Kid-Friendly Thrills and Spills: London’s Best Attractions for Children

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The UK capital may be one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the world, but it’s also over-spilling with kid-centric attractions – here are four of the finest…

ZSL London Zoo

(Outer Circle, Regent’s Park NW1 4RY/ open 10am-6pm daily)

Almost all children have a natural affinity with animals, so there’s really no place better for them in the London than this, one of the world’s greatest and most respected zoos. Comprising 760 different species spread across 36 acres of Regent’s Park, it offers not just the chance to espy some of the most fascinating, intriguing, colourful, noisy, fun-filled and, yes, unmistakeably cute creatures on the planet, but also a good number of the most endangered – ZSL is admirably committed to doing all it can for endangered species, both in and out of captivity. Be sure to check out its highlights – the gorillas, giraffes, kangaroos, penguins, short-clawed otters, big cats and all manner of exotic birds – during feeding time and try to get in on a keeper talk too.

The London Dungeon

(Riverside Building, Country Hall, Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB/ open 10am-5pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 11am-5pm Thursday; 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday)

Little ones tend to like a scare now and again – so long as it’s on their terms and preferably accompanied by something ghoulish and eerie – as such this is the perfect venue for it. Recreating, for entertainment purposes alone, some of London’s most blood-curdling, gruesome episodes and acts via talented performers and state-of-the-art effects and design, it affords them the opportunity to learn about the city’s encounters with the medieval Great Plague, its twisted history of torture and the tales of the notorious Jack the Ripper and the (admittedly) semi-fictitious Sweeney Todd. And, maybe best of all, given its location on the South Bank, it’s extremely easy to reach wherever you may have made your base – not least if it’s London accommodation near Paddington Station, like the Park Grand London Paddington hotel.

Little Angel Theatre

(14 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN)

What’s that, you ask, a whole theatre dedicated to children? Yes, that’s right; the Little Angel may well have just shot to the top of your list of venues for a London visit during the school holidays! In fact, this place is where you’ll find many a puppet show performed, so much so it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘home’ of British puppetry; not surprising perhaps as it’s been going for more than 55 years now. Productions it’s mounted in recent years include adaptations of Fantastic Mr Fox, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Jabberwocky and the pantomime-rodent character mash-up Cindermouse. Note: kids may also get a kick out of the workshops that provide insight into how shows are put together and their fantastic casts are made and performed.

Sealife London Aquarium

(Country Hall, Riverside Building, Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB/ open 10am-7/8pm Monday-Sunday)

Wouldn’t it be great if, slap-bang in the centre of London, there was a venue that allowed young (and old) to check out a vast array of extraordinary, exotic fish and sea life up close? Well, in the shape of this South Bank-situated attraction, there verily is! Packed full of the likes of octopi, stingrays, sea scorpions, sharks and piranhas – among so many others – it also boasts a 25-metre-long whale skeleton, which entwined with a walkable tunnel, enables visitors to take in all manner of topical fish, turtles and beautifully colourful coral. A sight to behold, to say the least!

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