Things to do in London when I am three
February 28, 2007 12:03 AM   Subscribe

I am traveling to London next weekend (Mar 8-12) with my family and want some ideas of things to do with a three-year old.

I have the usual suspects in my plan -- London Zoo, Aquarium, Eye, Madam Tussads and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I was wondering if there are any other sights we should not miss while we are there.
posted by hariya to Travel & Transportation around London, England (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you like history then you shouldn't miss the Tower of London.
posted by kenchie at 12:22 AM on February 28, 2007

My two year old loves the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum (for the dinosaurs).
posted by gfrobe at 1:00 AM on February 28, 2007

When I was a kid I loved the geological museum as it had a great earthquake room. Looking now, it seems it's been absorbed into the natural history museum, so you can now do earthquakes and dinosaurs in one go.

It's not a major sight, really, but the DLR (Docklands LIght Railway) is great fun. If the kid is one of those "into transport" kids a good day out would be to:

Get the DLR from Bank (it goes from being an underground train to a sky train, through the docklands). Get off at Island Gardens and walk under the Thames using the foot tunnel to Greenwich. Look at the outside of the Cutty Sark (the inside is probably not worth the entrance price for a small kid). Have lunch in one of Greenwich's many cafes, then catch a boat back uptown - the riverboat pier is just by the foot tunnel exit on the Greenwich side.
posted by handee at 1:22 AM on February 28, 2007

OH and Greenwich park has some swings and stuff - used to have a boating lake too but I've not been there for a few years. My grandfather used to take me there when I was tiny.
posted by handee at 1:24 AM on February 28, 2007

If your child likes animals she may want to visit one of the many city farms. In addition to larger animals like horses, cows, and pigs, there are also cuddly bunnies to pet.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:05 AM on February 28, 2007

Playgrounds! Not being 3, I've not visited these myself, so I can't give first hand reviews, but apparently these are good (oh, and I don't know which are suitable for 3 year olds):

Diana Memorial Playground

Battersea Park Adventure Playground

Holland Park
posted by Helga-woo at 3:06 AM on February 28, 2007

Sorry, I think a 3 year old is going to forget most of this pretty quickly. So I would build the trip around the interests of the older members of the family, and perhaps just slip in one of the excellent suggestions above specifically for the small one -- being a cheapskate, and given the costs of tickets into any attraction for a whole family, I would go for the dinosaurs.

But really, careful presentation of what the others want to do is probably the key. When our families were young my brother and I developed a fairly good routine for joint historical visits that did not interest the kids that much. One trip fairly quickly through the place spotting the interesting things. Outside for an energetic playbreak while we read up the guidebook. Back through concentrating on the highlights. Outside again, and one person mind the kids if there is anything meriting a long look by the others.
posted by Idcoytco at 3:59 AM on February 28, 2007

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think the riverboat trip would blow her mind because she is fascinated by water.

@ Idcoytco: It is just me, my wife and the kids (3yr + 1/3 yr), and it is our first trip to London so I wanted to do things she will enjoy now, and then come back later in a few years to do more. It is true that kids that age tend to forget but we love to travel, and want to instil the spirit in the kids so we take tons of pictures, and go over them over and over, so she actually remembers quite a bit about her trips.
posted by hariya at 5:42 AM on February 28, 2007

The Tate Modern has a sculpture/slide that your three year old might enjoy - museums are free, donations appreciated of course. And in the bargain you can see the world's modern art masterpieces. There's decent food service as well. If it's a good day you can walk across the Millennium Bridge toward St Paul's (and a couple of family-friendly restaurants just at the other side), or if you like, take the Tate Boat to the London Eye.
Never did that, people say it's great, but - eh- your call.
I second the Museum of Natural History in Kensington - kids who were there were really crazy for the full-sized, animatronic tyrannosaur that 'turns' (in a very clanky way) toward actual sounds and makes some fierce noises and chomps his jaws. There are also some nice kid-sized exhibits scattered throughout.
posted by nj_subgenius at 5:47 AM on February 28, 2007

How about a Duck Tour in a cheerfully converted WWII amphibious vehicle?
posted by Phanx at 5:56 AM on February 28, 2007

The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is excellent (for kids and adults alike) and has lots of workshops and activities as well as exhibits. Also, it's round the corner from Hackney City Farm, for some the cuddly animal fun that Deathalicious recommends above.
posted by jack_mo at 8:35 AM on February 28, 2007

Just on the Tate slides - check out this page on height restrictions and timed tickets if you are thinking of going on the slides. Even the little ones are pretty fast.

Similarly with the animatronic dinosaurs - you may need to book a timed entry ticket - give them a call.
posted by crocomancer at 8:54 AM on February 28, 2007

For the Cutty Sark recommendation, I think when I was last in London, in December, the Cutty Sark was closed for repair/major renovation work. Just a heads up. But there are other cool things to check out in Greenwich. The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College is pretty neat-- not so much for the kiddies, but it's really cool to see.
posted by GreenTentacle at 8:59 AM on February 28, 2007

Yeah but as I say you wouldn't want to go inside the cutty sark with a 3 year old. The exterior is a landmark you have to walk past that is quite interesting.
posted by handee at 9:45 AM on February 28, 2007

Madam Tussaud's is a horrid tourist trap. Avoid.

Natural History Museum would probably go down well with a three year old, due to the cool Dinosaur exhibits. It would be worth checking what exhibits the Science Museum has on at the moment, as they often have good kid-friendly temporary exhibits.

And as for the Duck Tours - I'm 35, but whenever one drives past, I really want to go on one. They look lots of fun.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2007

It's a bit outside of the city, but Diggerland looks insanely fun - I'm 22, and I would love to go.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 11:48 AM on February 28, 2007

Hariya, I know exactly what you mean. We have pictures of great places we took the kids that we look at quite often. My 9 year old still says he "remembers" a trip to Paris (he was 9 months and in a buggy!). I really makes the child feel part of a family event many years later so go for it.

I don't think the Duck tour is great for that age. Slightly older yes.
Definately the Natural history Museum, especially the Whale!
There are also lots of things in there the child can touch or turn or peer into which smaller kids love.
The Eye, on the downturn stand in the place they tell you, hold the child up and pay the exorbitant (Joke- I think its about £6) official photo.
It is chilly on the River at the mo, so wrap up.
Also seeing London Bridge open up for a ship coming up the Thames blows my son's mind every time. Don't know if it is possible to check when this happens though or if it happens very often. We've seen it three times.
posted by Wilder at 3:30 AM on March 1, 2007

Looks like you're out of luck for bridge openings (Wilder - it's Tower Bridge, but you're not the first person to make that mistake).
posted by handee at 5:13 AM on March 1, 2007

Handee thanks for the heads-up. I'll try not to sound so ignorant in the future. ;-)
posted by Wilder at 1:00 PM on March 6, 2007

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