Museums and kids are a tricky mix. They enjoy some parts but not others, so balance is absolutely vital to a successful visit. On our recent London trip we threw caution to the wind and decided to go for broke, declaring Day 3 to be Museum Day. One Day, Three Museums, and we threw in a Harry Potter Shop stop for good measure.
First stop was Kings Cross Station to visit the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4. We queued for 15 minutes to get into the shop (Crazy, I KNOW) and then found everything to be exorbitantly priced. The shop is based on Ollivander’s in the books/films so it’s very atmospheric. You can buy all the Harry Potter bits and pieces you
never wanted- the books, scarves, t-shirts, wands (starting at £28) and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (great fun but mostly hideous tasting). We purchased a wand pen (£12.50 and isn’t just a wand it’s a pen too) and a Hedwig Keyring (£6), as well as the jelly beans. Ciaran was disappointed that there were no chocolate frogs for sale (we later saw them in Hamley’s for £5). The wait for the photo opportunity at that stage was one hour so we declined and said we would return. We returned the following evening late and still had to queue for almost an hour to get the photos taken running into platform 9 3/4 by the professional photographers. You can also take your own, and they give you props – a wand and your choice of house scarf. The photos came out really well and we decided to buy them, as they had a deal of 3 for £20. You also get a download code where you can download them within 14 days, we lost it til after the 14 days had expired though.
There were three museums that we were interested in visiting in London. With three kids in tow we were never going to do any of them justice so the aim was to see a few items of interest in each and move on, box ticked, kids educated.
The boys had seen a programme about mummies in the British Museum so they were top of our list when we got there. After that, whether we say anything elese was a bonus. Ciaran wanted to see the Easter Island statue and we also got to look at lots of big statues, the likes of which they would never have seen before. They loved running around the building but the crowds were oppressive near the mummies. The lunch in the canteen was good, and the kids enjoyed the kids’ meals, the fancy adult sandwiches were excellent too and it wasn’t too busy.
We got the Tube from there to Kensington and decided to visit the Natural History Museum first. The Queen’s Gate entrance is the easiest access to the Mammals and Dinosaurs section, which is what we were most interested in (and we were told that the queues there are much shorter). The Whale Hall was magnificent and the kids really enjoyed a game about the evolution of the horse. The Dinosaur exhibit was very impressive, particularly the animatronic T- Rex which Laoise was mesmerised by and cried (wailed) when we eventually left it to go see other things. The place was very busy when we were there so we only visited those two sections, but vowed to come back at a quieter time when we could see more.
Right next door to the Natural History Museum if you come out the Exhibition Road entrance is the Science Museum. Cathal’s eyes were out on sticks at the ground floor energy exhibits and he really wanted to see the Robots exhibit but it was sold out when we were there. The Space zone on the ground floor was the best in our opinion with a mock up lunar module and rockets, and a good exhibit on life in space. We noticed that the technology in the exhibits was starting to show its age but the kids didn’t really notice. The kids had lots of fun (including going missing!) in the Materials Gallery too.
All in all, museum day was a big success, everyone saw what they really wanted to see and the only complaints were that we didn’t get to spend longer in each place. A return visit is planned to each museum.
There is no entrance fee to any of the museums but a voluntary donation is encouraged.
To read more about our London City Break with Kids check out the links below: