspired pirate ship and surrounding beach, but there’s also a sensory trail, teepees and plenty of seating for parents to rest their weary legs! We’ve been lucky with the weather during our London visits, so the parks have been a good way for the kids to have some fun while we’ve chilled out for a bit with a flask of coffee!

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4. Coram’s Fields

Coram’s Fields is a great place for the kiddies to let off some steam if you’re in central London – seven acres dedicated entirely to children! There’s an adventure playground with an aerial slide plus sand pits, a paddling pool (perfect for the summer months) and a small city farm.

If you’re visiting in the summer especially, then the little ones could have a great time exploring and splashing around in the water at Coram’s Fields! You can find out more about it at: coramsfields.org.

 

5. The Science Museum

London’s Science museum is a great place for the kids to discover how the world works. And, if you have a budding young astronaut, they’ll adore the gallery dedicated to space exploration, featuring a full-sized model of the lander that put the first men on the moon!

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For Finn and Lola, their favourite trip to the Science Museum was when we booked them into the Wonderlab. If you’re happy to spend a little, it offers a great hands-on experience for the kids with experiment demonstrations, talks, activities and educational play zones. So, if you have got little bit of money in the budget, you might want to add the Wonderlab to your list of things to do. Find out more at: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk.

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6. Imperial War Museum London

If you have slightly older children, or teens, then I’d really recommend an afternoon at London’s Imperial War Museum. It’s so interesting and educational for adults and kids (I learnt a lot too!) – we would all happily go back.

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We visited when my children were learning about World War 2, and it’s a big and engaging place to explore. You can get a first-hand look at wartime vehicles and planes, and we found the video screens throughout really helpful. If your kids are aged 8+ then add this museum to your ‘free days out in London’ list. More info here: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london.

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7. Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

Crystal Palace Park is a fantastic place for little dinosaur lovers to explore, so once you’ve seen the dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum, you’ll want this park to be next on your to do list. Wooden carved dinosaurs peep over the tree tops and can be climbed on in the play area, and you can also make the most of the maze and lakes too – have a picnic in Jurrasic Park! Details at: cpdinosaurs.org.

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8. The British Museum

The British Museum holds artefacts from all over the world. If your kids are interested in Ancient Egypt then they’ll enjoy exploring history through statues of pharaohs and ancient board games – there’s even a large, mummified bull.

At the weekends, the kids can pick up a free activity backpack, or a Museum explorer trail, from the Families Desk, and they also run workshops during the school holidays. Find all of the info you’ll need at: www.britishmuseum.org/

 

9. Golders Hill Park Zoo

Golders Hill Park Zoo is a small zoo in the Hampstead Heath area of London – it’s completely free to enter, and it’s home to rare species of birds and animals. They’ve got wallabies, lemurs, Scottish wildcat and more!

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Also, in the same area, there are swimming ponds and a lido too so it could be worth a visit if you want to make a day of it this summer – there’s a lot of family-friendly things to do in this part of London. You can find out more at: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk.

 

10. Sky Garden

Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden – it offers 360-degree views of the fantastic London skyline, surrounded by lush greenery, landscaped gardens, observation decks and an open-air terrace. You’ll need to book your day / time slot in advance, but tickets to visit the Sky Garden are free.

The gardens inside have a very tropical feel, and it’s a great place to sit with the kids to see if you can spot London’s famous landmarks – it offers brilliant views over the city without the expensive entry cost from other buildings like the Shard.

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Spaces are limited, as there’s only a set amount of space within the site. But, bookings can be made up to three weeks in advance, so you can select your day and time slot with plenty of notice. Tickets are valid for one hour. Children under 16 are not able to enter Sky Garden after 6pm on weekdays and 9pm at weekends. (Evening tickets are chargeable as they include entertainment and a glass of bubbly – hence why after 6pm is adults only.) You can get tickets here: https://skygarden.london/.

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And an extra tip for some cheap sightseeing…

Ride the Routemaster

Cost: £1.75 for adults; children aged 10 and under travel free

This one is technically not free, as there is a small charge for adults, but the kids won’t cost a penny! The top deck of a real double-decker bus is good fun and a lot cheaper than a tourist bus. A good route is the No11; running from Fulham Town Hall to Liverpool Street, past the Houses of Parliament, Nelson’s Column, Westminster Abbey, Horse Guards Parade and St Paul’s Cathedral in about an hour.

Details: tfl.gov.uk/bus/route/11

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Looking for some more ideas for free days out? Check out:

Kent with Kids: The 15 best FREE family days out in Kent!

Kent with Kids, The best FREE family days out in Kent, frugal mum tips

 

For more city adventures, check out my other London family day out reviews:

Day Out with the Kids: ZSL London Zoo Review

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London with Kids: How can I get cheap tickets to watch England play football at Wembley?

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Day out with the kids: Queen’s House Ice Rink Greenwich – London Christmas Skating Review

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Day Out with the Kids: Disney on Ice Review – The O2, North Greenwich, London

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Wicked Theatre Show – A family review – Apollo Victoria London

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Day Out with the Kids: HMS Belfast Review, London

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And for lots of money-saving UK getaway and school holiday tips, you’ll want to read:

Cheap days out with the kids: 20 ways to have fun on a budget in the school holidays!

how to have fun on a budget in the school holidays, UK, cheap kids and family days out, summer, frugal mum tips

 

Kent with Kids: The 10 best indoor attractions to entertain the kids on a rainy day!

Kent with Kids, The 10 best indoor attractions to entertain the kids on a rainy day, frugal mum tips, family reviews

 

UK family travel on a budget: 25 ways to have a cheap staycation holiday!

uk holiday staycation tips, frugal mum, family getaway on a budget and days out ideas, save money, title page

 

How can my child get a Blue Peter Badge? Enjoy over 200 UK free days out to UK attractions!

Cheap days out, family, kids, fun on a budget in the school holidays, frugal mum summer tips, blue peter badges photo

 

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