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Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum, London © Visit BritainNatural History Museum, London © Visit Britain

The Natural History Museum is a fantastic place to explore life on Earth and to find out how it evolved – a fun way of backing up what your kids are learning or will learn about in the classroom. With something that will appeal to everyone, it’s a great day out (or several days out) for the whole family – and best of all it’s free (except for certain temporary exhibitions).

Best for: Ages 3 and up.

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What to Expect:


  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Educational
  • Free to enter
  • Great for kids 4-12
  • Great for teens
  • Great for toddlers
  • Open year-round
  • Special events
  • Public transport
  • Picnic areas
 

What to do

See the What’s On section of the website to find out about the excellent program of events and activities, many of them aimed at families, including workshops and storytelling sessions.

Download the Museum app - an free online guide to the museum to help you make your way around.

Not sure what see see first, why not follow one of the Museum trails, colour-coded into themes so you can make your way around in sections - a great way to explore everything in the Museum with kids and allows you to take breaks between each coloured trail for essential refreshment, and toilet, breaks and not miss any part of the museum. For example, the Blue Trail follows the almighty species around the museum and the Orange Trail will take you to the Museum scientists and laboratories.

Don’t miss the Darwin Centre where kids 8 and up can marvel at displays of science in action by world experts engaged in cutting-edge research. Some of the 22 million preserved specimens stored within this futuristic cocoon were collected by none other than Charles Darwin himself.

With 7–14-year-olds, head for the Investigate Centre, a hands-on lab with microscopes that they can use to get up close and personal with specimens of various kinds.

With older kids, experience the Earthquake room, with younger ones the Dinosaur Gallery is usually a big hit, although the animatronic T. rex might be a little scary for very young children. Try to leave these very popular attractions for later in the day – in the hour before closing the crowds (horrendous in the school holidays) begin to dissipate.

In the warmer months, seek out the little Wildlife Garden with its bees, dragonflies, ducks and more – an oasis of calm in the heart of London.

Book kids eight and up in for one of the popular monthly Dino Snores Sleepovers including a torchlit tour of the Dinosaur Gallery, a live bug show, reptile handling, and sleeping in the shadow of the museum’s famous Diplodocus skeleton. Find out more on their website.

Visit the Dino Store, for a great choice of dinosaur related toys, games and books at pocket-money prices and up.

Where to stay

Take a look at Take the Family’s London destination guide for recommended accommodations around the capital.

 

When

The Natural History Museum is open daily 10am–5.50pm except 24–26 Dec.

How

South Kensington Tube station is within easy walking distance. The NHM website has full details on getting there, including nearby parking, and also on the most suitable entrance to use according to where you’re starting your exploration of the museum.

Eat

It’s best to stay within the museum itself than to try to find something decent nearby. Its numerous family-friendly outlets sell everything from snacks to full meals, with plenty for kids. Check out The Restaurant, where there is a children's menu plus microwaves for waming baby food. The Restaurant also serves up child-friendly food and provides activity packs to keep the little ones entertained while at the table. Alternatively, bring a picnic to enjoy on the front lawns or in the indoor picnic area.

Cost

Entry is free, except certain exhibitions that you can pay to enter on the day of visit.

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