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20 things to do in South Kensington with kids

With some of London’s best family museums, plus a royal palace and parks nearby, you’re certainly not short of things to do in South Kensington with kids.

Exterior of the National History Museum in South Kensington - one of the best things to do in South Kensington with kids
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So while you could visit the area to check out a single attraction, I’ve picked out more ideas to help fill one day in South Kensington with kids, including things to do near the Natural History Museum and Science Museum.

All are within around a 20-minute walk of the Natural History Museum, although I’ve also added more ideas nearby around Holland Park and Sloane Square, plus Kensington High Street – all easy to reach on the tube or by bus, to add to your family day out in South Kensington.

Natural History Museum

Not just one of the biggest attractions in South Kensington with kids, the Natural History Museum is one of the biggest family attractions in London. Quite literally, in fact.

There are around 80 million items in the collection (although not all on display) covering zoology, paleontology, botany, entomology and mineralogy, in one of London’s most eye-catching museum buildings.

View of the whale skeleton hanging in the Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum in London - the museum is easily one of the best things to do in South Kensington with kids

The dinosaurs are the biggest draw, alongside Hope the blue whale in the Hintze Hall, but you can also find galleries on mammals and sea creatures, which is a great option with littler ones who don’t fancy an encounter with a moving T-Rex or the earth sciences of the Red Zone, with volcano locator and earthquake simulator.

Plus regular temporary exhibitions, which have ranged from the magic of Harry Potter and mammoths to more dinosaurs. These must be prebooked, and it’s well worth booking free entry tickets to the main museum for busy times including school holidays.

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Science Museum

Another of the most popular places to visit in South Kensington with kids, the Science Museum is ideal if you have children who like to get hands on.

And with collections covering science and technology from the oldest surviving steam locomotive to the model of DNA and the forerunners of computers, this is a museum that you could revisit over and over again.

Old planes in one of the galleries at the London Science Museum - one of the best things to do in South Kensington with kids

Along with the space and flight galleries, you can follow humanity’s technological advances, medical history, more interactive displays and also the IMAX 3 cinema showing documentaries.

There are areas aimed at younger kids too, including The Garden, featuring exhibits that make noise, a mini puppet theatre, areas to climb and play and the water feature (always a big favourite), as well as the Pattern Pod.

The popular Wonderlab also has science shows and demonstrations (entry is extra) which will appeal most to school age children and older – worth every penny, my daughter could spend hours here. And the new (free) Technicians gallery is ideal for teens.

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The world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design is not the most obviously family-friendly of the South Kensington museums, but there’s a lot more to the Victoria & Albert museum for kids than you might expect.

You can explore collections spanning 5,000 years of art, as well as cultures from around the world, so there’s an endless source of inspiration – not to mention the temporary exhibitions, including recent ones which featured Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland, as well as one focusing on Korea, perfect for K-Pop obsessed teens.

The museum also has various interactive displays, family activities and children’s activity packs to discover as well.

Check out my review of a day at the V&A with a preschooler

Kensington Palace

Childhood home of Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace was a favourite of George II and his court, and has also been home to Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince William and Harry.

With changing exhibits, including a new exhibition on royal fashion, you can also see displays from Queen Victoria’s early years, from her difficult relations with her mother to her first meeting with future husband Prince Albert, as well as tracing her path from a princess no-one thought would be Queen to her coronation.

Elsewhere in the palace you can still play Georgian gambling games, spot a throne, marvel at the grand staircase and imagine the balls held here – plus the seedier side of the royal court with some horrible history sure to entertain kids.

The palace’s own gardens (including in a ticket, but separate from the main Kensington Gardens), include the sunken garden which is home to a statue of Princess Diana.

Check out my review of a day at Kensington Palace with kids

The exterior of Kensington Palace in winter - my review of a visit to Kensington Palace with kids for a family day out in London

Kensington Gardens

Surrounding ,Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens is one of the city’s royal parks, stretching for an
impressive 265 acres.

The biggest attraction is the Diana Memorial Playground, one of the best playgrounds in the city (read on for more details), but exploring the park is perfect to combine with time at the museums, to burn off some energy outdoors.

Kids will love feeding the green parakeets which flock around the park, especially in some of the trees near the border with Hyde Park. In fact, you could walk all the way back to Marble Arch or Hyde Park corner without leaving the two royal parks, if you wanted to.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for the Peter Pan statue next to the Long Water, with squirrels, rabbits, mice and fairies climbing up towards Peter himself, along with the bear fountain near the Italian gardens in the north-east corner, and the Albert Memorial at the southern end (scroll down for more).

Older kids may also enjoy the exhibitions at the Serpentine Galleries, usually focused on contemporary art.

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground,

Perhaps London’s best-known play area, you’ll find the Diana Memorial Playground in the north-western corner of Kensington Gardens, with a huge wooden pirate ship as its centrepiece.

But that’s only the start of the different play areas dotted around: you’ll find a sensory trail, play wigwams, sculptures, even a telescope to look out, and plenty more. At busy times, there’s a one-in one-out queuing system, so it’s often worth getting there early, or be prepared to wait a little on sunny days.

For more great playgrounds in London, check out my top picks

The ship and play area at the heart of the Diana Memorial playground in Kensington Gardens - one of the best playgrounds in London

Hyde Park

Next door to Kensington Gardens, you can stroll straight into the neighbouring royal park, Hyde Park – the second biggest of the royal parks in central London with 350 acres to explore.

As well as its own playground, you can also find the Diana Memorial Fountain here. Enjoy views of the water from any of the three bridges which cross it, as well as dipping your feet at the edge on a hot day.

There are also deckchairs to hire around the Serpentine, the lake which snakes through the park or take a look at Rotten Row. Once the haunt of highwaymen, until the long sandy bridleway was lined with streetlamps, you can still hire horses to ride through the park.

In the north-east corner near Marble Arch, you can also find Speaker’s Corner, traditionally the site where anyone can make public speeches and debate, as well as being the starting point for protest marches and demonstrations.

Royal Albert Hall

Best known as the home for the Proms (officially the Promenade Concerts), which take place during the summer, the Royal Albert Hall is one of the most impressive concert venues in london.

Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, you’ll also find plenty for families, from performances aimed at kids, including the CBeebies Proms for younger ones, to family films with a live orchestra playing the soundtrack, not to mention circus performances inside, along with dance, comedy, pop, rock, opera and classical music.

If you want to do more than peek at the outside, there are guided tours of the Royal Albert Hall, plus a music-inspired afternoon tea.

London's Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington - home to several of the city's main museums, this area is also home to some great family hotels in London

Spot the Albert Memorial

Set on the southern edge of Kensington Gardens, the Albert Memorial is one of London’s most ornate monuments, dedicated to Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert who died in 1861.

Unveiled 11 years later, the spectacular gothic creation was inspired partly by the 13th century Eleanor Crosses (a reconstruction of one stands outside Charing Cross station), as well as other Victorian gothic extravaganzas.

It’s designed to celebrate both Prince Albert’s interests as well as Victorian achievements, from the Great Exhibition to figures representing manufacture, commerce, agriculture and engineering.

Kensington High Street

Stretching from the south-west corner of Kensington Gardens towards Holland Park, Kensington High Street has a mix of shops (both high street and higher end) and cafes to tempt teens in particular.

Better known by its nickname of High Street Ken (after the tube station High Street Kensington which sits half-way along), you’ll find shops like Urban Outfitters, Zara and Cos as well as more bargain options including H&M and TK Maxx.

There’s also a branch of Whole Foods if you’re feeling healthy, or some of the best hot chocolate in London at Knoops, with a huge choice of 22 different cocoa levels – from creamy white right up to 100% dark chocolate.

A view of Harrods lit up at night - a visit to the famous store is easy to combine with the other things to do in South Kensington with kids


Realistically, most Londoners rarely (if ever) set foot inside Harrods – but there’s no question the department store, with its blingy night-time illuminations containing 12,000 bulbs, is a London landmark in its own right.

Less than a 15-minute walk from the South Kensington Museums, the store’s Latin motto is ‘Omnia Omnibus Unique’ – or ‘All Things For All People’. In practice, that usually means all things for people who have a lot of spare cash.

Allegedly you can buy anything your heart desires at Harrods (as long as you’re ready to pay the bill), from fine art to a gold bars, a yacht and a £1,000 balance bike.

Of course, you don’t have to spend a fortune, there are souvenirs for £20 or less, including soft toys if you want a memento without breaking the bank.

Dopamine Land

Keep an eye out for some of the pop-up London attractions in South Kensington for kids too if you’re looking for more ideas of fun things to do.

For example, check out Dopamine Land – currently open to April 30 (although dates have been extended once already).

The multisensory experience combines media, technology and play, with a series of colourful installations to help all ages get in touch with their inner child – and all designed to raise a smile on a grey day.

Check out some of the latest events taking place on the Fever site.

Fulham Picturehouse

If you’re visiting London in the rain with kids and fancy another indoor option to finish your family day out in South Kensington, head south to the Fulham Road – around 15 minutes’ walk from the Natural History Museum – for a movie at the Fulham Road Picturehouse cinema,

The six screens have regular family films, including autism-friendly screenings, all tucked away inside the Art Deco-style building.

Definitely a world away from the average sticky-floored multiplex, the Art Deco theme continues beyond the lobby and into the cafe, where there’s some great pizza on the menu.

View of an afternoon tea stand with cakes and scones - you can also find some fun themed afternoon teas in South Kensington for kids

Have afternoon tea

Another great way to finish a day in South Kensington with kids is with afternoon tea, with plenty of choices that are perfect for families.

Along with the music-themed afternoon tea at the Royal Albert Hall (scroll up for details), one of the best is easily the themed afternoon teas at the Ampersand Hotel, including the Science afternoon tea and Jurassic Afternoon Tea – perfect to combine with a visit to the Natural History Museum.

The latter has everything from a volcanic eruption to dinosaur egg baskets (and a Dino Sour cocktail on offer for parents), while the science themed tea, inspired by the Science Museum, comes with jam served in petri dishes, clouds of dry ice, dinosaur cookies and a mini science experiment as you mix up drinks.

There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free versions, as well as the kid’s menu and standard adult menu for each.

More things to do near South Kensington with kids

While you won’t struggle to fill a day in South Kensington with kids, if you stroll another 5-10 minutes (or hop on a bus), you’ll find even more things to do near the Natural History Museum – or near enough to include them easily.

Design Museum

The award-winning Design Museum, near Holland Park, focuses on contemporary design in every form, from graphic and architectural to fashion and industrial design.

And while it’s better for older kids with an interest in design, there are family-friendly ways to explore too, including a free Explorer trail aimed at kids aged 5-11, including drawing activities plus creative looking and ways to get kids thinking.

Holland Park

Another lovely park to explore with kids, there’s a great adventure playground here – another of the top playgrounds in London – plus plenty of natural attractions.

Keep an eye out for the peacocks which strut around the grounds, often to be found near the Japanese garden, which is also a lovely tranquil spot to explore.

View of the Arab Room with its ornate decor at Leighton House near Holland Park - one of the best things to do near South Kensington with kids

Leighton House

Home to the Victorian artist Frederic Leighton and a paintbrush’s throw from Holland Park, Leighton House reopened in 2022 after a long multimillion pound renovation.

The house now has been returned to the way it would have looked when Leighton lived there – all opulent vibrant colours, beautiful furniture and some wonderful Arab and Islamic influences from his travels, in the Arab Room in particular.

There’s also new exhibition space under the house and studio, a lift making it all newly accessible, trails for kids.

Brompton Cemetery

A trip to a cemetery might seem like a strange thing to do in London with kids, but it’s actually a fascinating way to spend a few hours – especially if it’s one of the Magnificent Seven, the ring of seven private graveyards built in the 19th century and inspired by the Père Lachaise in Paris.

One of the most interesting cemeteries to visit in London with kids is Brompton Cemetery. Beatrix Potter used to live in nearby South Kensington and supposedly the names on some of the tombstones inspired characters in her stories.

While walking around, keep an eye out for the graves of Peter Rabbett, Jeremiah Fisher, Mr Nutkins, Mr Brock and Mr McGregor.

View of some of the graves and buildings at Brompton Cemetery in west London - if you're planning a family day out in South Kensington, the historic site includes a link to Beatrix Potter

Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery on the King’s Road in Chelsea is another option that’s good for teens who enjoy art, hosting mostly contemporary art exhibitions – including street art.

Previous exhibitions have also included one focusing on Tutankhamun, so it’s worth checking out the list of what’s on to check out the family-friendly options.

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square

The Royal Court Theatre‘s aim is to promote emerging and undiscovered writers as well as more established voices, so if you’re looking for something different to the usual West End shows, there’s often thought-provoking range of performances.

Another unusual option if you’re visiting London with teens, including writing exercises on their website if you have a budding playwright.

Where to eat in South Kensington with kids

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to places to eat in South Kensington with kids – you’ll find chains galore if you’re looking for something quick and easy near the Natural History Museum, as well as a few other family-friendly restaurants and cafes.

Expect the usual coffee shops, plus sandwiches at Pret near South Kensington tube, plus Le Pain Quotidien and Paul. Or Leon has wraps, rice boxes, and other healthy light bites on the menu (plus seating upstairs though it can get busy).

Nando’s – however much spice you like, there’s chicken for everyone at this family-friendly chain, with a branch near Gloucester Road and another on Kensington High Street near Holland Park.

Middle Eastern – Comptoir Libanais on Exhibition Road has some lovely al fresco tables if the sun shines, or CERU, just off Old Brompton Road on Bute Street also has some light lunch options which are good for families.

Burgers – there are branches of both Honest Burgers (one of my daughter’s favourites) and Five Guys at South Kensington and Byron Burger on Old Brompton Road, a short walk away.

Two burgers in buns with sauce, tomato and lettuce on a wooden table - if you're looking for places to eat around Leicester Square with kids, there are several places to get burgers

Pizza/Italian – as well as branches of Pizza Express and ASK Italian near Gloucester Road tube, there’s also Franco Manca on Old Brompton Road and Pappa Roma for a non-chain option.

If you’re chasing pasta rather than pizza, find child-friendly menus at Bella Italia and Carluccio on Old Brompton Road (or Spaghetti House at the eastern end of Kensington High Street).

Indian – share some of the great Indian dishes at the Kensington branch of Dishoom, at the eastern end of Kensington High Street. It’s worth knowing you can only reserve tables until 5.45pm (except for groups of 6 or more) and otherwise there may be a wait for walk-ins.

Pancakes – there are savoury and sweet pancakes on the menu at The Kensington Creperie, on Exhibition Road, all traditional French crepes. Or head to Kensington Church Street, just off the eastern end of Kensington High Street, for an even bigger range of savoury flavours (and dessert options) at My Old Dutch.

Dessert – for a quick sugar hit, the cupcakes at the Hummingbird Bakery are a short walk from South Kensington tube or head to The Knot Churros on Bute Street, just off Old Brompton Road, for Instagrammable hot chocolate topped with candyfloss and churros.

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Whale/Kensington Palace/Leighton House/Brompton Cemetery copyright MummyTravels, all others courtesy of Depositphotos


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