With its long-held reputation as one of the coolest places in London, thanks to its markets and musical links, a visit to Camden with kids and teens easily tops a lot of city break wishlists.
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While there are plenty of things to do in Camden for kids of all ages, it’s one part of London that’s particularly good better with teens and tweens rather than toddlers.
But from some fun family activities to the waterfront, cool new exhibitions, events, food and places to shop, here’s my pick of the best things to do in Camden with kids.
Explore Camden Markets
No trip to Camden with kids and teens is complete without exploring the area’s famous markets – because there’s not just a single Camden market.
Instead Camden is made up of a series of markets that consume a majority of the neighbourhood. The most prominent markets are Camden Lock Market, Stables Market, Buck Street Market, Inverness Street Market, and the newest addition, Hawley Wharf.
Teens and older children will love exploring the eclectic assortment of traders and stores. Younger kids can enjoy the unusual sights, sounds, and smells of the bustling markets too, but do keep little ones close by as the markets can get extremely busy.
Don’t miss the bright neon lights and huge robot sculptures at CyberDog (just don’t go down to the basement level) and the abundance of anime, superhero, and pop culture merchandise on offer at the Stables Market, also home to the famous bronze statue of Amy Winehouse.
Live music at Roundhouse
Camden is also famous for its world-class live music scene – and there’s nowhere that will impress young music fans quite like the Roundhouse.
Roundhouse is located in a Grade II listed former railway engine shed, which was converted into a concert hall in the 1960s. The architecturally unique venue is one of the most incredible live performance spaces in the world.
The venue plays host to many huge international names, up-and-coming artists, and other live events and shows throughout the year so attending a gig at Roundhouse is one of the best things to do in Camden with teens or tweens.
Some events do have ‘age guidance’ or specific rules about where people under 16 can be seated, so it’s worth checking in advance. Roundhouses’ Young Creatives scheme also offers projects and workshops for young creatives and artists 11+.
Take a Camden street art tour
Camden is one of London’s biggest street art hubs too, so it’s a great place to wander. The area has hundreds of amazing murals by some of the world’s best street artists – including the one-and-only Banksy.
The only problem with the street art in Camden is that it can be fairly difficult to find yourself, with much of it located down small backstreets away from the main tourist areas.
This is why a Camden Street Art Tour is a great idea. Suitable for all ages, a street art tour will take you to discover many of the area’s best murals while teaching you the stories behind them.
This Camden walking tour also includes some of the area’s best street art, or you can tailor this Camden tour by a local to cover street art as well. Or try this self-guided audio tour to explore at your own pace.
Visit The Jewish Museum
One of Camden’s top educational experiences for families is The Jewish Museum, where kids can learn all about British Jewish history, culture, heritage, and identity.
The four permanent galleries feature some fascinating displays, including its world-leading collection of rare Jewish ceremonial art and objects reflecting the everyday home life of Jews in London. Plus don’t miss the moving personal journey of Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman.
The museum also runs a schedule of engaging family-friendly events, including talks, tours, workshops, baking sessions, and themed festival days. If you’re visiting Camden at the weekend, it’s worth being aware that the museum closes on Fridays and Saturdays.
Visit London Zoo
Right on the edge of the Borough of Camden, in Regent’s Park, London Zoo is only a 20-minute walk from Camden Town, so it’s a great one to combine with a day out in Camden with kids.
The world’s oldest scientific zoo, London Zoo is still one of the city’s biggest attractions – for kids and adults – more than 170 years after it opened.
Once home to the bear that inspired Winnie the Pooh, these days, you can see everything from lions and tigers to being able to walk with lemurs, venture into rainforest conditions, see animals from the African savannah and Australian Outback, and lots more.
There are three colour-coded routes around the zoo, pink, blue and orange – all different lengths, they start and end in approximately the same place so you can do them in any order you want, and if you’re short of time, it lets you focus on your favourites.
There are keeper talks which take place throughout the day, as well as special animal experiences – you could even help feed the gorillas. If you’re lucky, you can spot the keepers feeding the animals as you explore.
Keep an eye out for regular special family events, especially during school holidays, too. Tickets must be prebooked.
Take a waterbus to Little Venice
The Thames isn’t the city’s only waterway, and Camden is a great place to get out on a boat with several different canal waterbus options cruising along Regent’s Canal.
The vintage narrowboats take you on a 45-minute trip from Camden Lock to Primrose Hill, past Regent’s Park, London Zoo (look out for some of the animals!) then on to pretty Little Venice, with its cafe-lined canals, where you can hop off to find Paddington or stroll the streets.
There’s a commentary about the canal’s history over the past two centuries aboard Perseus – or if you’d prefer to sail in silence, opt for Jason’s Trip and putter to Little Venice without the guided chat (only standard on Jason’s Trip cruises starting at the Little Venice end).
Children are welcome and you can take buggies or strollers on board Jason’s Trip, as long as you can fold them, while under-fours go free on Perseus, which also has slightly more sailings both daily and throughout the year.
Paddle Down Regents Canal with the Pirate Castle
Located not far from Camden Lock, The Pirate Castle – yes it actually looks like a mediaeval castle – is a boating charity and community for local disadvantaged kids and disability groups.
The charity offers boat cruises and several fun paddlesports, including stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking, along the picturesque Regents Canal.
And while private sessions here may be a little more expensive than elsewhere in London, all profits support local community projects. So you can rest assured your money is going towards a good cause.
Take a Musical Boat Cruise
Another fun way to experience the Regents Canal with kids on a sunny day in London is aboard The Music Boat.
In this unique boating experience, you’ll sail along the scenic canal on a traditional punt, while a local musician serenades you with their guitar and famous hits from Camden’s musical history.
The Music Boat sets off close to Camden Lock’s West Yard Food Market and takes you on a 90-minute trip up to London Zoo and back. You can take your own food and drinks onto the boat, so I’d suggest picking up lunch from the food market and enjoying it during your trip.
There’s also a reserve now, pay later option as well as free cancellation.
Enjoy the views from Primrose Hill
One of the six protected viewpoints in London, where the trees are kept low so as not to obscure the view, the hilltop park sits to the north of Regent’s Park and is close to the upmarket London neighbourhood of Primrose Hill, known for its grand Victorian townhouses.
From the summit, you can take in some fantastic 360-degree views over the city; to the south is a clear view of the iconic landmarks of central London, while to the north you can see over the neighbourhoods of Hampstead and Belsize Park.
It’s a short walk from London Zoo, or around 20 minutes from Camden Town tube station.
Back to the Future exhibition
If your kids are fans of the Back To The Future movies, you can’t miss the new Back in Time exhibition, with the largest collection of memorabilia from the movies in Europe.
There are more than 70 original items used during the trilogy’s filming and production, as well as the chance to learn some of the behind-the-scenes secrets from interviews with Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Steven Spielberg.
Along the way, there are lots of interactive displays too, such as flying a hoverboard. And the best part? You even get to sit inside a replica of the DeLorean Time Machine. Great Scott!
Set at Hawley Wharf, tickets are currently available to January 2023.
Plonk Crazy Golf
For some competitive fun with the family in Camden, head to Plonk Crazy Golf, an indoor crazy golf course which was completely rebuilt in late 2020
Hidden in the Victorian arches of the Stables Market, the venue is decked out in a quirky mix of camouflage and UV lights, and the nine-hole crazy golf course is filled with classic beams, ramps, and jumps, as well as some more unusual obstacles.
The course at Plonk Crazy Golf is entirely indoors, so it’s also one of the best things to do in Camden Town with kids on a rainy day.
Kids must be 7+ to play and under 18s are welcome before 5pm on weekdays. Evenings and weekends are adults only.
DNA: London’s First Virtual Reality Arcade
Young gamers will love DNA VR, London’s very first virtual reality arcade, where you can escape reality to become anything from a space pirate to a master assassin, a deep-sea explorer and more.
At an arcade session at DNA VR, each person enters their own gaming pod and is equipped with a VR headset and handsets. You’ll then be immersed in the same Virtual World, where you can enjoy a variety of multiplayer games and experiences.
From surviving a zombie apocalypse or defending the world from killer robots to swimming through the deepest oceans and having an epic dance-off, there’s a game for everyone.
DNA also has VR escape rooms where you can head on an immersive adventure to solve puzzles and complete missions together.
Due to the size of the headsets, DNA VR is recommended for kids 7+, while the VR escape room is better suited for those 10+.
Tomb Raider: The LIVE Experience
Add some more adventure to your day out in Camden for kids at Tomb Raider: The Live Experience.
In the fun immersive experience, you’ll need to solve puzzles, complete physical challenges, collect ancient relics, and outsmart enemies (played by real-life actors) to help famed archaeologist Lara Croft on her mission.
During the unique adventure, you’ll need to climb, run, jump, zip-line your way through the Costa Rican jungle, rummage for treasures in a sinking ship, escape the snowy planes of Finland, and more.
Tomb Raider is recommended for children 12+, but those 9+ can play (although some parts of the experience do have minimum height and weight limits).
Get Lunch at Hawley Wharf
If you’re looking for somewhere to refuel after all the fun in Camden with kids, there are plenty of places across Camden’s markets to enjoy some of London’s tastiest street food. One of our favourites is the newly opened Hawley Wharf.
Hawley Wharf’s river-side food court is split into two huge areas and has a whole variety of fantastic street food to choose from. Some traders might be a little too extravagant for younger palates, but there are plenty of family-friendly options too.
Check out HotBox for unbeatable BBQ smoked meats, BaoziInn for colourful dim sum and dumplings, and Buk Burger for mouthwatering burgers. The pizza slices from True Romance are always a big hit with younger kids too.
Indulge at Chin Chin Labs
It doesn’t matter if you visit Chin Chin Labs in the middle of summer or the depths of winter: it might be better known for its liquid nitrogen ice cream, but when temperatures drop, you’ll find fabulous hot chocolate too.
The first of its kind in Europe to use liquid nitrogen to create gourmet ice cream, flavours change throughout the year and you’ll find some quirky combinations as well as the classics, plus a string of toppings and options for ice cream sandwiches and sundaes.
Or grab a hot chocolate that’s almost as much of a treat for the eyes as for your stomach, with oozily delicious charred (veggie) marshmallow fluff on top for the most Instagrammable version (if you can wait to photograph it before diving in).
Includes vegan options too – there’s also a Soho branch now, as well as pop-ups around London, but when you’re planning things to do in Camden Town, you shouldn’t miss the original place where it all started.
Treat your sweet tooth at Hans & Gretel
Based on the Brothers Grimm’s famous tale of Hansel & Gretel, Camden Market’s Hans & Gretel is a magical fairy-tale inspired dessert cafe, entirely covered from floor to ceiling in candy canes, lollipops, cupcakes and colourful sweets galore.
There are also giant statues of Hansel and Gretel to greet you at the shop’s entrance and a makeshift candy house that kids can sit inside for photos.
Not only is the store itself a fun and quirky place to visit in London with younger children (but still a hit if you’re in Camden with teens), but its many indulgent desserts are sure to be a big hit with kids of all ages. You can choose from sweet Hungarian funnel cakes, bubble waffles, freakshakes, ice-cream, pick’n’mix and more.
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Images: Penguin copyright MummyTravels, street art via Picfair, all other images courtesy of Depositphotos